Into to the Wild with Sainsonic AP510 APRS-tracker

 

AP510

APRS is great amateur radio-based system for sharing tactical information among other ham fellows. For my usage I was looking for a low cost, small and batterywise solution on my hiking trips. I had Kenwood D72 HT earlier, but it ate its battery after 6hours of continuous APRS usage. Not good for longer hiking trips.  Also when travelling in real wilderness without GSM and expensive satellite phones it would be nice for have a faint possibility to send location data via APRS.  Of course I carry my HF QRP station also with me, but thats for the long distance calls and emergency use. 

One of the late nights I came into a Ebay site with AP510 device. Okay, 1Watts output not so good but batterywise, small, and bluetooth connectivity for aprsdroid. Started to sound interesting doesnt it 🙂

This is my review for the AP510 and what Ive noticed with it after playing with it for 3 months. If any questions please drop mail to my mailbox oh2fxd (a) sral.fi. 

Internal

 Here is the most interesting specs first:

–  Price range 100-150eur (including shipping/handling)

– SIRF4 GPS module (very nice)

– Based on AVR Mega 64 SCM 

– VHF Module, 1W output.

– Stock VHF-antenna

– 3,300mAh battery Will last about 28-36 hours with 20second beacon interval. Of course will last longer when you wide the interval, 10minutes could be okay for hiking as you move slow anyways.

– 18B20 Temperature Sensor (-40C ~ +99C) How cool! This is measured inside the machine though, if you want to measure outside temperature you need to modify your tracker.

– microsd slot supports 4G FAT16/FAT32 card for KML format internal track logging (not yet tested)

– Bluetooth connectivity for IE aprsdroid 

  

— FILELIST —

Configure app, Update app and firmware hex:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hrb2cpddde6xzzy/20141008.zip?dl=0

MsComm32.ocx files:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2mp6jwecv6age8l/mscomm32.zip?dl=0

 

Update

Update AP510 on windows (or virtual win-environment). Examples are from Win 7.  You should do this first as youre firmware is older than the application pack my blog is sharing. So first upgrade, then configure! .

  •  Plug cable and install Prolific drivers.
  • Shutdown tracker, and connect it to programming cable.
  • Open up the update software –> File -> Load –> 2014008(RX free)AVRT5.hex –> Operate —> Download —> Press Power-On button on AP510 until process is complete on the application.  If the update fails, repeat. 
  • Restart tracker and you should be good to go for next step.
Things to bear in mind with update application:
  • On Windows 7 update software may need MSComm32.ocx files (for serial communication). You can download them here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2mp6jwecv6age8l/mscomm32.zip?dl=0
  • Unzip and copy to: C: \ Windows \ system32 folder, I installed 64-bit Win7 system so copied to  C:\Windows\sysWOW64 folder
  • open cmd-promt, execute code regsvr32 C:\Windows\system32\MSComm32.ocx  ( or C: \ Windows sysWOW64\MSComm32.ocx ) 
  • This should promt that register is success. If not try running cmd-prompt as administrator.
 

Setup 1448000fourdigits

UPDATE: Configure AP510 on windows/linux/osx using CHIRP, for this you need daily-build as AP510 support was released 13 days ago!

UPDATE2: I have successfully tested on windows 7 chirp daily 20122014 build and it works nice! Pictures in end of this post 🙂

http://trac.chirp.danplanet.com/chirp_daily/LATEST/chirp-daily-20141220-installer.exe

OR: Configure AP510 on windows using the manufacturer app (or virtual win-environment). Examples are from Win 7.

  • Plug cable and Install Prolific drivers (if not done allready)
  • Shutdown tracker, and connect it to programming cable.
  • Open AP510 configure application, select proper com port and read configuration
  • Press AP510 power-on button until you hear beep – release and read should be succesfull
  • Modify your settings and write back.
LocaleKeyboard
 










































Things to bear in mind with configure application:
  • callsign needs 6 digits, use space-key to fill up the “gap”
  • frequency need for digits after comma “.” ie.  144.8000
  • if you have problems to write settings to AP510 please change keyboard and locality to US (I know this is weirdest thing)
 
 
PLUS: 
  • price
  • form-factor

MINUS:

  • antenna connector is loose, you cant tighten it up very well with certain antennas.
  • software is bugged, but improving!
  • installing software can be pain in the ***
  • 1Watt is not much. 
Improvements:
  • Antenna could be better, changed mine to GT3MK2 antenna which seems to perform a bit petter. For hiking maybe halfwave dipole in your backpack? 
  • Software needs to be more userfriendly or product wont sell. (as people likes todo things in easy way)
  • Upgradeable LCD for heading etc (ive seen some projects for this allready)
  • Better support for the product, now I dont know any.

 

 APRS information:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Packet_Reporting_System

APRSDROID:

https://aprsdroid.org/

Yahoo groups:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AP510/info

Video for configure & update:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmtVvKav_LU

Seller (ebay):

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AVRT5-APRS-Tracker-VHF-with-GPS-Bluetooth-Thermometer-TF-Card-Support-APRSdroid-/400684060070?pt=UK_Mobile_Phones_Communication_Ham_Radio_Receivers_Transceivers&hash=item5d4aa18da6

Seller (taobao):

no link provided, you can actually buy this a bit cheaper from China via taobao and using taobao-agents to make a purchase. I will do another blog entry about using such agent-service.

Japanese site for newest files (use google translate if needed):

http://www.y027.com/dvbbs8/dispbbs.asp?boardid=5&Id=829

 

UPDATE2:  Some pictures of awesome Chirp support for AP510!

Screenshot 2014 12 21 15 54 59

 

Screenshot 2014 12 21 15 54 14

 

Screenshot 2014 12 21 15 54 31

 

Screenshot 2014 12 21 15 54 39

 

Screenshot 2014 12 21 15 54 48

 

Using AP510 with Xastir via BT serial interface (OSX tested):

Xastir

 

  

Thanks for feedback kd7lxl, oh2khz!  & 73 to all you ham-bros and sisters out there! ^___^

Raman

Baofeng/Pofung handheld design by SainSonic what?? Review of GT3 MK II

 

2014 12 05 00 43 28

 

In 2014 SainSonic brought mk2 version of the GT3 handheld (copy from Pofung/Baofeng).  This special model is designed by SainSonic and got some nice improvements compared to other Baofeng models.

Price for this HT is around 40 to 55 euro (including shipping). As the actual UV5R cost these days around 30 euro you may not be interested to buy another chinese handheld which cost 10-25 euro more but in my opinion it is worth of the money.

Tech specs for a starter (atleast most interesting ones):

  •     RX/TX  VHF/UHF  136-174, 400-479.995 MHz
  •     Dual Memory/Frequency display, possibility to listen two separate freq/memory (not real two RX thought)
  •     Output Power 5/1W
  •     VOX
  •     128 memory channels, 50 ctss and 104 dcs
  •     1750Hz burst tone (for repeaters)
  •     FM-radio with 65 to 108MHz range. (4meter RX possibility?)
  •     Channel step 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz

on new firmware versions have atleast 2 or 3 different burst tones:

ptt + band = 2100Hz tone

ptt + a/b = 1750Hz tone (normal)

I assume this is Baofeng/Pofung way to try make firmware more compatible with their all handheld models so they dont have todo separate firmware images. This is my wild assumption, you can correct me if I am wrong.

 

plus 

+ good rx (some modification improvements done compared to UV5R) see picture below:

Screenshot 2014 12 05 00 56 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+ overall the antenna seems to be a bit better than other OEM baofeng antennas.

+ easy to configure with chirp (donationware awesome programming app)

+ look/and feel (sturdy, dust/water proof, not sure about IP-ratings)

+ audio (both receive and sent are reported as OK, seems not to suffer about tinning voice as with other older models)

 

minus:

– firmware is different on batches, may and caused some misunderstanding ie. with burst tones. (also manual has not been updated within the firmware changes)

– charger dock is bad as always (need two hands to put it on charger)

 -mobile charger needs the charger dock

– headset which comes with the kit was as bad as with all the chinese handhelds. (well it works but cheapest possible)

 

feedback:

I aquired few units for my ham-friends around Finland and here is what I got as feedback:

– One charger was not working (opened it,  it had blown capacitor and indication led was off from the board)

– one headset was not working

I aquired few “baofeng” monophone mics which were advertised as for UV5R/GT3MK2. One worked on both units, second did not work on any.

So the connector must be a bit different than on normal units or the connector (mic/headset) has some design flaw. I actually went a bit further and compared one stock uv5r, and two gt3mk2.  uv5r and one gt3 workd with the microphone so I digged deeper with the handheld which did not work as expected.   Mic connector on the handheld was buried deeper on the “faulty” unit, prob 0.2-0.5mm difference, this caused mic part not to work at all.  This was fixed by manually turning suitable drill bit few turns on the plastic (on the radio side)  so the mic connector would go in better. Joys of finding simple fixes hi. (this fix is done by you at your own responsability) 

Connector pinout for the general mic is  from miklor.com site:

Baofeng mic pinout from miklor site

overall:

Compared to its price range and compared to uv82, uv5r etc it is very nice handheld on its price range. My favourite handheld for last 4months.

 

What could be improved:

Real squelch,  faster scanning options.

 

Where to buy:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Baofeng-Pofung-GT-3-Mark-II-USB-Cable-V-U-136-174-4-00-520MHz-Ham-2-way-Radio-/191191659271?pt=UK_Mobile_Phones_Communication_Ham_Radio_Receivers_Transceivers&hash=item2c83e93307

 

Other reviews:

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/11789 

http://radioblogi.blogspot.fi/2014/12/baofeng-pofung-sain-sonic-gt3-mkii.html in finnish(by oh6gzt)

 http://www.radioddity.com/us/baofeng-gt-3-two-way-radio-dual-band-uhf-vhf-136-174-400-480mhz-2014-latest-version.html

 

Awesome Baofeng related site:

http://www.miklor.com/

Baofeng/Pofung similar item (with different antenna)

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BAOFENG-B-580T-A52-Dual-Band-VHF-UHF-136-174-400-520Mhz-Radio-UV-5R-Earpiece-/111299748634?pt=UK_Mobile_Phones_Communication_Ham_Radio_Receivers_Transceivers&hash=item19e9fb631a

 

NewImage

 73 de OH2FXD