Riding Group Tracking? (APRS)

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by dartmouth01, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. dartmouth01

    dartmouth01 Noob4Life!

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    A recent email blast from the Backcountry Navigator devs brought this idea of non-cell reliant group tracking to my mind. Apparently, BCN is now supporting APRS, which uses radios to track locations. As a complete newb to this tech, anyone out there who has experience can give me a basic primer? From what I can tell, I (and everyone in the group) would need radio licenses, but the equipment buy-in would be pretty cheap (some baofeng radios and patch cable to interface to the phone).

    Or alternatively, are there any reasonable, non license requiring local area tracking systems out there that people are using? I've been on a few group rides where it would be really nice to be able to stretch out further without having to worry as much about the tail end losing track of the head.
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  2. Marcham

    Marcham Been here awhile

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    You need an Amateur radio license, a small 5w handheld vhf transceiver, a gps receive. and an encoder (modem). Some radios now have everything built-in. Cost is about 200-400. One time, no ongoing fees. Cost is about $200 if you build a kit or 400 if you buy a radio with everything built in. Range varies based on antenna selection, terrain and availability of aprs digipeaters.

    Non licensed tracking can be done via smartphone where data is available (bubbler) or satellite with Spot / Garmin In reach (annual fee).

    Garmin has tracking available on some of its fms radios but it is very short range.

    Sent from my SM-T700 using Tapatalk
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  3. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    wouldn't it be cool if you could use the cellular antenna to create a mesh network, phone to phone? the range would likely be only a few miles, but you could eliminate the needs of cellular service and external antennas/licenses.
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  4. dartmouth01

    dartmouth01 Noob4Life!

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    A cellular only version would be great, I like simple. I think the current tech for simplicity is something like a GoTenna or Beartooth, but those are still new to market and somewhat pricey. But, Marcham makes a point, a build my own system is still gonna cost about $200 each (Thinking Baofeng radio, Mobilelinkd device, and cable), plus will have to get my Technician License. I may just wait for something along the lines of GoTenna gets a bit more developed, and hopefully a bit cheaper......
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  5. worthydog

    worthydog Shosholoza

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    anyone use the beartooth system? It looks interesting
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  6. Jim(tm)

    Jim(tm) Adventurer

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    I've been playing around with an APRS setup. I'm using a Yaesu FT65R HT, the APRSdroid app and a Mobilinkd TNC 2.2 https://store.mobilinkd.com/products/mobilinkd-tnc2-2. The whole shebang was less than $200 if you don't count the price of my phone and could be under $100 if you went with a baofeng radio.
    It's a pretty nice setup. The TNC is a little bigger than a cigarette lighter and it connects to the radio with a short cable. The TNC connects to my phone (on a ram mount on my bars with bluetooth. I keep the radio and TNC in a pannier with the antenna sticking out. It's pretty easy to configure and get running and all the components run on batteries.
    I'm still tweeking things but I can get reception in a lot of places I wouldn't have expected and I've reached digipeaters about 40 miles away with 5 watts of RF output.
    It does require a ham license, but I read somewhere that you can run the setup with a GMRS or FRS radio that you don't need a license for, but I think this limits the range quite a bit.
    Other nice features of APRS are that your positions can be repeated by other users until they reach an internet gateway and then you can be tracked on aprs.fi. You can also send messages to other APRS users, text messages to ppl's phones, or emails via radio without cellular connectivity. Lots of win there.
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  7. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    would you please do a pictures/links thread sometime dealing with this?
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  8. Jim(tm)

    Jim(tm) Adventurer

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    Attached Files:

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