Dual band HAM radio options, narrowing the choices

Frdmskr

Adventurer
Saw that you're local, in this area and other places I'd see myself going like CO & NM, or in the NorthEast US, doing a search on repeaterbook for either D-STAR or EchoLink repeaters on 2m or 70cm seem to have equal repeaters around for either, which seems the best route for here/NoVa? Sidenote: I've got a 12' GX460, which shares a lot with the 5th Gens, if you can show me how you have your mobile stuff setup one day I'd appreciate it. I have to install my rear bumper soon once I find some help, usually around though. Exam in 2wks in Sterling.
So here is my thought:

Lots of good DStar coverage here. Also lots of APRS coverage here.I understand the same is true in eastern CO. No idea about NM.

Right now I have a temp set up in my truck. Finally got the airbag recall done and now moving (staying in the area just a new house). So I am
Not a model by any means.

My plan for a set up is a ram mount with the remote head of the radios and then radios under the seats. Antenna is up in the air. I thought I wanted an L bracket off the front quarter panel but I may just stick it on the roof. I have no plans for a roof rack or tent as it’s not needed. (Rather use a ground tent.) HF antenna is still TBD because I haven’t decided what I am doing with the back bumper. (Buy a house or a bumper....guess which one won lol)



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dreadlocks

Well-known member
Watching for silent key estate sales is always a way to find old gear but please be nice and don't try to take advantage of a widow who knows nothing about radios and make reasonably fair offers.
and today I find my self bidding my wife's grandfathers tools in auction, sad how his life is being given away for pennies on the dollar.. and he aint even dead yet.. damn I wish I had a bigger garage.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
It's just stuff. There's maybe a few things that might really define us but it's mostly experiences and memories I guess.
 

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
Interesting how estate auctions work.

A good friends parents decided to have an estate auction to get rid of all their JUNQUE they had accumulated over the years prior to downsizing their home and living circumstances. They were so upset during that auction as many of their CHERISHED ITEMS went for what they thought was "Pennies On the Dollar".

When the auction was over the total auction sales were over $50K for all their JUNQUE. This total sales number of over $50,000 was within $500.00 of the amount of money the auctioneer they ultimately hired told them to expect from the sale of their JUNQUE during the interviewing process prior to their auction when they were deciding on which auctioneer to use.

Pretty Amazing!

I have heard this same thing happen many times before.

A GOOD Auctioneer knows his "Stuff", has a good following for his auctions and knows what JUNQUE is worth at AUCTION!

Let's hope your family gets similar results!
 
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moose545

Member
The region has plenty of DStar coverage in and around DC to the west. East not so much. Now if we can just get folks one them.

(Loudoun County Va here)


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Thanks, I'm in Loudoun as well and it's a bit overwhelming seeing everything available, then noticing what's 2m, 70cm, etc. So if I were to but the Kenwood, it's analog and not digital, so I get the APRS but can only use the EchoLink repeaters correct, or I can use any repeater, just in analog? Sorry I'm on information overload, going back to reading more in my book~
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Echolink is for linking repeaters over the Internet. It's the back haul between them. The stations talking on the air are just using analog FM in/out of the repeater and other than the repeater being linked over the Internet it won't sound any different than a local conversation. Any radio can use an Echolink repeater as long as it can send DTMF tones, usually via the keypad on the mic. The repeater will connect to a computer running Echolink software but that's all in the background.

The Kenwood radios can additionally be nodes on Echolink, e.g. Sysop mode. This is different than just talking on the air through Echolink to another Echolink repeater or someone on a computer running Echolink software. The radio itself gets a node number and becomes part of the RF<->Echolink connections. You *probably* won't do that mobile. Kenwood radios used this way are usually at a repeater site or in someone's home station.

APRS is a totally different thing. This is doing 1200 baud digital by shifting between two audio tones (Google AFSK). The radio RX and TX FM analog on the air but the mic and speaker are connected to a modem. This modem interfaces to devices by way of a TNC (Terminal Node Controller) to do stuff like with a GPS it sends out your position, you can send text messages, weather reports.

Think of this like back when we had to set a phone in the modem cradle or had a modem that dialed directly. The phone line didn't change just what the analog signals we were sending on it meant something to another modem somewhere else. To our ears it was just noise but still analog noise.

Again, any FM transceiver can be part of an APRS station. The Kenwood TM-D710 has the modem and TNC built in as well as software to do most of the main APRS functions. It can also be interfaced to a terminal running on a PC or phone or tablet to do more, like plot other APRS stations on a map.

The TM-D710 and TM-V71 can only do analog FM. On the air APRS and Echolink are analog FM signals, not "digital" strictly although the information being carried is digital that is made to mimic analog voice so it can use any FM radio. APRS is like Morse Code or JT65 and JT8. It's digital but doesn't require any specialized radios, the analog-digital conversion is not done by the radio but using additional hardware or just our hand-brain connection in the case of CW.

Fully digital modes like D-STAR, DMR, Fusion (C4FM), P25 require additional hardware in the radio. That's a more confusing situation. They are still an FM signal at their root but phase and level extend what the the on-air signal means to the radios so one radio can't talk to another radio unless they share the same language (digital protocol).
 
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moose545

Member
So I ended up getting the Kenwood TM-D710 with the GPS functionality, and plan to use an iPad for maps in the truck while mobile. I'm not sure if I need a cellular version or not to display aprs.fi and run GAIA, that's my game plan though.

I still have to learn the radio which I know will take some time. Can I bring the face out of the truck and inside, and use it connected to my PC in SysOp mode and use a program (MS Windows) to talk inside the house, or do I need to get a total station and everything hooked up for that, like antennae, power supply, and an ICOM 7200 for example? Thanks for the breakdown of Echolink, make sense but it'll be clearer once I use it more and re-read it 20X !
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The face alone isn't going to do much, you need the whole radio. SysOp mode is only for Echolink and it's to connect the RF side to the IP side. If you want to use a PC to talk to someone on Echolink just load the Echolink application and do it directly.


There's not a lot iOS can do ham-wise. The app aprs.fi will connect to a Mobilinkd TNC3 (not a TNC2, just the TNC3) but that's the only TNC it can connect to it. It also can't do offline maps AFAIK and relies on Google Maps and having data. You're better off getting a cheap Android phone for APRS.
 

SmoothLC

Explorer
So I ended up getting the Kenwood TM-D710 with the GPS functionality, and plan to use an iPad for maps in the truck while mobile. I'm not sure if I need a cellular version or not to display aprs.fi and run GAIA, that's my game plan though.

I still have to learn the radio which I know will take some time. Can I bring the face out of the truck and inside, and use it connected to my PC in SysOp mode and use a program (MS Windows) to talk inside the house, or do I need to get a total station and everything hooked up for that, like antennae, power supply, and an ICOM 7200 for example? Thanks for the breakdown of Echolink, make sense but it'll be clearer once I use it more and re-read it 20X !
Nice choice w/ the 710. One of the reasons I went with it too is lack of touchscreen. A few years ago we went snowmobiling in Island Park, ID. One night it got down to -20 or so. The aftermarket head unit in my Land Cruiser was essentially worthless until it warmed up and the touchscreen worked. That factored into my decision to go with the 710 vs. another brand w/ a touchscreen.
 
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moose545

Member
The face alone isn't going to do much, you need the whole radio. SysOp mode is only for Echolink and it's to connect the RF side to the IP side. If you want to use a PC to talk to someone on Echolink just load the Echolink application and do it directly.


There's not a lot iOS can do ham-wise. The app aprs.fi will connect to a Mobilinkd TNC3 (not a TNC2, just the TNC3) but that's the only TNC it can connect to it. It also can't do offline maps AFAIK and relies on Google Maps and having data. You're better off getting a cheap Android phone for APRS.
I have installed it on my PC but I think I need a mic or headset? Do you use it on your desktop, if so maybe you could explain how exactly? I'm just getting my radio wired up and online. I called the FCC Tuesday and learned that when you submit for a vanity call sign, it says allow 7-10 business days to process, that really means 18-21 to begin! So, that said, I'll hopefully get my first QSO in the coming days and start making sense of things, program some local repeaters and a few EchoLink repeaters that are closest to me and see what I can do.
 

moose545

Member
Nice choice w/ the 710. One of the reasons I went with it too is lack of touchscreen. A few years ago we went snowmobiling in Island Park, ID. One night it got down to -20 or so. The aftermarket head unit in my Land Cruiser was essentially worthless until it warmed up and the touchscreen worked. That factored into my decision to with the 710 vs. another brand w/ a touchscreen.
Valid point, I didn't like the others anyhow layout wise and buttons are reliable. -20* is cold though haha, still way too new to see if APRS is going to work and support the emergency function in place of a Garmin In-Reach or SPOT device coupled with my iPad for GAIA maps, just taking baby steps and seeing what functionality is going to prevail.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I have installed it on my PC but I think I need a mic or headset? Do you use it on your desktop, if so maybe you could explain how exactly? I'm just getting my radio wired up and online. I called the FCC Tuesday and learned that when you submit for a vanity call sign, it says allow 7-10 business days to process, that really means 18-21 to begin! So, that said, I'll hopefully get my first QSO in the coming days and start making sense of things, program some local repeaters and a few EchoLink repeaters that are closest to me and see what I can do.
I believe you're asking about the Echolink application on a PC. I'd think using a headset would be handy for clarity and to avoid feedback. I use plain old smart phone earbuds with the inline mic with my laptop. You don't need super high fidelity since you're talking to/from someone who's radio has an audio frequency limit of about 3KHz. So audiophile-level headsets aren't necessary. I'm not sure if the Echolink application filters or not, I assume it must. If it doesn't then the node controller or repeater radio are bandwidth limited. Point being cheap earbuds are more than sufficient for the PC-side.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Valid point, I didn't like the others anyhow layout wise and buttons are reliable. -20* is cold though haha, still way too new to see if APRS is going to work and support the emergency function in place of a Garmin In-Reach or SPOT device coupled with my iPad for GAIA maps, just taking baby steps and seeing what functionality is going to prevail.
APRS has a lot of uses and I'm amazed sometimes where I'll hit a digipeater. But it's probably not best seen as a substitute for InReach/SPOT. There are a couple of ways to do APRS using spacecraft. The ISS has an APRS radio usually running (they have a TM-D710 onboard) and there's a couple of amateur satellites that uplink/downlink at 1200 baud. All the space-based APRS is done at 145.825 MHz and not on ground-based frequencies (typically 144.390 MHz in the U.S.). So it's not a seamless integration and you have to predict passes, it's usually helpful to track the satellite with a Yagi and there could be a lot of packet traffic. While it's technically possible to send and receive APRS messages without ground infrastructure it's not really a substitute for the reliability and immediacy of an SOS beacon.
 
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