Ham Comms

I envision a ham radio network. Many to one, one to many, many to many and one to one. Voice, text, video. The ultimate communications medium. And it’s entirely possible.

Hams have a great deal in Canada. We are un-encumbered with restrictions that choke hams in other countries. This gives us a unique edge on ham technology compared to many other countries around the world. And we should take advantage.

Thoughts?

 

APRS For Free!

Well almost free anyway. Do you have an Android phone? Do you have a Baofeng UV5R? Sure you do. So now you can do amazing things with those two tools! APRS is a great way to locate other hams (optional of course) and even send them SMS messages via the APRS system.

baofeng_trrsAnd this is how you wire it up to the best of my knowledge. You’ll also need some software running on your Android phone called “APRSdroid” which is readily available in the Play Store. There might be a small fee – I don’t remember – but it isn’t much and is well worth it if you’re a ham. If this interface works, you could probably even send SSTV (yes, there’s an app for that), PSK31, etc, between walkies or even via any voice repeater in range.

Text AND picture messaging! Oh MAN!

This is how we may get new hams into the hobby. There has to be something younger people can use much like they use their current technology. They need to know how they can mix an old technology (radio) with a “new” technology (computers). To find out that with a $35 accessory (a UV5R), a cable and a ham radio license, their phone becomes a communication tool that will work WITHOUT the cell network if need be, would be inspiring to most <30’s people. Now if only someone provided a ready-made cable…

And even if their cell phone battery dies or they aren’t in range of the cell network, a nearby EchoIRLP repeater would keep them in voice contact to most parts of the entire globe just using that $35 “accessory”!

 

A glorious day for ham radio™

 

APRS On A Budget

After a lot of research, having a mobile or base APRS station boils down to this.

  • 2 meter radio transceiver + antenna
  • Argent Data OpenTracker USB ™ or Byonics TinyTrak4™ TNC
  • Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS™
  • Assorted cables

Using an old commercial VHF radio (modded for ham) and an OpenTracker (and some cabling) I already have on hand, my grand total is under $100 total!

Now I’ll have an APRS map of my surrounding area, GPS guidance – even GPS guidance to another APRS station… “Don’t worry, I’ll find you.” 🙂 Easy access to APRS text messaging using a built-in on screen keyboard, EMAIL, “in range notifies”, etc. All on a nice easy to navigate 3.5″ touch screen. How sweet is that?

Not only that, you can plug a laptop into the OpenTracker and run a full out packet station perfect for EMCOM, ARES, CANWARN, and many other applications.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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