Request for Help – Using Mac to track balloons

Hello readers,

I’m throwing this request for help out to the community at large; perhaps someone will have some good advice for the following. Feel free to respond here, or email machamradio@gmail.com and I’ll forward your response on to Mr. Gilbert.


I found your site this afternoon and figured that you might be willing to help provide some info on using Ham Radio systems on a Mac (Yosemite). I lead the high altitude balloon team for the Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of Maryland, and we use Ham radios to track our balloons, callsign W3EAX. The radios that we have are old and we’re replacing them, but since we’re redesigning things, I figured that we would update our receiving systems as well. I’d like to get a transceiver for the tracking car (Kenwood D710G probably) but I’m not sure how to go about getting the data to my mac laptop when we’re in the van or what client would work best for viewing said data. GPS coords are obviously the most important, but altitude is also very important for us to be able to view, so we need a client that doesn’t just show us an icon for the location, but instead shows us the map and a textbook with some raw NMEA data, even if its just lat-long and altitude. Could you provide any insight into what methods there are to import data from an APRS transceiver to a mac, and a good client for us to use? We’re not married to any hardware that we have right now, and we would like to have as ideal a setup as possible. Our next launch is November 8th, so I’m trying to get some things together for a test. If you could offer some suggestions, we would greatly appreciate your expertise.

– Regards,

William Cooper Gilbert

Space Systems Laboratory, Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland