Communications

Plan for the Expedition here. Not an OAUSA sanctioned event.
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DaveK
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Communications

#1

Post by DaveK » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:08 pm

At this point, everyone on the trip is a licensed ham:

Tom - KI6FHA
Bob - KF7BVA
Frank - KG6JVE
Chazz - KF7FEN
Charlie - KJ6DSD
Bruce - KD6GCO
Dave - K6DTK

This will greatly simplify things as far as communications are concerned. Our guide in CDC and RRV will be using the radios extensively to talk about the areas and give everyone general information and answer questions. If you have an HT, you should bring it.

I will be posting the trip frequencies and some repeater information here shortly.

There are two areas we will begin developing now so that we will have enough time to be ready for the trip.

1. APRS.

To my knowledge, Tom, Bob, Frank, Bruce and Dave are running APRS in their vehicles. Charlie and Chazz, if you want to get set up, we can get you started with equipment recommendations and set up help. The set up can be the most challenging part of APRS. You will probably need a month or so to work out all the bugs and become familiar with how it operates.

The advantages of APRS include 1) ability of our group to keep tabs on all participants (especially useful in larger groups), 2) ability to give directions to other members of our group if we get separated, 3) ability of people back home to view our progress and know exactly where we are and 4) ability of everyone in our group to send email to family or friends and, in some cases, the ability to receive messages as well.

APRS works amazingly well, especially in areas where cell phone coverage does not exist. Our tracks from our trip last year in the Parashant are still available on APRS.fi and if you check it out, it is easy to see how well it actually works in extremely remote places.

At some point, we will need everyone to post their ssid, if you will be using one. I will update this post to include this info.


2. AIRMAIL

For those not familiar with the Airmail program here is an introduction from the Airmail website home page (http://id3431.securedata.net/siriuscyber/index.htm):
Airmail is a messaging program (similar to Outlook) specifically designed for connection to a HF radio mailbox station. Once connected to a compatible station, message transfer is completely automatic. On the ham bands, Airmail can transfer messages automatically with any station supporting the BBS or F6FBB protocols, such as Winlink-2000 (http://www.winlink.org), Winlink, F6FBB and MSYS and other Airmail stations.
The essence of Airmail is the ability to send and receive email messages from your ham radio (just like you receive with your email account at home) anywhere in the world. It requires an HF radio, a Pactor modem (preferably III), a computer, and at least a General Ham license.

Airmail is one of the very few preferred and functional communication devices that work anywhere in the world and its ability to reach out hundreds or thousands of miles is one of its greatest strengths. Hector and I have been researching some installations and while we have not reached the end of the road, we have a good idea of the direction we will need to go. So, if you are interested, post up and we will get going.

If you want to participate, and need to upgrade to General, there is plenty of time to do so.
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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charlie56
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Re: Communications

#2

Post by charlie56 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:21 pm

I Have the General license.
Don't have a HF rig yet but am looking for a starter rig that I can take along on the trip.
Taking a code class right now.
Will be attending a seminar in 2 weeks on NVIS
I am interested in APRS but don't quite have a handle on the equipment that is needed. Currently have a Yaesu 8800 and FT-60. Please point me in the right direction.
Charlie ...
KZ6T

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DaveK
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Re: Communications

#3

Post by DaveK » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:07 am

charlie56 wrote:I Have the General license.
Don't have a HF rig yet but am looking for a starter rig that I can take along on the trip.
Taking a code class right now.
Will be attending a seminar in 2 weeks on NVIS
I am interested in APRS but don't quite have a handle on the equipment that is needed. Currently have a Yaesu 8800 and FT-60. Please point me in the right direction.
You will need basically five components:

1. VHF radio and antenna (which you have with the 8800)
2. a laptop computer (almost any recent one will do)
3. A GPS that is compatible with the APRS program (most handhelds will work)
4. A device that will process the aprs signals. Often this will be what is called a TNC.
5. APRS software.

I have the 8800 and my set up does not use a traditional TNC. I have opted to go for the Tigertronics Signalink product for several reasons, 1) low cost, 2)small size, 3) no separate external power required as it gets power from the USB connection to your computer and 4) simplicity of operation.

Much of the software you will need is free or very low cost. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, we can guide you through the set up process, even though you are at a distance. There are quite a few hurdles in order to get the system fully functioning but we have been down this road many times. Hector F. is our resident Ham Radio Technical guy and he will help make sure this works.


BTW - you will not need an HF radio for this type of APRS. If you are interested in the Airmail program however, you will need an HF Radio. Hector and I will be working through an install here in the next few weeks. If you or anyone else is interested, post up. Just as a reminder, the Airmail program allows for email messages to be sent and received by a properly equipped station, almost anywhere in the world. AND, you do not need to be a ham to send messages to an Airmail station. Since it relies on HF frequencies, we will be able to communicate hundreds or thousands of miles and we do not have to depend on the existence of, or ability to hit, a repeater.
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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cruiserlarry
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Re: Communications

#4

Post by cruiserlarry » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:12 pm

While I won't be going on this excursion, I would definitely be interested in learning more about setting up an airmail system - so, if you set up a time to meet, I'd like to attend to see what I need to do.

I have an Extra license, an FT-857D HF rig in the vehicle, and a Toughbook laptop - so itlooks like I'd need some type of Pactor III modem to complete the equipment.

I'll check out the airmail webpage, and wait to see if you have a meet to figure out the logistics of the system...
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

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DaveK
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Re: Communications

#5

Post by DaveK » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:56 pm

Larry:

It's great to have you join us. Knowing your setup, as I do, there will only be a couple of things that you will need. Before I get to them, you will need to make sure that your HF radio and antenna are fully functioning. There are a number of HF bands, including 80, 40, 30, 20, 17,15, and 10, that will help you to get the most out of Airmail. Having access to as many as possible will multiply your opportunities to connect to a fixed HF Mailbox (MBO) station.

You will need two additional items to get started, 1) a controller (modem), preferably with the Pactor III license, including the necessary cabling for your radio and 2) the Airmail and Propagation software for your computer. There are Pactor II controllers that will work very well and Pactor I controllers, although relatively slow, that will also function properly. There is only one Manufacturer of the Pactor III controlers, the SCS company out of Germany, http://www.scs-ptc.com/shop/categories/modems-en .

There are a few US retailers and their prices are all the same. The SCS US authorized distributor is Farallon Electronics, http://www.farallon.us/webstore/ . Their tech Guy, Gary Wood, is a long time ham, exceptionally knowledgeable, and willing to answer all questions and help with installation. I foresee some calls to him as we set this up.

Once you get your equipment, post up and we can begin the set up for all of us. FYI - HRO sells the modems and the cables. The software is free from the Airmail website.
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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cruiserlarry
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Re: Communications

#6

Post by cruiserlarry » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:34 pm

Thanks for the info, Dave.

I checked out the Farallon webstore, and it seems the SCS Pactor III licensed modem / controllers run between $1000 -1500...so, my initial excitement has temporarily waned :lol: I'd still like to learn more about the airmail system (and eventually implement it), so I'll do some homework on the airmail site; but it looks like the equipment is out of my budget for right now... :o ;)
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

W6LPB / WPOK492

Become a DIRTY PARTS FACEBOOK fan !!!

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DaveK
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Re: Communications

#7

Post by DaveK » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:10 pm

No problem Larry.

We will wait for about a week or two before we start and Hector and I will start posting the details of the installation/setup process as we go. If we do a get together, which is likely, all will be invited. Location is yet to be determined.

Charlie and Chazz - if you want to set up APRS, let us know and we can schedule a time to get together, and do both of these projects at the same time.

Anyone else who wants to get your APRS setup, or Airmail for that matter, please post up as all are welcome.
DaveK
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Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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Chazz Layne
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Re: Communications

#8

Post by Chazz Layne » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:21 pm

It looks like I'll be able to pick up a radio the first week of April, but its doubtful I'll have anything else ready (no computer with GPS). I'm going the Yaesu route, so if the APRS setup goes anything like my VX-8R did I should be alright.

I would be happy to sit in and learn though, so whatever date/time works for everyone else... :)
Chazz Laynedotcom

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DaveK
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Re: Communications

#9

Post by DaveK » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:34 pm

Official Notice

We have scheduled our APRS/Airmail setup meeting. If you want to set up your system, discuss problems you are having with your system, learn the capabilities of these programs, discuss software or hardware options, or just see it work, everyone is invited, regardless of participation in the Indian Country trip.

Date: 2/27/10
Time: Noon
Location: Panera Bread Restaurant
13865 City Center Drive
Chino Hills, CA 91709
(909) 591-7290 - Phone

If you have any questions, post now so we can get some solutions working before we meet.
DaveK
K6DTK


Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

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charlie56
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Re: Communications

#10

Post by charlie56 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:05 pm

cruiserlarry wrote:Thanks for the info, Dave.

I checked out the Farallon webstore, and it seems the SCS Pactor III licensed modem / controllers run between $1000 -1500...so, my initial excitement has temporarily waned :lol: I'd still like to learn more about the airmail system (and eventually implement it), so I'll do some homework on the airmail site; but it looks like the equipment is out of my budget for right now... :o ;)
If a Pactor II will work, one just popped up on Eham.com classified section for $500
http://www.eham.net/classifieds/detail/311334
Charlie ...
KZ6T

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