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Author Topic: Best ready-to-go mobile and portable APRS on VHF/UHF  (Read 30580 times)

Posts: 7

« on: March 14, 2016, 11:06:02 PM »

Greetings from Melbourne Australia! I want to get into APRS and am wondering what you experts recommend as a mobile and handheld radio to buy get started with ... rather than TNC solutions etc.. I've come up with this list so far:

Yaesu FTM-400XDR
Yaesu FTM-100DR (but doesn't have dual receivers?)
Kenwood TM-D710G

Kenwood TH-D72A
Yaesu FT-1DR

Posts: 559

« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2016, 06:48:31 AM »

Subscribed. This oughtta be interesting.

Posts: 885

« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2016, 09:34:42 AM »

Of course the answer is "It depends."

The Kenwood radios are about the closest you can get to a true portable TNC/data radio, but you'll have to pay up. The Yaesu radios do APRS beaconing and some messaging fairly well, but don't interface well with PCs and are strictly APRS devices. Even though you might think you won't want to interface with a PC, it is a nice feature when you are stationary. And having a 9600 baud packet station that connects to your PC via USB can be handy if there are other packet users in your area.

Since you didn't ask, I won't get into the DIY solutions or the stand-alone beacons from Argent and others. But take a look at this power point presentation, it might give you a few ideas.

I own a Kenwood TH-D72 and a TM-D700. I bought both of them several years ago (the D700 is about 15 years old). For what it's worth, they are obsolete as far as processing power. The D72 is a nice tracker, but for $450 US it should do a lot more than it does. 10 years ago when I bought it, it was still a lot more expensive than it should have been, but mobile processing power wasn't what it is now either.

Posts: 227

« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2016, 07:58:08 AM »

I'm going to buck your request, but bear with me for a moment. If you already own an Android phone or tablet, the Mobilinkd Bluetooth TNC is a viable solution. Yes, it isn't an all in one solution, but the TNC is barely larger than a box of matches and runs several days straight on a charge. You can easily velcro or rubber band it to your HT. At $60 bucks, it's a heck of a solution. Combined with APRSDroid, you have a FAR more capable portable APRS system that costs much less than an all-in-one APRS capable HT.  Assuming you already have the phone/tablet, you could get a Baofeng UV-5R, TNC, cable and better antenna for around $100-130 USD. Don't let anyone tell you the Baofeng is a bad radio. It's kind of a pain to program, but is a solid performer and a steal at $30. Or go with whatever HT you desire. The Mobilinkd folks sell the TNC to HT control cable for various brands of rigs including Yaesu, Kenwood and Baofeng.   Even if you don't have an Android phone or tablet, an old used one without a data-plan is perfectly usable for this purpose.

« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 08:02:51 AM by KC8HQX » Logged

Posts: 7

« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2016, 07:18:13 AM »

I followed your advice and got a Mobilinkd at it is indeed a cool little device. I got APRSdroid for free from the developer website (not the app store) in a version that uses offline OSM maps rather than Google maps. Works great with a cheap HT and cheap Android phone from Kmart!

Posts: 103

« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2017, 05:27:51 PM »

If you buy a cheap android phone to do this APRS, do you have to get a phone number also from a provider? I mean you are not going to use it as a phone to call someone are you, but just use the GPS and apps correct?  I have an iPhone which is out of the question to use with Mobillinkd.

Posts: 633


« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2017, 08:24:33 AM »

If you buy a cheap android phone to do this APRS, do you have to get a phone number also from a provider? I mean you are not going to use it as a phone to call someone are you, but just use the GPS and apps correct?  I have an iPhone which is out of the question to use with Mobillinkd.

You don't have to get a phone number with the phone. It would only make calls to 911 on the mobile network. You can put the phone into Airplane mode, so it isn't trying to find a mobile network and run your battery down doing that all the time. If the phone has WiFi and Bluetooth, those should work even if the phone doesn't have a SIM card and a number assigned to it. You should be able to turn on WiFi and/or Bluetooth, even if the phone is in Airplane mode. You'd basically have an Android equivalent of an iPod Touch (an iPod Touch is like an iPhone, but without the mobile phone stuff in it - it has WiFi and Bluetooth, and can run iOS apps like an iPhone or iPad).

Good luck, and 73!

Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK - Twitter: @WD9EWK

Posts: 5

« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2017, 08:16:31 AM »

You can also get a cable that just plugs your phone, then into the radio, and can do APRS via software only.  At least that is the discussion on this and the APRS PRO software.   Have not tried it myself, but am considering it; assuming I have an APRS repeater I can hit when I want to work this.
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