[aprssig] ***SPAM*** $60 WinBook TW700 Windows Tablet Runs UIview And Other APRS Stuff!

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Sat Feb 7 11:35:49 EST 2015

On 1/30/2015 2:49 PM, kd5umo at arrl.net [ui-view] wrote:
 > Has anyone tried to use one of these with UI-View, particularly on RF only?
 > <http://www.microcenter.com/product/439773/TW700_Tablet_-_Black>

This device has to be the smallest cheapest platform to ever run standard 
off-the-shelf Windows ham programs.

I have now returned from a trip to MicroCenter with two of these 7" Windows 8.1 
tablets.  They are USD $60 new and an incredible $47.95 "open box"; i.e. 
customer return.    I got one of each.

One of these is now running a complete UIview 2.03 installation including 
Precision Mapping 9.0, the Precision Mapping 9 server and the UZ7HO Soundmodem 
soundcard "soft TNC".   Some comments in no particular order:

1)   Out of the box, the TW700 runs the regular version of Windows 8, not the 
RT version.  First thing, I installed the freeware "Classic Shell" utility. 
Classic Shell does away with the Win 8 tiled smart phone user interface a.k.a. 
"Metro" a.k.a. "Modern", and restores a traditional XP/Win 7-looking user 
interface with a fully-functional Start button and menu.

2)   The unit has a 4-conductor "TRRS" 3.5mm combined headphone & mic jack that 
is pinned out identically to the ones on iPhones and iPads. This means any 
boom-mic headset made for i-Gadgets will work with this unit - think EchoLink 
operation. More importantly, it means the homebrew soundcard interface I made 
for my iPad works as-is with the TW-700.

3)   Contrary to the report on one or two websites, there is NO GPS receiver 
built into this unit. It DOES have the "Microsoft Location Service", a system 
resource that is part of the standard Windows 8 load.    -IF- you are connected 
to the Internet, this built-in function can determine your location, based on 
your current IP address surprisingly accurately, and plot it on the provided 
"Bing Maps" app.   Location Server DOES NOT seem to offer any emulation of a 
serial port carrying NMEA that would be useful with APRS programs.

4)    The machine has a 16 GB SSD (solid-state drive), of which only 8 GB is 
visible. The other half is a hidden partition containing a complete 
install/restore image of Windows 8.1 .    In an ingenious adaption to the 
limited drive space (compared to a normal desktop hard disk), Windows boots and 
runs directly from the hidden restore partition, rather than doing a complete 
install on the visible drive C.  Only the Windows registry, user settings, some 
minor utilities and temp-swap-hibernate files are located on the visible 
partition.  A "restore" merely deletes the user settings on drive C.

5)    Perhaps, due to the tiny size of the solid-state disk drive, the machine 
was blessedly free of the usual collection of "crapware" unsolicited pre-loaded 
junk software.  After removing the trial version of Microsoft Office 365" (a 
rent-by-the-month version of Microsoft's office suite), 5.6 GB of the machine's 
SSD was free.

5a)    After installing some essential minor system utilities, UIview 2.03, 
Precision Mapping 9.0, the PMap Server 9.0, NWS Shape Files, UI-HeightTrack, 
the UZ7HO Sound Modem, APRS Messenger, mmSSSTV and the FLdigi suite, I had 
about 1.3 GB of remaining disk space left.

6)    This tiny hand-held PC has two USB ports. One is a micro-USB port; the 
other is an actual classic full-sized USB 2.0 port.  I used the full-sized port 
to connect a corded optical mouse during the installs.   I used the built-in 
WiFi-N to access another machine on my LAN, that hosts my software install 
library, to do the program installs.

7)    As I had expected, trying to operate normal Windows GUI features and 
menus on such a diminutive touch screen was nearly impossible for normal 
human-sized fingers.  You will ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY want a mouse of some sort. 
  One of the issues that bit me almost immediately was the inability to easily 
do the equivalent of mouse RIGHT-clicks with a finger on the touch screen. 
(The UIview "alternate mouse movements" heavily depend on right-clicks.)  I 
would recommend a Bluetooth cordless mouse that can link to the TW-700's 
built-in Bluetooth functions.   This avoids wasting one of the precious USB 
ports on the receiver dongle of the typical non-Bluetooth cordless mouse.

8)    While you are at it, you might want to get a complete Bluetooth 
keyboard/mouse combo.   The tablet's virtual "glass keyboard" that pops up 
on-screen ala iPhone or iPad lacks is very minimal.  It lacks PC function keys 
and more critically the "PgUp" and "PgDn" keys used to zoom in and out with the 
UIview Precision Mapping or PA7RHM map servers.    It IS fairly easy to zoom 
inward for more detail by dragging out a bounding box with a finger on the 
touch screen, but NO easy way to zoom back out!

9)    I worked around this problem by temporarily connecting an external 
(physical) keyboard, zooming in and out with it's PgUp and PgDn keys to city, 
county, state and continental views levels.  I then saved each of these zoom 
levels with "Map, Save A Favourite View".    You can then use "Map, Load A 
Favourite View" to zoom back OUT to one of these pre-stored views, after 
zooming IN with your finger.

10)    The built-in front and rear cameras work quite nicely, even at 
relatively low light levels.  However, I am still trying to come up with an 
easy way to capture their images into files I can load into mmSSTV for 
slow-scan TV transmission.  The extremly light-weight "BooruCAM" webcam capture 
utility I have used for years to framegrab webcam images for SSTV use doesn't 
want to work on Win 8.   The ability to trigger screen caps without function 
keys or mouse right-clicks will be a critical attribute of any utility to do 
this in-the-field with just the tablet.

11)     This tiny PC is a perfect match for the Kenwood TH-D72 APRS handheld. 
With a standard USB-A to min-USB-B cable connecting the D72 to the tablet's 
standard USB port, and the D72 providing a live GPS, you have a complete 
fully-functional desktop-style mapping APRS setup with two-way messaging that 
can operate anywhere.

12)     With the tablet's audio in/out cabled directly to a Yaesu FT-817's 
6-pin mini-DIN "data port", you would have the ultimate compact lightweight 
in-the-field HF PSK31/MFSK16 setup as well as two-meters packet/APRS.  [The 
FT-817/857/897 have a built-in "data VOX" function that eliminate the need for 
any soundcard interface PTT keying scheme - you only need the TX and RX audio 
connections to the mini-DIN port.]  You could then use the full-size USB port 
on the tablet for a $30 Globalsat BU-353 mini-hockeypuck GPS.

Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
EchoLink:  Node #  14400  [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

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