Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Yaesu FTM-100DR GPS issues

Having wrestled with my new car to install my ham radio gear into it I discovered this problem. I bought a Yaesu FTM-100DR Digital Fusion radio for my car. Let's not bother with with what it does or how D-STAR or DMR may or may not be better than Fusion.

It has a built in GPS receiver. It uses the information from this receiver to tag the digital voice packets with my current position. Except that it doesn't. Or rather it doesn't do it correctly. It does tag my outing data with an GPS position; just not my actual position. Take a look at the below picture.

Where is the radio? According to Google and other mapping sites my car is in the middle of nowhere on the side of a mountain in Western China not too far from the borders with Pakistan in the South and Tajikistan in the West.

Yes, the software that's interpreting the GPS data is clearly having an issue. I can indeed confirm that this picture was taken in Wilmington, Delaware. Examination of the GPS metadata in the picture will confirm this.

I've not been able to confirm what this .... erm .... "undocumented feature" .... has affected within the data stream itself. Is it merely a cosmetic GUI issue? Am I actually telling the world that I'm in China? Am I sending any position data at all? An examination of my station details as forwarded to the greater Yaesu Fusion network would reveal the answers. However, none of my local Fusion repeaters are connected to the Internet.

One of the features of this radio is that it has APRS abilities. It can transmit my location to the APRS network via it's built in GPS, AX.25 modem and of course, the radio. So that's what I did next. With help from Charlie, N2NOV I configured the radio as an APRS tracker with the callsign NI2O-2. I then went for a long drive. You can see my journey here.

As you can see, I took a drive East along I80, Rt46 and Rt3. Then South East along the NJ Turnpike to Delaware. Charlie would check my progress every now and then to see how I was making out. In parallel to the Yaesu I was also running my $100 APRS Tracker Mk2 and also APRSDroid, an APRS app on my cellphone.

The fact that you can follow me in the USA rather than Western China tells me that the GPS issue is a cosmetic one. It would seem that the positioning data tagged to the APRS is correct. I have discovered 3 firmware updates for this radio so I expect that this issue has been addressed but unfortunately none of the firmware update files comes with a "fix list" so it is unknown as to what issues have been addressed.

###### UPDATE 20160423 ######

So I downloaded the firmware updates and set about installing them. I installed them one by one per the instructions from the Yaesu website and then did a "factory reset" also per the instructions. It turns out that the "panel" firmware update was the one at fault. Unfortunately there were no revision notes with the firmware updates so that one may know what the resolved issued may have been but at least we know now that one of them was the E/W display error.

So far it seems to be working very well. If only I could use CHiRP to program it I'd be a happy boy.

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