Amateur Radio WB3GCK APRS Tracker
Craig LaBarge, WB3GCK
Our local ARES-RACES group started an intiative to promote the use of APRS in our activities.  Several programs on the topic were conducted at our meetings and several of our members built portable trackers and put them to use.  While most members put together slick, compact, little units, I took my design in a different direction.  I wanted a tracker that had the following features:
  • Capable of being powered either from an internal battery or from an external 12-volt source
  • Easy access to the TinyTrak II controller for ease of programming
  • The radio and battery needed to be easily removed, so they could be put to other uses when the tracker was not being used
I built my tracker into bright orange boaters box, which I purchased from an online marine supply outfit. For the controller, I used a TinyTrak II unit from Byonics that I bought several years ago.  I modified it by adding a 5-volt regulator, so that it would be able to power a self-contained GPS receiver unit.  The GPS receiver is a Deluo GPS Lite, which is also available through Byonics.  

I was fortunate in that the boater's box is exactly the right width to accomodate a 7 A-H gel cell battery.  To keep the battery in place, I made two brackets from some 3/4-inch aluminum angle stock.  

A diagram of how everything goes together is shown below:

Schematic - click for full-size image

Although you can't see it in the accompanying pictures, I also made some modifications so that the GPS receiver can be mount inside the box, under the lid.  With the internal batter and a whip antenna attached, the tracker can be completely self-contained.

© 2006 Craig A. LaBarge

Click for full-size image

Tracker Box.  The GPS receiver is on the left and the external power cable is on the right. 

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Another exterior view.


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This view shows the RF connector (with a BNC adapter installed), the power switch and the Powerpole connector for external power.

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Interior view.  The TinyTrak II is mounted to the left side of the box.

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A view of the wiring under the lid of the box.

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