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What do you use for tracking?

Bruce Coates
 

Hi

I'm working with a group at the University of Saskatchewan who want to start flying balloons as part of one of their grad student programs.  One of the items on their to-do list is to build up a dedicated tracking station.  They've had a Kenwood TM-D710G suggested to them as an option.  As much as I like these, there are some caveats like needing a 12v power source, limited funtionality if only using the front panel display, sheer complexity for non hams, and not least of all, needing to disable transmit so it can be used by non-hams. Rather than sink that much money into a single dedicated piece of gear, my thought are they could get a lot more functionality for less.  I'm throwing the door open for suggestions of good solutions or crazy ideas. 

To start with, what do you use for tracking?   I use:

TM-D710 in the car.
Garming GPS Map 60CX for both a gps source and plotting positions.
Windows laptop connected to the D710 via serial
I could run with Dire Wolf for sound card decoding like I do at home
APRSIS/32
My own Balloon Telemetry program (it announces balloon position via pc speaker or the car radio via AUX input)

TH-D72 for tracking on foot.

Doppler RDF antenna and receiver for homing in on a CW beacon if necessary. 

73, Bruce - VE5BNC
SABRE - http://ve5aa.dyndns.org/balloon

AE5IB (Kip)
 

It depends on what you want to do, and how much you want to spend.

If you only want to receive the track, then a cheap $25 Baofeng UV5R HT will receive the APRS Signals. Use a good magnetic mount antenna on your car. 

I use a cheap USB GPS. I got mine from China for $15. It took a month, but it was $15. It has a mag mount, so I put it out the window on the roof, and tape it down with the blue masking tape.  It also works on the dash, but there is nothing metal for it to stick to, and the GPS signal is not as good, but it works. 

You can use a Raspberry Pi and a TNC-X or TNC-Pi, or I have also used a Winbook $89 tablet PC with TNC-X.  

I connect the computer to the WiFi on my phone, and become an I-gate, so the information can be seen on aprs.fi, or a phone application like APRSdroid. That way people without a license or who do not have an APRS receiving system can also see the balloon system. 

I use a mobile radio at 25W, and both I-gate and Digipeat. It helps everyone when the balloon is on the ground and the antenna is lying horizontally on the ground. If I am closest and get the packet, everyone else can get it also.  

Kip


 

On Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 11:09 PM Bruce Coates <bruce.coates@...> wrote:
Hi

I'm working with a group at the University of Saskatchewan who want to start flying balloons as part of one of their grad student programs.  One of the items on their to-do list is to build up a dedicated tracking station.  They've had a Kenwood TM-D710G suggested to them as an option.  As much as I like these, there are some caveats like needing a 12v power source, limited funtionality if only using the front panel display, sheer complexity for non hams, and not least of all, needing to disable transmit so it can be used by non-hams. Rather than sink that much money into a single dedicated piece of gear, my thought are they could get a lot more functionality for less.  I'm throwing the door open for suggestions of good solutions or crazy ideas. 

To start with, what do you use for tracking?   I use:

TM-D710 in the car.
Garming GPS Map 60CX for both a gps source and plotting positions.
Windows laptop connected to the D710 via serial
I could run with Dire Wolf for sound card decoding like I do at home
APRSIS/32
My own Balloon Telemetry program (it announces balloon position via pc speaker or the car radio via AUX input)

TH-D72 for tracking on foot.

Doppler RDF antenna and receiver for homing in on a CW beacon if necessary. 

73, Bruce - VE5BNC