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60 Meters Mobile APRS Test On Road Trip (More Details)

WA8LMF
 

Starting this weekend, I will be on a road trip that includes testing HF APRS on 60-meters.   I will be departing at 0800 local (US EDT/1300 UTC) on Sunday 10 June.  

The first day drive will be from my QTH in central Michigan to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.   On Monday 11 June, I will be traveling from Wilkes-Barre to Philadelphia, PA; i.e. half day trip. On Wednesday 13 June, I will make the return trip from Philly to Michigan.  

I will be transmitting on 5403.50 KHz USB (US 60-meter "Channel 5") running a Yaesu FT-891 into a 60-meter Hamstick.    APRS beacons will alternate between:

  • Classic 300 baud AX.25 (WA8LMF-6)          1600/1800 Hz  Standard "KAM" Tones
  • APRS Messenger MFSK16 (WA8LMF-66)    2100 Hz Tone Center

Due to the shared-use mixed-mode (i.e. amateur vs government  voice vs data) nature of 60 meters, these will not be the usual beacons that key-up periodically and automatically without warning. Rather, I will be monitoring with speaker audio, and manually triggering beacons on demand whenever the channel is quiet.   Direct off-air reception reports, or even two-way APRS messaging is invited.  (I am running a full mobile laptop installation with two-way comms capability.)


At home in Haslett (near East Lansing, MI), my TS-2000 with ladder-line-fed 105' dipole, and my "Special Events"  instance of UIview will be running as an igate and mapping webserver to track the trip .  Go to

      <http://WA8LMF.net/map>

and click the black link for "Special Events Server" to see the real-time map.   Or look up WA8LMF-6 and/or WA8LMF-66 on the usual Internet mapping sources.        


The purpose of this test is to validate my hypothesis that 60 meters with it's NVIS capability (and NO skip zone like 30 meters) would be superior to 60 meters for 0-500 mile regional APRS coverage on HF. 

[My long term interest is the potential for superior mobile HF APRS coverage of the US and Canadian interior west (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Alberta, eastern BC, etc).    There are hundreds of thousands of  square miles in the thinly-populated mountainous terrain of the "Great Basin" (i.e. between the Sierra Nevada/Cascades coastal mountains and the US/Canadian Rockies) that have NO VHF coverage at all.  30 meters doesn't work well here either, since the relatively long-haul propagation on 30 means low radiation angles that don't effectively get out of the canyons and valleys rimmed by 7,000-to-14,000-foot mountains in the interior.  60 meters with it's excellent NVIS capabilities should be far better for short-haul HF "leaping tall mountains ins a single bound" mode.  For example, an RV in the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison in western Colorado reaching an igate in Denver.  This is only 150 miles away but no VHF coverage and deep in a canyon. This path is far too close for 30 meters; the skip zone on this band is usually 250-300 miles.]


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
EchoLink:  Node #  14400  [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

Live Off-The-Air APRS Activity Maps
   <http://wa8lmf.net/map>

Long-Range APRS on 30 Meters HF
   <http://wa8lmf.net/aprs/HF_APRS_Notes.htm>

WA8LMF
 

The 60-Meter Test is cancelled for now.   Just hours before departure, I was food poisoned by a  delivery pizza!

K4KDR
 

Sorry to hear that!

Perhaps the most valid reason in history for the cancellation of an Amateur Radio event.

Hope you feel better.

-Scott, K4KDR


====================================

-----Original Message-----
From: WA8LMF via Groups.Io
Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2018 4:02 PM
To: CrossCountryWireless@groups.io
Subject: Re: [CrossCountryWireless] 60 Meters Mobile APRS Test On Road Trip (More Details)

The 60-Meter Test is cancelled for now. Just hours before departure, I was
food poisoned by a delivery pizza!

Howard Winter
 

On Sun, 10 Jun 2018 16:02:18 -0400 WA8LMF via Groups.Io wrote:

The 60-Meter Test is cancelled for now.   Just hours before departure, I was food poisoned by a  delivery
pizza!
Good thing you didn't eat it just before you drove off!

Hope it resolves quickly.

73,


-- Howard Winter, G1BYY
Training Coordinator
Mid-Herts RAYNET

Mike Asbury
 

Yes, sorry to hear about your food poisoning.  I'm sure we have all been there at one time or another and know just how miserable that can be.

On a brighter note (at least for me), I have been "lurking" on this group for about a year trying to pick up bits and pieces about operating on 60m and when I saw the post about the test, I set up to try and monitor it...FT 950, 60m US Channel 5 > SoundModem Virtual TNC > ASPRIS32.  I monitored that all day yesterday and never heard or saw anything on the waterfall so I thought that I had done it wrong (I still may have), then I saw your post this morning and was somewhat relieved (again, I apologize for being "relieved" at your misfortune, but I'm sure that you know what I mean).  I'm looking forward to this test with a great deal of interest.  Here in Kansas where ice storms, tornado's, etc are very common events we often lose the repeaters, and NVIS HF is our back up.  We have been using 80m but I have always been fascinated by the potential of 60m so your test is going to be very interesting.  I know that I am pushing the NVIS coverage (it's about 800 miles from here to your QTH, and will be 1200+ to the far end of your journey), but that will just make it more interesting.  

Sorry for such a long first post and by way of introduction my name is Mike Asbury, W9MPA, and I live a few miles South of Ft. Riley, Kansas.  I am retired US Army and have been farming/ranching here since 1988.  Our local Ham club is heavily involved in Storm spotting and other Emcon activities, thus my interest in the 60m test.  Thank you for all of your hard work/time/and effort that you put into the hobby and share with us all, and now I'll go back to hiding in the weeds....but I will come out long enough to post what I hear (or don't hear) when the test does go forward.

Again, sorry for your misfortune and I look forward to monitoring the test.

Mike, W9MPA
Kansas

WA8LMF
 

On 6/11/2018 6:48 AM, Mike Asbury wrote:
Yes, sorry to hear about your food poisoning.  I'm sure we have all been there at one time or another and know just how miserable that can be.

On a brighter note (at least for me), I have been "lurking" on this group for about a year trying to pick up bits and pieces about operating on 60m and when I saw the post about the test, I set up to try and monitor it...FT 950, 60m US Channel 5 > SoundModem Virtual TNC > ASPRIS32.

If you had been monitoring on Saturday, you might have seen me doing a test run around town.   I routinely run  both the UZ7HO Sound Modem for classic AX.25 and APRS Messenger for MFSK16.   MFSK16 can work at far far lower signal levels than classic AX.25.  It can literally produce reliable copy on inaudible signals (i.e. below the noise floor), as heard in a normal SSB transceiver.     Further, one can run the Sound Modem and APRS Messenger simultaneously on the same sound card.   Details are here on my website:

    <http://wa8lmf.net/aprs/HF_APRS_Notes.htm>     (General HF APRS Info)
    <http://WA8LMF.net/APRS_PSK63/index.htm>       (Details on APRS Messenger - APRS over PSK63-GMSK-MFSK16 modes)


I monitored that all day yesterday and never heard or saw anything on the waterfall so I thought that I had done it wrong (I still may have), then I saw your post this morning and was somewhat relieved (again, I apologize for being "relieved" at your misfortune, but I'm sure that you know what I mean).  I'm looking forward to this test with a great deal of interest. 

Let me know when you want to listen, and I can punch off a few beacons from the fixed station.    Central MI Kansas is a  bit farther than one normally expects 60M to do most of the time.  The consistent range seems to usually be 0-300-400 miles. Still one can try, especially the MFSK16 Messenger Mode.    The twilight hours are most likely to work at your range; i.e.  right now that would be 2030-2230 CDT for you.

Assuming no other problems arise, I will be making TWO trips to hamfests this coming weekend.   Saturday 16 June I will depart for MIdland, MI about 60 miles to the north of me at around 0500.  Then on Sunday 17 June, I will travel to Monroe (far south-east corner of MI, departing at about 0430.    Normally, I would be beaconing on 2M and 30 meters enroute, but I will switch to 60 meters for the weekend.   

APRS Messenger can handle both it's internal sound card modem for MFSK16, and an external hardware or software TNC for AX.25 at the same time.   At each beacon interval, it will fire off an AX.25 beacon and then about 5 seconds later an MFSK beacon.  I routinely beacon both modes, which makes a very useful side-by-side comparison of the two modes.

By convention, most APRS Messenger users have adopted the SSID of -63 on 30 meters (alludes to the original single mode of PSK63).   To be able to tell 60 meter beacons apart from 30 meter ones on Internet webservers like findu.com, APRS.fi and my own UI-Webservers, I have adopted the convention of all "6s" in the SSID for 60M.  

I use WA8LMF-6 on 60M AX.25  (Classic AX.25 protocol only allows an SSID of -0 through -15;   i.e. 0 through F in hex).   
I use WA8LMF-66 on 60M MFSK16.  (The Messenger "digi-modes" SSIDs are not constrained by the 35+ year old AX.25 standard.)

 


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
EchoLink:  Node #  14400  [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

Live Off-The-Air APRS Activity Maps
   <http://wa8lmf.net/map>

 

Mike Asbury
 

Thanks for the response Stephen.  We did a test cutting of Wheat yesterday and it looks as if we will start harvest in earnest today (what little there is to harvest in this drought) and right after Harvest I will be out of town until the day before Field day, so it will probably be after Field day before I can get back to learning HF APRS and 60m.  I did download and install APRS Messenger version 3.54 yesterday evening and have spent a little time learning to set it up and reading all of the links that you sent me (and the many links that those links link to).  Quite a bit of good information to absorb.

I did have a chance to set up a radio on 30m (10.149.200) 1500 on the Water Fall on UZ7HO Sound Modem, ASPRIS32, and left it running for a couple of hours. I never saw anything on the map or recorded in Sound Modem, but I set it up in a hurry and may not have it quite right, but it was a good exercise in getting familiar with it all.  I also tried to set up APRS Messenger while reading through the "How to" links that you posted, but I really need to take the time to read the instructions several times over and get thoroughly familiar with them.

As I said, I am going to be very busy for the next couple of weeks and just will not have the time to devote to this and give it the attention that it deserves, but this is a fascinating, new (to me), aspect of the hobby that I intend to learn.

That being said, I probably will not get back to this until after Field day and hopefully I will have time to get comfortable with HF APRS in the interim and read through all of the pages on your website so I will be better prepared to participate in the 60m tests as they come.

In the meantime I will continue to watch this group and monitor the radio when I have a chance.

Thanks again for your reply and help.

Mike, W9MPA

WA8LMF
 

On 6/12/2018 6:38 AM, Mike Asbury wrote:
Thanks for the response Stephen.  We did a test cutting of Wheat yesterday and it looks as if we will start harvest in earnest today (what little there is to harvest in this drought) and right after Harvest I will be out of town until the day before Field day, so it will probably be after Field day before I can get back to learning HF APRS and 60m. 

My sister is a farmer with 800+ acres of corn and soy near Kalamazoo, MI, so I realize the seasonal imperatives at this time of year.


I did download and install APRS Messenger version 3.54 yesterday evening and have spent a little time learning to set it up and reading all of the links that you sent me (and the many links that those links link to).  Quite a bit of good information to absorb.

I did have a chance to set up a radio on 30m (10.149.200) 1500 on the Water Fall on UZ7HO Sound Modem, ASPRIS32, and left it running for a couple of hours. I never saw anything on the map or recorded in Sound Modem, but I set it up in a hurry and may not have it quite right, but it was a good exercise in getting familiar with it all.  I also tried to set up APRS Messenger while reading through the "How to" links that you posted, but I really need to take the time to read the instructions several times over and get thoroughly familiar with them.

Got the tone pairings wrong.   10.149.200 is the lower of the two freqs used for classic FSK packet on 30M.   The result is that you will be zero beat, and receive nothing at all.  You want:

  • Radio   10.147.60  USB

  • Soundmodem or other AX.25 packet pgm:   Audio tone pair at 1600/1800 Hz  (expressed in UZ7HO Soundmodem as "1700 Hz Center Frequency" "AFSK AX.25 300 bd" .)  

  • APRS Messenger:       Select 2100 Hz tone on startup screen.

The two programs will run side-by-side, and independently,  if directed to the same sound card.       Since the two modes are operated on different tones only a few hundred Hz apart, they can be received at the same time on the same SSB receiver.

       --OR--  

Let APRS Messenger manage both.    

In the Soundmodem, pull down  "Settings, Devices". In the "Server setup" box, enter "4000" into the box "KISS Server Port" and check "Enabled".  Also make sure "AGWPE Server Port is set to "8000" and is "Enabled".  This allows any APRS mapping program such as UIview, APRSis32, etc to connect to Messenger via it's "Use AGW Packet Engine" option instead of a hardware TNC.

On the main screen of APRS Messenger, click the long button near the top labeled "Connect to UZ7HO Soundmodem by KISS over port 4000 for AX.25" .    The button should turn green.  You will now see any incoming AX.25 packet transmissions  from the Soundmodem in the upper cyan "TNC Traffic" window of Messenger.  You will see native Messenger PSK63 / GMSK / MFSK traffic in the lower cyan window.  The program automatically receives all three modes.   The pgm will also automatically display any text message addressed to your callsign, on either mode, in the white "Messages" box. 

Note the the column of radio buttons "Transmit Mode" lets you choose to beacon on classic packet only, on Messenger "digimodes" only, or alternately on both.  You also use these buttons to select where to send a typed message, or to reply to a message. 



Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
EchoLink:  Node #  14400  [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

Live Off-The-Air APRS Activity Maps
   <http://wa8lmf.net/map>

Long-Range APRS on 30 Meters HF
   <http://wa8lmf.net/aprs/HF_APRS_Notes.htm>





 

Mike Asbury
 

Early this morning I set everything up per your instructions and when I clicked on the button labeled "Connect to UZ7HO Soundmodem by KISS over port 4000 for AX.25" it did in fact turn green so I figured I was all set.  After a few hours I had seen nothing on either SoundModem or APRS Messenger or APRSIS32 and thought that I had done something wrong again, so I left it all up and running and went to move equipment to get ready to start Harvest. When I came in I checked the radio and lo and behold there is areceived packet displayed in SoundModem, and in APRS Messenger and an Orange line on APRSIS32 from your QTH to mine!  Very exciting...at least I know that I am making progress thanks to your help

While reading through the page "HF APRS Using PSK63" I saw at the bottom why I needed to have the radio tuned to 10.147.600mhz. So far the only signal that I have received has been yours, but that is OK, it was very encouraging to see it, I'll leave everything set just as it is for the next couple of days and see what  happens.  If I get some time this evening I may even try and read up on how to send my own beacon and give that a try, but maybe not...we'll see.  For now I'm just happy to be able to monitor things.

Thanks again Stephen,

Mike. W9MPA

 

Mike Asbury
 

I left everything set up and monitoring for the last 24 hours and have received packets from many different stations...all is good.

Mike, W9MPA