APRS for Overlanding

Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) is an amateur radio-based system for real time digital communications of information of immediate value in the local area.  Data can include object Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, weather station telemetry, text messages, announcements, queries, and other telemetry. APRS data can be displayed on a map, which can show stations, objects, tracks of moving objects, weather stations, search and rescue data, and direction finding data.

APRS data are typically transmitted on a single shared frequency (depending on country) to be repeated locally by area relay stations (digipeaters) for widespread local consumption. In addition, all such data are typically ingested into the APRS Internet System (APRS-IS) via an Internet-connected receiver (IGate) and distributed globally for ubiquitous and immediate access.[2] Data shared via radio or Internet are collected by all users and can be combined with external map data to build a shared live view.

APRS has been developed since the late 1980s by Bob Bruninga, call sign WB4APR, currently a senior research engineer at the United States Naval Academy. He still maintains the main APRS Web site. The initialism “APRS” was derived from his call sign.

(from Wikipedia –  )

Yaesu FTM 400XDR


Here are a few of the features and reasons I chose the FTM 400XDR for my Jeep.

Digital and Analog FM Capable
3.5-inch full color and its touch panel operation
50W Transmitter Output
Receive Multiple Bands
Transmitter Bands
144 – 146 MHz or 144 – 148 MHz
430 – 440 MHz or 430 – 450 MHz
500 Memory Channels for each A(Main) band and B(Sub) band
Storage of the Memory channels and personal settings on an inserted micro SD card – By using a micro SD card, it is easy to copy and transfer the radio data to other compatible radios
Versatile Scanning Receiver for Monitoring Enthusiasts (VFO Scan, Memory Scan, etc)
Analog and Digital Clock – Timer function: Event timer with Lap or count down functions

Built-in GPS receiver and antenna provides location, time, direction and APRS® information. A GPS Logging Function is included

Smart Navigation Function
Real-time navigation function enables location checking at any time. In digital V/D mode, information such as position data is transmitted together with voice signals so the distance and direction to the other stations can be displayed in real-time while communicating with them.

Backtrack Function
The Backtrack Function enables navigation to a registered location at the touch of a button. When hiking or camping, simply register your starting point or campsite before departure, and the distance and orientation from the current location are displayed on the screen.This is valuable feature for Search & Rescue operations as well as casual hiking and camping.

Route 66 in Oklahoma

As you recall in December we went on an 18 day road trip from our home in Georgia to California and back.   Now that we have had to get back, and settle back into the groove of work, its time to reflect, reminisce, and re-live our trip.  Over the next few months I will be recounting our trip here.


The long first day saw us mainly driving from Georgia, across Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and into Oklahoma.  We overnighted the first night in Midwest City, OK.

The next day one of our first stops was the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City Oklahoma.  We stop and visit the museum every time we come through because it’s always neat to see their collection.  They have an indoor section you can visit for a small fee, but I really like walking the grounds and looked at all the windmills, farm equipment, and old store fronts.

Talladega National Forest

This weekend with the forecast calling for great weather, we decided to get the off road trailer out for the first shake down of 2018.  I had a couple of places in mind, but ultimately decided to go over to Alabama to Talladega National Forest.  We have been over there on several day trips, but never camped.   I already had the campsite pictured in my head!!

Jeep and Trailer loaded…   time to head out!

We made our way over to Alabama and started out on County Road 6000-1 which is on the southern end of the National Forest, off of Highway 148 west of Millerville.   The first five miles or 6000-1 are pretty rough – especially for a vehicle pulling a trailer!

After you reach the point where the power lines cross the trail the road smooths out, with a little more gravel coverage.  Apparently they maintain that portion of the road for the power company to access the lines.  From that point on, there are several scenic overlooks along the route, and the one I had in mind was open with no one else there.   I backed the trailer up into the spot and we started setting up camp.

This was our view!!

After a nice hot bowl of chili with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream for dinner, it was time to build a campfire and get ready to watch the sunset and take some astrophotography.

With the moon rising behind us and outshining most of the stars, it was time to call it a night.  With our LED lights in the trailer, they give off enough light to read, or get gear situated prior to calling it a night.

The next day saw us getting up, eating some bacon and eggs, and then breaking down camp, and starting the ride home.

It was a great “first” camping trip of 2018 and we look forward to many more to come!

VIDEO to follow!