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Mobile IGate (October 2013)

IGates and Digipeaters such as DixPRS on Raspberry Pi are designed for stationary use. With new mobile technologies we can think of new application to enhance the APRS network.
I think of a mobil IGate/Digipeater. Prerequisits are a GPS receiver and a GSM data connection to replace LAN/WLAN in remote areas.

Mobile Tracker/IGate

Android Phone with BT - Handheld - TNC with BT

Android Smartphones* have the functionality to serve as a mobile IGate/Repeater:
- GPS
- Data connectivity, covering almost 100% of a country
- Bluetooth for wireless connection to a TNC (Terminal Node Controller)
- True Multitasking (you still can make your phone calls, navigation, ...)
- APRS Apps (coming)

* IPhones cannot be used since iOS 7 does not have true multitasking. Third-party apps are suspended in the background and do not execute code !

The Android App 'APRS Messenger Android' with the APRS TNC Digi Tracker is a first application. At first, tests were promising...but...

Mobile IGate based on an Android phone with BT

Unfortunately the app developper does not fully see the potential of the app. The app serves more as a sales promotion for the APRS TNC Digi Tracker. Furthermore the app is restricted in its functionality. For the time being the apps 'APRS Messenger Android' and 'Digi Tracker Android' do not work properly (August 2013). Both apps are proprietary. There is no beaconing on the 'Digi Tracker Android' and no user-configurable setting on both apps which makes it almost impossible to proceed with the project right now. The incoming local APRS packets can be seen on the phone screen and are Igated. However, most of them cannot be viewed on aprs.fi. Why these restrictions ? Why fixed filters ? Why not combine both apps ? It could have been the first IGate world-wide on Android !

Mobile IGate in remote areas

Mobile IGate HB9CZV-3, located in Adelboden receives a WX station in Kandersteg and sends the packet to an APRS-IS via GSM data

Remarks:
The aprs.fi server shows always the last position of the mobile IGate ! Therefore distancies (and receiving range) are not always correct.
In the picture above, I received and IGated an APRS paket from the WX station in Kandersteg from my car near Adelboden (Bernese Oberland). However, aprs.fi shows Spiez (where I returned after the trip) as the position of my mobile IGate HB9CZV-3.




APRSdroid - The Future for Mobile IGates

APRSdroid already has the Bluetooth connection to the TNC-X from Coastal ChipWorks and other TNC's. I already tested the app APRSdroid with the TNC-X . The missing link (IGating) can be expected by end of 2013.

Applications:
- Replacment of Digipeater to free the APRS frequencies
- Installation in remote areas (e.g. with solar panels)
- Mobile operation in the own car
- Use for fairs, exhibitions, demos, etc.

APRSdroid Pros:
- Functionality in general
- Protocols (BT, Send only, ...)
- Full configurable
- SmartBeaconing(c)
- 'Radio Amateur-like'
- Stable operation ( in the background)
- Clever and responsive developper



upcoming open Solution for a Mobile IGate

APRSdroid and TNCX from Coastal ChipWorks

IGate: Raspy vs. Android Phone


Both applications - mobile and fix - are complementary to a great extent:

IGate Evaluation (Spider Diagram)

The Android Phone with TNC serves as mobile IGate in a car (GSM Data) or as a receive-only, higher situated IGate (as a Digipeater replacement).

Special: Android Functions
The APRS IGate App runs in the background. Therefore you can use all other Android apps, such as ...
- Remote control (e.g. VMLite)
- MobileWebCam (Surveillance, Webcam, ....)
- Google Maps, Earth, .....
- Navigation
- Camera for pictures and video
- Cloud storage
- Social networks

- ..........

Easy to install/configure:
- USB cable from the TNC to the cigarette lighter connection in the car
- 2 wires between your Tx and the TNC (audio)
- App configuration: Just enter your call sign and your APRS passcode

Problems:
- APRS Messenger app shows IGated packets on the screen.
But most packets are recognised as 'dupes' by the APRS-IS server and are dropped.
These packets are therefore not shown in FINDU/APRS.fi
- Some packet are not even shown on the Android display (my VX-8E)
- Filters and comment line should be defined by the user

- APRS Digi Tracker has no beaconing function and therefore one cannot identify the APRS-IS for testing
- same problems with the APRS Messenger

Why not bring APRS Messenger and APRS Digi Tracker bring together and define the function by the settings ?

For the time being, I cannot carry on with that promising project. I hope, Chris will bring a solution - soon.

Beaconing ok

Correct sent to APRS-IS

Only Beaconing displayed !

At least 20 Igated packets on phone display are not shown !!!!!

Special: Webserver
Without additional cost you can run the Apache Webserver parallel to your IGate. What you read on this pages comes from Raspy's Webserver.
Live Webcam, FTP Server, Remote Measurements, Maps, etc. can be added to the Raspy as well.


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