This is my experience of getting APRS to work, all of this was with the last 2 weeks
When I fired up my CHIP, I saw the Amateur Radio folder on Outernet, and in there is APRS (Amateur Packet Reporting System) messages… Now I have held my Amateur Radio qualifications since 1978 (from Australia), and I currently hold the UK Full call License, M0KNC, but, since I help set up old ,now defunct, AX25 Packet Radio network in Queensland, I have not even looked at packet radio.
I HAD to find out how to use this APRS thing on Outernet!
I have always liked digital modes on HF radio, and I have a number of ways of passing email via HF (Shortwave) and one of these is call “PSKMail” and it also has some APRS functionality, where I can send APRS messages. So then I had to work out HOW to get it to go to the Outernet (so I could talk to myself!)
After doing some research, and so YOU don’t have to, I discovered the rules are:
- The message should be addressed to “APOUT” – I don’t think this matters a lot, it can be addressed to anyone, but the APRS network owners have set this up as a place for the stray messages to go.
- The message must have the word “OUTNET” without quotes in the body of the message. – If you send a message to anyone and it contains OUTNET then the system should see it and push it up to the satellite so it arrives in the APRS folder.
That is it! Easy! When I sent a message on 10.148Mhz from PSKMail that had OUTNET in the content, it was heard by an “iGate” in Austria, and passed through the interwebs until Outernet sent it to the sky, and in just a few minutes there it was, back with me again via Outernet.
VHF ( 2 meters to be exact) is where all the real APRS action happens, what do I need to get going on VHF?
- An APRS program for my computer for VHF
- A TNC ( or a packet controller
- A VHF radio
For 1) I found the cross platform program YAAC ( http://www.ka2ddo.org/ka2ddo/YAAC.html )
For 2) I found the “software TNC” called “DireWolf” ( https://github.com/wb2osz/direwolf/releases )
For 3) I have a couple of cheap Baofeng UV-5R https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Baofeng+UV-5R these guys (and their cousins) are less than £30 is you look around
I installed the software following the simple instructions on their pages , and made YAAC work as an internet only system ( after a few configuration hiccups!) all I needed was a cable for the radio.
The Audio out of the radio is a standard 3.5mm jack , and the audio in to the mic is a small 2.5mm jack. I discovered that with this radio the PTT is activated by shorting the Mic to the speaker, so one of the cables needed to be isolated or the PTT would be activated. I had an old audio transformer in the junk box, so I used that in the audio out lead. You could use a ceramic capacitor, but, if you use this radio, you have to do something! Just ensure that the grounds are separated
I plugged it in and YAAC started to show things on the map ( which some people think is all that APRS is good for) and, after learning all about wide1-1, wide2-1 blah, blah, blah I managed to transmit via a local digipeater to an igate and then off to Outernet. Like this:
Via: Wide1-1, Wide2-1
Content: hello OUTNET from vhf
The pathway to OUTNET seems a bit “touch & go” at the moment, but it is really easy to get messages onto the bird.
As an added bonus, YAAC can use “outernet” as a “port” for incoming messages… at the time of writing, it does not work with the new “skylark” UI, but does with the old “librarian” … Your mileage may vary!
Here is a photo of the radio, with the map ( note my position “M0KNC” just above the radio) random messages, and the output of the DireWolf TNC. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the special RubberBand © connector securing device I have implemented as the small plug (for the audio in) doesn’t stay in by itself
It should be noted here that, if you have an internet connection and an Amateur License in YOUR country, then you can JUST install YAAC, and ask the developer nicely to let you connect it via the internet, or you could install a phone application that can talk via the internet too ( used to be free but now costs money) . Personally I like to no rely upon my local internet (this the email by HF thing), that is the “fun” of radio