# HAM radio for BRB Tracker

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
So I am looking into getting my HAM license simply because someone who was getting out of rocketry gave me a BRB transmitter with an attenuator (?) and yagi antenna. The radio he gave me doesn't look like it's in good shape. So I am looking for a replacement radio and suggestions of what and were to get one that would work for this application. While I am not looking to go cheap I certainly do not want one with oodles of bells and whistles so I am not paying for a bunch of stuff I won't use in this application. This will be a radio that will be dedicated to rocketry. And while I am at it, I think I might want to replace the yagi as well.

Now, if at a later date I get into HAM stuff THEN it will be get a bunch of features...

Suggestions?

#### rms

##### Well-Known Member
So I am looking into getting my HAM license simply because someone who was getting out of rocketry gave me a BRB transmitter with an attenuator (?) and yagi antenna. The radio he gave me doesn't look like it's in good shape. So I am looking for a replacement radio and suggestions of what and were to get one that would work for this application. While I am not looking to go cheap I certainly do not want one with oodles of bells and whistles so I am not paying for a bunch of stuff I won't use in this application. This will be a radio that will be dedicated to rocketry. And while I am at it, I think I might want to replace the yagi as well.

Now, if at a later date I get into HAM stuff THEN it will be get a bunch of features...

Suggestions?
Is the BRB a rf beacon or gps? If a beacon a lot of hand held radios will work great so long as it has a decent rf meter. If it is a gps you will need a receiver with a tnc to decode the packets.

Greg

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
Is the BRB a rf beacon or gps? If a beacon a lot of hand held radios will work great so long as it has a decent rf meter. If it is a gps you will need a receiver with a tnc to decode the packets.

Greg
It's RF - not GPS.

Also, I have another yagi that's like brand new but I am not sure if its the right size for the 440 bands. Is there a way to tell?

Edit: So something as cheap as this one would work?

Last edited:

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
.oops duplicate post

Last edited:

#### rms

##### Well-Known Member
It's RF - not GPS.

Also, I have another yagi that's like brand new but I am not sure if its the right size for the 440 bands. Is there a way to tell?

Edit: So something as cheap as this one would work?
The baofeng are cheap but quite frankly, excuse my language the rf metering sucks. Maybe with a good attenuator and tuning off the transmitting frequency a few kc's it may work but I would look for a kenwood, icon or yeast.
Do you have a ham licence? Antenna resonance for 440 Megs isn't that hard to figure out. Even a Google search will help you determine it's suitability.
Greg

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
The baofeng are cheap but quite frankly, excuse my language the rf metering sucks. Maybe with a good attenuator and tuning off the transmitting frequency a few kc's it may work but I would look for a kenwood, icon or yeast.
Do you have a ham licence? Antenna resonance for 440 Megs isn't that hard to figure out. Even a Google search will help you determine it's suitability.
Greg
Ahhh good. That's the kind of feedback I am looking for. Good to know about the Baofung and I'll check out the other brands you mention. To answer your question...no I do not have a HAM license - yet.

#### rms

##### Well-Known Member
Ahhh good. That's the kind of feedback I am looking for. Good to know about the Baofung and I'll check out the other brands you mention. To answer your question...no I do not have a HAM license - yet.
Getting a ham license is not that hard and actually you find it very educational. Once you get one you will be able to determine the suitability of that antenna for 440 megs, I promise ya. :wink:

Greg

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
Getting a ham license is not that hard and actually you find it very educational. Once you get one you will be able to determine the suitability of that antenna for 440 megs, I promise ya. :wink:

Greg
No it's not hard...just finding the time to do the test is...lol

#### rms

##### Well-Known Member
No it's not hard...just finding the time to do the test is...lol
I certainly can relate to that, especially with spring weather arriving. Around these parts anyway
Greg

#### FMarvinS

Dave,
If you go to this sight- http://www.csgnetwork.com/antennae3ycalc.html - there is an automated algorithm to determine yagi antenna element size. Since the BRB 70 cm tracking transmitter may be initially programmed to a frequency of 433.92 Mhz, you can plug that number in to obtain the element lengths. Also at the following site: http://www.nrharc.org/UHF Tape Measure Yagi.pdf , a simple homebrew metal tape measure antenna is illustrated. The portrayed antenna lists all elements that would also help with the antenna element measurements. Also, by building such an antenna (< $20), you'll save some cash to apply to motors! Good luck. Fred, L2 KG4YGP Last edited: #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter It's RF - not GPS. Also, I have another yagi that's like brand new but I am not sure if its the right size for the 440 bands. Is there a way to tell? Edit: So something as cheap as this one would work? No, absolutely no Baofengs. The so called signal "strength" meter is "all on" if there is a signal or all off with no signal. Totally useless for RDF tracking unless you are going to use binaural earphones and attenuate by sound. Also, they don't have the most sensitive receiver either. Perfectly fine to monitor channels and rag chew banging off nearby repeaters. They're so cheap you break it or lose it, no love lost. Kurt (KC9LDH) #### billdz ##### Well-Known Member Here's a pic of my homebrew yagi with an Altus Metrum TeleBT velcroed to the boom. The elements are each less than 14" long and the boom length is about 8", plus whatever extra you want to add for the grip. You can buy a nicer looking and more rugged version from Arrow for about$45.

I use this with a Yaesu FT-60R, although it also works fine with my Baofeng UV-5R. Some people don't like Baofengs because they are so cheap, but I've never had an issue and you can't beat the price ($10). The FT-60R may be slightly better but it costs$180.

#### michigander

##### Well-Known Member
baofeng I have is useless , due to my oldest son not being to next couple launches I'm forced to by a new hand held I would rather not borrow is Kenwood

#### DAllen

##### Well-Known Member
baofeng I have is useless , due to my oldest son not being to next couple launches I'm forced to by a new hand held I would rather not borrow is Kenwood

Wife approved P.O. for $475.00 , today's project is to spend that before P.O. expires looking at Yaesu brand , has to do APRS also Okay well...I don't really need a transceiver and the more I look I'm starting to shy away from this who idea because man...these radios are a lot pricier than I expected. #### catman001 ##### Well-Known Member Dave, just a couple of thoughts. What is it about the radio you don't like, or makes you think it is not working right? Ugly on the outside does not mean that it won't work for your application. What make and model is it? Same goes for the antenna. If you do need to replace the radio there are a few ways to go. Over the years, I have bought a number of used radios on e-bay and have been happy every time. The manufactures keep bringing new models out, and some need to have the latest and greatest, so they sell their radio and buy a new one.$150-200 should get you a radio that will work fine for your needs.

Keep in mind that you only need a radio that receives. When I first started using the Big Red Bee trackers, I used a Radio Shack scanner that I had. Replaced the rubber ducky antenna with a yagi and it worked great.

For beacon tracking I still use a receiver only. My current radio is a Icom, IC-R5, which is a general coverage scanner/receiver. I like the fact that I am also able to pick up AM and FM radio stations, and the NOAA weather stations. While the R5 is discontinued, it has been replaced by the IC-R6. A new one will cost $180 from one of the US based ham radio suppliers. Mike N0JDB #### michigander ##### Well-Known Member Okay well...I don't really need a transceiver and the more I look I'm starting to shy away from this who idea because man...these radios are a lot pricier than I expected. Dave you don't need that expensive radio I'm looking at with APRS for BRB RF , garage here has a BRB GPS tracker radio will be used for also 2m/70 cm will do you fine with signal meter for RF I might be at 3 oaks next weekend with 2 stage or a j510 in darkstar jr , both stupid high #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter baofeng I have is useless , due to my oldest son not being to next couple launches I'm forced to by a new hand held I would rather not borrow is Kenwood Wife approved P.O. for$475.00 , today's project is to spend that before P.O. expires looking at Yaesu brand , has to do APRS also
Do the D72A. It will leave you more future options if you want to attach the 72 to a tablet to do live tracking on a map. Can use Garmins with the round serial port too for a map in hand if all you want to do is
see the rocket on a map. The "right" Garmins can be had used for a reasonable price and OSM maps can be downloaded here: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/
The 72 sends the rocket position/waypoint to the Garmin and it is "automagically" plotted on the map. NO MUSS, NO FUSS! No using other outside apps to convert lat/long or
manually input data into a mapping program. Soooooooooooo much easier to have this done automatically. Do yourself a favor and get a 72.

That's my old 60 Cs above and I got a 60CsX hardly used that has the "Sight 'N Go" feature that the 60Cs lacks. Very helpful to shoot a line at a descending rocket that doesn't have a tracker. The Garmin will lock it in and you don't have to keep staring
at your landmarks as you walk to your rocket. Keeps one from falling in a hole or tripping. If I look down, I invariably lose my landmark so the line on the Garmin pointing the way really helps.

There is no easy way to get APRS positions out of a Yaesu handhelds APRS or otherwise. Yaesu has never done APRS right. The VX-8GR that is out of production could be attached to a Garmin using the same cable for a Kenwood
like I show to pull the waypoints off for tracking. The 72 is on sale for less than you have budgeted: http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010879 Get a drop-in charger and buy a Molly case off of ebay and you'll be good. You can get free software
from Kenwood or use the Chirp radio programmer for it. The 72 dropped in price due to the new D74A which is too rich for me. I don't do D-star and already have 220Mhz rigs so I don't need another tribander. Kurt also known as KC9LDH
Can also do tricks for rocket launch announcements like shown on the APRS maps:

Last edited:

#### michigander

##### Well-Known Member
I have access to a 72 anyday of week , oldest son has one down the street

have my eyes on yaesu FT-2DR , looking into

#### ksaves2

I have access to a 72 anyday of week , oldest son has one down the street

have my eyes on yaesu FT-2DR , looking into
Ok, I have to qualify myself. If one is interested more in the other Ham Radio features their rigs offer then that may be more important to you. You will only be confined to tracking with a lat/long, distance and an arrow on a tracking rose on
the itty bitty screen. No way to get the position packets piped to another device period. Their TNC is closed. If you have access to a 72A anytime you want, you should be in decent shape then. Kurt

#### billdz

##### Well-Known Member
For APRS on a budget, check out
https://aprsdroid.org/,
APRS Droid is an app that enables you to send and receive APRS with a cheap HT and an Android phone. If only interested for rocketry purposes, you only need to receive, the transmitter is on the rocket.

#### michigander

##### Well-Known Member
Kurt I haven't hit the buy button , you really have looking at Kenwood I'm finding the kenwood has dropped in price , I hate to borrow stuff , off distracted looking at gps units
at glance Kenwood comes with cable for pc and software
Yaesu appears to be extra

#### rms

##### Well-Known Member
Do the D72A. It will leave you more future options if you want to attach the 72 to a tablet to do live tracking on a map. Can use Garmins with the round serial port too for a map in hand if all you want to do is
see the rocket on a map. The "right" Garmins can be had used for a reasonable price and OSM maps can be downloaded here: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/
The 72 sends the rocket position/waypoint to the Garmin and it is "automagically" plotted on the map. NO MUSS, NO FUSS! No using other outside apps to convert lat/long or
manually input data into a mapping program. Soooooooooooo much easier to have this done automatically. Do yourself a favor and get a 72.

View attachment 317239View attachment 317240

That's my old 60 Cs above and I got a 60CsX hardly used that has the "Sight 'N Go" feature that the 60Cs lacks. Very helpful to shoot a line at a descending rocket that doesn't have a tracker. The Garmin will lock it in and you don't have to keep staring
at your landmarks as you walk to your rocket. Keeps one from falling in a hole or tripping. If I look down, I invariably lose my landmark so the line on the Garmin pointing the way really helps.

There is no easy way to get APRS positions out of a Yaesu handhelds APRS or otherwise. Yaesu has never done APRS right. The VX-8GR that is out of production could be attached to a Garmin using the same cable for a Kenwood
like I show to pull the waypoints off for tracking. The 72 is on sale for less than you have budgeted: http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010879 Get a drop-in charger and buy a Molly case off of ebay and you'll be good. You can get free software
from Kenwood or use the Chirp radio programmer for it. The 72 dropped in price due to the new D74A which is too rich for me. I don't do D-star and already have 220Mhz rigs so I don't need another tribander. Kurt also known as KC9LDH
Can also do tricks for rocket launch announcements like shown on the APRS maps:
Does the CxS use the same old serial cable as the older garmin units?

#### ksaves2

Kurt I haven't hit the buy button , you really have looking at Kenwood I'm finding the kenwood has dropped in price , I hate to borrow stuff , off distracted looking at gps units
at glance Kenwood comes with cable for pc and software
Yaesu appears to be extra
Yup, You have to pay for extras. The Kenwood just pay for the drop-in charger and that's it. Perhaps a case and good to go. The thing with that setup above, the D72 is using the coordinates coming in from Garmin as
the local coordinates and the internal GPS on the 72 isn't turned on. This is nice because it helps save the 72's battery by not having to run the onboard GPS.
You have so much more tracking choices available to you that you can try anytime you want. Just want to track from the screen of the 72? You can do that. Use an outboard GPS like I show, sure. Plug into a laptop and by golly there are some
economical WinDoze tablets out there that are easy to carry you can use any Windows APRS tracking program. Can cache maps and have a map-in-hand that way.

Only trick the 72 can't do is Bluetooth. The 74A can do B/T but that is one awfully pricey rig pushing $700.00. It is all-band and all mode receive on the B band, transmits on 70cm, 1.25m and 2m AND does D-star. I have a TH-F6A so I have the all mode receive and 3 bands. No D-star where I live so not interested. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Again, the TNC is closed on Yaesu stuff and you can't do anything with the data coming off of it. Can't send it to tracking programs or anything like that. Kurt #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter For APRS on a budget, check out https://aprsdroid.org/, APRS Droid is an app that enables you to send and receive APRS with a cheap HT and an Android phone. If only interested for rocketry purposes, you only need to receive, the transmitter is on the rocket. You need a B/T TNC in order to bond the phone to your H/T: http://www.mobilinkd.com/ Or some folks hack a cable. Kurt Last edited: #### billdz ##### Well-Known Member Kenwood TH&#8209;D72A now on sale at GigaParts for$379. But for someone like Dave who already has a BRB, just needs a receiver for RF beacon tracking, and does not want to spend much, this seems like overkill. A cheap HT with a signal meter like the $27 UV-B5 is all he needs. To upgrade from beacon to APRS, he'd just need a$27 HT, a $65 Mobilinkd (I forgot about that in my prior post, thanks @ksaves2), and an Android phone. For someone with no interest in traditional ham radio communication, who just wants to track rockets, for$350, less than the price of an
TH&#8209;D72A, you can get from Altus Metrum both a TeleGPS and TeleBT, then you'll have in-flight audio, GPS, APRS, bluetooth, Google maps, and much more data than you get with APRS. I was going to buy an APRS HT but ended buying the Altus Metrum combo, very happy with it. The in-flight audio attracts a lot of attention at launches.

#### michigander

##### Well-Known Member
Yup, You have to pay for extras. The Kenwood just pay for the drop-in charger and that's it. Perhaps a case and good to go. The thing with that setup above, the D72 is using the coordinates coming in from Garmin as
the local coordinates and the internal GPS on the 72 isn't turned on. This is nice because it helps save the 72's battery by not having to run the onboard GPS.
You have so much more tracking choices available to you that you can try anytime you want. Just want to track from the screen of the 72? You can do that. Use an outboard GPS like I show, sure. Plug into a laptop and by golly there are some
economical WinDoze tablets out there that are easy to carry you can use any Windows APRS tracking program. Can cache maps and have a map-in-hand that way.

Only trick the 72 can't do is Bluetooth. The 74A can do B/T but that is one awfully pricey rig pushing $700.00. It is all-band and all mode receive on the B band, transmits on 70cm, 1.25m and 2m AND does D-star. I have a TH-F6A so I have the all mode receive and 3 bands. No D-star where I live so not interested. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Again, the TNC is closed on Yaesu stuff and you can't do anything with the data coming off of it. Can't send it to tracking programs or anything like that. Kurt Thanks for posting and help , TH-D72A is on order and due here Monday #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter Kenwood TH&#8209;D72A now on sale at GigaParts for$379. But for someone like Dave who already has a BRB, just needs a receiver for RF beacon tracking, and does not want to spend much, this seems like overkill. A cheap HT with a signal meter like the $27 UV-B5 is all he needs. To upgrade from beacon to APRS, he'd just need a$27 HT, a $65 Mobilinkd (I forgot about that in my prior post, thanks @ksaves2), and an Android phone. For someone with no interest in traditional ham radio communication, who just wants to track rockets, for$350, less than the price of an
TH&#8209;D72A, you can get from Altus Metrum both a TeleGPS and TeleBT, then you'll have in-flight audio, GPS, APRS, bluetooth, Google maps, and much more data than you get with APRS. I was going to buy an APRS HT but ended buying the Altus Metrum combo, very happy with it. The in-flight audio attracts a lot of attention at launches.
True but don't hit the volume control on the H/T if using a mobilinkd once you use the setup program. I have two of the Mobilinkds. You have to use a setup program to get the gains just right. A little trick with APRSDroid connected is pull up the screen that shows the packets streaming in. Once you do your initial setup, you can play with the volume control until you are certain the packets are 100% decoded. It's best you make sure you don't knock the H/T out of calibration out in the field.

The 72 can also do a trick the Mobilnkd/HT setup can't. Once the rocket is down and out of Rf range decoding, open the squelch on the 72 as you proceed out.
If your tracker survived, you will begin to hear it in the noise long before the signal is strong enough to decode. In that case, you'll be reassured you'll be getting an updated position as you get closer. On the Mobilinkd, you'd have to detach the cable connected to the microphone and earphone jacks.

Also, the cheaper the H/T the more likely you'll get a rig with a less sensitive receiver end. May cut down your usable decoding range with
APRS. I used a Kenwood TH-F6A with a Beeline APRS tracker using a Mobilinkd and Nexus 7 2013 all carried in a one handed box.
It does work but I had to transmit my "position" packet out in order to get my position icon to move as I was going to the rocket. I don't know if that is still the case with later iterations of the program. I couldn't get "my" position to change without transmitting.

With the D72/Garmin duo, once setup, the system is rock steady and totally reliable once tuned to the right frequency.

Kurt

#### AeroAggie

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
There is no easy way to get APRS positions out of a Yaesu handhelds APRS or otherwise. Yaesu has never done APRS right.
Kurt, do you know if anyone has put a table together showing common H/Ts and APRS ability (or other tracking features)? I'm a newly minted ham user with zero radio experience outside of an aircraft. The D72A functionality is appealing but my CFO may object to the price tag, plus many of my fellow club members use 220MHz trackers so a tri-band is also appealing. Just wondering how many options are out there for APRS and RDF without needing 6 hands to carry them all.