APRS: It Works, But It’s Not Reliable

When I first heard about APRS, I had hoped I could use it to replace tracking I already get from my SPOT device. I began my learning curve by testing several APRS apps:

At first, I tried connecting my phones using a purpose-built cable for my Baofeng radio. After trying all of the above software, nothing was working. Using a second radio tuned to the national frequency for APRS (144.390), I could hear my transmissions, but nothing was getting through to the APRS tracking sites like aprs.fi

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First SSTV Image Capture

I finally did it!  I captured this image from the International Space Station using a Yaesu FT-60 radio with a Diamond SRH77CA whip antenna.  I used SSTV for iOS to decode and save the captured audio. 

Check out the video below to see the process in action!

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My First Simplex Contact – In the Middle of the Mojave Desert

Yesterday I went on a little adventure out in the California desert.  I was equipped with a Baofeng UV-5R and a cell phone loaded with APRS.fi software.  Our first destination was the Hole-in-the -Wall  Rings Trail.   Shortly after exiting the 40 highway, I lost cell service, but fortunately before that I was already looking for people transmitting their location via APRS.  I found one!

My contact, K6ORJ, was wise enough to put his simplex calling frequency 146.520 in the comments of his APRS beacon.  I didn’t find him in the campground, but later that day I heard him …

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ISS SSTV Transmissions April 1-2, 2019

If you’re in the Southern California area, tune your ham radio to frequency 145.800 between 10PM to 10:15PM PST and have your mobile app ready to listen for a chance at capturing SSTV images from cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station.  The satellite moves quickly from the north just above Oregon to the south near Houston, Texas.

Decode the images with:

Track the satellite in real time with this IOS app:

For better reception, try an Elk 2M/440L5 dual-band antenna:

Or an Arrow 146/437-10BP:

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Cheap and Effective Mobile Ham Setup – No Drilling Required!

My first ham radio was an 8-watt handheld Baofeng BF-F8HP. Combined with a Nagoya NA-771 15.6″ whip antenna (pretty much the standard for HTs) and a Btech QHM22 speaker mic, I found I was easily able to get an audible signal with some slight noise hitting repeaters 20+ miles away and people didn’t have any trouble hearing me.

To program the handheld radio, I bought the BTECH PC03 FTDI Genuine USB Programming Cable and downloaded the free CHIRP software. I converted Gordo’s Top 100 repeater list from PDF to an Excel spreadsheet, then to a CSV template …

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Magnetic Mic Adapter Review

Since I’m driving a leased vehicle, I didn’t want to drill holes into the car to mount my ham radio microphone. I was very happy to find an adapter kit that slips over the round part of the microphone mount, creating a sturdy ferrous metal surface to attach to any magnetic mount. After having tried several other ideas and products, I highly recommend this simple solution. Buy yours online here: Magnetic Mic Part Number IPM-113.

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