With the Mobilinkd TNC always running out of stock lately, I was tempted to look elsewhere to fill the portable TNC need. I had been eyeing the Chinese made X1C3 and read several reviews, but can it really replace the Mobilinkd? A friend of mine bought a couple of the X1C3 devices and sent one my way to try. Here's my take on the inexpensive device.
The X1C3 is advertised as an APRS tracker made by venus-itech. It's premise is essentially the same as the Mobilinkd, but with a few more features built in. For the ~$60 price it looks like a good deal too. But as I found out, it really depends on what your goal for the device is.
I've been wanting the Mobilinkd primarily as an APRS tracker that will allow messaging via APRSdroid on my phone while I'm operating portable. At the same time, I also wanted the ability to use WOAD, an android based Winlink client. As I soon found out the X1C3 fills the first need pretty well.
As the device has "APRS Tracker" in the name, I wasn't sure if it would function as a fully fledged KISS TNC or not. The device is built to function as a stand-alone tracker. It has a GPS receiver built in and can be configured for all sorts of beaconing depending on whether you are moving around or using it as a stationary device. The X1C3 can also function as a digipeater. These are all very nice features built into a small fairly cheap device.
The version my friend provided me with was one that did not include bluetooth functionality. A bit disappointing since the big draw for me was connecting to a phone wirelessly. However I got a good feel of the capabilities of the device and how to configure it even though I had to be tethered by USB. I found the configuration software to be a little confusing. Mainly because the company utilizes the same software across many of the other devices they sell. So, several options don't have anything to do with the X1C3. I found this unofficial manual to be a great resource for figuring out how to properly configure the device. The github page also goes into really good detail about the capabilities of the device.