Setting up the VX-8GR and TH-D72 for BeeLine GPS

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ksaves2

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You talking about just the tracking transmitter? I've got a TRS w/LCD RX and it's pretty cool!

Yeah, I have a couple of the 900Mhz unit. Cris now makes a 400mhz one along with the LCD receiver. I'd like to see a 100mW 400Mhz Eggfinder.
He makes it so ones callsign appears in the strings so it's perfectly legal. Kurt
 

John Kemker

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Yeah, I have a couple of the 900Mhz unit. Cris now makes a 400mhz one along with the LCD receiver. I'd like to see a 100mW 400Mhz Eggfinder.
He makes it so ones callsign appears in the strings so it's perfectly legal. Kurt
Yep! I need to put my TRS together. Got the LCD completed.
 

WillMarchant

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I'm using the Yaesu FT3DR and Kenwood TH-D74a for APRS these days. They're great with the Big Red Bee and Altus Metrum products.

Let me know if you want me to update the "getting started" info from earlier in this thread for these new radios.
 

Jmhepworth

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I'm using the Yaesu FT3DR and Kenwood TH-D74a for APRS these days. They're great with the Big Red Bee and Altus Metrum products.

Let me know if you want me to update the "getting started" info from earlier in this thread for these new radios.
Please do. I have the TH-74A and have to figure it out all over again every time I use my Big Red Bee.
 

DaveW6DPS

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... It was doable in the Kenwood D7A(g) days...

For some of us those days continue! Well, as a back-up now to my Mobilinkd TNC and APRS Droid. I also have a Yaesu FTM-100D mobile in my car with great built-in APRS functions.

Maybe we should post more threads to describe what we are using? And keep the older ones, since many of those older radios are still kicking around the swap meets and ham fests.
 

ksaves2

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I’ve experimented with the Mobilinkd and APRS Droid too Dave with an F6A. Very very workable and usable too for APRS! I need to see if I can dig up some of my setup Howto‘s again. Especially the one on using APRSIS32 with the EggFinder ”like” trackers. It can place an NMEA tracker on a photomap.
About 4 years ago I found 2 Chinese tablets that were dual boot Windows/Android AND had a built-in GPS! One can’t find a tablet like that anymore. Dual booting is out there but none with a GPS chipset onboard.
I was able to use APRSIS32 to track and recover my EggFinder stuff on a photomap and it’s great.
I think I’ll be able to revisit my setups and compose a how to. I retire from the practice of medicine July 1st and once I get my house cleaned up and organized, my two small rocket workshops cleaned up and organized, I’ll have more time for rocket activities. I haven’t flown in 3 years unfortunately due to work and losing my Dad and my lovely wife.
Now I’ll have time to get my domestic chores done, take care of my adult autistic spectrum son (who in reality is at a high level of functioning. Like an 8 year old and he’s 26. No more meltdowns as he outgrew them.)
I can’t wait to get free! Kurt
 

ether

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got the bigredbee 70cm and a TH-d74a and been able to set it up to use APRSdroid app to locate it on a map

Key steps:
Instead of APRS 12, use the KISS setting
Pair the phone with the TH-d74a over bluetooth
Under Configuration - select Interface, under KISS select Bluetooth (this will send the info out via bluetooth)

Launch APRSdroid and can see the packets come through and can be displayed on the Map and the app can transfer the coordinates to any other Map app, Google maps or even more interesting Google earth.

Provides great options

Using the TH-d74a by itself under the APRS 12 setting also works great, shows location, distance, relative location to TH-d74a on the TH-d74a LCD Screen
 

ksaves2

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got the bigredbee 70cm and a TH-d74a and been able to set it up to use APRSdroid app to locate it on a map

Key steps:
Instead of APRS 12, use the KISS setting
Pair the phone with the TH-d74a over bluetooth
Under Configuration - select Interface, under KISS select Bluetooth (this will send the info out via bluetooth)

Launch APRSdroid and can see the packets come through and can be displayed on the Map and the app can transfer the coordinates to any other Map app, Google maps or even more interesting Google earth.

Provides great options

Using the TH-d74a by itself under the APRS 12 setting also works great, shows location, distance, relative location to TH-d74a on the TH-d74a LCD Screen

Yeah the D74A would be the ultimate but is a bit pricey. I went for a D72A when it first came out as I could get the APRS positions out on the round serial port of the D72. One wire to my Garmin 60Cs or 60 CSx and the rocket will be plotted in real time. Select the rocket icon position and the Garmin will plot a course to the last known position and one just follows the arrow on the map. The danged thing will also tell one how long it will take to walk or ride to the last known position!

One word of caution. Don’t be tempted by buying a used Kenwood D7a(G). They were good in there day but the APRS chipset goes bad over time. I bought 2 of them used 10 years ago and found out they couldn’t decode APRS packets reliably anymore. Would cost too much to repair and bought a D72a. A D74a is a nice unit but somewhat pricey. If one doesn’t mind a wire to their mapping device (as long as the mapping device can take a serial cable and interface) they can save a bit on a D72. If all the other digital options on the D74 are to one’s taste like the D-Star and bluetooth connectivity then go for it though they are running $550.00 now.

A 72A I’ve seen for $419.00 and a Garmin 60CsX for $50.00 to $200.00 on ebay. Can get free OSM maps at
https://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ Used to be able to get the whole U.S. by selection but apparently that is not possible anymore so one would have to be happy with a single state at a time. Back in the day it would cost over $1000.00 minimum for APRS tracking and of course now there are NMEA trackers both on the 900Mhz unlicensed band and the 400Mhz Ham bands now. I gotta build my Eggfinder TRS on the ham band and try it out.

Kurt Savegnago
 

ether

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Picked up the TH-d74 at ham radio outlet for $499, still up there in cost
 

ksaves2

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Picked up the TH-d74 at ham radio outlet for $499, still up there in cost

The D72A is listed there for $439.00. If one is not interested in the D-Star digital stuff, it’s all that‘s needed to do APRS tracking with a one wire connector. I guess the D74A has bluetooth capabilities and technically it might be interfaceable to a Bluetooth enabled handheld mapping GPS but I am not certain about that or what units might work with wireless radio to mapping GPS connection. I just know that the Garmin 60Cs and CsX with the round socket connection cable and interface to the D72A and D74A for rocket APRS tracking on the 2 meter and 70cm bands.
Kurt
 

WillMarchant

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Here is a quick start guide to APRS for the Yaesu FT3DR. It is not rocketry specific, and covers steps to get you to where you can beacon on 144.390.

Here is my attempt at a minimal subset to configure your radio for receiving APRS transmissions from your rocket/balloon:

Short press A/B button and make sure you’re in B.
Long press the A/B button so you just see the one channel display.
If it says “VFO” in the upper left corner then skip to next step. Otherwise quick press V/M to get into VFO mode.

Click and hold “DISP”.

Click on “APRS”.

Either touch a sub-menu or use topmost rotary button to highlight it and then press “DISP”.
Note that there are more menu items than screen. Use the top rotary button to scroll.
Use “BACK” button to return to the APRS menu items.

Sub-menus you’ll want to set:
“4 APRS MODEM” Use top dial to select 1200bps
“8 APRS MUTE” turn this on if you don’t like hearing a lot of packet noise.
“20 GPS POWER” Set to on.
“23 CALLSIGN” Put your callsign in menu item 23. Set SSID to “- 7”

Use “BACK” twice to get to the VFO display.

Touch the screen over the frequency display to get into input mode.
Type in the frequency you set into your transmitter.

Monitor the frequency for a couple of minutes to make sure it’s not in use.

Turn on your tracking transmitter.
Wait a minute or two for its GPS to update.
You should start seeing messages on the FT3D display.

Press the screen in the lower left corner.
Press on the screen at “S.LIST”
Find your transmitter’s callsign and either press on the screen over it or use the topmost rotary button to highlight it and then press “DISP”.
The display will show you a range and bearing from your current location to your transmitter.
 

WillMarchant

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The TH-D74 allows you to save and restore setup configuration files to the SD card. I really encourage that. Then you can make a "rocket tracking" configuration.

If you're not having any luck with APRS, then go down into the system menu and do a reset.

The basic "I just want to receive and decode APRS tracking packets" setup (from the reset state) is:
1) Press the "ENT" button in the center of the multi-function cursor
2) Use the numeric keys to enter the transmitter's frequency
3) Press the "(F)" button
4) Press the "APRS" button (it's the number 5 key)
You'll now be able to receive and decode APRS packets on that frequency.
 

ksaves2

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It' about time we see
Here is a quick start guide to APRS for the Yaesu FT3DR. It is not rocketry specific, and covers steps to get you to where you can beacon on 144.390.

Here is my attempt at a minimal subset to configure your radio for receiving APRS transmissions from your rocket/balloon:
(Snip for brevity's sake)


It's about time we see another APRS H/T out there. I know the Ham market is limited but would be nice to have a bread and butter APRS rig with an onboard GPS and an interface (wire or B/T) to get the incoming NMEA sentences off to a mapping program. I'm surprised the Chinese haven't tried to clone one.
I experimented 2 to 3 years ago with 3dr radios with cheap GPS chipsets with the goal of getting a ~$25.00 GPS tracker out of it. Essentially, disposable. Launch it on a questionable project; questionable as to whether or not one will get it back even with tracking and if it's lost or lands in water, no big deal. Essentially a disposable GPS tracker for rockets.
I did have some success interfacing the transmitter and the receiver to a computer but I could not get my Ham callsign into a comment statement in the NMEA strings being transmitted from the GPS chipset. Specs said it could be done but after multiple tries with different chipsets and their concomitant setup computer programs, I found I could change some parameters and get them saved but the section to where I could insert a comment into the NMEA string (which would be my Ham callsign) was always greyed out. I came to the conclusion the cheap GPS chipsets had some of the capabilities limited either because they were clones or were meant to dirt bone cheap units. Buying a $100.00 "full featured" GPS chipset negated my premise hence I gave up.
I wasn't trying to do this to go into business but would have published an article so DIY folks could try and reproduce what I was doing. Yeah the 900Mhz 3dr units would be possible but I had some higher powered units that would technically be illegal for a non-Ham to use and since I couldn't get my callsign in a string, gave up on that too. There's enough 100mW, 900Mhz GPS trackers out there already that folks can use.
Kurt
 

WillMarchant

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It's about time we see another APRS H/T out there. I know the Ham market is limited but would be nice to have a bread and butter APRS rig with an onboard GPS and an interface (wire or B/T) to get the incoming NMEA sentences off to a mapping program.

The FT3D is a nice radio. And it's *much* smaller than the TH-D74. I bought it for use when traveling.

But I really prefer the features and menu system in the Kenwood line.

So I really really hope they recover from the chip factory fire and continue their line of general purpose H/Ts with APRS functionality.

FWIW, these radios also work with the Altus Metrum line if you enable APRS packets in the Altus Metrum setup.
 

Art Upton

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I have ft72, FT74, VX-8G, FT1DX and the FT3D. I still cannot get the FT3d to give me a compass heading that changes as I move. Unless once the fox/tracker is no longer moving I have to set it into one of the 3 way point memories, then I can get a moving tracker.

The VX-8G Troj and I bought at Giga parts when they first came out while at NASA USLI/SLP, the setup was easy. I found a way to make the FT1DX almost as nice as the VX-8, the dot matrix on the compass is not as clear as the VX-8G. The TH74 is the nicest and I am a Yaesu user.

I also just got the TH-72D just before they quit making them on sale, and use it as a portable digipeater. However the guide to using it for rocket tracking at the beginning of this thread is no longer working. Anyone got a new link to it?

FYI think about 6 hams with new VX-8Gs tracking each other all over the SLP host hotel, that was a hoot, remember Troj?
 

WillMarchant

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However the guide to using it for rocket tracking at the beginning of this thread is no longer working. Anyone got a new link to it?

The tinyurl still works, Art. But I've attached a copy of that 10 year old file.
Best wishes,
Will KW4WZ (formerly KC6ROL)
 

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ether

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The D72A is listed there for $439.00. If one is not interested in the D-Star digital stuff, it’s all that‘s needed to do APRS tracking with a one wire connector. I guess the D74A has bluetooth capabilities and technically it might be interfaceable to a Bluetooth enabled handheld mapping GPS but I am not certain about that or what units might work with wireless radio to mapping GPS connection. I just know that the Garmin 60Cs and CsX with the round socket connection cable and interface to the D72A and D74A for rocket APRS tracking on the 2 meter and 70cm bands.
Kurt

I've been able to get the D74A to work with both Rocket Locator and RocketTrack android apps over Bluetooth, its a nice solution but cost is definitely at the high end
 
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The FT3D is a nice radio. And it's *much* smaller than the TH-D74. I bought it for use when traveling.

But I really prefer the features and menu system in the Kenwood line.

So I really really hope they recover from the chip factory fire and continue their line of general purpose H/Ts with APRS functionality.

FWIW, these radios also work with the Altus Metrum line if you enable APRS packets in the Altus Metrum setup.


Just to clarify, you are saying Altus Metrum APRS works on the FT-3DR? I am looking at the TeleMetrum or the TeleMega.

I've been holding back on the FT-3DR, but I think I'm going to pull the trigger on one. I will take advantage of the Yaesu C4FM too. There are several repeaters in my area that supports it. If I can get APRS on the FT-3DR to work with Altus Metrum products, that would be an added plus.
 

WillMarchant

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Yes, I have personally verified that the FT3D decodes APRS packets from both the TeleMetrum v3.0 and TeleGPS v1.0 after using the AltOS software to enable APRS transmission.
 
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Great. Thanks for that, Will and Art.

My next question was if the FT3DR worked with the Big Reg Bee GPS/APRS Transmitters.

Art Upton, just curious, do you use the 2m or 70cm BRB transmitter?

I have a couple of the BRB 70cm RF Beacons. It is amazing how much distance you can get out of the 16mw and 100mw units with just a tiny wire whip antenna.
 

WillMarchant

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I haven't tried the 2m BRB transmitter but it should work fine. I've used the 70cm one a lot and it's great with both the Kenwood and Yaesu lines. I believe the 900 MHz BRB system uses proprietary modulation and so I'm guessing that it won't work in a typical FM ham AFSK setup.
 

Art Upton

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Great. Thanks for that, Will and Art.

My next question was if the FT3DR worked with the Big Reg Bee GPS/APRS Transmitters.

Art Upton, just curious, do you use the 2m or 70cm BRB transmitter?

I have a couple of the BRB 70cm RF Beacons. It is amazing how much distance you can get out of the 16mw and 100mw units with just a tiny wire whip antenna.

I am using the 2m BRB APRS unit. It will work with both of them.
 

ksaves2

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Great. Thanks for that, Will and Art.

My next question was if the FT3DR worked with the Big Reg Bee GPS/APRS Transmitters.

Art Upton, just curious, do you use the 2m or 70cm BRB transmitter?

I have a couple of the BRB 70cm RF Beacons. It is amazing how much distance you can get out of the 16mw and 100mw units with just a tiny wire whip antenna.

The only deal on 2 meters is an optimum antenna is longer than a 70cm (~400Mhz) tracker. The low powered 70cm Beeline stuff is perfectly adequate for a sport flier. In a big long nosecone mounted tracker, 2 meters is not a problem though one has to be able to have a reliable removable bulkhead that won't rip out on the harness.

I've had flights go out of sight for a long time and due to the prevailing ground winds everyone assumes the rocket is going to appear in the downwind direction based on the ground windspeed. Well, winds aloft can be different and with live tracking on a map, I was able to yell and tell everyone to look 180 degrees from where they were looking. Sometimes we'd see it coming in under the main, sometimes not. This occurred many times with me as I would track other folks APRS tracked rockets as I had the ground equipment and simply would just have to change frequencies on my radio.

Also with APRS, with the altitude reporting one can easily tell the main chute has successfully deployed due to the slowing of the descent rate of the altitude readout. The NMEA trackers (example Eggfinders) have this same benefit also. This is true even if the rocket can't be seen due to the distance. Hence, if I fly at a large venue I try to blow the main up high, 1000' or higher because altitude is one's friend as far as radio propagation is concerned with the low power and short antennas. In a high speed flight state, GPS may not work so well but once the rocket is in the recovery phase, things settle down and positions stream in more reliably. With a mapping program, one can establish a drift pattern of the descending rocket. There will eventually be a loss of signal as the rocket gets lower to the ground. If there is a relatively higher wind blowing, the final resting place may be a distance away from where the last position was reported. If one gets to the "last known position" they will likely reacquire a new position as the rocket will be pretty close. If the GPS is facing the dirt, they might still receive a signal but know which direction to proceed even though a valid position is not being transmitted. After flying several GPS tracked rockets, I've never had this scenario occur. Once I got close enough to pick the signal in the ground footprint of the tracker, I got an accurate final position.
I've never lost a GPS tracked rocket. Even one that was a lawn dart. With the lawn dart there was one position packet that came in when the rocket was about 75 to 100 feet in the air. I half heartedly proceeded to that position and there was the fincan sticking out of the ground. It was a fiberglass rocket so a new nosecone, new tracker and the rocket still flies.

Smallish DD rockets even with sizable main chutes disappear quite easily even with a nominal recovery.

Yeah, following an arrow on a radio will achieve the same recovery but if one can real time plot a rocket's trajectory on a map, it's nice to know that the rocket likely didn't land in a lake, pond, drainage ditch on a roof or what have you. That is not so much of a problem for our brethren that launch in the wide open spaces out West but us Midwesties have a lot of ground "stuff" to deal with.

Kurt Savegnago
 

ksaves2

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Ohhhhhhh,

I forgot to mention. When using any tracker RDF or GPS, one needs to put contained ematches on the outputs of their deployment electronics, set the rocket up on a rail at home, turn everything on and make sure the altimeters don't get scrambled by the radio frequency energy coming out of the trackers or the matches pop while the altimeter(s) are in standby mode. Testing will save one a lot of grief.
I had a few P6k deployment altimeters (OOP thank god) that were dorked even by a low powered Beeline RDF tracker!
Had a lawn dart and main deployment on ascent due to this issue. I'll never fly a P6k again with an Rf tracker onboard. Without a tracker they performed fine (except in wind but that's another story)
They P6k's were deployment altimeter kits from back in the day. I don't think there are any kits out there anymore as the cost of a pre-built rocket deployment device as dropped phenomenally since I started out. It was fun to solder mine and they do work. Except not in an Rf field of a tracker. Nosecone trackers are ideal as they put the "null" behind the tracker and are less likely to interfere with deployment electronics. Still, one needs to test out their installation.

Kurt Savegnago
 
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