APRS on the cheap

I’ve been getting a little bored of the same old FT8 on HF in the last few weeks so I thought maybe I should do something on the higher VHF/UHF bands. I generally do not inhabit those bands as I’m not active in the local ham community (my bad).

What is APRS again?

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System, which is a digital communications protocol used by amateur radio operators to transmit location and other data in real-time. APRS uses packet radio technology to transmit data via radio waves, and it is often used to track the movements of vehicles, boats, and other mobile assets.

APRS is a popular protocol among amateur radio operators because it is relatively simple to use and can be used with a variety of equipment, including handheld radios, mobile radios, and even dedicated APRS devices. It can transmit a variety of data, including GPS coordinates, weather information, and messages.

APRS on the cheap

So I thought, APRS. Why not? I used to use packet radio quite a bit in the 1990s and I still have my Kantronics KPC3. I could resurrect that TNC and figure out how to handle a 9-pin RS232 connection -OR- buy something new (and cheap) to try. After some research, I settled on picking up a Mobilinkd TNC, but guess what? They’re not available due to chip shortages. Here is what I found instead-

The BTECH APRS-K1 Cable can serve as an interface for various applications, but I am testing it with APRS with my Baofeng UV-5R. It is not a TNC. It needs an application that can create AX.25 packets, and then uses MFSK to modulate the FM signal. So one of the following tablet apps will be required-

Recommended applications for plug-and-play use:
iOS: APRSpro (Available in iOS App Store)
Android: APRSDroid (Available on Amazon and Google Play Store)

The APRS-K1 Cable is a simplex adapter cable that allows you to connect your Baofeng UV-5R or UV-82 two-way radio to an external TNC for use with APRS. The cable features a rugged, weatherproof design and includes a 3.5mm audio jack for easy connection to your radio.

The BTECH APRS-K1 Cable is a cheap and effective solution for operating your Baofeng radio on the APRS network. This cable also works with Kenwood and Wouxon HTs.

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