Sunday, August 20, 2023

Techno Gecko WTF project radio setup


I thought my learnings/notes from this project to setup a few ham radios to do APRS broadcasting for my Burning Man project were pretty useful. There are lots of Youtube videos of doing basic setup, but here is a list of my basic settings. We used multiple Kenwood TH-D72a radios with GPS and APRS enabled to beacon each other so we could locate our art car out in the playa from our camp.


  • What is North America APRS frequency?
    • 144.390
    • Europe uses 144.380
  • Which APRS waypoint format does tgwtf expect?
    • NMEA? (Tgecko had this set)
    • Kenwood?
    • Magellan?
  • Do we want PC output for all radios? Just tcamp?
    • 350
  • What is “PACKET 12” versus “APRS 12” ?
    • Looks like BCON “beacon” button only works when APRS 12 is selected
      • Also looks like setting power output to EL “extra low” with [F][MENU] makes the radios not power cycle

  • Why does the TNC make the guppy radio power cycle?
    • Can I disable it without interfering with WTF use?
      • Also looks like setting power output to EL “extra low” with [F][MENU] makes the radios not power cycle
    • Does it actually save battery?
    • Should we disable the second band to save power?

      • Click [DUAL] to toggle disabling

  • Figure out how to set GPS location to a fixed position for TCAMP so we can save power
  • What is QSY?
    • Q codes are various 3 letter codes with specific radio meanings 
    • QSY in particular means “change frequency”


    • Configure

      • Instructions below for full reset for sending/receiving just from radio

      • serial port connection

        • From Mac

        • `screen tty.usbmodem14101 1200` with the TH-D74a connected

        • From RPi

    • Which was the better channel for APRS? A or B? Find comment from Youtuber


    • Check that camp RPi boots

    • Recompile binary

      • Install Docker

      • Try to actually recompile from Linux

      • Install to RPi

      • Go through Pivotal Tracker with details about Linux setup

    • Get new coordinates from Dmitry

    • Setup Camp RPi as best as possible

    • Setup Guppy

Basic Setup

For TH-D74a (for Glenn’s newer radio)

  • Make sure it’s not in KISS12 mode (you should see APRS12 and not missing icon altogether)

    • To switch, use F shortcut button and switch to option 5 to toggle to APRS mode

For TH-D72a (older TG radios)


  • In General

    • Hitting Menu button will help you escape to main screen

    • GPS MUST be flashing to beacon APRS signals!

    • guy had non 144.390 (other channel) set to "144.530" for his friend or something?

  • To RESET Completely

    • Reset radio

      • turn off radio

      • hold down power + function button (blue circle with F inside)

      • select FULL reset

      • hit right button on round button (DPAD)

  • Enable GPS

    • hit Function

    • select Function-1 using up/down

    • hit right on GPS

    • select "on"

    • hit right to select

    • Main screen should show "iGPS" in top right corner now

  • Disable Battery Saver

    • Hit Menu

    • select "110"

    • select "Off" to disable battery saver

  • Turn off "APO"

    • Hit Menu

    • select "111"

    • select "Off"

  • Set date

    • hit menu

    • select "194"

    • enter date

  • Set time

    • select "195"

    • enter time

  • Set UTC Offset

    • select "196"

    • enter UTC -7 for California/Nevada

  • Disable Battery Saver in GPS

    • select "201"

    • select "off"

  • Set Callsign

    • select "301"

    • enter "TGUPPY" or "TGCAMP" or "TGLENN" or “...”

  • Setup frequency for 144.000 (A Channel)

    • hit "ENT" key to directly enter number

    • using numeric buttons

    • enter "144.390" - for United States! "144.380" is Europe

  • Turn on APRS lock

    • Select 302

    • Select “On + PTT + TNC”

    • This disables trying to use voice over data signal as well as change the aprs frequency as well as disabling the TNC

  • iGPS should hopefully be flashing now indicating that it has a GPS lock!

  • Enable TNC

    • should see "APRS12" to right of the "H"

    • should see "D" in white on black right of "144.390"

  • Verify GPS Coordinates

    • Select POS button to see your current location

    • hit right to see speed and angle

    • shows "TP" which is trust point which is a pre-entered location to go to

  • To used "fixed location" if GPS isn't working

    • you can hit "F" function key and go to "2" to disable track log

    • track log is breadcrumbs of your locations

  • Turn on Voice Alert

    • F "7"

Enabling Computer Output

  • Set computer output on / set baud rate / set waypoint……

Screen icon meanings

  • Settings

    • "H" in far top left

    • "iGPS" in top right corner

  • Far Top Left

    • shows "H" "L" "El" for High Low Extra low

    • Toggle by hitting Function + MENU

    • should be "H"


  • APO - Automatic Power Off