Arduino + Ham Radio = Texting

Over on the Spectrum web site, [Dale] — a relatively new ham radio operator — talks about his system for sending text messaging over VHF radios called HamMessenger. Of course, hams send messages all the time using a variety of protocols, but [Dale] wanted a self-contained and portable unit with a keyboard, screen, and a GPS receiver. So he built one. You can find his work on GitHub.

At the heart of the project is MicroAPRS, an Arduino firmware for packet radio. Instead of using a bigger computer, he decided to dedicate another Arduino to do everything but the modem function.

You can probably figure out the rest. A $10 GPS, a battery pack, a charge controller, and a few user interface parts like an OLED screen and a keyboard. In addition, there’s an SD card to store messages.

Of course, we couldn’t help but notice that our cell phone has a keyboard, screen, GPS, and storage. We might have been tempted to work out a way to connect the radio to it by Bluetooth. But we have to admit the little HamMessenger setup is cool-looking and probably lasts longer on a charge than our phone, too.

12 thoughts on “Arduino + Ham Radio = Texting

  1. I like this! I have a vision of an echolink for texting and despite the problems that entails, imagine how cool it would be to send a text to your friend half way around the world and have it go through a pathway completely devoid of the cell service!

  2. Is there something like this, but in a prebuilt form? I’d like to get one of those handheld HAM radios and then test sending out text messages. Curious what the experience is like.

    I see devices like a Mobilinkd that are for sale. Is that a device anyone is familiar with?

  3. I’m thinking the BlackBerry Q10 keyboard would be awesome here. I have now fallen down the rabbit hole of what it takes to get one going.

    Thanks to my fellow hackers for publishing details of the connector and pinout, and some sample code. And to the designer of this so I can imagine how it’s going to work.

  4. Hello, this project might help a 4NatBox project made to keep texting in catastrophic situation like a zombi attack during a huricane… When commercial solutions ain’t there anymore to keep us from communicating.

    We are living in a small french island and want to build a biband mesh using LoRa and a wifi band.

    People will use their phone to contact the box which will send informations to a local network + give access to a hard drive.

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