Archive for September 11th, 2012

KG-UV3D GPS+Voice Interface: APRS Bicycle Mobile

Wouxun KG-UV3D with GPS-audio interface

Wouxun KG-UV3D with GPS-audio interface

Both of the GPS+voice interfaces for the Wouxun KG-UV3D radios have been working fine for a while, so I should show the whole installation in all its gory detail.

If you haven’t been following the story, the Big Idea boils down to an amateur radio HT wearing a backpack that replaces its battery, combines the audio output of a Byonics TinyTrak3+ GPS encoder with our voice audio for transmission, and routes received audio to an earbud. Setting the radios to the APRS standard frequency (144.39 MHz) routes our GPS position points to the global packet database and, with 100 Hz tone squelch, we can use the radios as tactical intercoms without listening to all much of the data traffic.

The local APRS network wizards approved our use of voice on the data channel, seeing as how we’re transmitting brief voice messages using low power through bad antennas from generally terrible locations. This wouldn’t work well in a dense urban environment with more APRS traffic; you’d need one of the newfangled radios that can switch frequencies for packet and voice transmissions.

So, with that in mind, making it work required a lot of parts…

Tour Easy - KG-UV3D GPS interface

Tour Easy – KG-UV3D GPS interface

A water bottle holder attaches to the seat base rail with a machined circumferential clamp. Inside the holder, a bike seat wedge pack contains the radio with its GPS+voice interface box and provides a bit of cushioning; a chunk of closed-cell foam on the bottom mostly makes me feel good.

The flat 5 A·h Li-ion battery pack on the rack provides power for the radio; it’s intended for a DVD player and has a 9 V output that’s a trifle hot for the Wouxun radios. Some Genuine Velcro self-adhesive strips hold the packs to the racks and have survived surprisingly well.

Just out of the picture to the left of the battery pack sits a Byonics GPS2 receiver puck atop a fender washer glued to the rack, with a black serial cable passing across the rack and down to the radio bag.

A dual-band mobile antenna screws into the homebrew mount attached to the upper seat rail with another circumferential clamp. It’s on the left side of the rail, just barely out of the way of our helmets, and, yes, the radiating section of the antenna sits too close to our heads. The overly long coax cable has its excess coiled and strapped to the front of the rack; I pretend that’s an inductor to choke RF off the shield braid. The cable terminates in a PL-259 UHF plug, with an adapter to the radio’s reverse-polarity SMA socket.

The push-to-talk button on the left handgrip isn’t quite visible in the picture. That cable runs down the handlebar, along the upper frame tube, under the seat, and emerges just in front of the radio bag, where it terminates in a 3.5 mm audio plug.

The white USB cable from the helmet carries the boom mic and earbud audio over the top of the seat, knots around the top frame bar, and continues down to the radio. USB cables aren’t intended for this service and fail every few years, but they’re cheap and work well enough. The USB connector separates easily, which prevents us from being firmly secured to a dropped bike during a crash. I’d like much more supple cables, a trait that’s simply not in the USB cable repertoire. This is not a digital USB connection: I’m just using a cheap & readily available cable.

All cables converge on the bag holding the radio:

Tour Easy - KG-UV3D + GPS interface - detail

Tour Easy – KG-UV3D + GPS interface – detail

Now you can see why I put that dab of white on the top of the knob!

The bag on my bike hasn’t accumulated quite so much crud, because it’s only a few months old, but it’s just as crowded:

KG-UV3D + GPS interface on Tour Easy - top view

KG-UV3D + GPS interface on Tour Easy – top view

This whole “bicycle mobile APRS system”, to abuse a term, slowly grew from a voice-only interface for our ICOM IC-Z1A radios. Improving (and replacing!) one piece at a time occasionally produced horrible compatibility problems, while showing why commercial solutions justify owning metalworking tools, PCB design software, and a 3D printer.

I long ago lost track of the number of Quality Shop Time hours devoted to all this, which may be the whole point…

In other news, the 3D-printed fairing mountsblinky light mounts, and helmet mirror mounts continue to work fine; I’m absurdly proud of the mirrors. Mary likes her colorful homebrew seat cover that replaced a worn-out black OEM cover for a minute fraction of the price.

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