Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sainsonic AP510

Just got done configuring one of these:

It's a Sainsonic AP510 APRS tracker.  Not bad overall.  It's Chinese made. Costs a about $125us and seems to do the job.

In a nutshell it's a 1w transmitter with a Sirfstar 4 GPS, Bluetooth and SD card support.  The hardware will even report battery voltage and temperature in it's packets.  The SD card is for storing a GPS log in KML format

It's really nasty to setup.  If you aren't quite computer savy DO NOT BUY ONE.  It requires the normal horseplay to get prolific USB drivers working in Windows. (yes windows only - it won't go in WINE) and then getting the software to run requires registering at least one DLL with Windows XP.  Several folks have reported that they cannot get it to work with newer releases.

I've also heard reports that Chirp has some support for these devices.  I have not yet gone down that road but I will update when I do.

Configuring it is odd.  But I got it done in about an hour - including horsing around with Windows.  I used an XP virtual appliance and the USB pass-through worked fine.

My main use for this is as a tracker in a local marathon.  We normally equip bicycle riders that accompany the race leaders with trackers so that we are able to tell where the leaders are and project a status at the race finish line. It should work well for this sort of thing as it's roughly the size of a pack of cards - maybe smaller and seems to put out a nice signal.

Upon finishing the configuration it quickly got a GPS lock even inside of my house and began to track.  Even more surprising was that many of the packets it was sending were being digipeated by a digi that is about 8 miles away and known (at this time) to be quite deaf.

The main issue with this device is that there is almost no documentation - in fact mine arrived in a padded envelope with no manual or cd.  It was up to me to track down everything about it.  So here is what you will need to get started:

This Youtube will help more than anything else:  The author of the video has a link on the Youtube page to most of the files you will need.
Also there is a Yahoo group (yuck) that has few subscribers but a lot of info and files:

Finally, I purchased one from Radioddity - not sure if I can really recommend them or not.  I ordered mine from them when their site said they were in stock.  A month later I emailed to ask about the order and was informed that they would be back in stock in a little more than a week.  Right on schedule I was informed that a shipping label had been created.  However nothing moved for about a week.  Finally I checked and it was in route.  When the unit arrived it was in a padded manila evelope with a bit of padding around the main unit.  Just the unit. Cable and antenna. Not even a receipt.   If you choose to purchase from them I have heard similar stories.  They seem to fulfill orders but are really bad at communicating with their customers.  Also their page has a link to the programming software and a .pdf file of the manual that contains just thumbnails.  You will need to get the manual (such as it is) from the yahoo group or the gentleman with the Youtube link.

At this time I understand that the device works well as a KISS mode TNC with APRSdroid over bluetooth and that it's even possible to do some programming of the unit with commands over bluetooth.  Also I have not tried this as yet but I'm betting that it works well with APRSdroid as I am tremendously impressed with that program and have another bluetooth TNC that works extremely well with it.


Tried making some simple changes today using the daily builds of Chirp.  MUCH simpler than the factory software.  I assume you will want to make sure that your firmware is at the latest rev.  Also if you are a Windows user (why o why) you will still need to do the prolific USB driver dance.  Linux users - unless you are running something ancient - the drivers are already in the Kernel.  Not sure how it works for Apple.

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