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Author Topic: Much to learn... so little time!  (Read 11272 times)
KG4ADQ
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Posts: 21




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« on: April 04, 2012, 06:00:21 AM »

 I am rather new to HAM radio... and I am not much of a technical person... but I enjoy technology and its capabilities.
I am about to purchase a Kenwood TM-D710 for mobile APRS activity.  I find this so interesting and can't wait to use it.  MY main reason for my interest in APRS is the positioning.  We travel fairly often and to have our daughter and relatives keep track of where we are is very important to us. I also like the idea of knowing of other APRS operators in the area we drive thru.

Questions... Grin
1.  With the 710 I still need a gps unit to show my position, while traveling, on the internet maps, correct?

2.  As I am beginning to understand, the 710 is ready for APRS and just plug in the gps (with appropriate cable), set it up and go... no other peripherals are needed to show position while traveling, correct?

3.  Since the AVMAP unit is so very pricey...  what does it do that some of the other capable GPS units can't?  I assume I could use other GPS units that has the correct outputs???

4.  what gps units (without displays) are there for use with the 710?  I have read somewhere about a gps "puck" style? (much less expensive)

Again, I am not a wizard.. but enjoy this capability and eventually will use this positioning for my SKYWARN activities and any other emergency services, which I find APRS uniquely perfect for.

Ralph
KH4ADQ
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K7RBW
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Posts: 402




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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 07:09:37 AM »

You might also look into the offerings of Byonics and Argent Data Systems. They can be used with less expensive (but harder to find) GPS units.

I'm not sure where you plan to travel, but you might not encounter too many other APRS users. I traveled throughout the western US a couple of years ago and talked to exactly one.

Also, remember that APRS coverage is not uniform and provided entirely by volunteers. That means your signal can (and will) disappear from the map. This perfectly normal and to be expected. Unfortunately, some people want more from the system than it's built for. I read about a pilot who had an APRS rig in his plane and when his signal dropped out for a bit, his wife called the authorities to report that his plane crashed. Since that experience, he adjusted his transmitter settings such that no one else can use the system while he was flying (an I imagine his signal still drops out occasionally).

The point here, is that it's a shared resource and a brittle system with coverage is provided by volunteers. Enjoy it for what it is but don't expect it to be something that it's not.
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KG4ADQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 07:26:23 AM »

Thanks for your input...  Grin
I don't know anyone else who is involved with APRS around here.  There are a few, but I don't know them yet!
My traveling plans are mostly between Kentucky and New England, Ky and Florida, and surrounding areas in Kentucky.  I do plan on traveling out west in a year or two, but may not drive.
Right now, I plan on using aprs for positioning info for our travels... and will eventually use it for skywarn and emergency services.  Eventually maybe a base station with a weather station is a thought.  Messaging would be much further down the road, but might be interesting later.

Is it necessary to use anything from Byonics or Argent when using a "Kenwood 710" and a gps?  This is one of the things that is confusing to me.  I have thought you would need these company's products for adapting a "normal" UHF/VHF radio with a gps for the use of APRS?Huh

I am looking forward to this radio and APRS.
Thanks again
Ralph KG4ADQ
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KZ9G
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 02:42:45 PM »

Byonics sells a "puck" style gps. Here is the link to the gps page http://www.byonics.com/tinytrak/gps.php For your basic setup a gps2 and either the gpakc with the cig lighter connection to power or the gpakp with the power pole style. Look into the power pole style becasue you can run a splitter and add more power pole accesories to your setup and have one common power connector. The cig lighter option tends to be a pain whenever all the sockets are used in the vehicle and you will find something else always needs to be plugged in too.

The argent site has a cable that will work with some garmin gps units. The only issue is that I do not believe that there are any in current production that they work with. Here is the site link for the cable https://www.argentdata.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=113
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AF6OF
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Posts: 27




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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2012, 07:10:53 AM »

Ralph,

Buying a Kenwood D710 and not using a display receiver is a terrible waste! If you want a simple hockey puck receiver, the important thing to remember is that you must have a "true serial" ( NOT a USB) GPS. The same applies to display receivers of course. If you just want to be tracked, and not see other users, the Byonics RTG-FA is a lot less expensive way to go about it, but it deprives you of situational awareness.

Very few display receivers these days communicate via serial using NMEA. ( although virtually all nautical and most aircraft display units do) Scott at Argent Data created an interface cable/converter that allow the Kenwood to be used with a Garmin Nuvi 350, but only one (discontinued) model is fully supported, the Nuvi 350. You can often find these still sold as refurbished or used units.

My suggestion is to stick with Avmap, since they introduced the new, and less expensive G6 model, the price of used ( and new old stock) G5's is falling. These are the only, repeat, only, GPS receivers designed to support APRS fully.

73,

Allen
VHS/Byonics
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W8KVK
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2012, 08:43:00 AM »

Ralph,...I think you will find your local APRS 'family' to be friendly and helpful.  If you are still living at your FCC address, you can use the following link to view all the recently active APRS stations near your zipcode:

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/map-near.cgi?zip=40601

Just contact those you may already know, or who are closest to you.  Using the same URL, but substituting the zipcode(s) in your areas of planned travels, you can similarly get an idea of digipeater and I-Gate coverage.  Good luck, have fun, and travel safely!  73/ted W8KVK
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KM0PT
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2012, 10:22:21 PM »

I have a green light labs gps-710 behind my tm-d710 and I love it.  I couldn't justify the hundreds more that I would have spent for an APRS ready god with display.   I done a bit of storm spotting and public service work, so it has been more of a tool for people who need to direct me to know my location.  I have also used the messaging feature quite a bit.  I am also now exploring APRSdroid and it seems to do a good job of mapping.

Paul
KM0PT
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KG4ADQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 01:25:22 PM »

OK... what I have learned...   Grin
Thanks, by the way for all your inputs as I started this thread!   
I made the purchase of the D710 and the Avmap G6...  I had to buy another antenna due to a problem I had with the old one. So I bought a Diamond SG7900, which turned out to be a good antenna, and pretty tall, so I do indeed hear a ding every once in a while while driving my Jeep as it hits some low leaves in a tree.
One thing learned... there is no APRS capability in Frankfort KY.  In order to even test this, I had to travel 10-15 miles either South or West of me in order to "possibly" get a signal back from a digipeater.   That was very aggravating  for me...  in order to check if anything worked at all... I had to drive way out and then back to make adjustments etc.
Thanks to a few good APRS folks on the 710 forum, they coached me along until I finally started getting some positions on APRS.FI.

I then went on a nice long drive (2700 miles) from Kentucky thru upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, thru Connecticut, and into New Jersey and back to Kentucky.
I left the beeps "on" during the entire trip... many many times I never got a beep back as an answer from a digipeater... I accepted the fact that digipeaters can be few and far between. But it was more often than not there was no answer from any digipeaters.  (Upon coming back home and checking the APRS map... some digipeaters got me and I was on the map... but the D710 never indicated anything very often)
The D710 seemed to work well... at least on the A side.  I had the B side set up for simplex on 2 meters.  In all those miles I only heard 3 Hams!!!!  Those were the only Hams that actually answered my calls!  I called out my call sign about every 50 miles or so... only 3 answered.  All 3 gave me very high signal reports (even in the mountains of New Hampshire).  I did not hear any other Hams... just those 3 that answered my call.  2700 miles!!!!  THAT surprised me!

What I had the most difficulty with was the AVMAP G6...    Angry
When I got back I notified Don and we corresponded back and forth and he readily helped me out.  BUT...  I am not sure even at this time it is a great GPS device. Don actually sent me new maps and coached me thru things.  BUT... The AVMAP G6 is not on my favorites list in ANY way!   The print is too small... even with that great big screen.  So I have to keep it close to my driving position.  The APRS call signs are small as well...   
The biggest problem I had is it sent me in many unfavorable locations or it made bad directions... several times sending me thru a town instead of on the highway.  One time it took me on an old unpaved road full of pot holes... way out of our way instead of the proper maintained roads.  We even had to ask directions from a guy... he looked at the gps and said something about getting lost with a gps...  The AVMAP even missed a major highway intersection completely.  it constantly said to bear left at EVERY exit...  yes EVERY exit that I was not taking...  ( I do like the lane indicators at each exit tho... but hated the announcing to bear left!)  Good thing I had the old Garmin stowed away in the JEEP.  So I turned off the voice on the AVMAP and got the Garmin working.  I relied on the Garmin for directions and used the AVMAP for APRS input.
So it appears that with the new maps the wrong directions may be fixed thanks to Don.  Had I known... I would never had purchased the G6 and probably would have bought green light labs GPS.  The G6 is way too high a price to pay for faulty and problematic functions.
I will be traveling to Miami and the Keys in a couple of weeks... so will be checking out the new maps on the G6. I hope they work better.  I wil have to move it closer to my driving position tho. 
Now since I found that not many folks are on the simplex freq. I may be looking up repeaters and putting them into the memories of the D710.  That is gonna take a while.

I am happy with the D710... and the Diamond antenna...  still impressed with APRS... disappointed there is no APRS signal in or out of my own city and many other locations for that matter...  BUT the G6 I am quite displeased with so far!

Looking forward to more trips....
Ralph KG4ADQ
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N6DZR
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Posts: 100




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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 11:44:06 AM »

I have a green light labs gps-710 behind my tm-d710 and I love it.  I couldn't justify the hundreds more that I would have spent for an APRS ready god with display.

I second the Green Light Labs unit. I think it's the slickest GPS option for the D710. In my truck I use a Garmin Nuvi 350 and special cable. It's a cheaper way to support 2-way positions. My next D710 will have just the Green Light unit.

-Jeff
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KG4ADQ
Member

Posts: 21




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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 12:58:40 PM »

I have a green light labs gps-710 behind my tm-d710 and I love it.  I couldn't justify the hundreds more that I would have spent for an APRS ready god with display.

I second the Green Light Labs unit. I think it's the slickest GPS option for the D710. In my truck I use a Garmin Nuvi 350 and special cable. It's a cheaper way to support 2-way positions. My next D710 will have just the Green Light unit.

-Jeff

I probably should have gone that route...  the G6 was mighty expensive for looking at the APRS call signs (in small print)
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