[aprssig] Minimum connections to an expensive box

Pentti Gronlund pentti.gronlund at tut.fi
Tue Jan 29 13:53:31 EST 2008

Bob puts it down so nicely:

> No question that there are better ways to do it.  Problem is, in
> ham radio, unless it is free or cheap, there is never much of a
> following to make new great things work on a large scale.

In my opinion this is one of the reasons Bob is so irritated about
us using APRS just for positioning.

My thoughts have been following this circle for many years:

A D710 will cost me 862$ (plus freight from wimo.de). It still
lacks a connection to an USB keyboard and GPS, let alone a better
display. The beast is not what one could call user-friendly, and
very few parameters are configurable by the user. The messaging
interface is straight out of the early days of GSM, that is 15
years ago. A lot of things has happened since. And now it seems
that D-710 is susceptible to voltage surges, something a mobile 
radio designer with any senses intact is most afraid of.

There are some positive things in D710. It apparently has user-up-
gradable firmware. Another thing is full 50 watts on both bands.
Wouldn't invest a price of a good laptop computer in a thing like 
it, though.

I have similar thoughts about the D7. It isn't robust in any sense 
and the user interface is grand-scale P.I.T.A. 

I hope the Kenwood people have the decency to add some necessary
features to the "D7.1". The most important would be a mini USB 
connector for the GPS, as there are very little or no recent hand-
held GPS units available with RS-232 anymore. Or rather a Bluetooth 
transceiver to add cheap and simple BT-GPS receivers, a keyboard, 
and to connect to the modern laptops. Smart beaconing wouldn't hurt 
either, as the square highway layout is only found in the U.S. And,
please, make the thing robust like Icoms V-82, and make it to share
batteries with the professional radios, so that there is a supply
for them at least until 2020.

So, why buy a high-cost medium-class product, when you could have an
MDR-150 for free. The software is configurable enough (maybe too 
much for most hams), and you could buy a NOS RS-232 GPS "mouse" for 
as little as 25$. You would have an extremely reliable APRS tracker, 
and should the need arise, MDR-150 will also function as a KISS radio 
modem for your computer-based APRS.

Of course your mileage will vary, as MDR-150's were only available in
Finland, and only for a short period. I am afraid that the situation 
is very much the same everywhere, except in the U.S, just leave MDR-
150 out with its KISS functions, and add the Open Tracker. Everybody
will use their S60 GSM phones like Nokia N95 or E90 vor messaging
when mobile, or IRC, Messenger or Skype at home. There simply is no 
need for a parallel ham-friends-only-system here. And, if the very
rare grand-scale event wipes everything out, I suppose I will have
my hands full of driving a stick-shift car and operating my 2m speech-
only Spectra...

Benjamin OH3BK
		Live Reports from the Taxman's Paradise!

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