[aprssig] "Smart" vs. "dumb" trackers

Bob Burns W9BU w9bu_lists at rlburns.net
Mon Jun 23 13:10:55 EDT 2014

On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM, Andrew Pavlin <AndrewEMT at hotmail.com>

> Does anyone know of a reasonably priced and reasonable performance "smart"
> tracker? That would be a tracker with a receiver (so it doesn't depend
> solely on timeslotting to avoid packet collisions)? Having some minimal UI
> on the tracker so messages could be sent back to it from the Net Control
> Station position would be a plus.

I agree with Stephen about using an APRS handheld rather than assembling a
tracker from component parts.

I bought two Argent Data T2-301 APRS tracker radios along with suitable GPS
receivers, antennas, battery holders, and Pelican cases. The T2-301 is a 5
watt VHF transceiver with an Argent Tracker2 built in. The resulting device
turned out pretty well, but it did seem at the time to be a bit of a hassle
getting all the pieces together. They have no display or self-contained
user interface, so, in practice, they are even more of a hassle because I
need a laptop computer and the proper cabling to reconfigure them in the
field. I still have both of them and one gets used once a year for a very
specialized application.

A couple of years ago, I bought a Yaesu VX-8GR. This was in addition to my
Kenwood TH-D72, but I bought the Yaesu because several of the folks in our
local public service communications group had either Yaesu VX-8Rs or
VX-8GRs and I wanted to be more familiar with the Yaesu user interface when
people asked me about them. I quickly determined that the VX-8GR is a
pretty good APRS tracker. It's more compact than the trackers I assembled
with the T2-301s and lighter, as well. Everything, radio, TNC, GPSr,
battery pack, is self contained. And, it has a built-in user interface and
display so I can reconfigure them in the field without having to fire up a
laptop computer.

When I heard that the VX-8GR was being discontinued, I bought another one.
They are now my go-to APRS trackers. I have no qualms about loaning them
out to someone that we need to track. Smaller, lighter, easier to use. Just
about perfect.

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