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Old 04-17-2017, 07:00 AM   #1
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APRS to monitor your Airstream?

We currently full-time in our 30' Classic but, every few weeks, we put the Airstream into storage while we check on our apartment back in DC.

I'd love to be able to use APRS to monitor things like battery voltage, interior temperature, etc. Has anyone else done this?
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Old 05-21-2017, 12:14 PM   #2
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Paul,

I think having the ability to monitor battery voltage and internal temperature is a great idea. I've already been caught out with my batteries dead after leaving the "Use" switch on while in storage only to find them dead when picking up the trailer for a weekend trip!

I've been thinking about the best way to implement this and here are the options I've come up with so far:

1. APRS using ArgentData's Radio Shield 2. This solution requires an Arduino and SRB MX145 Transmitter. The Radio Shield 2 looks pretty easy to program and sending EMAIL messages to an APRS Igate looks relatively straightforward. Total cost is $36 (shield) + $69.50 (VHF) radio + Arduino and packaging.

2. APRS using Tracksoar. This is probably the smallest solution. Again, modifying the software looks pretty easy and the board provides some expandability - SPI and I2C interfaces. Not sure if there is an unused analog pin to measure battery voltage, but I'm guessing there is, just need to check with Tracksoar. Total cost is $195 (Tracksoar) + $35 (Programming kit) + packaging.

3. GMS solution using Particle's Electron. The SIM card provided by Particle only permits internet data, so another gateway such as IFTTT would be required to send messages. The cheapest subscription costs about $3/month. Third-party SIM cards with SMS capability can be used for pay-as-go, but I haven't researched if there are cheaper monthly solutions. Total cost is $69 (Electron) + packaging.

Although the APRS solution would be very cool, and maybe even the lowest-cost solution in the long-run by avoiding recurring fees, it's not terribly reliable. Sending one or more APRS messages can easily be done, but I haven't figured ou a way to confirm that an EMAIL Igate message was sent.

So I'm thinking the requirements can better be met with the GMS solution. Thoughts?
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:23 PM   #3
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An even cheaper GSM solution could be the Dash by Hologram. It's an Arduino-based device with a GSM modem. The monthly cost is only $0.4 minimum and each megabyte is billed at $0.60. Since messages will likely be sent only when they exceed pre-defined limits, I would expect 1 megabyte to go a long way.

A GMS solution could easily respond to a received text message to report the battery or temperature status.
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Old 02-20-2018, 09:52 PM   #4
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I would include at least one weekly report so you can monitor conditions and get an acknowledgement the system is active and working.

Further as long as you have the system in place I would include GPS positioning and movement alerts so you can notify police and track the trailer for recovery should it be stolen.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:19 PM   #5
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APRS to monitor your Airstream?

Good idea. Iím currently evaluating a prototype of the system, so Iíll add a weekly status update. Messages only cost about 500 bytes, so I could send one every hour and still not exceed $1 per month.

Iíll post a few screenshots of my interactions with the system shortly.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:26 PM   #6
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Look at the APRS solutions from Byonics.com. Thatís what Iím implementing on my AS.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:48 PM   #7
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I did take a look at the TinyTrak but didn't include it in my previous post because it doesn't include a transceiver.

Keep us posted on your progress!
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:31 PM   #8
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APRS to monitor your Airstream?

His MicroTrak version includes a Transmitter and GPS in the same package.

Look around a bit more. I have a very much older TT4 plus a small linear to boost its output. Trying to package it neatly, and the display is being a stumbling block to get it mounted neatly. DW will not let me just stick it somewhere with duct tape, unfortunately
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:20 PM   #9
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I would also install a super cap between the supply and the device so as to self power for a bit if power runs out or is disconnected (think theft). Not sure how long or how many messages could be sent before the charge on the super cap dies but it's a thought.
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Old 02-21-2018, 10:55 PM   #10
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Small gel cell battery and charger circuit tucked into the very front end of my upper streetside overhead cabinet behind the end blank-off partition. The rest of the electronics lives in that area, out of sight. Takes a screwdriver to get in there.
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Old 02-21-2018, 11:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutx View Post
I would also install a super cap between the supply and the device so as to self power for a bit if power runs out or is disconnected (think theft). Not sure how long or how many messages could be sent before the charge on the super cap dies but it's a thought.
Not a bad idea, but given that the average current is typically 50 to 200 mA for up to tens of seconds, trying to hold the supply with a super cap would be difficult. $12 gets you a 10mF capacitor. So trying to hold say 2 V for 2 A*s would require a capacitor = 2 A*s / 2 V = 1F. Probably a more cost effective solution would be to add a backup lithium cell. It's certainly worth a look.
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Old 02-21-2018, 11:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
His MicroTrak version includes a Transmitter and GPS in the same package.

Look around a bit more. I have a very much older TT4 plus a small linear to boost its output. Trying to package it neatly, and the display is being a stumbling block to get it mounted neatly. DW will not let me just stick it somewhere with duct tape, unfortunately
I didn't see the MicroTrak, but it's certainly in the right direction. I'll be curious to see how well the system performs.
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Old 02-21-2018, 11:53 PM   #13
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Here's an example of what I have so far...

The first image shows the monitor responding to a help command and what happens when you send text that it doesn't understand.

Click image for larger version

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The next image returns the current status and history.

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The next image shows the settings and what's reported when a setting is changed successfully. Although I didn't include it, the monitor will respond with instructions for the correct format if it was unable to parse the message correctly.

Click image for larger version

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The next image shows the cell tower triangulation feature.

Click image for larger version

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Clicking on the map opens up google maps as shown below.

Click image for larger version

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Not shown are the alerts which will arrive by SMS if any of the preset limits are exceeded. My next goal is to add a door switch, alarm output and shore power detection. These additions are pretty easy, I just need to find the time. Since the monitor is SMS based, there's no dedicated smart app and it should work with any cell phone.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

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ID:	304720  
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Old 02-22-2018, 03:59 AM   #14
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So what did you end up with that is sending you the text messages with the status updates? Looks like a fairly clean report.
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