APRS Settings For The ISS (International Space Station)

Getting an APRS beacon repeated from the ISS is pretty exciting! Here is my checklist for switching from terrestrial APRS to working the ISS.

The Quick List

  • Change Digi Path To: ARISS,WIDE2-1
  • Set Frequency To: 145.825
  • If range filter is set, turn it off
  • Set squelch super low/off, or super high (see below)
  • Turn “APRS Mute” to Off
  • Have your beacon txt entered/saved/selected
  • Turn on popup for your own beacon
  • Make sure your APRS Modem is ON
  • Make sure your GPS is ON and locked to signal


If you have an iPhone or iPad, here are two apps that make it easy to determine when the ISS will be visible:

ISS Spotter (Free)
ISS Finder (Free)

Both do a great job predicting passes. ISS Finder has a nicer interface, but it uses more cellular data. I usually open them both and compare the data.

Another great resource is the website Heavens Above: http://www.heavens-above.com/

Ideally, you want a pass where the peak is near 50 degrees elevation (or higher).


The Longer Version

  • Digi Path: The ISS won’t repeat your signal unless it has ARISS or APRSAT in the path. Most radios can store multiple paths as presets so you can select between them quickly.
  • Frequency: Note this is different from the terrestrial frequency. I have it saved in a memory channel so I can switch to it quickly.
  • Range filter: On my FTM-350, I have a filter in place so I only hear stations less than 20 miles away. If you want to receive the repeated packets from the ISS, turn this off.
  • Squelch & APRS Mute: I like to hear the raw signal from the ISS, so I can confirm when it comes into “view”. My Yaesu FT-1D HT will not transmit if squelch is broken, even if from interference (which I often have). So I set my squelch super high, then use the monitor button to listen. When I’m ready, I release the monitor button and transmit.
  • Beacon TXT: Go ahead and have your message saved and ready to go.
  • Popup or Ringer: I like to see my own transmission in the list of incoming messages.
  • APRS Modem: Duh. But I’ve scrambled while the ISS is flying over, trying to get it turned on.
  • GPS: Same concept here. I’ve been confused before when my beacon wouldn’t send… only to discover my GPS hadn’t locked a position yet. Do it early.

[Solved] Subaru Bluetooth Not Automatically Connecting To Phone

I have a 2014 Subaru Forester.
Previously, I was using an iPhone 4S on iOS 7 and every time I started the car, the phone would automatically connect to Bluetooth. Worked great.

I switched to an iPhone 5S on iOS 8 and that stopped working.

I tried deleting and re-pairing through the radio about a dozen times. Still didn’t work.

Finally, I remembered the audio pairing option available through the steering wheel control. Turns out, I think I had maxed out the number of connected devices there. Apparently, the radio and audio settings don’t interact with each other.

I talked through the BT setup options, deleted all the devices I had installed there and re-paired my iPhone.

Problem solved!

Nexus One Car Dock [Mini Review]

The Nexus One Car Dock is well constructed and sturdy. It communicates with your phone via Bluetooth.

It works ok, but there is one show-stopper in my book. NO LINE LEVEL AUDIO OUT port. If you want to connect it to your car stereo and listen to audio, you have two options:

  1. Bluetooth (which most cars don’t have yet… plus wouldn’t be able to pair with a headset for calls)
  2. The headphone jack (1/8″ Mini) on top of phone.

That means, when you get in your vehicle, you must cradle the phone then plug in your cable to the top of the phone, adjust the volume up (since it’s not line level). To get out of car, unplug the headphone cable, and uncradle the phone. I know, I know… this is not a “problem” experienced in developing countries. But COME ON Google… for $55 I should be able to drop the phone in the cradle, turn on my car stereo and drive.

Worth noting; when charging, the phone gets pretty warm. Not so hot you can’t hold it, but much warmer than my iPhone ever got.

More to come… these are just my initial thoughts.

Nexus One Desktop Dock [Mini Review]

The desktop dock is sturdy and attractive. Comes with an extra power cord (so you can use the one from the phone elsewhere) and an audio out cable (1/8 -> RCA).

When you cradle the Nexus One, it launches the “clock” app which shows time, date, weather, next alarm (if set) battery charge level and a row of icons at the bottom for Alarms, Gallery, Music and Home. After about 10 minutes, the screen goes black and the time, date and next alarm are shown in dull green (suitable for beside the bed).

Charge time from a completely drained battery takes about three hours when plugged into the wall.

My only complaint with the desktop cradle is the bottom lip that holds the phone from sliding out. It should be 1-2 millimeters taller. Sometimes if you press the screen near the top (like pulling down the info pane), it causes the phone to “pop” out of the cradle onto the desk.

Nexus One (Android) Gripes

Email Icons Don’t Show Unread Email Count
Unlike the iPhone, my Nexus One does not show the number of unread messages on the mailbox icon.

Screen Sensor Misalignment
About once a week, I have to restart my Nexus One because the screen sensor is misaligned. (Pressing an “R” yields a “D”, for example.)

Battery Life Sucks
The screen (which is very nice) sucks a ton of battery juice. With moderate use, I have to charge it twice a day.

Battery Gets Pretty Warm
When charging, the batter gets pretty warm. Not a huge deal, but I never experienced that with my iPhone.

No Hard Switch for Silent (on the N1)
Without a physical switch for “silent” (like the iPhone) you must set each app to “mute.” Example… say you’re bored silly during a presentation and whip out your phone to play a quick game. The ringer is set to mute, the media volume is set to mute, but the game you launch ignores all that… it happily starts singing all its startup sounds. BUSTED.

Elgato Turbo.264 HD – My Thoughts

I recently had the opportunity to try out the Elgato Turbo.264 HD encoder/accelerator.

The device does what it claims… it transcodes most any type of video file and produces an H.264 file formatted for your device (iPhone, iPod, AppleTV, BeyondTV, etc.). The processing time is (more or less) equal to the length of the video. e.g. A 60 minute video takes around 60 minutes to transcode.

My only complaint is that it uses 100% of my machine’s CPU while processing. I recall seeing a blurb about this somewhere in the documentation, but I thought it said it used “some” of the CPU. On my Macbook Pro 2.16Ghz, it spiked out the entire time. Obviously, that causes the internal fan to kick into overdrive, generating a good bit of noise.

The older non-HD version did NOT use the host CPU, so the transcode time was longer. But on a laptop I would gladly sacrifice the longer time in lieu of the fan noise. On a desktop, it would be a non-issue for me. A perfect solution would be to have a setting in the software that allowed you to choose how much of the CPU was used.

Some folks in various forums have complained about (and demonstrated) very dark videos from the device, but none of my tests were dark.

Overall, it’s a neat gadget. My only complaint is the CPU issue.