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Author Topic: Efforts to modernize APRS and its software  (Read 11064 times)
N5VEI
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Posts: 29




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« on: April 08, 2011, 08:41:27 AM »

I recently launched near-space balloon and had to go through many learning sessions about all the various topics involved with the project.  One of the most challenging was APRS. Let me start off by saying I think APRS is an extremely valuable tool that is more than just tracking vehicles.  In saying that, I think that the current APRS software programs available need to be severely updated!  I am not sure about the APRS system itself, but in the various things I was trying to do the software is not 1) user friendly 2) is outdated 3) does not work well on Win 7.

I am not a code monkey, but there has to be somebody out there that is interested in APRS that writes code.  It is very important for the software to be updated so that it works smoothly with the newer operating systems.

Anyway... just a suggestion/ gripe
Bill R.
N5VEI
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KC8IUR
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Posts: 156




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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 11:16:15 AM »

Lynn Deffenbaugh (horribly misspelled last name) is very active in creating APRSIS/CE. He is a member of the APRS SIG listserv.
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N5VEI
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2011, 06:55:08 AM »

I did a search for that listserv... did not see anything but here.  How do I gt to it or subscribe to it?
Thanks for the heads up!
Bill R.
N5VEI
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K7RBW
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Posts: 390




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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 08:07:57 AM »

He has a Yahoo group named "aprsisce"

Go to http://groups.yahoo.com and search for it. It should be easy to find and Lynn is usually prety responsive to questions. (i know he's helped me out a few times!)
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LU2DFM
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 01:02:53 PM »

I am not a code monkey,
I'm a programmer so thank you very much for this denigrating reference.

but there has to be somebody out there that is interested in APRS that writes code. 
Lots of us are programmers and are interested in APRS.

It is very important for the software to be updated so that it works smoothly with the newer operating systems.
I will work out any issues you have for $40/hour in any source tree you give me or is freely available on the 'net.

Besides that, Xastir, aprsd and the ax25 subsystem works very good in my *up to date* Debian systems. Since these systems are newer than yours, your statement is basically wrong.

http://aprs.fi works very reliably in every browser I've used (which includes almost every modern browser out there in five or six different platforms, including some mobile ones).

Anyway... just a suggestion/ gripe
Bill R.
N5VEI
Yes, a very stupid and not an useful one.

If you had issues with _some_ software in _one_ computer, please contact the developers/vendors of *that* package instead of generalizing your problem to APRS, or all APRS related software.
If you had problems with win7, please contact your computer OEM vendor or Microsoft.

If you had tested every APRS related program out there on win7 and concluded that no one of them really works for you, please post a list with version numbers and a detailed description of the problem you've encountered in each case, so we can test ourselves and try to reproduce the problems you've found, an perhaps provide some help.

LU2DFM
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N5VEI
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 06:56:18 PM »

LU2DFM... Nothing like a good ham radio operator to be as rude as possible!  Good one!  You know there was nothing intended to be rude or degrading, but go ahead!  You know I came asking for suggestions or just a way to start a discussion, but like I said.... some of the most rude and obnoxious people I have ever heard are hams who view themselves as being superior over others!... Take that as you may.

anyway.... for us here in the US... the software for Windows is cumbersome and often is very hard to get working with little or no support.  Simplle statement.

Oh.... I have a few computer programmer types as friends who are not hams, but often refer to themselves as code monkeys in a joking manner. WOW... Far be it from me to have light hearted humor.  I guess hams can't have that or just LU2DFM anyway.
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N5VEI
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2011, 06:58:34 PM »

Thank you for the advice K7RBWand KC8IUR!  I will get on it. 
73
Bill R.
N5VEI
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K7RBW
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2011, 11:06:22 PM »

Just out of curiousity, what exactly are you looking to "modernize?" Some of the issues I've seen include...

From looking at the specs, the APRS protocol strikes me as doing all it can to squeeze 10 pounds of data into a 5-pound sack. This makes it more bandwidth efficient (time-efficient might be more accurate) but makes it a bear to come up with the decoding software on the client.

The user interface of most radios makes sending and receiving messages way more trouble than it's worth (to me). But that's hard to blame on the protocol and could be remedied without too much effort as Kenwood and yeasu have done with some of their radios. A keyboard and display might be handy, however.

As other's have pointed out, there's a range of web and client-based solutions for plotting and viewing the data. The APRS data servers are easy to hook up to (but you have to decode the stream on your own) if you want to go down that road.

For a technology that's supported entirely by a volunteer workforce, it's not bad as those things go. But, because it's a volunteer workforce, if you don't find something to do what you want to do, you might have to do it yourself.

Such is Ham radio Smiley
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 11:08:27 PM by K7RBW » Logged
LU2DFM
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2011, 06:59:26 AM »

LU2DFM... Nothing like a good ham radio operator to be as rude as possible!  Good one! 
Exactly. Your "suggestion" contains a degrading statement over people who code for a life. This phrase alone made your post irrelevant. It's like entering the mechanic shop asking for help starting your car and calling the guy "grease monkey".

Besides that, because your post lack any piece of specific or useful information to help us work out your problem, I'm almost sure you have encountered *one* problem in *one* platform (or perhaps one *computer*) and generalized it over the APRS system and all related software. Five posts later, we're as uninformed as were after your first post because you're incapable of writing a problem description or even an informed or educated statement of the potential areas where improvement is needed or possible.

You know I came asking for suggestions or just a way to start a discussion, but like I said.... some of the most rude and obnoxious people I have ever heard are hams who view themselves as being superior over others!... Take that as you may.
Agree. For example, hams who don't have a clue about APRS and enter a forum asking "code monkeys" to write code to simplify complex settings to get an APRS station up so lazy people who don't want to take the time and effort to learn how to configure the system can do it in five minutes hitting ENTER over each dialog.

anyway.... for us here in the US... the software for Windows is cumbersome and often is very hard to get working with little or no support.  Simple statement.
For you there in the US is exactly the same thing as for every other person in the rest of the world: it's called the Internet. You can download and install the same software as any other ham in the planet. And as I've proved in my previous post that this statement is NOT true. Perhaps *some* software that yon didn't specified is cumbersome but this is simply not the case for all software. For example, Xastir has a very active community, good documentation and even an step-by-step guide in the wiki for setting up it. People here who's native language is NOT English and that is not particularly savvy in computers have installed and configured Xastir in half and hour including the radio interface.

The problem you apparently cannot understand is that APRS is a somewhat complex system, and you have to *know* what you want before putting your fingers over the keyboard. It's very clear that you don't want to take the time to learn and to make the effort to understand the system. Instead you've preferred to complain about an unspecified software for lack of "modern" characteristics you failed to provide because you don't really used any part of your brain to conceptualize what your freaking problem is. As you did not provided any useful information, I'm free to infer that a PEBKAC. And this is  the most reasonable hypothesis based on the information available up to this point.

Oh.... I have a few computer programmer types as friends who are not hams, but often refer to themselves as code monkeys in a joking manner. WOW... Far be it from me to have light hearted humor.  I guess hams can't have that or just LU2DFM anyway.
Whatever your friends like to call themselves, that's *not* a polite way to treat people you're *not* friend with, particularly if you want to criticize they work in a general and uninformed manner, asking them to work for you for *free*. Of course this  kind of subtlety is beyond your intelligence and education.

LU2DFM
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N5VEI
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2011, 11:51:51 AM »

Without offending anymore Argentinians...
K7RWB I guess my point is that is does seem like there is way too much trouble with many of the programs when trying to configure them for certain issues.  There is very little if any adequate high level APRS knowledge around here.  We have average users who are not programmers, and rely on strictly what they find on the internet.  Then you get into opinions being a dime a dozen.  One of our more technical guys has been having huge difficulties trying to setup UIView for I-gate.  After our balloon launch many were cussing the WINAPRS because of issues there.  They hated it, but I was not in the truck with them for those issues.  I am not a linux or Mac guy.  Even though I do not like the Empire of Microsoft, I do not want to venture down the linux road.  What I am trying to do right now is get UIView to work with my TS-2000 for just receiving for testing the balloon flight hardware.  I feel like slamming my head against the wall with most of the software I have tried. the UIView is now locking in transmit and no matter how I try to change the config settings, it still locks and reverts to whatever is causing it.  I have uninstalled it and deleted all references to it that I can find.  Every time I reinstall it.... same thing.  With Xastir, I am trying to figure out how to install it from the TAR file.  I extracted it, but from there I am getting lost in the paperwork of install instructions and the kids running past my legs.

I guess my frustration is that most of the ham radio software that I deal with is relatively easy to work with.  I deal with digital mode software all the time with no problems and most are user friendly.  I just am not seeing it as user friendly in any way shape or form for the average ham.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2011, 12:15:47 PM »

You should check out the APRSISCE software. I haven't played with it for a while, but I found it pretty easy and straightforward to install and run.  I had it configured to read from my Argent Tracker 2, plot points on a map, and upload them to the internet without too much trouble and, like I said above, Lynn, was pretty responsive.
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LU2DFM
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2011, 03:50:18 AM »

Without offending anymore Argentinians...
... you're generalizing again: there are no ArgentinianS, it's just me.

With Xastir, I am trying to figure out how to install it from the TAR file.  I extracted it, but from there I am getting lost in the paperwork of install instructions and the kids running past my legs.
If you're trying to install Xastir for windows, you don't need any tar.gz tarball: you need the windows binary installer, and a short document conveniently titled "Installation notes", both of which can be obtained by pointing your browser to:
http://www.xastir.org/wiki/Downloads#WINDOWS

Also, the Xastir community provides a very good bootable-media only distribution, essentially in the form of an image that you put in a CD and boot your machine from there directly to Xastir, so no installation is required.

Of course, the windows installer or the LiveCD address the installation process, but not the configuration one. To be able to correctly configure the software you need to understand APRS.
Read the APRS specification, then go read the complete Xastir wiki, and at the end you will get an idea of what your configuration should do and how to set it up.

I guess my frustration is that most of the ham radio software that I deal with is relatively easy to work with.  I deal with digital mode software all the time with no problems and most are user friendly.  I just am not seeing it as user friendly in any way shape or form for the average ham.
What you evidently don't get is the fact that whatever "user friendly" the software is, you need to know what are you doing.

I'm not an UIView user, but judging for the number of stations that run it and are visible in aprs.fi, I would say that it must work.
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N5VEI
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Posts: 29




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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2011, 08:30:38 AM »

LU's aside... The APRSISCE works great is more user friendly than the others.  thanks for the help K7RWB!
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KC8IUR
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Posts: 156




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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2011, 10:32:10 AM »

For more info on the APRS SIG, go here. https://www.tapr.org/mailman/listinfo/aprssig

The author of APRSIS/CE is very active on the list, as is the owner of Argent Data and Bob Bruninga.
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K4FMH
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2011, 05:50:53 AM »

LU2DFM:

I am a code monkey in that I program, compile, execute, and administer servers, networks, and user systems. I took no offense to N5VEI's question whatsoever. You do no one any good by your haranguing him on this candid question and request for support. I'd do a "kill -9 LU2DFM process" if I were sysadmin...for the non-code monkeys, the "kill" here isn't personal; just a way to stop a runaway process on a linux OS machine!

Just take a powder----to quote the famous Three Stooges----and either lead, follow, or get out of the way!

Let's all help APRS improve...one aspect of which is to make it more accessible to a wider amateur radio audience. Bob Bruninga would be "down with that," I'm sure. So let's get on with trying to help, not just attack contributors to this fine Forum!

Peace, fellow code monkeys!

Frank
K4FMH
Without offending anymore Argentinians...
... you're generalizing again: there are no ArgentinianS, it's just me.

With Xastir, I am trying to figure out how to install it from the TAR file.  I extracted it, but from there I am getting lost in the paperwork of install instructions and the kids running past my legs.
If you're trying to install Xastir for windows, you don't need any tar.gz tarball: you need the windows binary installer, and a short document conveniently titled "Installation notes", both of which can be obtained by pointing your browser to:
http://www.xastir.org/wiki/Downloads#WINDOWS

Also, the Xastir community provides a very good bootable-media only distribution, essentially in the form of an image that you put in a CD and boot your machine from there directly to Xastir, so no installation is required.

Of course, the windows installer or the LiveCD address the installation process, but not the configuration one. To be able to correctly configure the software you need to understand APRS.
Read the APRS specification, then go read the complete Xastir wiki, and at the end you will get an idea of what your configuration should do and how to set it up.

I guess my frustration is that most of the ham radio software that I deal with is relatively easy to work with.  I deal with digital mode software all the time with no problems and most are user friendly.  I just am not seeing it as user friendly in any way shape or form for the average ham.
What you evidently don't get is the fact that whatever "user friendly" the software is, you need to know what are you doing.

I'm not an UIView user, but judging for the number of stations that run it and are visible in aprs.fi, I would say that it must work.

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