SMS Text and Email via APRS using APRSdroid

prerunner1982

Adventurer
@prerunner1982 just stumbled across your post after playing around with APRSDroid. Been having some difficulties with the Argent Data Systems Tracker4 TNC but have APRSDroid working on for now.

Was wondering what setup you have for your APRS in the vehicle apart from using APRSDroid on your phone. Thanks!
I use a Mobilinkd TNC connected to a Yaesu FTM-3100. I liked the bluetooth between the TNC and the tablet so I didn't have to run any more cables around/through the dash.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
@prerunner1982 just stumbled across your post after playing around with APRSDroid. Been having some difficulties with the Argent Data Systems Tracker4 TNC but have APRSDroid working on for now.

Was wondering what setup you have for your APRS in the vehicle apart from using APRSDroid on your phone. Thanks!
I use a Mobilinkd TNC connected to a Yaesu FTM-3100. I liked the bluetooth between the TNC and the tablet so I didn't have to run any more cables around/through the dash.
Just a FWIW so hams are aware that Mobilinkd isn't your only option. I have a Byonics Bluetooth module that works fine with any TNC that offers the typical serial output. I have it on an Argent T3-301, for example. APRSdroid sees it fine. I've also hacked other serial-BT modules to work.

The nice thing about the Byonics is that it's designed to take +5V from pin 4 on the RS232 connector like is usually the case with GPS receivers used with TNCs so it's plug & play here. Most commercial or industrial RS232-BT adapters either require external power or might use pin 9, which is fine since pin 9 is typically left unused in RS232. But pin 4 is specified as DTR and might actually do something which then requires you to isolate the pin and jumper. Just an irritation, not a show stopper.

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Just a FWIW so hams are aware that Mobilinkd isn't your only option. I have a Byonics Bluetooth module that works fine with any TNC that offers the typical serial output. I have it on an Argent T3-301, for example. APRSdroid sees it fine. I've also hacked other serial-BT modules to work.

The nice thing about the Byonics is that it's designed to take +5V from pin 4 on the RS232 connector like is usually the case with GPS receivers used with TNCs so it's plug & play here. Most commercial or industrial RS232-BT adapters either require external power or might use pin 9, which is fine since pin 9 is typically left unused in RS232. But pin 4 is specified as DTR and might actually do something which then requires you to isolate the pin and jumper. Just an irritation, not a show stopper.

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Very cool. I've been looking at the TinyTrak4 but it seems like they charge quite a bit for their GPS modual and the additional expense for Bluetooth turned me off. Good to know you can make most serial bluetooth adapters work.

Right now I have the Argent Data Tracker4 working with USB cable and an old cell phone but it's finicky when you plug and unplug it. Also it shows both the APRSDroid icon and my truck icon on the map. Is this normal? I imagine both the phone and the tracker4 are acting as a TNC? It's all a little confusing to me.

Something like the Mobilinkd doesn't have GPS right? It uses the GPS in the bluetooth device? So it doesn't function like a normal tracker it just relays what APRS droid is giving it?

 
I use a Mobilinkd TNC connected to a Yaesu FTM-3100. I liked the bluetooth between the TNC and the tablet so I didn't have to run any more cables around/through the dash.
Ah nice I'm thinking of getting a one as well. However on my Yaesu FT-2900 I need to make up a special cable to connect it to the Mobilinkd it looks like. Something like this. Did you have to make up a special cable to get our radio to connect or were you able to find one online? Have you found the bluetooth connection to work well?
 
I'm using a Kenwood D710G w/a Bluetooth serial module for APRSDroid OSM.
I just got APRSDroid with offline OSM working at it's great. Used one of the full USA maps and it's so nice not having to worry about trying to cache google maps. Do you use any theme or just the stock map file?
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
I use the big NA map file, OSM is all that still works w/the latest Android, Google broke the antique street maps api that connects to the internet.

I have Aprsdroid as a read only TNC off my Kenwood, it will receive and display messages but to send em I gotta use the kenwood or kajigger some settings to make it bi-directional but then the phone has to be on and the radio wont do its standalone thing..

Used SMSGate last year when my brother joined me out in Pitkin for dispersed camping, I picked a nice easy spot for him to get too.. gave him a link to my tracker and a google link to the general area beforehand, and sent him a message through SMSGTE so he could reach me if needed.. Well guess who didnt check the APRS beacon I left while he was in town when and had cell phone coverage? he just started wondering down roads looking for me in a chevy volt, paying no attention to anything I said to him.. so two flat tires and an ATV ride back to town he messages me he's now waiting for AAA to come rescue his ass, I drive 10mins into town and find him to give him a ride back to his car, he totally missed us and was headed over Cumberland pass, in a volt, in May.

For XMas I got him a GMRS Mobile Radio to put on his volt.. he was well within radio range the whole time he got lost down a trail, but he didnt wanna swing by and pickup a radio the night before either so bah.. siblings, wanna just f'n strangle em sometimes.. hadda hear him whine about the cost of 2 new tiny cheap pos EV car tires all weekend that didnt even cost as much as one of mine.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Right now I have the Argent Data Tracker4 working with USB cable and an old cell phone but it's finicky when you plug and unplug it. Also it shows both the APRSDroid icon and my truck icon on the map. Is this normal? I imagine both the phone and the tracker4 are acting as a TNC? It's all a little confusing to me.
The Τracker4 is a full featured TNC and can handle beacons itself when you give it locations via GPS. The Mobilinkd devices are simply modems just connecting the radio to the software. They can't do much without client software.

When you run APRSdroid it's capable of picking up location from the phone's GPS. The default configuration will attempt to do posit beacons on some schedule, I think using Smart Beaconing. Which the Tracker is probably also configured to do. So you're double tapping and probably sending a lot of position out.

I have my Tracker3 set to Smart Beaconing with a dedicated GPS for it. So it runs regardless if I have APRSdroid connected or not. When I use APRSdroid I have it send a position packet every 30 minutes on a fixed interval. This packet contains the voice frequency I'm using and is simply informational for any other stations in the area. APRSdroid is also the only way to do messages in my APRS station. The Tracker/data radio don't really have any ability to easily include voice information but it does positions without any intervention when the truck is running.

I use OpenAndroidMaps with my APRSdroid offline. It's relies on Mapsforge V3 so it's very long out of date. Mapsforge is up to V5 and even that has I think gone stale for a while. But it works and if you download them while they are still available it'll be fine for a while (the V3 from OpenAndroidMaps were last updated late 2019, early 2020 but that will be the last update they run). The monster KS9N whole country map is what people used to use but it lacked quite a bit of detail is now really out of date by several years.

 
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The Τracker4 is a full featured TNC and can handle beacons itself when you give it locations via GPS. The Mobilinkd devices are simply modems just connecting the radio to the software. They can't do much without client software.

When you run APRSdroid it's capable of picking up location from the phone's GPS. The default configuration will attempt to do posit beacons on some schedule, I think using Smart Beaconing. Which the Tracker is probably also configured to do. So you're double tapping and probably sending a lot of position out.

I have my Tracker3 set to Smart Beaconing with a dedicated GPS for it. So it runs regardless if I have APRSdroid connected or not. When I use APRSdroid I have it send a position packet every 30 minutes on a fixed interval. This packet contains the voice frequency I'm using and is simply informational for any other stations in the area. APRSdroid is also the only way to do messages in my APRS station. The Tracker/data radio don't really have any ability to easily include voice information but it does positions without any intervention when the truck is running.

I use OpenAndroidMaps with my APRSdroid offline. It's relies on Mapsforge V3 so it's very long out of date. Mapsforge is up to V5 and even that has I think gone stale for a while. But it works and if you download them while they are still available it'll be fine for a while (the V3 from OpenAndroidMaps were last updated late 2019, early 2020 but that will be the last update they run). The monster KS9N whole country map is what people used to use but it lacked quite a bit of detail is now really out of date by several years.

Ah ok thanks for straightening me out on that. Unfortunately things like the smart beaconing and wifi connectivity are not working correctly on the Tracker4 and have been verified by a few people on their forum. The Mobilinkd seemed pretty popular on the internet but I don't like how it isn't stand alone. I just want it beaconing 24/7 and to use my cell phone once and awhile to check the map for stations around me and send a message every so often.

I use the big NA map file, OSM is all that still works w/the latest Android, Google broke the antique street maps api that connects to the internet.

I have Aprsdroid as a read only TNC off my Kenwood, it will receive and display messages but to send em I gotta use the kenwood or kajigger some settings to make it bi-directional but then the phone has to be on and the radio wont do its standalone thing..

Used SMSGate last year when my brother joined me out in Pitkin for dispersed camping, I picked a nice easy spot for him to get too.. gave him a link to my tracker and a google link to the general area beforehand, and sent him a message through SMSGTE so he could reach me if needed.. Well guess who didnt check the APRS beacon I left while he was in town when and had cell phone coverage? he just started wondering down roads looking for me in a chevy volt, paying no attention to anything I said to him.. so two flat tires and an ATV ride back to town he messages me he's now waiting for AAA to come rescue his ass, I drive 10mins into town and find him to give him a ride back to his car, he totally missed us and was headed over Cumberland pass, in a volt, in May.

For XMas I got him a GMRS Mobile Radio to put on his volt.. he was well within radio range the whole time he got lost down a trail, but he didnt wanna swing by and pickup a radio the night before either so bah.. siblings, wanna just f'n strangle em sometimes.. hadda hear him whine about the cost of 2 new tiny cheap pos EV car tires all weekend that didnt even cost as much as one of mine.
I can't seem to find in APRSDroid any type of "read only" setting. I see where you can set a manual interval but nowhere you can just stop the posistion tracking all together while still recievign data from the TNC.
 

prerunner1982

Adventurer
Ah nice I'm thinking of getting a one as well. However on my Yaesu FT-2900 I need to make up a special cable to connect it to the Mobilinkd it looks like. Something like this. Did you have to make up a special cable to get our radio to connect or were you able to find one online? Have you found the bluetooth connection to work well?
I made one, it was pretty easy and the pin outs are the same for the 2900. But by the sound of it, the Mobilinkd isn't what you are looking for.
As noted it doesn't function as a dumb tracker, only as a more fully featured APRS set up with display and messaging and such, really more along the lines of what APRS was meant to be (situational awareness) rather than just a tracker.
I do wish APRSdroid had a way to drop an object for others to see. It can be done in a round about way but it is not conducive to mobile operation.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Ah ok thanks for straightening me out on that. Unfortunately things like the smart beaconing and wifi connectivity are not working correctly on the Tracker4 and have been verified by a few people on their forum. The Mobilinkd seemed pretty popular on the internet but I don't like how it isn't stand alone. I just want it beaconing 24/7 and to use my cell phone once and awhile to check the map for stations around me and send a message every so often.
That's essentially how I have my station configured. APRSdroid is not critical for location function.

There's some redundancy since the GPS source is usually a Garmin device with it's own map, routing and ability to display other stations as waypoints. Ideally if I could message on the Garmin it's all I'd really need while actually driving.

I'm one who prefers a dedicated GPS receiver over a phone, mainly because I prefer the interface with tactile buttons (I just do not care for touchscreens in this context) and find some of the common tasks a bit easier than digging through pull downs and menus. I think it's mainly a question of size. A tablet I bet would work fine but something the size of a phone to me works better as handheld GPS receiver.

The one irritation I have is APRSdroid doesn't seem to recognize another station with the same callsign and SSID as you. I set both the Tracker and my APRSdroid to use -9 so that two stations aren't co-located on APRS-IS with different SSIDs. The Tracker beacons 95% of the locations but APRSdroid only see "you" internally. So while I'll see my packets when they're repeated on the air APRSdroid doesn't update my location on the map until it transmits a beacon. This is important from a tactical standpoint because the range-to for other stations isn't updated frequently as it's based on the last position APRSdroid knows rather than the Tracker.
I can't seem to find in APRSDroid any type of "read only" setting. I see where you can set a manual interval but nowhere you can just stop the posistion tracking all together while still recievign data from the TNC.
There's a feature request for a true read-only mode but setting it to a large interval achieves most of the same thing. It'll just try to transmit the first time you connect.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
I can't seem to find in APRSDroid any type of "read only" setting. I see where you can set a manual interval but nowhere you can just stop the posistion tracking all together while still recievign data from the TNC.
Thats a feature on my Kenwood to mirror TNC IO to serial, but in order for it to work both ways I have to disable the built in TNC.. but technically you could accomplish it physically just cutting the tx line on the bluetooth module.. it would make APRSDroid Read only, it'd be unable to transmit.
 

BagiMT

New member
Thats a feature on my Kenwood to mirror TNC IO to serial, but in order for it to work both ways I have to disable the built in TNC.. but technically you could accomplish it physically just cutting the tx line on the bluetooth module.. it would make APRSDroid Read only, it'd be unable to transmit.
The problem with cutting the TX line is that you won't be able to use the message feature. I agree, the Kenwood D710 is nice since you have the two options with APRSDroid, just use APRSDroid to display stations and let the radio handle all the APRS stuff, or let APRSDroid controll everything (useful if you send a lot of messages).
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I don't understand why you'd go so far as you physically cut the TX line, at least if you're licensed and doing amateur radio APRS. I'm presuming dread's need is reception for an unlicensed operator so he doesn't inadvertently transmit. There seems to be no practical size limit to the interval. I've set 30 and 120 minutes and it functioned as intended. The field accepts at least 64 digits without error but I didn't have time to wait for the interval between TX to verify that it was really that long, though.
 
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