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Big Red Bee GPS Tracking Rig

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sylvie369

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Interestingly enough, the VX-8GR does have a serial port on it, and in the GPS menu, there's a COM port setting. You can set it for output, and send NEMA strings and waypoints.
Bless the anonymous engineer who insisted on doing things the right way. It's good to see this once in a while.
 

troj

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Bah, where are the photos?? :rolleyes:
I can give you photos...

First two are just for you, Phil!

Somewhat blurry one is a feeble attempt to get a picture of the display. Lighting is horrible right now, so I had to hold it at an angle, to keep from getting flash glare. Moving radio + moving camera = blur.

-Kevin

PS: We don't need to discuss the fact that the carpet needs to meet the vaccuum cleaner....

y1.jpg


y2.jpg


y3.jpg


y4.jpg
 

troj

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I brought the radio in to work today, to see how the GPS did in terms of direction, speed, etc. It definitely provided constantly updating info, including easily detecting direction changes.

I was also able to flip back to my last APRS packet from my BeeLine, and it immediately gave me distance and bearing to the last known position.

One test yet to be performed is what it does if the last packet from the BeeLine is garbled and doesn't contain good position data.

-Kevin
 

WillMarchant

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Interestingly enough, the VX-8GR does have a serial port on it, and in the GPS menu, there's a COM port setting. You can set it for output, and send NEMA strings and waypoints.

So, it appears that the VX-8GR will indeed talk to a handheld GPS.

I don't have a cable with the right connectors, so I cannot play with it.

Edit Okay, I found it in the manual....



-Kevin
Well, that was encouraging, but I hope it's not the whole story.

GGA and RMC are NMEA sentences that supply position information for the unit.

I don't know what WAY.P is, but what we want to come out in that mode is the $GPWPL NMEA sentence.

When you get the cable Kevin could you grab some of that "WAY.P" data coming out, please? Maybe that is their name for the $GPWPL sentence...
 

troj

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Well, that was encouraging, but I hope it's not the whole story.
It was just a snippet of the section. I suspect it'll do what folks are looking for, but requires playing.

When you get the cable Kevin could you grab some of that "WAY.P" data coming out, please? Maybe that is their name for the $GPWPL sentence...
Gotta buy some parts, and build one. No way, no how am I gonna pay $48 for the "official" Yaesu cable. Not when I can spend $8 and burn myself a couple times with a soldering iron, instead..... :p

-Kevin
 

WiK

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First two are just for you, Phil!
Thanks! But something's still not right... Do you have any pics of any cable-ties or plastic bags which came with it? ;)

Looks like a fun bit of kit!

Phil
 

troj

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Thanks! But something's still not right... Do you have any pics of any cable-ties or plastic bags which came with it? ;)
I almost took a picture of the box the box came in.

Looks like a fun bit of kit!
So far... Time will tell.

Reading a bit about the VX-8R, when you add the GPS module, the battery doesn't last long, unless you get the extended battery. Will have to see how that plays out.

-Kevin
 

troj

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Do you have to buy the GPS module separately? Or do you mean you can enable/disable it?
On the VX-8R, the GPS module is an add-on. On the VX-8GR, which is what I have, it's built in and you can turn it on and off via the menus.

On the -8R, usage reports indicate that the GPS really sucks the stock battery, fast. Since the -8GR is just released, there isn't any usage information out there regarding the battery.

-Kevin
 

troj

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I finally got the bits to build a cable -- Radio Shack only had 3/32" plugs, and they're too small, so I had to mail-order.

The nice thing about the plugs from mouser is that they came with the cable attached. $12 or so got me three cables; all I had to do was solder on the DB-9.

So, I can get the radio to send the GPS coordinates to the computer. Waypoint data hasn't happened yet; weather is lousy, and things are taking a long time to get a GPS lock, especially in the house.

I'll putz with it more on a nicer day.

-Kevin
 

n5wd

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OK, but just remember, we're all sitting by the computer, 24 hours a day, waiting for your review!

Seriously!

(OK, so maybe I only refreshed the forum's monitor a few times, today, while letting the kids do their work. Thank goodness for dual (and triple) monitor setups!)
 

troj

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Okay, it's official -- the stock battery sucks. I had read numerous reviews that generally praise the VX-8 line, except the battery when GPS is used. Well, they're right.

I'll be looking for a larger battery. I found a 3rd party one, or I may just bite the bullet and buy a Yaesu battery.

-Kevin
 

WiK

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How bad is it? Looking at the size of the thing I'm amazed they found any room for battery at all...

Phil
 

troj

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How bad is it? Looking at the size of the thing I'm amazed they found any room for battery at all...
I'd guess the battery is good for 3 to 4 hours of use, with the GPS turned on (you can turn it off).

I'd like to see 6 to 8 hours.

-Kevin
 

WiK

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4 hours is certainly cutting it a bit close for any long/tricky recovery.
 

bguffer

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I'd guess the battery is good for 3 to 4 hours of use, with the GPS turned on (you can turn it off).

I'd like to see 6 to 8 hours.

-Kevin
Do they offer an external battery adapter which uses AA batteries, like the Kenwood BT-11?

Bob
 

troj

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4 hours is certainly cutting it a bit close for any long/tricky recovery.
With GPS, 4 hours is plenty.

-Kevin
 

troj

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Do they offer an external battery adapter which uses AA batteries, like the Kenwood BT-11?
Indeed they do. I may well pick one of those up, as AAs are always available in a pinch. It actually goes on in place of the standard battery.

I have one for my VX-150.

-Kevin
 

bigredbee

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With GPS, 4 hours is plenty.

-Kevin
And you could always turn it off while not in use ;) I recovered a rocket recently that was 2+ miles away. Took me about 25 minutes, and most of the time was getting my car ready to drive!

-- Greg
 

troj

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And you could always turn it off while not in use ;) I recovered a rocket recently that was 2+ miles away.
Yah. Thing is, I'd forget to turn it back on when I needed it, then I'd get annoyed, waiting for a lock.

Oh, I looked on eBay for larger batteries. Retail, they go for about $80. A couple places have official Yaesu batteries for $44ish as a "buy it now" price....of course, shipping is $30. I wonder how many people get suckered on that without checking?

-Kevin
 

troj

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Interesting...

Yaesu has discontinued the VX-8R.

Kinda makes sense, though -- the -8DR is an upgrade of the -8R, while the -8GR is a significant hardware change.

-Kevin
 

WillMarchant

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I've started making noises about the new Kenwood and an Avmap as my end-of-year present... :happydeer:
 

troj

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Progress! We have progress!

Serial cable is made, radio talks happily to the computer. Next up was figuring out why the radio wasn't decoding packets from the BeeLine.

So, I retrieved my PicPac from the friend who borrowed it; problem is at first he forgot to return the cable that goes from the VX-2r to the PicPac. And since the VX-2r uses a special plug (4 conductor 1/8" jack), it wasn't something I could easily build a second of.

So, today I got the audio cable back, and tonight I had a chance to play some more (fixing the window on the Explorer took priority, as rain would've made a mess with the window stuck down).

First up... Make sure the PicPac is decoding, so I can verify what the BeeLine is transmitting. Done.

Second, clear the APRS station list on the -8GR. Done, after I dug through the manual a bit.

Third, figure out why the -8GR wasn't decoding... Okay, dummy, somewhere along the way, you set the modem to the wrong baud rate. Doh! Done. Fixed, decoding.

....and voila! The computer receives the string $GPWL,4109.42,N,09554.10,W,KC0UJU-1*31 as soon as the BeeLine transmits a packet. So, it's sending NMEA strings, and you can pick which standard you want. There are four options.

So yes, the -8GR will indeed set waypoints on your GPS, if you want it to.

-Kevin
 

Adrian A

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Progress! We have progress!

Serial cable is made, radio talks happily to the computer. Next up was figuring out why the radio wasn't decoding packets from the BeeLine.

So, I retrieved my PicPac from the friend who borrowed it; problem is at first he forgot to return the cable that goes from the VX-2r to the PicPac. And since the VX-2r uses a special plug (4 conductor 1/8" jack), it wasn't something I could easily build a second of.

So, today I got the audio cable back, and tonight I had a chance to play some more (fixing the window on the Explorer took priority, as rain would've made a mess with the window stuck down).

First up... Make sure the PicPac is decoding, so I can verify what the BeeLine is transmitting. Done.

Second, clear the APRS station list on the -8GR. Done, after I dug through the manual a bit.

Third, figure out why the -8GR wasn't decoding... Okay, dummy, somewhere along the way, you set the modem to the wrong baud rate. Doh! Done. Fixed, decoding.

....and voila! The computer receives the string $GPWL,4109.42,N,09554.10,W,KC0UJU-1*31 as soon as the BeeLine transmits a packet. So, it's sending NMEA strings, and you can pick which standard you want. There are four options.

So yes, the -8GR will indeed set waypoints on your GPS, if you want it to.

-Kevin
Are you planning to do a range test?
 

n5wd

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....and voila! The computer receives the string $GPWL,4109.42,N,09554.10,W,KC0UJU-1*31 as soon as the BeeLine transmits a packet. So, it's sending NMEA strings, and you can pick which standard you want. There are four options.

So yes, the -8GR will indeed set waypoints on your GPS, if you want it to.
Well, that's one of the two big questions I wanted answered, and with very good news at that!

Does the -8GR do full duplex (so I can talk to the satellites, as well?).

Now to see whether the TH-D72 has built in maps! Argh!!

Wayne
 

sylvie369

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So, I retrieved my PicPac from the friend who borrowed it; problem is at first he forgot to return the cable that goes from the VX-2r to the PicPac.
Speaking of PicPac, there's a new option for receiving AX.25 packets and displaying them:

https://wiki.argentdata.com/index.php/Radio_Shield

It's a semi-do-it-yourself thing, for those interested in using Arduino to set up their own transmitters/receivers. My brother bought one of these at Dayton, plus their newer GPS

https://www.argentdata.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=137

and is running tests now.
 

troj

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Are you planning to do a range test?
You mean test how far away I can pick up the BeeLine? With or without the Yagi?

-Kevin
 

troj

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Well, that's one of the two big questions I wanted answered, and with very good news at that!

Does the -8GR do full duplex (so I can talk to the satellites, as well?).
I don't know. Not much like finding any reference to it in the manual.

-Kevin
 

Adrian A

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You mean test how far away I can pick up the BeeLine? With or without the Yagi?

-Kevin
Right. How far away you can decode packets with the -8GR, with or without a Yagi.
 
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