Wild Weather and APRS Progress

In my last post I said:

“Right now, it’s been snowing for the past 24 hours – fortunately without much accumulation, so the end of winter is coming.”

That night, it began to pile up, and by the end we had nearly two feet of snow in places.  The forecast had called for 4-8″, and the storm moving out late Thursday night. Yeah. Right. But yesterday, the sun was blazing away strongly, and temperatures reached the high 40s.  Sand hadn’t been used on the roads, because by the time the plows came out on Friday it was above freezing and unnecessary.  What snow remained had already melted.


So the day after we got nearly two feet of snow, I went out for a ride. It was good. I took the opportunity to cruise around Acton, where I now live, both to visit some places I remembered from when I was growing up here, and to refamiliarize myself with the town a bit. I then remembered a destination I wanted to see last weekend, but cold plus rain prevented that ride. I went into nearby Westford, and found the town’s water tower. Why does this matter? It’s where the WB1GOF repeater I’ve been using a lot lately is located, and I wanted to see the site for myself. Very nice. I proceeded on to Groton, then took the twisty Route 40 back to Westford.  I went home from there since the sun was going down and it was cooling off a bit.

So although nature mocked me for my statement in my last post, the fact remains that winter is coming to an end, and biking season is starting to come back.  There are only a few hours on the warmest days that I can venture out comfortably at this point, but it’s better than nothing.

I’ve also worked out how to mount my new APRS station.  I just installed the mobile bracket for the radio in the trunk. I’ll add the radio and its wiring later, but I test fit everything to make sure it would work. I’ll use a bit of superlock fasteners to stick the TinyTrak3+ to either the radio or the side of the trunk.  As for the antenna, I’ve figured out how to install it for under $10 in parts. I’d added a second NMO mount to my car for the 6 meter band, but I’ve had almost no luck contacting anyone there, so I will move that mount to the bike.  I picked up a section of steel bar with numerous pre-drilled 3/8″ holes in it. The NMO mount will bolt perfectly through one of these.  The other end will attach to one of my Givi top trunk rack bolts – or really, to a longer bolt that I replaced the original one with.  It’s still bolted together exactly the same way it was before, except the longer bolt sticks out to the inside of the rack, and that’s where the steel bar will bolt on, bend 90 degrees horizontal, and stick out to the passenger side of the bike far enough for the antenna to clear the top trunk.  Because it’s steel, the magnetic GPS that connects to the TinyTrak3+ will attach here, as well, which is good because there is pretty much no exposed metal on the bike where it can stick. The wiring will all go into the main trunk and connect to the equipment in there. Add power, and KJ1H-9 will be on the air.

I also plan to carry the radio’s microphone with me, just in case I feel like chatting with people while parked. I’ll just have to unplug the TinyTrak3+ from the mic and earphone jacks and plug the mic in. If you’re concerned about the radio heating up and not having enough air circulation in the trunk, I’m not – it’ll be transmitting an APRS packet burst for one second every few minutes, and draws very little power on receive. Even at 65 watts it won’t have a chance to heat up. That is something I’ll have to stay aware of during voice conversations, but since I’ll be in the trunk anyway I can just clear stuff away from the radio when I use it for that.

I’ll post pics and an actual “how I did it” post once it’s all installed and working.

Categories: ham radio, mechanical | Leave a comment

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