[aprssig] "Packet Radio USB micro TNC"

Lance Cotton joe at lightningflash.net
Fri Aug 4 08:15:28 CDT 2006

Earl Needham wrote:
>     What's the consensus on the TNCs found at http://www.elcom.gr/ and 
> using them with APRS?  I'm thinking it might be time to replace my 
> oldest TNC.

I have one and it works all right. The documentation is poor in my 
opinion. On one hand, the fact that the developers are not native 
English speakers has some bit to do with it, but on the other hand, the 
actual quantity of features not documented or the minimal explanation of 
a feature was quite frustrating to me.

Only the most recent firmware versions support AX.25 connected mode, and 
that isn't documented yet. It's primarily a KISS TNC plus tracker, and 
it does do that well, once you get the windows drivers for the USB part 
installed correctly (I suggest you don't bother installing the version 
of the drivers on their CD-ROM, but download the latest from the 
chip-maker's website.)

A nice feature is the internal battery, so you can run it standalone 
with a radio as a tracker, or you can power it by the USB port or by 
external power.

The radio/gps interface is a 10-pin RJ-type connector. They sent me a 
pigtailed cable and a spare RJ-connector just in case I needed it, 
though you'd still need a special tool to crimp it.

As far as decoding and being decoded on the air, it does an excellent 
job and should work well as a KISS TNC for application use AND as an 
APRS tracker. Supposedly it will take stations heard while in tracker 
mode and send them as waypoints to your GPS so that you can see on your 
GPS display (if it has one) nearby stations (incorporates "anti-tracker" 
feature). I couldn't get this to work, but I didn't spend much time on it.

It can be configured through their windows application, which is a bit 
hard to use and buggy, or via a serial console, though you might have to 
ask on their yahoo-group support list what some of the new commands are, 
  since the documentation hasn't been updated in several firmware releases.

It has a built in digipeater, but I think doesn't yet support the new 
paradigm hashed out here many months ago.

My personal opinion is that it's a fine device, but a bit overpriced. 
Scott's Tracker2, which is not yet out, will have basically the same 
functionality at a likely much lower price.

-Lance KJ5O

J. Lance Cotton, KJ5O
joe at lightningflash.net
Three Step Plan: 1. Take over the world. 2. Get a lot of cookies. 3. Eat 
the cookies.

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