LoRa APRS Tracker (Part 3)

Continuing the discussion from LoRa APRS Tracker (Part 2) - #100 by G1JPV.

Previous discussions:

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Well, I broke it as predicted … the SMA was not well soldered to the board, and it looks like the legs were shortened to accomodate the 18650 holder.

So I have :

  • removed the SMA from the board
  • modified the frame part of the case design to replace the SMA pass-though hole with a mounting point for an SMA chassis socket
  • wired the SMA socket direct to the board (no need for coax as it’s only 5mm)

The result is much stronger and looks like it should last




Just an update: GW4BML-10 is now back functional. I visited my site to find the antenna on the floor, and my solar panel facing the wrong way looking at the gound :see_no_evil: all sorted, so hope it helps with the GW/MW coverage.


I did try to encourage Tom M1EYP to get a tracker to play with but he didn’t seem to see much point. I think they mainly appeal to people who are interested in propagation and how networks operate: both of which were fundamental to my professional career. I might lend him one sometime.

The coverage is getting really good now. Far better in the NW of England and in Wales than old-style APRS ever was.


Well nearly there now, after a few email chats with my good friend Ross @G6GVI , and reading this thread from beginning to end.

I am going to set up an igate using a 433mhz HELTEC V3 ESP32 LoRa (V3) board in a 3D Case that I managed to win on a well known auction site. we will see how it goes with a collinear in the loft? I suspect most of the G/SP summits would heard.

I have also ordered a LILYGO LORA32 T-Beam V1.2 Meshtastic ESP32 WiFi BLE CH9102F Chip TTGO Development Board OLED Module(433 MHz) which I will create a personal tracker with.

The iGate should be up and running first so let’s hope it adds a bit more coverage?

My Brand New 868MHz T-Beam will be surplus to requirements for now

Thanks for all the info on this thread, and onward and upward


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I’ve reread this topic and there seems to be a number of different boards and software repos. Plus there are reports of broken SMA sockets and poor GPS antennas. So is there a definitive shopping list for a tracker and an iGate?

The tracker will need a case and a battery. The iGate will need a power supply.

What’s the practical difference between RX only, iGate and digipeater? For the purposes of tracking SOTA activators does it make any difference?

73 de Confused of West Yorkshire


Nice one Ben, I noticed it had disappeared!

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Dave M0JKS’s posts are are pretty good starting place. I’ve decided to go with Ricardo Guzman’s two repos, where he has explained quite a lot and gives boards that are compatible with his code (scroll down to the readme where all his links and explanations are):

Tracker: GitHub - richonguzman/LoRa_APRS_Tracker: LoRa APRS Tracker with Tx and Rx capabilities, Messages, Wx, Winlink and more...
iGate: GitHub - richonguzman/LoRa_APRS_iGate: LoRa APRS iGATE for ESP32 Based Board with Rx + Tx capabilities

I’m trying the tracker first, specifically this board: 39.62€ 30% OFF|LILYGO® Meshtastic T Beam esp32 Modul Lora Development Board Unterstützung WiFi Bluetooth GPS Batterie oled Lorawan 433/868/915MHz|Ersatzteile & Zubehör| - AliExpress. This board has a slot on the rear to hold a standard 18650 cell. It’s arriving this week, so I’ll be reporting back once I’ve (hopefully) got it up and running. I do agree though that the myriad of boards is quite bewildering…

EDIT: on the power supply front: most boards seem to accept USB power input as well.


As I posted earlier, having played around with a lot of different LoRA boards over the last few years, I’m really impressed with the Heltec LoRa tracker board

Remember to buy the EU433 version

The case comes from here:

Use Richard’s Tracker GitHub repository:

Please feel free to DM me if you need to discuss.



Can this same board be used for the iGate?

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I haven’t checked if Richard has updated his iGate repository to support it. To be be honest you really don’t need a LoRA board with GPS/GLONASA as the location of a iGate or digirepeater is static - so you can specify the latitude and longitude thought he web interface or JSON config file. For a iGate/digirepeater I would go for the Heltec LoRA wireless V3.



The photo of the Heltec tracker board on aliexpress shows it with pin headers fitted but the photo on one of your earlier posts of it in the case seems not to have headers fitted. So I’m worried the board and case might not fit together.

Do I buy the case without an antenna? They all seem to be for 868MHz. I assume the antenna supplied with the board fits the case.

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You just need to buy the case and the Li-Ion battery. The Heltec Tracker board comes with some 2.54mm DIL pin-headers, a 1.0mm JST connector and a 433MHz antenna in the box. The pin headers are NOT fitted. Here’s a picture of mine deconstructed so you can see all the parts:

When the parts arrive you wil need to solder the other end of the JST 1.0mm connector (the bare wire end) to the BL-5C battery connector:

This comes with the case.


Brilliant, thanks. Just need to find the right v3 board for the igate.

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Two for £24 at the moment - Heltec V3 Wifi

2PCS Neue V3 Version 433MHZ/868MHz-915MHz SX1276/SX1278 ESP32 LoRa OLED WIFI lora Kit 32 V2 Entwicklung Board für Arduino?

Remember to select the 433MHz version → “433-510Glue stick”



Can the Heltec tracker be used as an iGate? It’s a lot cheaper than the v3 board.

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It appears it can, but I have not personally tried this - see below.


In the link I posted above you get two Heltec V3 boards for £24. £12 each is very cheap. The Heltec Tracker is £17 as I recall.



The tracker was only about £7 or so when I looked. The price seems to vary a lot.


Yes Aliexpress is like that.


The £7.77 for the tracker was a promotional price. It would only let me order one and the price is back up to £17. So I’ve also ordered the V3 board for the iGate.

Thanks for all your help.
73 Richard