Monday, March 4, 2019

LightAPRS Tracker de TA2MUN

Mustafa Tan announced earlier today the upcoming release of a very lightweight APRS tracker designed with long-distance balloon flights in mind.

The LightAPRS Tracker weighs 9 grams and will be sold through QRP Labs (Hans G0UPL's company).

Here are the details from Mustafa:

"Three years ago I was googling about high altitude balloons and I ended up with QRP Labs Balloon Flights page :) I was really impressed with Dave's (VE3KCL) efforts to circumnavigate around the world with party balloons and track them.

Six months later I got my amateur radio license and started flights with heavy APRS trackers. Since payload is very heavy, balloons maximum altitude never exceeded 9.000 meters.

Last year my friend Hakki (TA9OHC) said me "I can design and assembly a lightweight APRS tracker" and I said to him "Let's do it, but we should keep it simple, useful and user friendly"

After one year hard working and testing "LightAPRS Tracker" is ready for launch :) And I don't know if it's a quirk of fate, I realised that Hans is living in my country and very close to my mom's town :) I visited him and mentioned about our project and decided to collaborate.

LightAPRS is going to be available on https://www.qrp-labs.com soon with 110$ price tag, but before official launch, we'd like to have your comments and opinions about our tracker.

I have attached some photos and technical info below.

Key Features:

  • Open Source : Sofware will be open. You can easily modify the source code. We will share the source code via GitHub for different use cases (pico balloon, HAB, car, etc.)
  • Arduino Compatible CPU :  Since CPU is Atmega based, you can use Arduino IDE and libraries
  • Extendable : Using I2C and SPI pins you can add extra sensors ( and their librarires) to LightAPRS and programme it as you wish.
  • 1 Watt Radio : In fact you don't need 1 Watt radio module for balloon projects but for your other projects you definitely will :)
  • High Quality GPS : No need to comment :) Ublox is one of the best gps manufacturer.
  • Price : LightAPRS is more affordable (110$), comparing to similar tracker Tracksoar's (open source, light, but not frequency agile) price (205$) https://www.tracksoar.com/product/tracksoar-v2/

Basic Features:

  • Software         : Open Source
  • Weight    : 8 grams
  • Dimensions    : 3 cm x 5 cm
  • IDE    : Arduino
  • Platform    : MightyCore
  • CPU    : Atmega1284P-AU
  • Flash    : 128 kB
  • Ram    : 16 kB
  • EEPROM    : 4 kB   
  • Operating Frequency    : 8 Mhz
  • Operating Voltage    : 3.3 Volt
  • Input    Voltage    : 3.3 Volt (via 3.3V pin) or  4.5 - 15 Volt via usb or VBat pin
  • BOD    : 2.7 Volt
  • Sensor    : BMP180 (pressure and temperature)
  • Radio Module    : Dorji DRA818V
  • Radio Operating Frequency    : 134-174 Mhz (configurable by software)
  • Low Pass Filter    : Available (7 elements)
  • Radio Power     : 0.5 Watt or 1 Watt (configurable by software)
  • Power Consumption (Sleep) : ~5 mA
  • Power Consumption (TX) : ~460 mA (0.5 Watt) / ~760 mA (1 Watt)
  • GPS    : Ublox MAX-M8Q (GPS-GLONASS)
  • Gps Antenna Gain    : 4.3 dBi
  • Extended Pins    : I2C, SPI
  • USB Serial    : CH340G

Mustafa Tan TA2MUN"


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Those who keep track of Hans' kits and other developments know of the many long distance, high altitude balloons that have been launched with a version of the Ultimate 3 onboard. Two dozen of these balloons have circumnavigated the planet. All of these balloons use WSPR on HF (usually 20 or 30 meters) to report the balloon's position. The tracker described here would use APRS on 2 meters.

While the range of a 2m APRS signal on a balloon would be hundreds of miles, it wouldn't allow the balloon to b etracked over an ocean or over many countries who likely use different 2m frequencies for APRS than the country from which the balloon was launched.

About a year ago, Hans announced that a "U3B(alloon)" kit would be released eventually. The QCX, and now the QSX, have delayed its release but Hans has recently assured us that the project will continue once the QSX is offered.

I wish Mustafa success in his project - its price certainly beats those of more commercialized equivalents - but I'm going to hold out for a WSPR-capable tracker.
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5 March - Update from Hans G0UPL:

Regarding the U3B balloon tracker http://hanssummers.com/balloons - Dave continues with test flights, actually his U3B25 is flying now see http://qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b25 . There isn't much more development to do on it. But there is *some* and right now I'm focusing all my time on finishing QSX http://qrp-labs.com/qsx . After that, I am intending to finish U3B and produce it for sale.
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2 comments:

  1. Thanks John :)

    LightAPRS is available on : http://shop.qrp-labs.com/lightaprs

    Source Code : https://github.com/lightaprs/LightAPRS-1.0

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi John,

    Our new module LightAPRS WSPR released : http://qrp-labs.com/lightaprs-w

    Github: https://github.com/lightaprs/LightAPRS-W-1.0

    ReplyDelete