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New Tracker2 Owner Questions

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  • bp_gay
    Hi Group, I recently purchased the Tracker2 and have a couple questions about it. I will primarily be using it for standard APRS tracking in my vehicle (no
    Message 1 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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      Hi Group,
      I recently purchased the Tracker2 and have a couple questions about
      it. I will primarily be using it for standard APRS tracking in my
      vehicle (no digi).

      1. Is it better to turn the SWDCD function on and leave the radio
      unsquelched?

      2. I will be using this with my Nuvi 350. I see something about custom
      symbols. Is this something that I should consider? What exactly are
      the custom symbols?

      3. Do you normally use the DAO function for greater accuracy?

      4. Do you normally modify any of the console commands that are not
      configurable by the GUI program or are they usually set OK by default
      (retries, retry timeout, etc.)

      5. Do you normally leave constant power to the Tracker2 and radio or
      do you have it on a switched power source?

      6. I do a lot of driving in my small town. I'm thinking that the
      default Smartbeaconing settings may not be optimum. There are a lot of
      times I only drive 2 minutes down the road. Would it be better just to
      leave Smartbeaconing off? What do you think would be best in my case?

      7. I have been playing with the Tracker2 in my home today. I'm
      noticing that it is not decoding any packets (I'm monitoring via
      Winpack and mon is ON). I can decode packets with my other radio and
      with my PK-232. I see the green RX light come on, but no info on the
      screen. I've tried with the EQ jumper on and off. I've been reading
      posts lately about some people not being able to digi because of this.
      Maybe the HT I have it hooked to (HTX-202) is not as clear on receive
      even though I am using the same antenna??

      8. I noticed that Scott posted a new beta firmware. Do you guys
      usually jump on the betas or stick with the stable releases? Are they
      usually pretty stable?

      Thanks in advance for the advice!

      Brent, KF4JZY
    • Keith VE7GDH
      Brent KF4JZY wrote... ... Yes... if the squelch is open, you won t be waiting for it to open. You should be able to copy weaker signals too. ... Garmin Custom
      Message 2 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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        Brent KF4JZY wrote...

        > 1. Is it better to turn the SWDCD function on and leave the radio
        > unsquelched?

        Yes... if the squelch is open, you won't be waiting for it to open. You
        should be able to copy weaker signals too.

        > 2. I will be using this with my Nuvi 350. I see something about custom
        > symbols. Is this something that I should consider? What exactly are
        > the custom symbols?

        Garmin Custom Symbols.zip at
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tracker2/files However, in Message #3263
        Joe W0PWJ said "One of the shortcomings of the 350 is that Garmin's
        X-Image will not work with it, so you cannot upload custom symbols."

        > 3. Do you normally use the DAO function for greater accuracy?

        No. What's the point? Sending extra digits doesn't really mean a lot
        unless you know the data is good. I'm sure some people will argue for
        it, but to me, it doesn't really make any difference if it shows me on
        one side of the road or the other. Usually direction of travel is enough
        to indicate that.

        > 4. Do you normally modify any of the console commands that are not
        > configurable by the GUI program or are they usually set OK by default
        > (retries, retry timeout, etc.)

        If you want to modify retries, add your callsign to the AUTHLIST etc.
        you could do it in a terminal program.

        > 5. Do you normally leave constant power to the Tracker2 and radio or
        > do you have it on a switched power source?

        It depends. If the frequency isn't very busy where you normally park,
        bandwidth wouldn't be a factor. If you drive every day, you probably
        won't kill the battery. If you use SmartBeaconing, the beacon rate can
        be much lower while you are parked.

        > 6. I do a lot of driving in my small town. I'm thinking that the
        > default Smartbeaconing settings may not be optimum. There are a lot of
        > times I only drive 2 minutes down the road. Would it be better just to
        > leave Smartbeaconing off? What do you think would be best in my case?

        Use SmartBeaconing! You don't have to use the default settings. Adjust
        them based on the kind of driving you do. If you are normally going to
        leave it beaconing 24/7, set the slow rate to every half hour... 1800
        seconds. Set the slow rate down around 5 kmh and set the fast rate based
        on the kind of driving you do. if you do lots of driving in town, set
        the fast rate at 70 kmh. If you do lots of highway driving, set it at 90
        kmh or whatever. If most of your driving is only two minutes... ride a
        bike! If most of your driving is in town at city speeds, you might want
        to set the fast speed to just 50-70 kmh. Set the fast rate to 60
        seconds. Corner pegging will cause it to beacon when you turn a corner.
        SmartBeaconing is the best setting for most people, but definitely look
        at the settings and adjust them to your needs.

        > 7. I have been playing with the Tracker2 in my home today. I'm
        > noticing that it is not decoding any packets (I'm monitoring via
        > Winpack and mon is ON). I can decode packets with my other radio and
        > with my PK-232. I see the green RX light come on, but no info on the
        > screen. I've tried with the EQ jumper on and off. I've been reading
        > posts lately about some people not being able to digi because of this.
        > Maybe the HT I have it hooked to (HTX-202) is not as clear on receive
        > even though I am using the same antenna??

        Do you get a command prompt when you hit enter a few times? You say that
        MON is ON, so you must have had a command prompt to set it or check it.
        Are you looking at config 1 or config 2? What do you have entered for
        profile switching? Do you have AMODE AUTO? Have you tried adjusting the
        audio levels out of the radio?

        > 8. I noticed that Scott posted a new beta firmware. Do you guys
        > usually jump on the betas or stick with the stable releases? Are they
        > usually pretty stable?

        I've usually use the stable release, but did play around with the beta
        release a day or two back.

        73 es cul - Keith VE7GDH
        --
        "I may be lost, but I know exactly where I am!"
      • Lance Cotton
        ... Note only that, but so far, no client programs automatically detect and put to use the DAO extensions. Use compressed mode to get even better precision
        Message 3 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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          Keith VE7GDH wrote:

          >> 3. Do you normally use the DAO function for greater accuracy?
          >
          > No. What's the point? Sending extra digits doesn't really mean a lot
          > unless you know the data is good. I'm sure some people will argue for
          > it, but to me, it doesn't really make any difference if it shows me on
          > one side of the road or the other. Usually direction of travel is enough
          > to indicate that.

          Note only that, but so far, no client programs automatically detect and
          put to use the DAO extensions. Use compressed mode to get even better
          precision than DAO provides, and in a format that many APRS client
          programs understand and use.

          -Lance
          --
          J. Lance Cotton, KJ5O
          joe@...
          http://kj5o.lightningflash.net
          Three Step Plan: 1. Take over the world. 2. Get a lot of cookies. 3. Eat
          the cookies.
        • Brent Gay
          Keith, Thanks for the response. See my replies below: 1. Sounds good. I will leave squelch open with SWDCD on. 2. It looks like I do not need to worry about
          Message 4 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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            Keith,
            Thanks for the response. See my replies below:

            1. Sounds good. I will leave squelch open with SWDCD on.
            2. It looks like I do not need to worry about custom symbols then.
            3. I understand, and it looks like the DAO function may confuse some clients anyways. (I will try compression per Lance's comment--thanks Lance)
            4. OK, I already added a station to the AUTHLIST, it seems everything else is probably OK at default.
            5. OK.
            6. Thanks. I will use Smartbeaconing and play around with the timings.
            7. All the settings are default (AMODE AUTO, MON ON, and INFO shows CFG1). Maybe conditions were bad or something because I am now starting to see packets.

            One more question -- How do you know to activate the EQ and HI jumper or not? Currently, I have the EQ jumper on and the HI jumper off.

            Thanks again!

            Brent, KF4JZY



            On Sat, May 3, 2008 at 3:09 PM, Keith VE7GDH <ve7gdh@...> wrote:

            Brent KF4JZY wrote...



            > 1. Is it better to turn the SWDCD function on and leave the radio
            > unsquelched?

            Yes... if the squelch is open, you won't be waiting for it to open. You
            should be able to copy weaker signals too.


            > 2. I will be using this with my Nuvi 350. I see something about custom
            > symbols. Is this something that I should consider? What exactly are
            > the custom symbols?

            Garmin Custom Symbols.zip at
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tracker2/files However, in Message #3263
            Joe W0PWJ said "One of the shortcomings of the 350 is that Garmin's
            X-Image will not work with it, so you cannot upload custom symbols."


            > 3. Do you normally use the DAO function for greater accuracy?

            No. What's the point? Sending extra digits doesn't really mean a lot
            unless you know the data is good. I'm sure some people will argue for
            it, but to me, it doesn't really make any difference if it shows me on
            one side of the road or the other. Usually direction of travel is enough
            to indicate that.


            > 4. Do you normally modify any of the console commands that are not
            > configurable by the GUI program or are they usually set OK by default
            > (retries, retry timeout, etc.)

            If you want to modify retries, add your callsign to the AUTHLIST etc.
            you could do it in a terminal program.


            > 5. Do you normally leave constant power to the Tracker2 and radio or
            > do you have it on a switched power source?

            It depends. If the frequency isn't very busy where you normally park,
            bandwidth wouldn't be a factor. If you drive every day, you probably
            won't kill the battery. If you use SmartBeaconing, the beacon rate can
            be much lower while you are parked.


            > 6. I do a lot of driving in my small town. I'm thinking that the
            > default Smartbeaconing settings may not be optimum. There are a lot of
            > times I only drive 2 minutes down the road. Would it be better just to
            > leave Smartbeaconing off? What do you think would be best in my case?

            Use SmartBeaconing! You don't have to use the default settings. Adjust
            them based on the kind of driving you do. If you are normally going to
            leave it beaconing 24/7, set the slow rate to every half hour... 1800
            seconds. Set the slow rate down around 5 kmh and set the fast rate based
            on the kind of driving you do. if you do lots of driving in town, set
            the fast rate at 70 kmh. If you do lots of highway driving, set it at 90
            kmh or whatever. If most of your driving is only two minutes... ride a
            bike! If most of your driving is in town at city speeds, you might want
            to set the fast speed to just 50-70 kmh. Set the fast rate to 60
            seconds. Corner pegging will cause it to beacon when you turn a corner.
            SmartBeaconing is the best setting for most people, but definitely look
            at the settings and adjust them to your needs.


            > 7. I have been playing with the Tracker2 in my home today. I'm
            > noticing that it is not decoding any packets (I'm monitoring via
            > Winpack and mon is ON). I can decode packets with my other radio and
            > with my PK-232. I see the green RX light come on, but no info on the
            > screen. I've tried with the EQ jumper on and off. I've been reading
            > posts lately about some people not being able to digi because of this.
            > Maybe the HT I have it hooked to (HTX-202) is not as clear on receive
            > even though I am using the same antenna??

            Do you get a command prompt when you hit enter a few times? You say that
            MON is ON, so you must have had a command prompt to set it or check it.
            Are you looking at config 1 or config 2? What do you have entered for
            profile switching? Do you have AMODE AUTO? Have you tried adjusting the
            audio levels out of the radio?


            > 8. I noticed that Scott posted a new beta firmware. Do you guys
            > usually jump on the betas or stick with the stable releases? Are they
            > usually pretty stable?

            I've usually use the stable release, but did play around with the beta
            release a day or two back.

            73 es cul - Keith VE7GDH
            --
            "I may be lost, but I know exactly where I am!"


          • Keith VE7GDH
            Brent KF4JZY wrote... ... The EQ jumper enables receive equalization. I would say don t enable it if you are feeding it with de-empathized audio, but... by all
            Message 5 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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              Brent KF4JZY wrote...

              > One more question -- How do you know to activate the EQ and HI jumper
              > or not? Currently, I have the EQ jumper on and the HI jumper off.

              The EQ jumper enables receive equalization. I would say don't enable it
              if you are feeding it with de-empathized audio, but... by all means try
              it both ways and see what results you get.

              The HI jumper raises the transmit audio level. You want about a little
              over 3 kHz. If you are setting it by ear, err on the low side.

              73 es cul - Keith VE7GDH
              --
              "I may be lost, but I know exactly where I am!"
            • James Ewen
              ... CornerPegging (tm) is going to be the routine that causes the most position reports to be sent during city driving, where you are making many turns.
              Message 6 of 6 , May 3, 2008
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                On Sat, May 3, 2008 at 2:09 PM, Keith VE7GDH <ve7gdh@...> wrote:


                > > 6. I do a lot of driving in my small town. I'm thinking that the
                > > default Smartbeaconing settings may not be optimum. There are a lot of
                > > times I only drive 2 minutes down the road. Would it be better just to
                > > leave Smartbeaconing off? What do you think would be best in my case?
                >
                > Use SmartBeaconing! You don't have to use the default settings.
                > Corner pegging will cause it to beacon when you turn a corner.
                > SmartBeaconing is the best setting for most people, but definitely look
                > at the settings and adjust them to your needs.

                CornerPegging (tm) is going to be the routine that causes the most
                position reports to be sent during city driving, where you are making
                many turns. SmartBeaconing (tm) is designed to automatically adjust
                the reporting rate in relation to the speed you are traveling. There's
                no need to report your parked vehicle location every minute or two.
                Slow speed reporting rates should be over a long interval, as Keith
                suggests, 1800 seconds is good. High speed reporting rates are the
                minimum amount of time that you want to pass before reporting a new
                position when driving at or above your high speed threshold. When you
                are driving in an area where you will be making many successive turns,
                such as a parking lot, or traffic circle, you will want to make sure
                that the minimum turn time will keep you from sending a flurry of
                packets in rapid succession.

                By all means, you can play with the SmartBeacon settings, but I would
                highly recommend that you read up on SmartBeaconing and what the
                various parameters affect. Poorly selected SmartBeacon parameters can
                increase the traffic load on a channel rather than decrease it as
                SmartBeaconing was designed.

                If you are going to turn SmartBeaconing off, and as you say, you only
                drive for 2 minutes down the road, you will probably select a fairly
                short position reporting interval, so you will show where you were
                when you started your vehicle, and possibly get another report out
                before you park. You'll probably also want to leave the tracker on, so
                that your vehicle will show up where it is parked, rather than where
                it was when it last sent a position report before it was turned off.
                This situation is bad, as you will most likely end up sending position
                reports from a parked vehicle at an unreasonably rapid rate, clogging
                the APRS network with redundant data.

                I'd suggest leaving SmartBeaconing turned on, and leaving the tracker
                powered up. SmartBeaconing will automatically work to make your
                tracker as network friendly as possible.

                Add an APO3 to the mix, and have your tracker automatically power down
                after being parked for a set time, or when it senses that your battery
                voltage level is getting low.

                James
                VE6SRV
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