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Author Topic: APRS Messaging a viable alternative to SMS Texting during emergencies?  (Read 4514 times)
W6UX
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Posts: 96


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« on: April 02, 2013, 06:52:42 PM »

Can someone clarify for me if APRS messaging is robust and easy enough to use as an alternative to SMS text messaging?

My specific need is to fallback on APRS messaging if SMS texting is not available.  The likely scenario is an earthquake has disrupted the cell networks and I need to get in touch with my wife.  If we both keep an APRS capable HT (like the Kenwood TH-D72A) in our cars at all times, I'd like to be able to use the APRS messaging network to stay in touch with her and be able to coordinate a plan of action on the fly.

Thanks!
Jeff

(whoops! I failed to notice there is an APRS forum --- mods please move this message there!)
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K1CJS
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 04:34:00 AM »

It's robust enough, but how are you going to message with just a HT?  You need a keyboard at minimum, and possibly a computer if the HT isn't specially made for data entry.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 05:56:12 AM »

I haven't tried lately, but a few years ago I tried using the APRS messaging and had these experiences (using a Yeasu VX-8R):
  • - Entering a message was painfully tedious. Having some pre-entered messages would help, but even still.
  • - Messaging through the internet (where a radio would pick it up and send it over the internet to another station for re-transmission) was hit-and-miss. Sometimes it would go through, sometimes it wouldn't, and sometimes it would go through over and over.
  • - If you're in range to send an APRS text message, you're in range to talk on a voice channel (Which is much easier, IMO)

It might be that some digipeaters are up and running even if the rest of the world around you has fallen apart, but that's hard to predict. APRS messaging is certainly an option, but it's far from failsafe. But then, nothing is, really, so your comm plan needs lots of options that you and your family know so if one doesn't work, they know what else to try.
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K0JEG
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 06:09:27 AM »

There's a lot that goes on "behind the scenes" in the APRS-IS when it comes to messages. For the most part, it works, but both parties have to send at least one position report prior to trying to send a message. The exception is if you are going through all local links (which may be the case if you're just trying to reach your wife). Composing messages is tedious on the front keypad, but can be done. You might be able to use the AFSK or Bluetooth TNC mode on DroidAPRS to make it easier. Also would work if one party has call service and sent yes or no type questions to the other party on the radio.

If the message is going over the Internet you might find that the local gateway operators block traffic, but I've not had that happen anywhere around here.
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