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[aprssig] Track Garmin Rinos in field, display data on Windows Laptop, hopefully merge with APRS

Anthony Mascola amascola at stanford.edu
Thu Jan 26 19:12:43 UTC 2012


Hi All, I posted this on the Garmin Rino Yahoo Group and Bob Bruninga
suggested I also post it here.  Thanks for your help.

Anthony Mascola

KJ6OKV-7

 

 

From: garmin-rino at yahoogroups.com [mailto:garmin-rino at yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of a_mascola
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:13 AM
To: garmin-rino at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [garmin-rino] Track Rinos in field, display data on Windows Laptop,
hopefully merge with APRS

 

  

Hi All,
I am a physician and volunteer for the scouts as well as for our
neighborhood Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). I hope to establish a
base station on a Windows PC that can receive and display the location and
message packets exchanged with Garmin Rino radios deployed in the field and
update these on a moving map tactical display as new information is received
from the Rinos. Ideally this software program could integrate packets also
from Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) enabled amateur radio stations
as well. I hope to use the application for coordination of scouting
activities in the backcountry as well as CERT search and rescue operations
where a cellular grid may not always be available. It would be great to
include position data for each party member using whatever hardware is
capable of sending this information including cellular data when available
given the largest number of users with this hardware. Ideally a user could
have an identifier and if the cell grid went down use GMRS or amateur radio
as a backup. I would hope to be able to see the position of each member of
the party on a more detailed map with better data entry options than the
small display of the rino to allow for more efficient communication. I
currently own two Rino 530HCx models and two 530's as well as a Kenwood
TH-D72A and Kenwood TM-D710 which have terminal node controllers that allow
for use with the Automatic Packet Radio System. I have found Bob Bruninga's
APRS to be a brilliant example of ingenuity. I am hoping though to include
exchange of data with a broader variety of hardware given that I am
interfacing with many persons with a variety of technical backgrounds and
equipment in these activities.

While I am an amateur radio operator active in ARES/RACES and CERT search
and rescue, I have found that the Rino and GMRS radios have an important
role to play. The position polling available with the Rino has significant
advantages in that the barriers to licensing are less and the interface is
more approachable for those with limited technical backgrounds. For the
scouts and my CERT team there are only a few licensed amateurs with the
training or equipment to conduct an all APRS coordination system. It is
unfortunately not realistic to be able to have each cub scout become ham
licensed and equipped with an APRS communication device nor to have each
homeowner in the neighborhood with CERT so prepared and equipped as I find
that we are lucky to get a few dedicated volunteers and must use whatever
resources we have available. Nonetheless the need for coordination of large
numbers of people remains, hence I am reinvestigating the use of the Rino
and GMRS. It would be ideal if there were a single piece of software that
had a reasonably user friendly interface that could merge position and
messaging capability from mobile phones, GMRS devices, APRS stations etc...
to enable a more effective communications infrastructure for those who must
coordinate group activities in the outdoors. I know this is a stretch but
the public health benefits in both coordinating disaster response, search
and rescue and preventing lost or missing persons would seem to warrant the
effort.

I am surprised that there are not more software programs developed for the
Rino at the very least given the obvious tactical benefits that would occur
in coordinating outdoor and search and rescue activities. I have tried
Garmin BaseCamp, MapSource but they do not have an option to create a
"moving map" or to refresh the screen with new data from a Rino attached
with a USB cable to the computer unless I manually unplug and replug the USB
cable connecting the device to the laptop. They also do not have the ability
to incorporate APRS data. I have contacted Garmin several times but they
inform me they have nothing which can coordinate the Rino data on a laptop
display. I have tried some of the older Garmin products that are no longer
supported such as nroute. This has a moving map but does not appear to see
the contacts waypoints on the Rino or display them or to be able to update
them as new information is received. It also lacks APRS ability.

I have found older references online to an APRS (Automatic Packet Radio
System) program called Xastir which appears to be able to incorporate
polling on the Garmin Rino, merging amateur radio packets with Rino position
data on the display and appears to offer a fairly robust number of options.
It appears however to be a fairly complex installation on Windows and to
require a fair bit of technical background. I regret that I have limited
technical experience and time resources given my primary work as a physician
in an academic medical center which makes this option appear a bit daunting
as I have not worked with linux before and have only a bit of time here and
there to work on this project. I will be probably stumbling through this
over the next several months unless I can find something a little easier to
use.

I have written to another developer called OziExplorer which may have
similar functionality with an add on called OziAPRS and am awaiting their
response as the installation and user interface appears a little more
friendly to someone with limited technical experience. 

I am hoping that others have an interest in tracking and coordinating the
activities of their parties in the field using the Rino and I am hoping that
some have navigated and solved these problems before. Any suggestions?

Anthony Mascola
amateur: KJ6OKV
GMRS: WQNC420

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