OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard USB/Serial Connector for Xastir/APRS

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding regarding what kind of USB/Serial adapter to use for OS X and Xastir.  There are two answers: use either a FTDI device (which requires some amount of effort if you are continually plugging in your TNC into different USB ports; but who does this, really?) or a Keyspan one.  I favor the Keyspan because I had one to use, it’s drivers worked the first time they were installed and because it is very rugged.  Also, using the Keyspan is easier, because each USB port is aliased to “/dev/tty.Keyspan1”.

What this means is that, no matter which USB port you plug the Keyspan USB/Serial Port adapter into, you can always use the “/dev/tty.KeySerial1” address in the Interface Control panel of Xastir.

While the nerds get all hot in the pants about how you could just as easily use an FTDI USB/Serial connector for Xastir, what they fail to mention is that you must use the “ls -l /dev/tty*” command in Terminal, then take that answer and plug it into Xastir every time you change ports (and remember, these guys love the interoperability and champion this as a feature, but they don’t seem to mention the tedious nature of what said entails).   I just recently witnessed some amateur argue that it was better to use an FTDI USB/Serial adapter because it was cheaper to own and did not handle ports any differently than the Keyspan.  This simply isn’t so, as I mentioned above.  If changing USB ports is a priority for you, and it was argued that this was the single feature by which to choose among USB/Serial connectors, then the answer is to get a Keyspan and NOT an FTDI.

This brings up a good question: do we eschew convenience and more expense because some other more tedious solution is cheaper?  Where is the tipping point?

Nothing wrong with wanting to hack around and have fun.  But sometimes, things are worth the extra money if they simply work and are trouble free in the future.

If you are looking for the feature of using the multiple ports on your Mac for your TNC/USB/Serial connection with Xastir, then get the Keyspan.  If you want to hook up your TNC and leave it alone once you do so, then get the FTDI.

APRS for Android (APRSdroid) now available

After a long wait, APRSdroid has finally been released on the Droid App Marketplace.  It’s actually the first app I have purchased!  (You can get the free release here, though I purchased mine to encourage further development.)

Everything went smoothly- I had my APRS-IS password (search “callpass APRSdroid” or “callpass APRS” for more details) and entered it in with my callsign.  I configured the server to “noam.aprs2.net” for North American users, instead of the one entered already for Europe.

Once you have something like this configuration, it should be a breeze to use.  I’ve not yet tried it driving long distances- let you know how that goes when I do.

Xastir for Macintosh OS X

Tired of fighting dependencies? Don’t know a ./ from a . or /? If you are interested in APRS, have a Macintosh computer and would like to have client that works whether aprs.fi does or not? Well, I’ve got the thing for you.

Jeremy, NH6Z, has packaged up a binary for just such a purpose. Xastir is available for OS X, 10.5 and above. Sorry, no PPC release is forthcoming (but really, you need to upgrade if that is a problem). Please, download the binary and please read the instructions from here.  You will also note that he has compiled WSPR- so get busy!

More from 9A4QV in Croatia

It looks like Adam is really giving the W1GHZ transverter a workout!  Check out his latest progress here.  He takes an interesting approach by hacking up the board into its component sections and working with each of them in order to make the best “whole.”  I’m not sure if I like the approach or not- not because I dislike it or find a great deal of fault- but rather, because I would rather have everything on one board and minimize interconnection errors and other problems that might be associated with piecing out the individual sections.

Regardless of my thoughts, what a great piece of amateur microwave radio hacking!

W1GHZ transverter purchases update #3

Hello Everyone.

As of today everything is out in the mail and on there way except the two Canadian orders. Those I will handle tomorrow morning right when the Post Office opens up as I need to hand those directly to a clerk to process.

My apologize to everyone for this being so drawn out and taking so long. Like I mentioned in the last update, I had not planned properly when I did this. I did it more as a spur of the moment thing and not thought it out rationally before hand.

For those that have a @amsat.org email address and tried to contact me, my ISP is blocking all amsat.org addresses currently because of supposed spam messages using the amsat.org alias…:( That even includes me receiving my weekly sending of the Weekly Satellite Report…:(

Merry Xmas to everyone!!

James W8ISS

W1GHZ transverter purchases update #2

Another note from Mr. French:

I didn’t realize that it has been almost a month since I posted the last update. Sorry about that. I wasn’t keeping track of the time and all.

I have everything finally packaged up and will start shipping out orders on Saturday starting with the first orders and going down my list based on when I received them.

I found that I came up short by a few boards and wanted to double check everything before I start to ship anything out including the parts for each kit. That is done finally. As for the boards that I am short on, I have placed another order with Paul to get those to place in the last orders. I will contact those persons directly to see what they would like to handle this mistake of mine. If you do not receive an email from me about this, then please don’t worry.

Sorry about not getting things out as I had promised. I did not factor in a lot of things that I should have that are different from when I did last years group purchase. Last year I had plenty of time to devote to this because I was off work (injury). I thought I could do it again in the same time frame as I did before.

These will be here soon!

W1GHZ transverter purchases update #1

From Mr. French, W8ISS:

“Hello everyone.

This is just to let you know the status of everything so far.

I have received all the parts this year safely and without incident like happened last year which is good.

Paul W1GHZ sent me what boards he had on hand and has ordered more boards to fulfil what is needed for the purchase this year. He saids he should have them in his hands by around the end of this month if not sooner. then he will send me what I still need.

I have been a little lazy in getting things packaged up as I have been working seven days a week for the past month and recently had to take this weekend off because of a minor setback with a job injury to my shoulder (again) so I was not allowed to do much activities the past few days….:( The doctor has OKed me to do somethings again…:)

So I will be starting to sort and package up the parts over the next few days and double checking everyones orders as I go to make sure things are correct. If everything goes as I am currently planning, I should start to ship out just after Thanksgiving this year and finish up as soon as I get the last of the boards from Paul.

Thats everything so far.

Thanks everyone for placing your orders.