Tag Archives: TinyTrak3

Autumn = amateur radio time

Out here in Kansas, on the eastern edge of the prarie, the leaves are turning and the first frost is upon us. The time is NOW to get the hamshack in order.

(1) My VHF/UHF antenna and Davis weather station NEEDS to get mounted up on the chimney. I have the mounting brackets – thin aluminium straps that circumnavigate the chiminey. However, the roof at the new QTH is basically three stories high and the roof itself is pretty steep. Too steep for me. The solution? I am trying to get a local roofing company to give me an estimate for the job.

(2) The HF antenna. In the course of sorting through all the hamshack flotsam, I’ve started to identify “stuff” I can part with. Already I’ve said goodbye to some old MFJ TNCs, the Kenwood TS-930S, and my old TinyTrak (thank you Craigslist!). There’s more to part with and I’m still in the process of identfying them (… like an ICOM PCR-1000, TenTec RX-320, and a D-STAR DV Dongle for starters). More importantly (and back on topic), I unearthed two in-the-package wire antennas. The first is an 80M OCF dipole from RadioWavz and the second is a G5RV+ from RadioWorks. Now I need to dust off the CSV19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher and let the tennis balls fly.

(3) Once I have my antenna situation under control, I can take the hamshack innards to the next level.

Questions to ponder:

Do I retain the hardcopy collection of QST magazines I’ve been carting around since 2005ish? Starting for the late 40′s, it is a solid collection up to 2000. It takes up a great deal of space and I have the same issues on CD. I’d like to find the collection a new (local) home, if possible.

My new job has me on the road – it would be great to take some gear on the road with me. What to take? Needs to have a small footprint. Sounds like a job for the KX1. What to use for an antenna?

Running Crab

I’ve been having mixed results with my TinyTrak3 APRS beacon here in Hampton – when I start heading south from Newport News towards Fort Monroe (located at the southern tip of the peninsula), I can’t hit any APRS digipeaters – so my APRS beacon packets don’t go anywhere. Friday I was monitoring the local 2m repeaters and using WinAPRS and saw a couple guys testing some APRS equipment mounted on a bicycle. I emailed them and asked about the APRS coverage in Hampton and in response I got a request to help out with the Running Crab Half Marathon (www.runningcrab.org). So I said “why not?” and showed up this morning at the Hampton Convention Center at 6am. I helped set up some equipment and then went out to the 2 Mile Marker and set up a race clock, which I started when the race began – we used a local 2m repeater to relay the report of the starting line’s pistol. I then had to call in the numbers of the first three male and female runners that passed my point. I also helped a nearby water point setup and tear down an antenna for one of the race course APRS digipeaters. Amazingly enough the poles they had for the antenna had to have been Army surplus, because they looked just like the Army’s OE-254 (which I’ve used a million times to set up antennas for SINGCARS). After that it was back to the Hampton Convention Center to help tear down the equipment there (computers, antennas, etc.). The race used two mobile APRS units, one in the lead chase vehicle that was just in front of the male front runners and a bicycle mounted APRS that was trailing the lead female runner.

I think there was a total of 4 APRS digipeaters set up, one on the Convention Center’s roof (which had excellent 360 degree coverage), one at a water point just past the 2 Mile Marker, one near the 7 Mile Marker, and one inside the Convention Center which was connected to a computer running WinAPRS. The WinAPRS computer map display was then projected onto a large screen, so folks at Start/Finish could monitor the race.
I had a good time and enjoyed meeting the other local hams. Also got a free t-shirt. :-)

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.