Road Trip Wrap Up: APRS – from California to Virginia

Here’s a snapshot of my APRS track across the US – the track is shown in blue – the gaps indicate areas where my radio dedicated to emitting failed to make contact with another radio acting as an APRS relay.


My APRS setup consisted of the following equipment:

ICOM’s IC-T81A
This is a quad band radio (6m, 2m, 440 MHz, and 1.2 GHz), discontinued a due to the absolute hate folks had for that round “Multi” switch located to the bottom left of the LCD window. Admittedly, the radio takes a little to get used to, but overall, I’ve been very satisfied with it’s performance. The primary handicap of using this radio for APRS operation is that like most HTs, at high power it only transmits 5 Watts. I powered the radio with the optional CP-12L cigarette lighter cable with noise filter OPC-245L DC power cable.
IC-T81A manual

Byonic’s TinyTrak3
The heart of the whole operation. It connects with both the GPS and radio. TinyTrak3 takes the position data from the GPS, formats the data for use with APRS, and then passes the data to the radio for transmission. My TinyTrak3 worked flawlessly on the entire trip. It’s powered by a fused cigarette lighter plug connected with a fabricated cable that provides a serial connection to TinyTrak3 and TX/RX to the radio.
Download the configuration software and documentation.



And the final piece of my APRS triad is the GPS:

Garmin’s eTrex Vista
I purchased this GPS in 2001 when I was in Korea after I monitored a fellow lieutenant get humiliated when he got lost near the DMZ while trying to deliver hot chow to some of our soldiers. I vowed never to be “that lieutenant” and have not been lost since (as long as I had my GPS with me). The GPS got me through Korea and my subsequent assignment to Germany, but it really performed in Kuwait and Iraq. With only 2x AA batteries, the eTrex Vista usually operates for 12-14 hours.
Owner’s Manual (Software Version 3.00 and above) Rev. B, Aug, 2004

So with all the above items, I was able to traverse the continent allowing friends and family to “keep an eye” on me.

5 Comments

  1. anonymous says:

    From: Gary Altig [mailto:garylaltig@msn.com]
    Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 8:28 PM
    To: stalker05@yahoo.com
    Subject: Cross Country Trip

    DE N7UVL,
    I cannot quite tell, but is that gap in the western states in Nevada?
    and if so, could you tell me where approximately that is?
    -We have a Repeater site on Toulon Pk near Lovelock. That site used
    to have an APRS hosted by Comstock Radio Assn.
    However, Comstock took their APRS down and turned their portion of
    interest in that site over to a commercial concern and we (SNARS)
    are the only Amateur Radio site on that Peak or in that area now that
    I know of. We have been discussing putting an APRS digi that would be
    linked back to Reno for a Node access. If the gap you experienced was
    in that area, I could take that information back to our Tech Committee
    to add to our discussion./ga

  2. shedberg says:

    Here’s a snapshot of my track across Nevada:

    I had pretty good coverage through Nevada, considering the terrain – and the fact I was on the “Loneliness Road”.

    Looking through the packets, the following stations were able to hear my APRS beacon or had my packeted passed to them for submission into IGATE as I passed through Nevada:
    KG7HH
    K7UHP
    KD7ZMI
    KD7ZMI-1
    KD7LRJ

    Here’s the query I used on aprsworld.net to get the data.

    I remember having excellent coverage in Ely – which kind of surprised me.

    I hope this information helps.

  3. anonymous says:

    — In TinyTrak@yahoogroups.com, “dxxxxxbxx” wrote:

    Cool. Looks like you came through Wichita! It would be interesting to
    know if I relayed any of your signals (probably not, my station is
    weak).

    — In TinyTrak@yahoogroups.com, “Scott Hedberg” wrote:
    >
    > I recently completed a trip from California to Virginia using
    > TinyTrak3 – more here:
    > http://www.livejournal.com/users/shedberg/2005/04/21/

  4. shedberg says:

    Here’s a snapshot of my journey through Wichita (including my inadvertent turn on to I-35 heading north):

    Here’s the call signs of the stations that helped relay my packets through Wichita:
    KA0MR-10
    N0KTA
    N0KTA-2
    WX0U-2
    WA8EFC
    WV0S-15
    KA3NAM-10

    … and the aprsworld.net query.

    Was your call sign on the list?

  5. [...] II: Travel to California. My love of a good roadtrip has inspired me to drive from Kansas to California for Field [...]