APRS Radio Shield for Arduino

This is cool, an APRS Radio Shield for Arduino (thanks Kevin) – it’s unclear if it’s open source or what the licensing is on the project/product.

The Radio Shield is an add-on kit for the Arduino development board that provides AX.25 packet radio send and receive capability, a prototyping area, and an HD44780-compatible LCD interface. Documentation is available at wiki.argentdata.com. LCD module and Arduino board not included.

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  1. Yay for selling a commercial product that intentionally generates RF radiation and blindly disregarding laws requiring FCC certification, wooo!

  2. Umm, it doesn’t actual have a radio transmitter– it just generates the audio which has to be connected to your transmitter to “intentionally generate RF radiation”.

  3. Somedude,

    You need a license to transmit on amateur radio frequencies.

    If you transmit on those frequencies without license, you are violating FCC regulations.

    If you have a license you are free to homebrew gear such as this within the limits of that license.

    Operated properly by an amateur radio operator, this needs no further certification.


  4. Somedude – PWND. Very neat board.

  5. @somedude – we’re not going to delete your comment, but next time please do not assume the worst in others and their works – or, if you cannot help yourself, reconsider participating here.

  6. chrisw957 is right, it’s just an audio device. I designed it because I found a lot of people hacking OpenTracker+ boards to work with the Arduino, or generally wanting to use the OT1+ as a dumb packet interface, so I figured I’d make it easier.

    Chuck is also right that you need a ham license if you’re going to transmit on ham frequencies. This board isn’t limited to ham use and will work with any clean 3 kHz audio channel, but you should be aware that some radio services (like FRS) have rules governing what you can and can’t transmit.

    As for open source licensing, I’ll release the code when I get a chance to clean it up a bit. I’ve had too many other projects going lately, and it’s been in flux. The OpenTracker+ code should load and run on it, but needs a different hardware.h header to handle the pinout differences.

    I just got a batch of boards in, but we’ve been to busy to get them kitted up and shipped out. That’ll probably happen on Monday.


  7. Apologies,

    I saw that the device was capable of sending packets and missed the memo about this not transmitting signals (it sorta has the antenna on it, and, well, yeah, I think it was a simple mistake).

    Good game folks 😉

  8. @KF4JPE

    My concern is not with the operation of the device, for I too am a ham and know that the device can be operated provided the operator has a valid ham radio license. That said, however, virtually all electronic products sold in the states technically need an FCC certification stating that the device does not unintentionally create unwanted interference (everything from PS2 controllers to computer mouses, etc. etc. etc.). This is completely disregarded by the DIY community, and, not producing radio equipment, that largely makes sense. Here, however, is a piece of radio equipment, and given that you are putting pieces together following a set of prescribed instructions, this doesn’t seem particularly more “homebrew” than buying a box of legos. So, from a manufacturing and sale perspective, does one not need certification from the FCC for the sale of their product?

  9. “somedude” Really? This is your concern? Why are you concerned? It’s none of your business. You seem to have a personal axe to grind with Scott. You claim to be a ham so you probably know that even something like a low power AM transmitter kit does not need FCC certification. It is up to the end user to be in compliance. Common example, with a statement from the FCC:


    [A] kit does not require equipment authorization to be marketed (sold) but they would still need to comply with the limits set forth in corresponding sections of part 15. The responsibility of compliance lies on the user, or the person who assembles the parts together, not on the manufacturer.

    So it seems clear that the builder of the kit assumes all responsibility. There is no requirement of compliance on the manufacturer.


  10. Is it possible to use it as a KISS interface? I want to use it as a TNC.

  11. This is great!

    @somedude – I can tell you feel strongly about this issue. Contact the ARRL, they can fill you in on all the particulars about kit sales and type acceptance by the FCC. This isn’t the place to get the definitive answers.

    @adafruit and others – one of the strengths of APRS (Amateur Packet Reporting System) is it’s design for sensor data. GPS is one sensor, clearly, but so are weather data. For many of the sensor projects piped into Pachube, it seems as if this would be an ideal way of getting non-commercial data collection from far-flung points. The APRS network of relay stations can handily carry sensor reports from low power devices back to an Internet gateway for collection. Low power is still fairly substantial power, one or more watts, but it’s field-proven.



  12. @Alan:
    “You seem to have a personal axe to grind with Scott.”
    Clearly. That must’ve been why I apologized, cuz I was just so overcome with personal rage at this person I’ve never met or heard of.

    “You claim to be a ham so you probably know that even something like a low power AM transmitter kit does not need FCC certification.”
    Obviously. That’s why I asked the question after all, because I already knew.

    Nonetheless, thank you Alan and KD4ISF for clearing up the issue. I won’t be checking this any more so I don’t recommend any additional world-class insights, as they will fall on deaf ears. Buhbye

  13. Heh, @somedude, you’re talking to the original DIY crowd who is licensed by the FCC to experiment and produce homebuilt radios that transmit and receive and are given the responsibility to test their home built equipment to make sure it doesn’t interfere with other devices.

    All this newfangled semiconductor AND digital stuff was a glint in its mommy’s eye when we got our privileges.

    As to worrying about interference, spurs and general mayhem, you need to hunt down one of the original TAPR 9600 packet radio kits, assemble it, mate it to a modified GE business band UHF radio, tune the whole mess up and get it on the air. We’re not talking about a piddly audio device here. It’s the ultimate in circuit bending and we’ve been doing this as long as equipment has been available.

    As the assembler of the kit, IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T INTERFERE with other services.

    Thankfully the local Hammy Dictator in chief self-appointed FCC attorney here just went SK and our club is breathing fresh oxygen for the first time in a decade. It was sad having to meet in little groups to discuss new and different projects that didn’t meet his approval, but which were fully legal under FCC amateur radio rules.

    Thank you Adafruit and Argent Data!!! I’m going over to the site to order one this afternoon!

  14. Very nice! It’s good to see another ham application for the Arudino.

  15. Although mentioned in the description, everyone seems to be ignoring the “receive” portion of the functionality. No license is require to monitor amateur frequencies, and it could be a useful tool for location and weather data collection.

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