I recently upgraded my AT-878UV to an AT-878UVII, the most important driver for this was the new feature ANYTONE calls APRS RX. This is basically what it says, the new model is able to finally receive APRS messages. ANYTONE builds very good radios. Sadly they are often misunderstood as pure DMR toys. I have to admit that I use it rarely for DMR but daily for analog – and yes I am quite happy with it. Compared to many other radios with similar features it is a really amazing device. The only drawback ist that it sometimes needs some time to work into the many features. But hey, that is why people like me are writing guides.
Said that, and to clarify this before we move one:
- If you own an AT-878UV all you can do is sending APRS position data.
- If you own an AT-878UVII, you can send APRS position data and receive all kinds of APRS messages.
The second important thing is – you cannot straight out send messages to a user directly. If you want this feature you need to use APRS digital.
Enough boring intro, let’s go and configure APRS! If you want to get it working, you need to do a few things but it is not too difficult.
Obtain CPS and the Latest Firmware Update
Ok the first thing you need to do is to obtain CPS (the programming software) and the latest firmware update. You can do so by visiting the official ANYTONE website or from Wouxun. Sadly the official one is always behind with the releases.
After downloading install the CPS, follow the instructions and update the firmware and the firmware of the LinkBoard.
The LinkBoard is the component which is doing all the TNC work for us. The first firmware version for the new LinkBoard was very buggy and failed to decode a lot of messages. The latest one works very well so make sure to update it. If the device is not rebooting after the update of the LinkBoard, wait a few minutes and turn it off. It seems that devices are not always rebooting correctly.
Turn on the APRS Feature
This is pretty simple! Just click on Tools in the top menu and click on Options. Check the boxes as you see below.
To send APRS messages, your device needs to have a GPS position. To enable GPS click on optional Settings in the treeview on the left, click on GPS/Ranging and set the options as pictured below. Make sure to adjust Time Zone and Distance Unit to match your country.
Configuring APRS is as simple as pictured below. You should be able to copy the settings 1:1, just change your callsign.
Ok what is important? Here is a explanation for some of the settings:
- Manual TX Interval – adjust this as you like, if you configure a channel to send APRS messages after PTT this will limit the timespan until the next message will be sent. i set it to 1 as I want my device to send a message after every PTT touch.
- APRS Auto TX Interval – The interval in which the device will transmit a message automatically.
- Fixed Location Beacon – If you turn this on the device will transmit the message only for a single location. This location can be set in the box with the ddd.dddddd headline. Normally you don’t want to set this unless you want to propagate a certain location.
Analog APRS Settings
- APRX TX Tone – Just turn this off, it is a weird tone which will just annoy you.
- TOCALL – This is an APRS specific call, it isn’t a real callsign. APAT81 was assigned to ANYTONE AT-878UV in the callto.txt found at aprs.org.
- Your SSID – As you should know, you can append a SSID to your callsign. For a mobile handset it is 7 normally. I set it to 0 as I wanted aprs.fi to just display my callsign. If you want to know more about the recommended SSIDs in APRS, you can take a look at them here.
- APRS Symbol Table and APRS Map Icon – This is basically the icon which is displayed on the map later. The table works with a table-selector (APRS Table) and an icon-selector. Here is a good explanation and nice table for it.
- Digipeater Path – This is a little tricky. If you live on the country side as I do, you want a Wide1-1,Wide2-2 path. This path will produce three hops and will take advantage of home fill-in digis. The desired setting might be different for other areas but try it with this setting. You can read more about it here.
But beware – the ANYTONE is a bit complicated here, you have to leave out the “,” between both values. WIDE1-1WIDE2-2 will give the desired result, the ANYTONE will add the comma for you. If you add it in there, the radio will fail to send any APRS.
- Ana Aprs Rx – This setting is new. The APRS signal, which is essentially a packet signal (AFSK1200), requires just 10-12 kHz bandwidth and is a NFM signal by design. So setting this should be completely void. I sent a mail to ANYTONE what this setting exactly does but never received an answer.
- Transmission Frequency (MHz) – 144,800 MHz, if you are not living in Germany as I do and you are from a country with a different APRS frequency, please make sure to adjust that. For example the US requires 144,390MHz.
- Filter checkboxes (lower right) – Turn them all on for testing, later adjust them as you prefer.
Add an APRS RX Channel
This is also quite simple, go to channel in the treeview and add a new channel with the following settings. Again, make sure that the frequencies match your region. Another important setting is Analog APRS PTT Mode, make sure to set this to End of Transmission. Choosing a different settings caused issues for me.
Optional: Enable APRS on PTT for a different Channel
Congrats, now you are pretty much set up and ready to go. If you want to transmit APRS location messages upon PTT use the settings from the image below. The important settings are marked.
Ok now you should be ready to go. Please be aware that there are some limitations!
- APRS will only work if the radio is tuned to the previously set up 2M APRS RX/TX Channel.
- If you want to have both, a talk channel and APRS, switch to sub channel mode.
- APRS only works if you are not listening or talking on any other channel, the ANYTONE radios described in this text just have one VFO.
Many thanks to Norman Williams from the ANYTONE Facebook group for helping me out during the setup. I had some serious issue and he gave me many useful hints.
I hope you enjoyed this guide! Feel free to leave me a comment or discuss the settings here. More hints, tipps and tricks are always welcome!
Update 30th of November 2021
Anytone updated their firmware to 2.03 and now support APRS SMS! The setup is pretty much the same, just this new analog pane appeared. Just add your local APRS frequency here and you are good to go.
If you are sending the SMS, make sure you are entering the entire callsign with APRS SSID, i.e. DO1ALX-10. That’s it for this update, have fun using the SMS feature!
15 thoughts on “Analog APRS on ANYTONE AT-878UV and AT-878UVII”
Alex, great article. Thanks for the info. I do have a couple of questions:
1. Am I correct in saying that APRS will only work when the 144.39 (US) is the main channel?
2. If the sub channel is set to America Link, can you listen to an America Link QSO without interfering with APRS and the sub channel is America LInk.
3. Can you explain in more detail what you mean by APRS on a different channel when PTT is pressed?
4. Will APRS work anywhere in the world that you see the GPS icon on the radio is red? If so, does that mean that the APRS system is a subset function of GPS? I want to use it for hiking in the Colorado mountains.
Let me quick answer your questions:
1.) You can put APRS in the subchannel, it will work. I do it all the time.
2.) I am not sure, if the device has two REAL VFO it would be possible but I am not sure about that. I mostly listen to a local repeater and still get APRS messages – dunno here. I heard from someone on facebook that there is only one real VFO build in but I am not sure if this is correct.
3.) I am not sure what you mean, what are you referring to?
4.) Yes that is required, at least for sending the beacon. But GPS is normally available everywhere, the bigger problem is finding a digipeater which repeats the message or puts it online if you are in the mountains. Got the same issue on my last trip to the Bavarian alps. I sent every 30 seconds but was hardly heard during the trip. Only on the mountain top I had clear sight to get my signal received.
Hi tanks for Great writeup. Do you get sms when connected through digipeter? I read somewhere else that only radio to radio or radio to Igate works for messages.
Do you know of a way to verify if the LinkBoard FW update was applied correctly? I have installed the updated BT board with analog APRS receive, but am not able to decode RX APRS.
* The APRS channel has “APRS RX” checked.
* Annex Function Setting has “ANALOG APRS RX” enabled.
* The filters for position, MIC-E, etc are all checked.
* The table of Receive Allow, Call Sign, and SSID are all OFF, empty, OFF.
I am stuck what to check next.
73 es God Bless de KK1L, Ron <
I’ve updated to the newest firmware (2.04) but still having issues with Ana APRS SMS tx.
I’ll try the FB Anytone group, thanks for linking to that, but I do receive a packet, but it looks formatted wrong.
Note the space between the KN7P and the ‘-5’
2022-01-16 17:32:58 PST: KN7P-6>APRS-1,W7PFR-1*,WIDE1*,WIDE2-1,qAR,BALDI::KN7P -5 :TEST SMS
Thanks for this page as it is 99,9% of what I also found out. Let me make a little remark: the new APRS RX feature is “nice”. BUT: in comparision to a Kenwood TH-D72, APRS with the Anytone is just a Gimmick. Analog TX works great, as a tracker. But APRS RX is deaf, the interface is horrible and important features/settings are simply missing. If you are into analog APRS, try to get a Kenwood TH-D72 ans your eyes will open wide.
Thanks for the comment! Yes the TH-D72/74 is a really good handheld radio, if it comes to APRS it is clearly superior. I think the main spot of Anytone radios is in the field of allround devices with DMR, multi band and APRS as an additional feature. I think the sometimes bad performance of APRS is due to sub optimal coding. But they improved the reception a lot with updates since the beginning.
Thank you for this manual. I have a question, please can you confirm it, when i have APRS RX/TX on subchanel (B) and talking channel on main channel (A) – but i have allways run scan mode (scan 10 local talking channels in my area) – and as i can see, when scann is running on main channel than APRS not working (not transmitting automatically). It is true? And if yes, it is there some way how make it working? Thx.
Yes this might be true since there is only one real hardware VFO which the system seems to switch back and forth in between. So if you scan constantly it is in use and APRS reception is blocked.
Very purpose of choosing APRS technology handheld has failed. Mostly I am in mountains and this technology doesnt work there.
What are options?
I dont want to use internet with radio as in remote there is no cell coverage.
For real of the grid tours I recommend using pactor via shortwave. I own a dragon p4 myself and I am pretty satisfied with it. But it will require more gear since you need the modem and a transportable shortwave transceiver like the kx2. Due to the longer range it works even on a ship somewhere in the ocean, so it should work very well in the mountains.
Understand from above, that flashing the D878UVII firmware to D878UV works, even
memory size is different. D878UV = 1GB Memory, while D878UVII = 2GB memory.
Do you know is same works for D878UVII PLUS firmware to D878UV PLUS?
Memory problem is the same – So, 1GB vs 2GB, but PLUS versions also include Bluetooth.
It might work, actually the underlying RTOS does not care about the specific memory size, it get’s it from the hardware. There is nothing hard coded. As long as the hardware is similar, like it is the same minus some RAM or additional hardware/daughter-boards, it is likely that it works. If there is just BT I am quite certain it will. These radios are designed once and just improved by adding more resources or attach new sub systems with each revision. There was no major redesign of the system since they entered the market.
Try it, in worst case you should be able to still restore the radio with the original firmware, hard bricking these devices is fairly difficult.
People even crossgrade 878 to 878II etc., you might want to check this website, it is very helpful: http://members.optuszoo.com.au/jason.reilly1/868mods.htm#878-IIupgrade
Tried to flash D878UVII firmware on my D878UV – But no joy.
Message from CPS : Model error. Radio:D878UV
Even Jason Reilly HP says, upgrade an 878 to an 878-II = SUPER Advanced
Need to swap SMD memory IC + upgrade FSK / Bluetooth daughter board + force the 878-II firmware into the 878.
Seems, i am too stupid and maybe i read the headline of your article wrong.
My understanding was that you just flashed FW 878UVII on an 878UV.
But to me seems, without (major) HW modification – Not possible.
So, assume you also performed the HW changes upfront.
Is there a way to change the “sending text” from the D878 or is this a static setting set in the CPS?