TM-D710A and UI-View32

I was able to interface my TM-D710A with UI-View32. Previously I was using UI-View32 along with a Kantronics KPC-3+ and a dedicated FM rig (FT-1500) with a direct packet connection. This set up worked well – UI-View32 puts the KPC-3+ into KISS mode and the rest of the settings are pretty straight forward. The advantage of using the TM-D710A (one of many) is that with its two radios in one I can run my APRS station and also get on the local repeaters while only using my one VHF/UHF antenna.

I use Weather Display in conjunction with my Davis Vantage Pro2. Weather Display is an amazingly powerful application and it works well with UI-View32, allowing my APRS station to transmit my weather data in addition to my position info.
Configuring TM-D710A and UI-View32 to work together is little more tricky.
The TM-D710A has a built-in TNC. When you use the TM-D710A in a mobile configuration, the TNC runs in APRS mode. When used with UI-View32, the TNC operates in standard packet mode. It looks like it is possible to use the TNC in KISS mode, but I am not sure how to do that with UI-View32. The directions from Kenwood for the TM-D710A include a recommended CMD file to be used with UI-View32. I used the recommended CMD file and UI-View32 and the TM-D710A worked together up to a point. What was missing were two TNC commands that allow UI-View32 to see the received APRS traffic and then display the traffic on the UI-View32 map. Here is what the CMD file looks like now:

;This is a sample TNC initialization file for use with
;the Kenwood TM-D710A.

;DON’T alter anything in this section unless you are
;sure you know what you are doing!

;Control mode on.
TC 1!TS 1
;Select TNC PKT mode on A band.
TN 2,0!TN 2,0
;Waiting for command prompt.
;Repeating the first two commands is not an error!
;Also UI-View32 to see incoming APRS traffic

APRS… weather and beacon

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got the data from my weather station being sent out via APRS. You can see the latest data here … although I like my Weather Display Live page better.

For my APRS station I am using a Yaesu 2M (packet-ready) transceiver, a Kantronics KPC-3+ TNC, and a computer running UI-View. I opted not to push any of my APRS traffic via the IGate, I’m only looking at what I can see via RF. And I can see quite a bit. I’d wonder if I’d want to put my station into digipeater mode – but with all the APRS traffic around here, there is no need. In fact, I cranked the radios power output down to 5 watts to try and not add to the APRS congestion. I’ve got over 30 stations just within 20 miles as you can see here.

UI-View is working well and was fairly easy to setup. I enjoy at looking at a lot of the vehicle APRS hits in Kansas City… there is quite a bit during the commute hours.

No hamming….

I haven’t been on the HF bands for a while. No CW, no DX Packet Cluster, nada. I’d like to get some quality time with the CW paddle.

The weather station is down – not sure what’s wrong.

My 2M packet station is partially working. The TNC is hooked up to yet another old computer that I moved out to the garage. But the wireless network connection out to the garage is hit and miss…. so I’m going to try to set up a bridge to extend the network out there.

I have been prepping the W4V Veterans Day Special Event cards and certificates. I plan to finish up the cards and should be able to print the certificates out tomorrow. All should be in the mail on Thursday.

Beer update: The total fermentation time was two weeks. I bottled the first batch on Saturday. I varied the amount and type of sugar. In 1/4 of the bottles I put 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 regular sugar. In another 1/4 of the bottles I put all brown sugar. The rest of the bottles got the regular sugar. We’ll see what kind of difference the sugar makes. This Saturday I’ll put 4 of the beers in the fridge for conditioning….. then 4 more the next week, etc. I have another batch to start fermenting… probably this weekend.

Went to the eye doctor today and was diagnosed with keratoconus in my left eye. At first I thought that meant that my eye would bulge, possibly pop out and/or bleed… but it’s actually not too bad. Keratoconus, or KC for short, is a thinning disorder of the cornea that causes distortion and reduced vision. The biggest short term impact is that I have to get hard contact lenses. I do need to start taking better care of my eyes.

Weekend Wrap Up

Went up to the Yorktown Battlefield Saturday and linked up with Mark, N1LO. I got to see his portable setup. He was using a delta loop antenna made of speaker wire, maybe about 25′ per side. The speaker wire was in three sections, the sections were connected using fishing line lure links. The speaker wire was terminated using banana plugs and fed into a 1:1 balun. To support the legs of the delta loop, Mark used a combination of a painter’s pole and a fiberglass fishing rod secured by a 3′ picket easily driven into the ground about 8″.

The fiberglass fishing pole’s end easily nests into the painter’s pole with about 6″ overlap raising the loop to a height of about 20′. The painter’s pole was secured to the picket using two small hose clamps. The delta loop tuned easily from 80M to 10M, but would not tune 160M. All the antenna components compacted down to fit into a plastic rifle case. Mark connected the delta loop to his IC-706MKIIG through his LDG AT-200 Pro autotuner and was easily making QSOs into Ohio (the Ohio QSO Party was underway). Power was provided by a ~100aH marine battery and a nice homebrew PowerPole distribution hub. The best part of the setup was the location – in a very nice, shady park on the southern banks of the York River.

In an endeavor to consolidate my 2M packet operations (APRS, Winlink 2K, and good ol’ fashion BBS packet) into the garage, I spent a good chunk of time pushing around boxes and crates. I purchased three 3′ high bookshelves from Target, arrayed them in an open “U” and then placed a 4’x6′ piece of plywood across the top. I filled the bookshelves with back issues of QST and equipment awaiting to be put into use. Next to this workbench, I put a previously unused, small table where I positioned my monitor and PC. I spent the late afternoon converting the PC from Ubuntu back to Window XP (… I can’t commit the time needed to tweak Unbuntu to my needs). Now I need to move the my KPC-3+ from the radio room out to the garage and see if I can get a basic packet station operational.

Also been preparing for the upcoming RV DXpedition. I’ll be taking the ARSIB along with the vertical dipole, but was also thinking about taking a G5RV. I’m also going to try and use a 75M hamstick, we’ll see how that works out.

Quick & Dirty: APRS WX Station?

I want to put together an inexpensive APRS WX station for my dad, KD6EUG, to install up at his cabin in Mi-Wuk Village, CA. There was an article in the July 2006 QST that talked about one solution. But the big price tag comes with the weather station itself.

Today I found a nice, inexpensive solution from TAPR, the T-238+MODEM2 Kit. Not only is it APRS ready, it also incorporates it’s own TNC. The weather station components that it works with, 1-Wire™ Weather Instrument Kit V3.0, and also doesn’t break the bank.

We’ll see how this project comes together. For the radio, I will use either an FT-1500M (ideal for the job) or an HTX-242 if I can ensure it’s capable of the task. I like the W3BW (see QST article) solution of using a gel cell with a trickle charger. Should the shore power drop out, the APRS weather station should function for quite some time.

Speaking of WX stations…. you can go here to see the weather at the home QTH.

Looking at the APRS activity around Mi-Wuk, I’m seeing the following nearby stations:

K6TUO-3: looks like a digipeater in Sonora, sponsored by the Tuolumne County Amateur Radio & Electronics Society (TCARES).
K6NFL: over in the town of Arnold, Dave has a very nice wx page.
KE6KYI: located in Groveland.

28th Anniversary of Packet Radio

At around 9PM on May 31, 1978 were the first KNOWN transmissions of Packet over Amateur Radio. The location was Bill Wong’s Restaurant in Montreal, Canada.

The Montreal Packet Net Group C/O:

Bob Rouleau VE2PY; Norm Pearl VE2BQS; Fred Basserman VE2BQF; Bram Frank VE2BFH; Jacques Orsali VE2EP; Ted Baleshta VE3CAF; Ian Hodgson VE2BEN; among others not mentioned.

They operated on a single 220Mhz channel using start-stop ASCII with the Ethernet CSMA/CD protocol. The protocol was modified for amateur applications by Robert T. Rouleau, VE2PY, and implemented by Fred Basserman, VE2BQF. Montreal Packet Net (MP-Net) Operated at 2400 bit/s using home-built modems.

A detailed description of the Montreal Protocol and hardware used in the experiments is given in the TAB book #1345 “PACKET RADIO” by Bob Rouleau and Ian Hodgson published in 1981. An interesting note is that the Montreal Modem design used the Exar XR-2206/2211 chip set. I am told that a sample of the Montreal Modem was sent to the Vancouver group (VADCG) in the fall of 1978 and it is probably no coincidence that the same chip set appeared in the TAPR TNC modem of which Doug Lockhart of VADCG had a hand in designing.

After an initial spurt of activity in amateur packet, Bob Rouleau and several others in the group turned to commercial applications for packet radio. The resulting company, DATARADIO Inc, today is building and marketing commercial packet radio systems around the world. A typical application is the Canadian Weather Radio packet service introduced some years ago using DATARADIO equipment specially designed for the application.

Bob was inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame in 2003

To Commemorate this 28th anniversary listen for W4P from May 26, 2006 – June 4, 2006

Operating will be on both CW and SSB on the “normal” frequencies, i.e.

SSB 3.790 – 7.190 – 14.190

CW 3.520 – 7.020 – 14.025

+/- QRM

Certificate available for a Large SASE


Weekend wrap up

Got to see a bit of the air show today from a nearby park that has a good view of Langley Air Force Base. Had my Bearcat Scanner (BC245XLT) with the Radio Shack antenna and was able to monitor the Air Boss as well as the air/ground communications for the Golden Knights parachute team.

Tired to contact the special events station at Fort Knox (W2P), but the propagation just wasn’t there. I was able to make two other SSB contacts while trying as well as a PSK31 contact with a Swedish amateur radio operator on St. Martin.

Worked on cleaning the radio room.

Started looking at using my TH-D7A for accessing a DX packet cluster… but I’m not sure if we have any packet clusters in the area. We’ll see.

I’m looking at getting an amp for my FT-817 so I can use it for portable operations without having to pull the IC-706 out of the shack.

Finished about 30 QSL cards to be sent out tomorrow.

Weather Display works on Ubuntu!! I need to transition my weather station from the radio room to the linux box out in the garage. I need to figure out how to do do the FTP upload and webcam.

Started working on a webpage for Old Point Comfort Lighthouse activations:

VA Digital Emergency Network

This site is dedicated to the people providing emergency and backup communications in VA using Amateur Radio Digital modes. This is done by amateur radio operators on their own time and at their own expense as a public service to their communities and the state. VDEN supports both ARES and RACES operations. The primary 1200 baud frequencies are 145.73 and 446.075 with the UHF used as a backbone and forwarding frequency whenever possible. 441.050 (9600bps) is used for high speed connections from the greater Fredericksburg area, to the VA EOC and on down to the greater Tidewater area. Any frequency may be used for local operations but a link to 145.73, 441.050 or 446.075 is a must for relaying messages to the VA EOC. Keyboarding should NEVER be used during an activation or drill on 145.73! The ability of keyboarding to literally bring a network to a halt is as well known as is the infamous “dead carrier” that pops up during drills and activations. We also have Pactor operations as needed. When the network is not operating under a activation or drill, it functions as a normal statewide network. The term “network” is used to describe the emergency communications package that VDEN brings to Virginia. If you want to join the private, no spam, VDEN list server for system updates and information, please send me an message with your name and callsign. I also operate APRS using UI-View and AF MARS Digital stations to provide additional ECOM (emergency communications) support as needed. The VDEN mindset is that you can never have too many assets in times of ECOM needs!

Savannah APRS/packet is dead

I’m in Hinesville, GA (not far from Savannah) and there is no APRS coverage here. What’s up with that? It also appears packet is dead as well. You can see the lack of coverage here at aprsworld. The closest digipeaters are Walterboro, SC (to the north) and Kingsland, GA (just on the Florida border).

I’m hoping THE COASTAL AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY K4NLX AMATEUR RADIO CLUB can get something going. It seems to be an active club… just need them to put up a digipeater and an IGate.

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.