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:

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.