Android and Ham Radio

#1
I have a question for the group. I am an ardent Apple guy. I love my iOS and OSx stuff. I have used Android devices and frankly am not a fan. I do recognize, however, that it is an easier environment to work in for developing and innovating for amateur radio given how locked down iOS is (and getting more locked down in future iOS updates if reports are to be believed.)

If I put one tablet in the vehicle for Nav (I use Gaia on my iPhone 8 Plus right now) I would like to have it as useful as possible. This means it would also do something on the ham side as well as Nav. I run DStar gear and Icom has an app that runs better on Android than iOS. I know there are some logging programs and V/U/SHF grid identification apps on both platforms. Where I am running into problems is: I am uncertain what other apps there are from tablets to use for Winlink, APRS, anything like that. I am open and curious to trying an Android since I can get one cheap through a deal my phone provider is having. Oh, I'd also like some idea on specs I should look for on Android devices. While I know that more memory and better processors are always nice, there is one hardware provider for iPads while there are a ton for Android tablets (and I am clueless who has the quality and reliability that the iPad has.) I'd also hope it is able to run GPS off grid as needed.

Any insight is appreciated.

Thank you!
 
#2
I use an Android tablet to run APRSdroid through a Mobilinkd TNC to a Yaesu FTM-3100r.
I also use Repeaterbook, Broadcastify (not really ham, more scanner app but they do have some ham repeaters), QRZdroid, Ham Bands, Locator (Grid Square), HamClock, DroidPSK, DroidRTTY, DSP Audio Filter, Ham Radio Tools, Morse CT, and IZ2UUF Morse Koch CW.

Some are on my tablet, all are on my Android phone. Some I only use when working HF and may not apply to your situation.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#4
There used to be a pretty decent iOS APRS app called OpenAPRS. But it's been some time since that was updated and isn't in the app store any longer AFAIK. It was free and I believe could do AFSK and could have been a full implementation. Now I'm not sure there's really any iOS APRS options, certainly nothing free.

I've been thinking about this for a while. I use Xastir on Linux and via XQuartz/Macports on my Macbook. So there may be a way to get it to run on Android, but it would be a jailbroken situation and you'd probably have to compile it yourself. It still wouldn't integrate with any navigation tools either.

On Windows you can use APRS-IS, but I'm not sure the status of Windows tablets for navigation otherwise.

APRSdroid is kind of the default best option but that's not an Apple solution. So Android is the only tablet way to do this. APRSdroid does integrate in a limited way with Backcountry Navigator. Gaia doesn't do any APRS that I know of. That's the way I'm leaning, Android + APRSdroid + Backcountry Navigator.
 
#5
What do you use on HF? I am curious about whether you can integrate a tablet with an HF rig. Looking at either the TS480 or IC7100.
I have an Icom 5100 and realized it doesn't really do APRS (at least not easily - I am far from an expert). I guess there is a way to do it through dstar, but kinda complicated for my simple brain and I am not sure how well that would work when farther away from the city. Anyhow, I thought Icom and APRS don't integrate well.....so look into that if you get the 7100
 
#7
What do people use that have radios that APRS and tnc built in like the FTM400 to use Droid tablet? The radio has serial and audio interfaces. Very similar to Kenwood TH710. Serial data contains GPS data plus APRS spots as way points.
 
#8
hillbilly, my FTM-400DR is connected to a Winbook windows 8 tablet running APRS-IS. The connection is via the serial output on the back of the radio, which is then connected to the tablet via Yaesu's serisl to usb converter.
 
#9
What do you use on HF? I am curious about whether you can integrate a tablet with an HF rig. Looking at either the TS480 or IC7100.
I have a TS-480Sat and I like it as it is less menu driven. I am in the process of hooking up the tablet to do DroidPSK and DroidRTTY as well as use the DPS filter for voice contacts. The TNC I use does not do 300 baud so it can't do HF APRS.

I wouldn't mind a 7100 either, they had been down to $769 (still only $819 now after mail in rebate) for awhile and I would have jumped on one if I had the funds to allocate to that. Though I am not a fan of the control head but for that price I could get over it.
 
Last edited:

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#10
hillbilly, my FTM-400DR is connected to a Winbook windows 8 tablet running APRS-IS. The connection is via the serial output on the back of the radio, which is then connected to the tablet via Yaesu's serisl to usb converter.
Can it do bidirectional comm to APRS-IS? I had an FTM-350 and had it feeding station locations out of the serial port but never tried going the other way. It was just parroting station beacons. I'm curious if you can generate a message in APRS-IS (or perhaps on a terminal) and send it out via RF through the radio? I know the Kenwood's TNC is a full implementation in that sense but I've heard Yaesu isn't really a full TNC in the same way. The serial port can only output station locations or input NMEA data from an external GPS, not true raw APRS packets.
 
#11
5 minutes with google and I found an answer to my question. For those with vhf/hf radios with a build in gps and tnc that has a serial port with gps and aprs data and want to use APRSDroid. There is a serial to bluetooth adapter that will connect to an android tablet. To APRSDroid app it will appear as a GPS and also contain the received packet data. This should work for the Kenwood 710 series and the Yaesu FTM300/400 radios.
http://jesshaas.com/projects/d710bt/
Converter is not very big and designing a 3D printed case shouldn't be that difficult.

Can it do bidirectional comm to APRS-IS? I had an FTM-350 and had it feeding station locations out of the serial port but never tried going the other way. It was just parroting station beacons. I'm curious if you can generate a message in APRS-IS (or perhaps on a terminal) and send it out via RF through the radio? I know the Kenwood's TNC is a full implementation in that sense but I've heard Yaesu isn't really a full TNC in the same way. The serial port can only output station locations or input NMEA data from an external GPS, not true raw APRS packets.
See above that should answer your question.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#12
@Hillbilly Heaven, I dig the 710 has a full TNC I was just wondering if anyone's tried, either via Bluetooth or directly with a serial cable, RX/TX raw APRS packets (not just NMEA data in/waypoints out) into the FTM-350/400.

IOW, the KISS protocol is or isn't implemented in the Yaesu. It didn't appear so in the old FTM-350 but maybe it's been changed since.

http://www.tapr.org/pipermail/aprssig/2014-August/043663.html

"Yaesu has a menu option that looks promising, but it only provides​
output of received APRS packets and that's in a non-standard form. And​
the manual section that mentions TNC is simply instructions on how to​
hook up your own external TNC to the radio which kind of makes the​
internal APRS functions a bit redundant.​
Kenwood, on the other hand, provides full access to the internal TNC for​
both receive and transmit and even supports KISS mode to let the​
software take full control."​
 
#13
Now that I think about it, I think there are really two very different questions: one is whether or not you can send out messages that you write on APRS-IS over serial through the FTM-400DR. The other is the question of whether or not one can access the TNC through the serial port - as you guys have read, you can't do this.

But to be honest, I don't think one has to necessarily have access to the TNC of the radio to send out messages over APRS (let's say, I want to click on an APRS station on my windows tablet and send a message like "hello"). In theory, all you have to do is be able to set the APRS beacon message in the radio, and let the radio do the APRS message encoding.

So I think these two features are pretty much disjoint. You don't have to have one to have the other, I think, if the implementation allows.

That said, the FTM-400DR seems to ignore serial input unless it's in programming mode, which is unfortunate. It's one of the biggest drawbacks to the radio (the built-in GPS on the DR is the other drawback...)
 
Last edited:
#14
Yeah seems the two questions got crossed in the middle of answering mine. I haven't dug deep into the FTM300/400 series but if the built in TNC will not do kiss mode then No you will not send txt from the APRS app either APRS-IS or APRSDroid. The Kenwood 710 does have Kiss mode tnc built in so yes it will allow you to send an APRS message from inside the app.

Supposedly the built in GPS receiver in the 400XDR has been upgraded. Another thing I have heard and if it is true would be a deal breaker for me. While it is a dual band radio that will do V/U, U/V, V/V, U/U receive and xmit is that it will only do Digital as in Fusion or CDMA not APRS on one side only of the radio. This means that all your Fusion frequencies have to be stored all on one side of the radio.

I have been spoiled by my old Icom 2720 that was very flexible. I would run one side strictly voice and the other side was set up to APRS with a Tracker3. Yes it would blank the receive on the voice side while transmitting APRS data but it was so brief it didn't bother me and if I was transmitting on voice when a position report was to be sent it would just not send that report and wait till next time period.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#15
I'm not sure if I understand your question @Hillbilly Heaven, but I think you can still select APRS on either side of the radio (The FTM-350 I had defaulted to left/A-side but I changed to right/B-side). In the FTM-400 only A-side can do Fusion, so you'd presumably want to change APRS to the B-side so that the A-side is left free to do any mode.
 
Top