[aprssig] ***SPAM*** $60 WinBook TW700 Windows Tablet Runs UIview And Other APRS Stuff!
Stephen H. Smith
wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Sat Feb 7 10:35:49 CST 2015
On 1/30/2015 2:49 PM, kd5umo at arrl.net [ui-view] wrote:
> Has anyone tried to use one of these with UI-View, particularly on RF only?
This device has to be the smallest cheapest platform to ever run standard
off-the-shelf Windows ham programs.
I have now returned from a trip to MicroCenter with two of these 7" Windows 8.1
tablets. They are USD $60 new and an incredible $47.95 "open box"; i.e.
customer return. I got one of each.
One of these is now running a complete UIview 2.03 installation including
Precision Mapping 9.0, the Precision Mapping 9 server and the UZ7HO Soundmodem
soundcard "soft TNC". Some comments in no particular order:
1) Out of the box, the TW700 runs the regular version of Windows 8, not the
RT version. First thing, I installed the freeware "Classic Shell" utility.
Classic Shell does away with the Win 8 tiled smart phone user interface a.k.a.
"Metro" a.k.a. "Modern", and restores a traditional XP/Win 7-looking user
interface with a fully-functional Start button and menu.
2) The unit has a 4-conductor "TRRS" 3.5mm combined headphone & mic jack that
is pinned out identically to the ones on iPhones and iPads. This means any
boom-mic headset made for i-Gadgets will work with this unit - think EchoLink
operation. More importantly, it means the homebrew soundcard interface I made
for my iPad works as-is with the TW-700.
3) Contrary to the report on one or two websites, there is NO GPS receiver
built into this unit. It DOES have the "Microsoft Location Service", a system
resource that is part of the standard Windows 8 load. -IF- you are connected
to the Internet, this built-in function can determine your location, based on
your current IP address surprisingly accurately, and plot it on the provided
"Bing Maps" app. Location Server DOES NOT seem to offer any emulation of a
serial port carrying NMEA that would be useful with APRS programs.
4) The machine has a 16 GB SSD (solid-state drive), of which only 8 GB is
visible. The other half is a hidden partition containing a complete
install/restore image of Windows 8.1 . In an ingenious adaption to the
limited drive space (compared to a normal desktop hard disk), Windows boots and
runs directly from the hidden restore partition, rather than doing a complete
install on the visible drive C. Only the Windows registry, user settings, some
minor utilities and temp-swap-hibernate files are located on the visible
partition. A "restore" merely deletes the user settings on drive C.
5) Perhaps, due to the tiny size of the solid-state disk drive, the machine
was blessedly free of the usual collection of "crapware" unsolicited pre-loaded
junk software. After removing the trial version of Microsoft Office 365" (a
rent-by-the-month version of Microsoft's office suite), 5.6 GB of the machine's
SSD was free.
5a) After installing some essential minor system utilities, UIview 2.03,
Precision Mapping 9.0, the PMap Server 9.0, NWS Shape Files, UI-HeightTrack,
the UZ7HO Sound Modem, APRS Messenger, mmSSSTV and the FLdigi suite, I had
about 1.3 GB of remaining disk space left.
6) This tiny hand-held PC has two USB ports. One is a micro-USB port; the
other is an actual classic full-sized USB 2.0 port. I used the full-sized port
to connect a corded optical mouse during the installs. I used the built-in
WiFi-N to access another machine on my LAN, that hosts my software install
library, to do the program installs.
7) As I had expected, trying to operate normal Windows GUI features and
menus on such a diminutive touch screen was nearly impossible for normal
human-sized fingers. You will ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY want a mouse of some sort.
One of the issues that bit me almost immediately was the inability to easily
do the equivalent of mouse RIGHT-clicks with a finger on the touch screen.
(The UIview "alternate mouse movements" heavily depend on right-clicks.) I
would recommend a Bluetooth cordless mouse that can link to the TW-700's
built-in Bluetooth functions. This avoids wasting one of the precious USB
ports on the receiver dongle of the typical non-Bluetooth cordless mouse.
8) While you are at it, you might want to get a complete Bluetooth
keyboard/mouse combo. The tablet's virtual "glass keyboard" that pops up
on-screen ala iPhone or iPad lacks is very minimal. It lacks PC function keys
and more critically the "PgUp" and "PgDn" keys used to zoom in and out with the
UIview Precision Mapping or PA7RHM map servers. It IS fairly easy to zoom
inward for more detail by dragging out a bounding box with a finger on the
touch screen, but NO easy way to zoom back out!
9) I worked around this problem by temporarily connecting an external
(physical) keyboard, zooming in and out with it's PgUp and PgDn keys to city,
county, state and continental views levels. I then saved each of these zoom
levels with "Map, Save A Favourite View". You can then use "Map, Load A
Favourite View" to zoom back OUT to one of these pre-stored views, after
zooming IN with your finger.
10) The built-in front and rear cameras work quite nicely, even at
relatively low light levels. However, I am still trying to come up with an
easy way to capture their images into files I can load into mmSSTV for
slow-scan TV transmission. The extremly light-weight "BooruCAM" webcam capture
utility I have used for years to framegrab webcam images for SSTV use doesn't
want to work on Win 8. The ability to trigger screen caps without function
keys or mouse right-clicks will be a critical attribute of any utility to do
this in-the-field with just the tablet.
11) This tiny PC is a perfect match for the Kenwood TH-D72 APRS handheld.
With a standard USB-A to min-USB-B cable connecting the D72 to the tablet's
standard USB port, and the D72 providing a live GPS, you have a complete
fully-functional desktop-style mapping APRS setup with two-way messaging that
can operate anywhere.
12) With the tablet's audio in/out cabled directly to a Yaesu FT-817's
6-pin mini-DIN "data port", you would have the ultimate compact lightweight
in-the-field HF PSK31/MFSK16 setup as well as two-meters packet/APRS. [The
FT-817/857/897 have a built-in "data VOX" function that eliminate the need for
any soundcard interface PTT keying scheme - you only need the TX and RX audio
connections to the mini-DIN port.] You could then use the full-size USB port
on the tablet for a $30 Globalsat BU-353 mini-hockeypuck GPS.
Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink: Node # 14400 [Think bottom of the 2-meter band]
Home Page: http://wa8lmf.net
Live Off-The-Air APRS Activity Maps
Long-Range APRS on 30 Meters HF
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