FT1D

After using the Yaesu FT1D for a few months now, I have discovered some likes and dislikes:

Likes

  • APRS and GPS built in
  • Scans very quickly
  • Loud audio
  • Small size

Dislikes

  • Takes forever to charge
  • Battery indicator is useless
  • Need two hands to operate volume control
  • Cumbersome menu system (very hard to program in the field)
  • Receive is not what I’d call stellar
  • Well under the rated power output (3.5 watts on high)
  • Got caught in my seatbelt and cracked the screen
  • APRS is not easy to use (should be one button/setting that turns on/off modem and GPS)
  • GPS sometimes takes 5+ minutes to get a lock
  • Cannot completely mute your own APRS “squawk”. HIGHLY annoying.
  • Does not keep the correct time
  • Doesn’t always automatically switch from FM to digital and vice versa.
  • “Flashlight” function buried in menu
  • “Bell” does not work (for me anyway – tried everything)
  • Shortwave receive is useless
  • Belt clip attached to battery (Doh!)
  • Supplied antenna is more like a dummy load (even a cheap $7 one from Ebay works FAR better)
  • Locking out channels while scanning is nearly impossible (I can’t figure it out anyway)

In a nutshell, it’s a pretty good radio but has MANY “quirks”. I really think Yaesu designed this radio and pushed it out the door in a rush. I also think it was designed by someone who has never operated a radio (at least a ham radio) before. Would I recommend it? Well, if you’re gung-ho about Fusion digital, you really have limited options. If you don’t care about that, buy something else. In fact, my Baofeng UV5R is far superior in quite a few aspects and it was only $40 CDN.

APRS Messenger

I have written (am writing) an application for Windows that allows a ham to interact on the APRSŽ network from the comfort of their home computer. Yes, that’s why I haven’t been on the air for seemingly forever. 🙂 Since many stations are (or should be) 2-way capable, I decided their must be a better way to send APRSÂŽ messages. And there is.

If anyone has used IRC (Internet Relay Chat) you’ll know that is a very flexible and powerful medium for chatting. Since I have done extensive programming for IRC (I wrote my own client), I decided to more-or-less emulate an IRC client. I looked at the problem from the same perspective as writing an IRC client as, from a programmers view, both IRC and APRSÂŽ have very similar requirements. Both are an exercise in parsing streams of text.

APRSÂŽ has a way to send messages to multiple stations by way of “GROUPS”. This is very similar to an IRC “channel”. APRSÂŽ also allows one to send messages directly to another station one-on-one. This is very similar to an IRC private message (PM). My software emulates this almost exactly the same allowing messages to a group (channel) or to another ham directly (PM). So far I’m using the APRS-IS (APRS Internet System) ONLY for this task but anyone using an RF station (eg. a mobile with 2-way capabilities) that is in range of an iGate (even indirectly through a Digipeater) can communicate with any IS station – and vice versa! Not only that, there is an Android app called “APRSdroidÂŽ” that allows one to use their Android phone to connect to the system as well. It features APRSŽ texting, position reporting and a host of connection protocols.

So now we have computer-to-computer, computer-to-Android, computer-to-RF, Android-to computer, Android-to-RF, RF-to-computer … you get the idea. You need never be far from messaging via ham radio! This technology very cool indeed.

I will post the ZIP file in a day or three for your enjoyment.

The ZIP file is ready! Please remember, there ARE still some bugs (mostly how GROUPS are handled – creating, changing, etc) so be very careful to check all your inputs, particularly the Login screen.

Download APRSmessenger

Copy to any folder that you have read/write permissions and run it!

 

 

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.

Why my dog doesn’t use the internet

  • can’t read
  • can’t type
  • it doesn’t smell good
  • it doesn’t taste good
  • thinks Google is a squeaky toy
  • to send a message, she goes outside and barks. It gets passed along from dog to dog
  • if she goes to visit her friend and her friend isn’t home, she leaves a “calling card”
  • when she comes home, she sniffs around and knows exactly who visited her and when
  • The last time she left a calling card on the internet, she got yelled at for ruining it
  • it’s too hard to get the cat to stop pushing “F1” for help

 


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