Tag Archives: tech & gagets

The Sony Reader

I’ve purchased a Sony Reader and am having fun with it. It’s about as big as a paperback book and the text clarity is very good. I’ve read books before on a PDA, but didn’t enjoy the experience because (1) the form factor was too small and cramped my hands and (2) you have to click the button to turn the page too often because the screen on a PDA is so small. The Sony Reader takes care of both these issues. It fits well in one or both hands and the large screen size enables almost as much text as you would see in a regular paperback.

I now have two goals to maximize my reader: (1) figure out how to easily reconfigure PDF files so they can be viewed on the reader and (2) create a solid digital library of great and enjoyable literature.

Sunday in the shack

I was successful in transferring the WX station duties to the computer out in the garage. I first had to get the Davis Weather Monitor II talking with the computer – which was accomplished after I changed the COM port speed to 2400 baud. I then transfered all the Weather Display files from the computer in the radio room out to the garage. The Weather Display software started up, green lights indicating that it was taking data from the Davis Weather Monitor II. But I didn’t have any sensors plugged in yet, so the only data being displayed was the indoor temp (now the garage temp) and the barometer. The outdoor temp sensor is located near the garage, so I was easily able to reroute the cable into the window of the garage and connected it to the Davis Weather Monitor II box. The outdoor temp came up right away. The next challenge was setting up the FTP for my weather webpage. The Weather Display software has great wizards that walk you through setting up different aspects of the software – the FTP setup had such a wizard. And now the webpage is getting updated every 5 minutes. Great! I still need to (1) reroute the wind direction and speed cable to the garage (requires me to get on the roof), (2) find some place to put the rain gauge (may require me to get on the roof), and (3) get the webcam hooked back up.

Spent some time cleaning up the radio room. I finally unpacked the MFJ-989C tuner that I got to go along with the Heathkit SB-220 amp. Neither are setup – that’s a project for another day.

I was also able to make contact with MI3JQD, operating from Northern Ireland… and a CW contact on 30M with John, K9??? in Indiana.

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.

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.

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.