G6KIZ – (Home station) – Equipment
From home I operate with no SSID – just the bare callsign.
The PC is overkill for operating an APRS station but it is also used for PSK31 and as a home server. This was the rundown from RF to screen as I have subsequently bought a Kenwood TS2000 and sold this rig and the TNC.
Antenna : Simple colinear – I chose dual band but currently it is dedicated to 144.800 with very occasional forays to the local packet BBS. Mounted only at gutter height. In the Northampton area there are several virtually permanent digi-peaters in operation I doubt I would see many more stations with a 60ft tower or many less with a handy on the desk.
Transceiver : FM1000 with PA4DEN firmware. Reasonably easy to find, cheap, ex-PMR equipment. I have set the ouput power to 20 watts. The only mod I have made is to solder in a permanent TNC lead.
TNC : G0BSX operating in TNC2 mode for UIView. I have made one small mod to insert a switch in the PTT line (more of this later).
Computer : P4 2.8GHz cube 1GB memory and a 120GB hard disk. The single expansion slot houses a dual port serial card. Permanent 2Mb/s ADSL broadband connection through a Draytek router
Software: UiView now freeware but you do need to register.
As I have an always-on PC (for other, non-ham, work) and a broadband connection I decided to run as an IGATE station sending all received packets to an APRS server. As getting permission for unattended operation appears to be a bit of a pain I decided to operate most of the time with no RF transmission (by switching out the PTT line from the TNC to the rig). Initially I had just turned off the beacon but spotted that some amateurs were querying the station with ?APRSS ?APRST etc. causing it to transmit. Now, as it cannot transmit and the amateur bands are publically available, for most of the time G6KIZ is not actually operating as an amateur radio station at all – however it does send beacon packets to the internet so may well appear on UIView displays.
My station costs
Antenna : Around £50. The current colinear replaces one bought on eBay which failed. A wire Slim Jim would work just fine and can be made for virtually nothing.
Transceiver : Around £50. Virtually any 2m FM transceiver will do the job so a small saving is possible here too. I am considering pressing a Yaesu VX-1R with a defective transmit stage into use – that cost nothing – it was originally bought on eBay and the seller just sent another when I let him know it wasn’t working. I was also intrigued by a “complete packet station” on eBay
A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.