I've set up the Leixen VV-898 on a power supply and connected the antenna from the NooElec NESDR SMArt to it, using a creative method to adapt it and left it on RX on the APRS channel, so far it sounds like it is working fine on RX however I'd like to test it out both ways at some point.
This did indicate that APRS activity around here is next to non-existent though I did hear the odd packet come through over the course of this, and there is, of course, a blackspot in the area as far as APRS is concerned, with there no longer being an igate in the locality which is inspiring me to apply for the NoV to run an igate from home, the radio is capable of 10 watts though can be dropped to 5 watts if needs be, the radio has already been configured to make it a little difficult for anyone casually going near it to press buttons and change settings as well as to turn off the backlight if no buttons are pressed to save energy.
I have alluded to looking to purchase the Yaesu FT2D now it has come down in price and with APRS on board it makes sense to have an igate in the locality, and it would be of benefit to other local hams, at present the closest igates are MB7UMB at about 13 miles LOS and MB7UVU which is a little further than that in the opposite direction, not ideal on a handheld right down in a built up area.
I am now looking at a TNC and have my eye on the TNC-Pi from the US, sadly I cannot find any local sellers of this unit and would have to import it from America then build a custom loom for the VV-898 to work with it and do various bench tests with the radio and the Pi to get everything just so, it may also require a ground loop isolator though I can get these cheaply off Amazon or ebay.
As I plan to run this unit off a battery and solar charging I will need to fit a fusebox to the output of the charge controller then an output with Anderson PowerPole connectors to take the radio connection, this way should someone unplug the radio it can be reconnected without causing a reverse-polarity incident, I also intend to fit a stop button to the same circuit and a heavy current relay to kill the radio instantly if requested to do so by Ofcom or in an emergency, a light will be added to the shed as well ahead of time all being well.
The antenna, well I have a clever plan for that one to disguise it from the local residents.
73 de 2E0EIJ