Posted by: GW7AAV | January 9, 2011

PDA with GPS Recycle?

I am a like most radio amateurs a gadget man. My home is a hard wired network with multiple users all using multiple devices to access the Internet, but on top of the myriad of desktop PCs, games consuls, networked printers and media player there is the wireless network. Despite having desktop PCs running everything from DoS to Windows 7, Red Hat to Unbuntu 10, Chrome, and Snow Leopard I still find the need for a laptop, a netbook and a PDA.

These days the PDA is seeming a little redundant because of the development of mobile telephones and has not been used in a while. This is a pity because the Mio P550 also included a GPS, but even this useful function is somewhat redundant with my present vehicle having built in GPS. Also due to poor battery life the PDA was never much use for walking and I own a couple Garmins for that purpose.
The battery of the PDA seems to have finally died and I wondered if I really needed it anymore. If I was to sell it it would need a new battery anyway so I ordered one. The replacement battery I have ordered was twice the capacity of the old one and my brain sort of went, “Um! that’s useful.” I was still wondering what I could do with the revitalised PDA when I came across someone elses solution to the poor battery life, an external battery booster with three time the PDA battery’s capacity so I have ordered one of those too. The unit is roughly the same size as the PDA but only half as thick.
So now I have a PDA that will run for five times as long as before, what to do with it. It then occured to me that with the built in GPS, wireless and Bluetooth in would be an idea platform for APRS. If I could only find the right application, it could link via either WiFi or Bluetooth to my mobile telephone and upload to an APRS server.
There seems to be a couple of applications out there that might work, but they look like they expect an external GPS source to be connected and they seem to be crippled until you pay for them. One thing I won’t do is pay for something that may not work.
Any suggestions welcomed, for how to do this or other ham radio uses for my old PDA. By the way Pocket Digi is one fun use I have already tried.


  1. Hey….

    Why not connect it to a bluetooth rs232 adapter feed into a tinytrak or foxtrak and generate some Rf on 144.800 ?

    Andrew M1DNS.

    • Not keen on generating RF on a band that I use 24/7. At the least it would be swamped by my transmissions at worst I could loose contacts or even cause damage to the front end of either the FM or SSB rigs I use on two metres. That is why I like the idea of a blue tooth / WiFi connection straight to the APRS server on the Net. I have no problem with setting up an RF to Internet gateway, but I would have to shut it down when I was transmitting on 2 metres to avoid front end damage to the receiver. Most of the stuff I work is low power portable so is low signal strength so a high gain antenna and preamp is order of the day. Adding my own interference would be counter productive.

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