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Author Topic: APRS, What Is Needed and How Much Does it Cost?  (Read 3298 times)
KC9KOW
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« on: March 28, 2007, 05:35:39 PM »

Hey everyone!

One of the modes i'm interested in is APRS.
I'm wondering what is needed and and how much it might thin out my wallet. I met someone with it in their car, and he told me he pays an insane amount of mney every month.

What's the deal?
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2007, 03:25:39 AM »

I am assuming the person you met has GM's onStar, is past the first free year and is now paying the monthly charges.  APRS costs nothing to use.

If you are wanting the ability to track your vehicle, your setup can be as simple as a byonics TinyTrak III, the required cables, a low-end GPS and your existing VHF transceiver.  If you want to monitor the locations of other APRS equipped stations from your vehicle or get route prompting, the price goes way up.

Dennis KG4RUL
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KA1MDA
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2007, 08:51:29 AM »

There is no monthly fee for APRS. I don't know who you talked to or what you saw, but if there was a monthly fee involved, it defintely WAS NOT APRS.

You can get a basic APRS set up going for very little money. For a basic system, all you need is a simple GPS receiver with an RS232 serial output, a Byonics tinytrak kit (approx $35), and a 2 meter radio or HT.

GPS serial output connects to the TinyTrak, Tiny trak output connects to the 2 meter radio mic input, and you're transmitting on APRS!

If you're adventurous or technically inclined, you can cobble together all sorts of combinations from surplus junk on ebay- something like this:

http://www.ka1mda.org/ham/homebrew/aprs/index.htm

73 and good luck!
de Tom, KA1MDA
www.ka1mda.org


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KG4RUL
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2007, 12:54:59 PM »

Yeah, what I said.

Dennis KG4RUL
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AA3YV
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2007, 05:20:36 AM »

I just bought everything for APRS here my cost break down:

1. Radio $50 - JT-208 from ebay (cheap 2.5W 2 meter HT)
2. APRS tracker $40 - Either TinyTrak or Open Tracker (more features)
3. GPS "mouse" ~$50-70 or so.
4. External Antenna $20 - trunk lip mount or similar
5. Various connectors/cables $10

Total: ~$190

It's really hard to go any cheaper than this, unless you already have some of the equipment.  
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KC2HTV
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2007, 07:28:50 PM »

Hello:
Great topic! First go to APRS.org and look at the basics of what APRS can do... Now decide what you want yours to do, ie... text message packets or receive them, just burp your position out to the digi's or add weather information and all of the above... For mobile and portable op's spend a little more $$ and get something that you can grow into and not get bored with...
Recommendations:
Kenwood TH-D7 with built in TNC--- Used $150.00
Garmin hand held GPS 76s  new $115.00
Dual band MFJ mobile ant. $80.00
The all important Cables for interconnet. $30.00
Congrats you now have a great system... Add a laptop computer and some freebee software and you will have a blast on the digi's and TCP/IP internet... Do a google search on my call sign and click the first links that have Posit..find-u in it and see what a base unit can kick out for information running 24hrs a day... My mobile is linked to the base and so is my Quad ATV...
   Buy the top of the line equipment and put it on a non-prime rate credit card and you will match your friends monthly on-star rates or exceed them... Smiley
                        73   Rick kc2htv
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KD8AYL
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2007, 08:59:55 AM »

WelI this whole thing bring up questions for me.Recently I was able to obtain s used laptop from a local police department. It is rather slow (486ish) but built like a tank. It also came with the mounting hardware and a removable 256 Meg hard drive. What do I need to set up APRS and GPS on this laptop using my FT8900?
From what I've read it is rather confusing.
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KF6IIU
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2007, 11:23:21 AM »

You won't really have much fun with a 486 computer and only 256MB of disk. You will be restricted to running the old DOS programs still out there.

I would recommend if you are on a really tight budget that you allocate about $50 or so for an older 386 laptop. For example, a 2000-vintage Toshiba Portege 7000-series with a P3, 128MB RAM, 10-20GB disk, and builtin sound card, can be had for $50 or so. I might even consider trading in a TNC for one if I had a TNC already.

These boxes will run Windows XP (not Vista) or Linux (most distros) and you will be able to use a sound card TNC like AGWPE and mapping-capable APRS SW like UIVIEW or XASTIR. The mapping stuff is the fun part for me - you can see all your fellow hams dashing around in real time.

You could also just skip the computer and build a tracker, but you will be transmit-only.

Here's my page with some Toshiba Portege 7000-series hints:

http://www.wsanders.net/toshiba.html
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KI6LO
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2007, 09:26:20 AM »

KF6IIU writes "You won't really have much fun with a 486 computer and only 256MB of disk. You will be restricted to running the old DOS programs still out there. I would recommend if you are on a really tight budget that you allocate about $50 or so for an older 386 laptop. For example, a 2000-vintage Toshiba Portege 7000-series with a P3, 128MB RAM, 10-20GB disk, and builtin sound card, can be had for $50 or so. I might even consider trading in a TNC for one if I had a TNC already......"

I think there might be a mis-typing here as the way I read this response, it is being suggested to get a 386 computer to run Windows XP?HuhHuhHuh Then it refers to a P3 processor. I think anyone who is reading this who does not know about PC capbilities and APRS requirements should be aware that a 386 laptop will NOT run Windows XP in any usuable fashion. A P3-based laptop will probably be stretched for any effiencent use.

As to the requirements for an APRS system, to recap what many have said here, you'll need:

A radio capable of APRS frequencies (usually 144.39 simplex for most areas), high power not required - usually a watt or two is fine.

An appropriate antenna of course.

Some sort of TNC, either hardware based or software based using a soundcard, etc.

A GPS unit if mobile. If stationary, a one time GPS fix can be entered and saved in most APRS applications.

A PC if you wish to display the APRS map with tracks. A PC is NOT required for every configuration. As stated, if you simply want to allow your mobile to be tracked, a setup using a radio, antenna, GPS and a Byonics Tiny Trak III is all that is needed.

Highly recommend APRS newbies go to WB4APR Bob Bruninga's website aka "The Mecca of APRS" (http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/aprs.html). Bob wrote the original APRS spec and software for DOS and is considered the 'father of APRS'. If it isn't on his website, it probably isn't related to APRS.

Good Luck,

Gene KI6LO
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KF6IIU
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2007, 01:20:11 PM »

That was, obviously, a typo. I meant "older Pentium III" class computer.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2007, 08:44:02 PM »

I thought so--a 386 won't even run Windows 98 very well!
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N2BR
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2007, 03:11:12 PM »

APRS is NOT Ham Radio
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N0RAH
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2009, 04:41:28 PM »

Please expand upon this statement... As it seems a little off base. HAM radio is at the heart of APRS ... unless  you are saying ATV and SSTV are not HAM radio. I mean they do have TV in their description.

Jeffrey
N0RAH
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KG6HXO
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2009, 08:25:50 PM »

As a number of people have pointed out, APRS is free to use. If you are reasonably electronically competent, you can put together a tracking system for very low bucks. Typically, a tracker-ony is for someone who wants to remotely track an asset; a car, boat, bicycle, etc. APRS is a pretty wide description though, and I am not sure if you mean you want a transceiving APRS station in your vehicle, so that you can monitor other stations on a map, while at the same time sending your own position. A transceiver based system can also be used for APRS messaging, allowing you to send messages radio-to-radio, or radio to Internet. I manufacture a self-contained tracker that Byonics sells for $260.00. You just add batteries and turn it on, since it comes pre-programmed.(www.byonics.com) and there are a number of other options in dedicated trackers out there. For a full mobile station you have many options. The simplest, is a Kendwood D710 mobile radio and an AVMAP G5 GPS display receiver. This is not the simplest option, but it has zillions of features and minimal cables and does not require a Phd in programming to get running. What is it that you would like to do?

73,

Allen
VHS
AF60F
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