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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Location Based Weather on your DMR Radio

If you have a GPS enabled DMR radio, have you used that feature for anything?

How about getting real time weather conditions based on your location?


Over on the Hamdigitaal.nl website, there are some decent capability and functions discussed on what you can do relating to weather and location with your GPS enabled DMR radio.  Here is a portion of what you can do.  HVDN will share more detail on how to actually set your radio and hotspot to actually work.

The Brandmeister network has some functions to request information via SMS messages. To access these functions specific keywords are to be sent to DMR ID 262993. Then the system responds as well via SMS on these requests. Below you’ll find an overview of these commands with some explanation. The commands are not case sensitive.
Command Explanation
help Shows an overview of the available functions
echo Sends immediately a response to test the SMS function
wx Weather at the repeater site
wx help Overview of all available weather commands
wx Town Weather in the city ‘Town’
wx zip Town Weather in the area ‘zip’ in the city ‘Town’
wx zip, cc Weather in the area ‘zip’ in country ‘cc’
wx Town, cc Weather in the city ‘Town’ in country ‘cc’
wx zip Town, cc Weather in area ‘zip’ in city ‘Town’ in country ‘cc’
wx gps Weather at the actual position of the DMR user according to the radio’s GPS
metar xxxx METAR message at the airport identified by ICAO code ‘xxxx’
gps help Overview of all GPS commands
gps Shows actual GPS position including the name of the location (street, city) of the DMR radio. Also direction and distance in relation to the actual repeater are provided
gps set Stores the actual position as ‘Home’ location
gps home Shows distance and direction of the actual position in relation to the previously stored ‘Home’ position
gps callsign Shows distance and direction in relation to DMR user identified by ‘callsign’
Getting Things to Work

Would it be easy to share a code plug to show how this works? YES!

Will that help 100% understand the minutia of it? NO!

Here are some steps you will need to focus on and decide to make a code plug from scratch or add this to your existing code plug.

Advance Warning(s)

Regarding Radios:  I have only tried this on the TYT MD-380G (VHF and UHF versions) as well as the TYT MD-2017.  Other radios like the GPS enabled versions of the Anytone 868,  Retevis RT-82, Auilence HD1 and others may need to be tweaked slightly.   The new MD-UV380 dual band HT has not yet arrived at HVDN, but this will be one of the first things we will dig into to make sure its compatible with other radios.  Many GPS enabled DMR radios from different brands do not seem to work together which is annoying!

Regarding Hotspots:  This all works fine with the JumboSpot, OpenSpot and the latest full duplex hotspot devices. Derivatives that run Pi-Star should have no issue.

Regarding Repeater Use:  Please check with your local repeater owner if they permit private data calls on either time slot of a repeater. Many repeater trustees or operators wish to NOT allow private or data calls. Beyond checking with a repeater owner, there should be no reason for this to not work though. I have used a Micro Node TEENSY 3.6 based home made repeater and Pi-Star running on the host device and it worked fine.

Setting Up Your Radio

First thing you will want to do is experiment with adding GPS to your code plug and ensure you can get a signal lock. This will make your life much easier before progressing. Have a look HERE for more detail about getting the GPS "sort of" working.

Next, you will want to ADD A PRIVATE CONTACT to your radio.  Make sure its "Private Call" and not "Group Call".  The talk group you will send messages to is 262993.

Experiment with sending commands such as just "help" or "wx gps" or just "gps" 

For the "wx gps" command to work, you need to make sure you are actually receiving a GPS signal and your radio should have the globe icon. If it has a red cross through it, it will not work.



Some thoughts you may want to consider when putting things related to sending text message include:

  • Spending time in the CPS program to set quick keys, short message shortcuts and other related things you may see a need for. 
  • Setting up a text message only zone or dedicated channels for use with your hot spot.  Not only can you now send text messages to get weather information, you can also set up a home GPS location to see a bearing and distance from anywhere by using the "gps set" and "gps home" commands. 
  • Creating channels that have GPS enabled or disabled depending on what you want to do and to conserve battery life. 
Setting Up Your Hot Spot & Brandmeister

The already linked to article already goes into getting Brandmeister set up for use, so please have another look. 

One thing I discovered also is that it may be good to create a few GPS systems in your CPS for different use cases. Most radios allow multiple GPS profiles to be created and linked to different channels with different frequency and talk group destinations. 

There was a reason the noise in the video sounded like a train station. I was actually at the
Croton-Harmon Amtrak/MNRR station waiting for a train! 
What good is GPS anyway on the radio?

If you are a ham involved in EMCOMM related activities or have experimented with APRS, you may know that the different radios like the Icom ID-51, Kenwood TH-D72, TH-D74 and Yaesu FT-1 and 2 radios have built in GPS. All can give you distance and bearing to other stations also using APRS. 

What a GPS enabled DMR radio allows is the ability to translate your coordinates into the closest by physical address. This works by sending your GPS coordinates to the server that makes this all work and compare that to Google maps. Having the real life address sent back to your radio can be very helpful.  This is what happens when sending just "gps" to TG 262993.

Wrapping it up...

A lot more can be said about this, but what fun is reading even more.  Go play with that radio and talk about it with your fellow ham radio operators on appropriate nets, talk groups and in person.

Some favorites of more "tech forward hams" includes:
  • Talk group 31368 (Mid-Hudson Valley), 31428 (RF-IT) and many others...








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