TinyTrak and Tripmate Interfacing


I finally figured out what was keeping my TinyTrak from working with my Tripmate. I had to connect the RS-232 connection as a DCE device and I knew that the RX and TX pins were connected together inside the Tripmate, which is a required mod to get the tripmate to send out packets even without the mapping program on the PC. What I had forgotten was that I disconnected the wire coming from the PC board to the cable. Therefore, while I was thinking that the TX and RX were available and connected together, they were not. To complicate matters, the Tripmate that I modified requires that pin 4 be held at 5V to turn on. I made sure this was the case by using a voltmeter to check it, but I failed to realize that my null modem moved it to pin 6. Whenever I have trouble with RS-232, I slip in the null modem and everything begins to work. However, in this case, the null modem also turned off the Tripmate so nothing was coming out of it. Now that I have everything figured out, I just need to begin to make up plans for my various installations.

EAA Chapter 1117 Website


Finally, the weekend has arrived. I managed to get the local chapter EAA newsletter out this week, but just barely made it. I try to get it out on time to notify the others in the group about the upcoming monthly meeting and thanks to the fact that most of them now have email, I can do it with less lead time than when I mailed each one out via postal mail. I feel like I’m writing it to myself sometimes since I’m not even sure it’s being read by others in our little EAA Chapter 1117 Website. I’ve thought of keeping some of the newsletters on-line, but can’t justify the space for old newsletters so I only keep the latest one. Writing a newsletter is a lonely business and judging by the number of folks who have abstained from volunteering to take over the job in the past 6 years I’ve had it, not a very sought-after role either. 🙂

I updated my guest book today so it’s not quite so generic, but am still waiting for my first entry.

My Attempt at Blogging


Wow, this blog method of capturing up-to-date musings is certainly more convenient than the old way of doing things. I don’t know if I’ll continue on faithfully, but it’s much easier than using FrontPage or editing raw html to keep the site fresh and updated. I actually don’t use FrontPage at home anymore, although I still do at work. I had a version that expired after 50 uses and by that time, I had most of the formatting done. So now I just have a local copy of all my html files in a directory and I edit it with Wordpad, save it, copy it, and then paste it to an open FTP window that links to the web server. In some ways it’s easier but there’s a lot of intermediate saving and looking at the result in a browser since html makes it easy to leave off important formatting characters which will screw up a whole page.

I changed the format of my index page today since I got tired of looking at it. It had a debris trail of the old look and feel that was hard to read. I took out nearly all the text and put it in a table that describes other parts of my web site. I am so embarrassed by my site when I look at what youngsters have been able to do with their web sites from an appearance standpoint. They may be short on content, but the sure do look nice. Many of them have their own domain names and big name web hosting companies handling them. No Geocities, AOL, or @home for them, nosiree. They’d outgrow them in no time at all. I’ve allowed my site to grow to the point where I’m on my second 10MB chunk of @home’s web space. Much of it is eaten up with the FT100 FAQ which is my most visited page.

APRS trackers


UPDATE 2013-01-13: This was the first blog entry I ever made. It was over 11 years ago when I first wrote this and I just wanted to go back and add this comment to it. I was using Blogger at the time. Over the past year, I’ve added permanent APRS trackers to my car and plane. After a few experiments on my bicycle, I found that it was impractical since it was too hard to hit the repeater.

I’ve been trying to get my APRS tracker up and running and so I spent a lot of time on the Internet looking for ideas and help. My goal is to have a tracker for all of my vehicles which includes my LongEZ, Durango, and even my bicycle. It would be nice if the trackers would come on automatically so I’m not even aware of them. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case on the bicycle, of course, since I’d like to use the same radio to talk when I’m not beaconing out my coordinates. But I’d like to keep the FT100 free in the Durango so I’ll have to find another radio to do the transmitting on the APRS frequency. In the case of the bicycle I’ll have to splice in a headset and PTT for that setup. I’m thinking of using the FT50 handheld in the plane and the bicycle. The GPS in the plane is a Garmin XL95 and it’s always installed, so I’ll use that as the positional data source. I have a Garmin eMap for the bicycle along with a handlebar mount for it. Getting the connectors has been a real pain. I found the Garmin connector in an unlikely place and it looks like the elusive 4 ring plug for the FT50 is available from Mouser (just look for p/n 171-7435).

Although I have a PIC-E, I’ve decided to use the TinyTrak by Byonics. It’s just smaller and easier to program and it’s much less expensive to duplicate ($30 per unit) and they go together very fast. I like the TinyTrakII even better and I’ve decided to upgrade to it. I’ll post more details later…