Recently I have been messing with APRS and other packet radio transmissions, and I haven’t really found it to be all that enjoyable in its present form. Don’t get me wrong. I have had plenty of fun with it, but it hasn’t been what I want to do. My previous articles about getting Xastir up and running and sending packets through the ISS show that I enjoyed what I was doing, but the problem is that neither situations were very convenient. With APRS, I had to start up a laptop and initialize the TNC or I had to keep it running and risk killing the car battery. With the ISS I had to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, and since many of the passes were during work hours, I was not able to leave and drive to the clearing to make contact. Now, I think I’ve come up with a solution. Continue reading
I found something to occupy my time the last couple of days. I got tired of typing my own APRS positions into a document and sending raw packets to report my position (@240805/3108.03N/08343.16W>000/000/Robbie kk4fgm.com…). Every time I came to a stop at a parking lot and before I exited the vehicle, I took a look at the GPS and the clock and typed the information into a document. Then I sent the raw data in GtkTerm to the TNC. It made my wife mad to have to wait the three to five minutes once we arrived at a destination. Frankly, it made me even more mad because I had to wait for the GPS, open a terminal and VIM a file, then type in the commands to the TNC. I knew that I was going to have to find an automatic program to do this for me. That program is Xastir.
I have an apparent abundance of computer parts in my home, but the problem is that hardly any of them go together to make a whole. I wonder how many small-time hoarders such as myself have this problem. I occasionally get broken computers given to me, and most times I have to chop shop them and save what seems salvageable. Last night may have been one of those opportunities that was glorious and annoying at the same time. Continue reading
Earlier today I took a shot at communication with the UNPROTO side of the ISS’s amateur radio communication system. I would give myself a C- for operation because I made a few mistakes, but I was brought up on www.ariss.net. The funny thing is that it put me right in the sea below Iceland. Thanks to my friend Thomas for pointing that out to me. I am not running APRS yet. I haven’t quite figured out if Ubuntu can do that for me.
You can see that my message was longer than my packet length of 72. It was split, and with the busy system it was spread out over several seconds or minutes. I will shorten the message next time.
I issued a public apology on issfanclub.com for not using good operating procedures and not knowing what I was doing. I wasn’t intentionally trying to make a mess, but nonetheless I feel awful for tying up the line for longer than I needed.
Once I figure out this stuff good enough, I plan on blogging about the experience so that perhaps the knowledge can be spread. I am using a Yaesu FT-1900, a Kantronics KAM TNC (bought used…I think it’s somewhat old), and an HP laptop running Ubuntu 11.10. I have a cheap USB to serial adapter to connect the TNC to the computer. I didn’t receive any cables with the TNC when I bought it, and I had to wire all those up, too. That was fun, and it only took two tries to get them right.
I hope to see everyone on the ISS, soon. Not literally everyone, but to those who work it, I’ll be there as much as I can to say hi. Perhaps someday I can get an APRS system going, too.