Turning A Router Into An APRS Gateway

[Chris Kantarjiev] is an amateur radio enthusiast (call sign K6DBG) and does a lot with the APRS. We think his build, turning a WRT54gl router into an APRS gateway will be very useful for the APRS tracker builds we’ve been covering.

Setting up an Internet Gateway, or igate, on APRS usually requires a ‘real’ computer. [Chris] didn’t like that idea, so he took aprs4r, igate software for embedded devices, and pruned it down to fit on the 4MB of flash and 16MB of RAM in the WRT.

The actual APRS hardware is connected though headers soldered onto the WRT54gl’s board which go to a small PIC-Based TNC. [Chris] argues that the APRS ‘backbone’ is great, but there aren’t enough nodes on the network for full coverage. We thing this would be a great way to put cheap hardware out in the wild to cover those gaps in the APRS network.

Check out the video for a rundown of the modded WRT54g after the break. If you’re interested amateur radio, Field Day is coming up in just 2 weeks. Find a local club and check out what’s possible with amateur radio.


15 thoughts on “Turning A Router Into An APRS Gateway

  1. Each different incarnation of a Hack shows a new element in overall execution. Seemingly trivial items like a different reflash procedure or firmware used for example. X-Wrt might remain unknown to you absent reading the full posting from Chris Kantarjiev. Even if you’re not planning to do anything with APRS, the discovery of X-Wrt might be well worth your time..

    There’s another aspect to integrated APRS+WiFi nodes that’s not given enough consideration. We’re always presuming that the “Internet will always work” and redundancies are thus not all that important.

    We’re building mesh networks in many cities that “could” be useful with APRS+WiFi nodes as disaster redundancy infrastructure. So, one of these might indeed be worth more than several fancy net-only nodes. If you’ve got no path to the rest of the world- you’re isolated.

  2. Can someone briefly explain what this does? I’m having trouble reading through the alphabet soup to figure out what the use case is.

    Apologies, I know very little about amateur radio.

  3. @fdawg4l

    APRS is the “Amateur Packet Reporting System” which is a data service over ham radio. Basically, the idea is that small packets of data get sent out over a common frequency. This data can be weather station, lat/lon, status, etc. It’s a meshing network with nodes such as digipeaters (digital repeaters) and iGates (internet gateways). This project is a cool iGate implementation. You can see what kind of data is used over APRS here: http://findu.com

  4. Interesting idea. I have seen this setup before but it wasn’t with the microcontroller TNC. If you upgraded the TNC just a little like to the Argent OT2+ TNC there a would be a million things you could do with this, weather station, digi, I-gate, telemetry etc… I don’t know about the newer WRT’s but the older ones supported the Prism chipset for 802.11b. This means you could pull out the wireless card and drop in a 500mw 802.11b card and put a flat panel antenna behind it and push wireless signal a long way to it, provided you have a line of sight. My longest line of site hop with 802.11b was just a hair over 30 miles. And I know that is no where near the record. You could put a pretty remote digi/Igate and pipe in an internet connection from quite a ways away.

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