Tag Archives: bicycle mobile

Rainy Sunday

It has been a cold, rainy Sunday. We are on short final for the delivery of child number two… about 12 more days. Spent part of the day finishing the fixes to the nursery. Despite the rain, I BBQ’d two excellent steaks for dinner. I spent a good amount of time at Fort Lewis, WA so BBQing in the rain is no big deal.

Yesterday I mounted a bike seat for my daughter (age 3) on the back of my underused Trek bicycle. The weather was pretty nice, sun and a little cool. I decided to take along my TH-D7A and mounted my Garmin eTrex on the handlebars… I was APRS bicycle mobile again (with a small passenger). I kept the power setting at EL (50mW) and had good luck getting digipeated by N7FTM, which is nearby. To get a little better coverage and maintain the low draw on the battery, I configured the home TM-D710A to digipeat only the packets from my TH-D7A. I hope the weather improves soon so I can do some more bicycle mobile testing. A speaker-mic would also be a great addition to the setup.

I have been doing a little more reading on APRS (when I should be working on homework). One item that I found very intriguing was CQSRVR. There is a good run down of that feature here and Bob “Mr. APRS” Bruninga’s, WB4APR, recent article in QST. What amazes me is that the CQSRVR feature is not used more often. I have also had a great time playing with aprs.fi. I am a long time user of findu.com, but aprs.fi is just a wonderful tool to use in looking at APRS data.

It is time to get ready for Field Day. The plan is to road trip out California and link up with my dad, KD6EUG, at his cabin in Mi-Wuk (near Sonora, up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We will be a 2A operation. My rig will consist of my resurrected ARSIB (Amateur Radio Station In a Box). The ARSIB is based around the FT-817ND. To give the FT-817ND a boost, I’ve paired it with a 100W Tokyo HyPower amplifier. The tuner remains the LDG Z-11 PRO. I would like to have both a rig control interface and control cable from the radio to the amp but the the FT-817 has only one ACC input. Enter the CAT MATE – I am hoping this will solve the ACC input limitation. For a logging program I think we will go with the N3FJP logging software. It offers the ability to have two (or more) seperate stations have a combined log. It also features a software-based voice and CW keyer, which may come in handy. The downside is it is a Windows only program and it does not have integrated PSK-31. This will require a manual work around to add PSK-31 QSOs. I need to get all the pieces and parts together and start testing everything out to make sure there are no surprises. We will be busy enough stringing antennas and I want to minimize any adjustments I need to make to my own equipment during actual operation.

Bicycle Mobile Test #3


Pretty much a complete success. I had a problem with the initial setup on the bike this morning which caused me a little bit of pain until I just reseated the connection on the cable running from the GPS to the radio. I didn’t wear the headset – I was running late and I didn’t want to mess with it.


I had a total of about 12 packets make it to the IGate. In addition to the position, the packet also had info on my speed, direction, and elevation. Pretty cool.

At work I was able to do a little bit of packet radio using my Palm IIIxe. I connected to the digipeater at NASA Langley (LARCND) and made it to KR4MA-1. It was slow going because I didn’t have a great signal, but it was working.

I still have plenty of juice in the battery, so I’m going to hook the D7A up for the trip home.

Second bicycle mobile test


Bicycle Mobile – Test #2

I conducted the second bicycle mobile test this morning, again with mixed results.

- stuck the 1/4 wave mag mount antenna on the metal plate attached to the rack on the rear of the bike. I looped the feedline in an RF choke, securing the loop to the rack and then ran the feedline up to the handlebars.
- secured the GPS into the mount on the handlebars. The mount works very well.
- powered up the HT, set the “A” band to the APRS freq, started the TNC in APRS mode, changed a setting to enable data flow between the GPS and radio, and changed the frequency of the beacon to once every 20 seconds. I then powered the radio down, powered up the GPS, attached the data cable between the two, attached the feedline to the radio, powered up the radio, verified that data was flowing, then locked the keypad to the radio. I attached the connections for the headset and then placed the radio inside the bag hanging from the handlebars.
- put my headest on, then my helmet. The “B” band was tuned to a local repeater that has a morning commute net. On the “A” band I could hear APRS traffic. All good signs.


I departed the house and everything was going well until…. the battery died. I checked www.findu.com and was able to verify that I had one good packet that had made it out prior to the battery going out. So from the standpoint of validating the setup and getting one packet all the way through – Test #2 was a success.

Although I purchased a new battery at the VA Beach Hamfest, I still don’t have it charged yet and I had run the stock battery down last night noodling with the packet and PocketAPRS stuff. I did find the following excellent idea on one of the Yahoo forums that is specific to the TH-D7A:

1628
From: “KC2MMi”
Date: Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:00pm
Subject: Re: Charging time?

… I’ve gone another route, made up a holder
for 10xAA cells and am looking for some black cordura to enclose it in. And
a 2A polyfuse. (Things the local Rat Shack will never carry.) My radio
will be about 2″ taller–but carry an extra 2300mA or so in an external
“foot” that way, at a full 12VDC.

The above sounds like a great idea – and is something I could also store in the handlebar bag.

Another issue I need to deal with is rainy weather. There was a slight drizzle/mist this morning – nothing to worry about. However, if I was to get caught in a downpour, my D7A would be toast. I need to look or a good solution that will allow me to keep the D7A out of the elements but still keep it in operation.

69


Bicycle Mobile – Test #2

I conducted the second bicycle mobile test this morning, again with mixed results.

- stuck the 1/4 wave mag mount antenna on the metal plate attached to the rack on the rear of the bike. I looped the feedline in an RF choke, securing the loop to the rack and then ran the feedline up to the handlebars.
- secured the GPS into the mount on the handlebars. The mount works very well.
- powered up the HT, set the “A” band to the APRS freq, started the TNC in APRS mode, changed a setting to enable data flow between the GPS and radio, and changed the frequency of the beacon to once every 20 seconds. I then powered the radio down, powered up the GPS, attached the data cable between the two, attached the feedline to the radio, powered up the radio, verified that data was flowing, then locked the keypad to the radio. I attached the connections for the headset and then placed the radio inside the bag hanging from the handlebars.
- put my headest on, then my helmet. The “B” band was tuned to a local repeater that has a morning commute net. On the “A” band I could hear APRS traffic. All good signs.


I departed the house and everything was going well until…. the battery died. I checked www.findu.com and was able to verify that I had one good packet that had made it out prior to the battery going out. So from the standpoint of validating the setup and getting one packet all the way through – Test #2 was a success.

Although I purchased a new battery at the VA Beach Hamfest, I still don’t have it charged yet and I had run the stock battery down last night noodling with the packet and PocketAPRS stuff. I did find the following excellent idea on one of the Yahoo forums that is specific to the TH-D7A:

1628
From: “KC2MMi”
Date: Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:00pm
Subject: Re: Charging time?

… I’ve gone another route, made up a holder
for 10xAA cells and am looking for some black cordura to enclose it in. And
a 2A polyfuse. (Things the local Rat Shack will never carry.) My radio
will be about 2″ taller–but carry an extra 2300mA or so in an external
“foot” that way, at a full 12VDC.

The above sounds like a great idea – and is something I could also store in the handlebar bag.

Another issue I need to deal with is rainy weather. There was a slight drizzle/mist this morning – nothing to worry about. However, if I was to get caught in a downpour, my D7A would be toast. I need to look or a good solution that will allow me to keep the D7A out of the elements but still keep it in operation.

Bicycle Mobile (Test #2)


Everything should be ready for Test #2 tomorrow morning. I was able to mount a storage rack on the rear of the bike – then attached a 6″ square plate that I attached the mag mount antenna to. I ran the feedline up to the bag on the handlebars.

We’ll see how the run into work goes tomorrow.

Virginia Beach Hamfest


Went to the Virginia Beach Hamfest today – while it wasn’t super huge, it had the basics. Hearing the old timers on the local repeaters, this Hamfest isn’t what it once was.

I made a total of three purchases:
(1) a spare battery for the D7A from a vendor – PB39M2, 9.6V @ 1450mAh (NiMH). The stock battery is a 9.6V @ 600mAh, so this should be a healthy increase in juice.
(2) a headset for the D7A – MFJ-288. Real comfortable, nice sound. They should work well with my bicycle mobile set up.
(3) and finally a small mag mount 1/4 wave 2m antenna – Workman KS 2-SMA. Intent is to also use this with the bicycle mobile setup.

Tomorrow I want to put the rack on the back of my bike and mount the antenna.

Bicycle Mobile

My endstate objective is to have a bicycle mobile setup with APRS and packet functionality.

Bicycle Mobile – Test #1

Objective: xmit at least one APRS beacon packet from my bicycle mobile HT to a digipeater capable of ultimately passing the packet to an Igate and enabling anyone to view my location via www.findu.com.

Components used:
(1) Garmin eTrex Vista GPS. I originally got this GPS when I was stationed in Korea back in 2001. While pulling duty in the brigade EOC I overheard radio traffic of a company XO who was making a chow run…. running hot chow out to soldiers in the field. The company XO (a lieutenant) was lost. He didn’t admit it at first, but finally said he didn’t know where he was. Being lost as a lieutenant is pretty bad, but having to admit over the brigade net that you are lost ranks among the most humiliating acts. At that point, I determined I’d purchase a GPS so I’d never be “lost”. I’ve really enjoyed the GPS so far. It worked great in Korea, I also used it in Germany, took it to Kuwait, used it on the convoy into Iraq and Baghdad, used it in and around Baghdad, and also used it on the return trip. It’s very solid and is pretty easy on the batteries. I was previously using the GPS along with my TinyTrack as an APRS beacon (http://www.livejournal.com/users/shedberg/2005/04/21/).
(2) GPS handlebar mount. I received it in the mail yesterday and installed it this morning. Pretty easy to install, the GPS slides on and locks into place.
(3) Kenwood TH-D7A(G). Designed to be used specifically for APRS, I figured the D7A was the radio for the task. I have the stock battery pack (PB-39, 9.6 V, 600mAh). For an antenna, I’m using something similar to the MFJ-1715S. It’s one of those thin, long dual band jobs.
(4) eTrex-Kenwood GPS data cable. I purchased this off of eBay from the GPSGeek store. The cable has the Garmin eTrex proprietary plug on one end and the 2.5mm plug for the radio on the other.

Pre-Test
As a preparatory test last night, I attached the D7A to my 2m/70cm vertical installed on the top of my house. I set the packet path to Wide3-3, manually inserted my lat/long location into the D7A, activated the beacon function and was able to transmit the following packets that made it to the www.findu.com database:
KD7PJQ-6>S7PS8P,WIDE3-1,qAo,N9VP:’h/Vl TH-D7A(G)
KD7PJQ-6>S7PS8P,N3XKU-15*,WIDE3,qAo,KA1UDX-1:’h/Vl TH-D7A(G)
KD7PJQ-6>S7PS8P,N4EVA-11,WIDE3*,qAo,N3IJW:’h/Vl TH-D7A(G)
KD7PJQ-6>S7PS8P,N4EVA-11,WIDE3*,qAo,W8JUK-3:’h/Vl TH-D7A(G)
KD7PJQ-6>S7PS8P,K4EME-3*,WIDE3-1,qAo,N4DSL:’h/Vl TH-D7A(G)


This test confirmed for me that the D7A was capable of transmitting APRS data locally, finding it’s way to an Igate, providing anyone the capability to check my location via the internet.

Test #1 Execution:
This morning I clipped my GPS onto my bikes handlebars and rolled the bike onto the driveway. Turning on the GPS, I was quickly able to get satellite lock and a position read out. I connected the data cable between the GPS and the D7A and powered the D7A on. A Band was already set with the APRS freq and TNC on. I pressed the POS button and the D7A successfully pulled my current location from the GPS and displayed it on the D7A. Immediately after that, the D7A’s red xmit light came on, indicating that the HT was xmiting my current position. The radio beeped and I could see other APRS traffic being received. I locked the key pad and placed the D7A into the bag on the front of my bike with the antenna sticking out at a 45 degree angle.

I headed out on my 5.44 mile trek to work.

The GPS was working fine the entire ride. The speedometer on the GPS was showing the same speed as my little Bell cycling computer.

I arrived at work and pulled the radio out of the bag. There were no stations listed on the screen – which indicates to me that no APRS stations were received by the D7A. I hit the BCON button a few times, but didn’t receive any responses.

I’m assuming one of two things happen: (1) my antenna isn’t doing an adequate job. Again, the D7A is located in the bike bag hanging off my handlebars and I’m not using any type of counterpoise with the antenna. Or (2) there was an issue with how the radio was positioned in the bag which either caused the data cable to come loose or accidentally engaged a key on the key pad.

Test assessment:
Overall the test was a failure.

Recommendations:
Before I head back home after work, I’m going to take my bike over to a location with good line-of-sight and try sending an APRS beacon to see if I’m getting a response. I’m going to first attempt to send the beacon while I’m holding the radio so I can monitor what is being displayed on the screen. If I’m successful with that, I will carefully place the radio into the bike bag and try this test again on my trip home.