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Author Topic: APRS - what is the big deal?  (Read 479 times)
N6JSX
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Posts: 216




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« on: July 02, 2003, 09:02:47 PM »

What is the frenzy surrounding APRS? Why do I need to braodcast my QTH GPS coordinates to all every couple minutes? My home is not moving!

Why do I want others to know where I'm traveling and who can afford a mobile GPS, TNC, and dedicated APRS radio in their car? APRS radio will alos desense my regular 2m radio.

I started in packet building a TAPR 1 & 2. Packet had a good initial direction until everone had to become a PBBS ghod - causing crashing all over the bands. Packet evolved into the DX Cluster system that is very handy - and the personal emails have gone to the internet. DX Cluster may also fade into the interent too.

I assisted in getting the first GPS (pre-APRS) system going by helping Bob putting a Magellan GPS board in a Naval Acadamy football when I worked for Megellan Systems. APRS started as a method to track Naval academy training boats in Chesapeake bay - a logical purpose. But why do we need to track personal vehicles or HAM QTH's (that don't move)?  

I find APRS a loss of energy, funds, effort, and talent that could be better placed towards developing digital ATV as a subcarrier riding on a common 2m/220/440 FM voice transmissions (through the repeater). Cool to see who your talking to or send live SkyWarn pictures back to NOAA. (Also may make HAMs loose some weight, learn to shave, and put in their false teeth as the picture will tell all!)
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N6AJR
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2003, 09:09:34 PM »

Well I heard of one fellow that put a setup in his wife's car and found where she was going when not at home, they are now divorced, ( he found oput where she was going...hi hi,)  and nother had one in his daughters car for tracking reasons and some truckers run then for the purpose of lettting other hams follow their trip .  I don't need one but I don't care if others do.  That is the good thing about this hobby, you can do what you please, there is lots of different aspects to it.  
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AD7DB
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2003, 10:35:08 PM »

Well, Kuby, you got a good point. Hams sometimes  broadcast APRS positions of their immobile house every couple of minutes. But the main feature of APRS is being able to see who else is around you and where. This comes in handy for many special events - the Baker to Vegas relay being one that uses this rather well. Messaging is rather a neat feature, too. I had my unit going, and it beeped and lit up; someone a couple of hundred miles away had seen me driving in Central California, sent me a message. So I switched my other radio over to the linked system he was on and talked. No need to monitor a lot of different repeaters.

If you don't see any point to APRS, that's fine too. Like numerous things in ham radio, to each his own. "For those who do, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, no explanation will suffice."

73... Dave
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KD7EVS
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2003, 01:21:42 AM »

being able to coordinate Storm Chasing is in my opinion the most valuable feature of APRS.  looking for a stolen vehicle is nice too.    also if several APRS stations are trying to DF a signal one each station can input directional info and the APRS program will broadcast an object.

you can use the aprs network to send and recieve text messages.  yes that has gone to the internet but if your not hooked up, aprs works.

by the way there are ways to do it without GPS and TNCs.   GPS is real nice though, but you can easily get away with no TNC.

Now, those that broadcast their home QTH every 2 minutes, they haven't been in APRS long. When you are at home, you most people don't broadcast their location, those that do mostly broadcast every 15 (or more) minutes. I broadcast my home qth every 29 minutes or so. But I run an Igate so I want people to know it's here. people can use my station to send e-mail to the public internet.

I personally don't get ham radio above a GHz communications, but some do. I personally don't care for rtty, but some do. Ham Radio is a great hobby cause there is something for everyone, just because you don't get something doesn't mean that noone else does.

One of these days I would hope that you try it. txt messaging people in anywhere in the world while mobile is pretty dang cool. either way. APRS has it's place in ham radio.

73

zeb
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K0BG
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2003, 09:31:43 AM »

Isn't it sort of a "gotta have it thingy"?

Heck, lots of folks go out and buy a 4 or 5 megapix digital camera so they can send pictures over the internet when all they really needed was a 640X480 heapy cheapy. In other words, it isn't the device per sé, it's the oneupmanship.

Alan, KØBG
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IM4UKWIDCATS
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Posts: 38




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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2003, 11:32:12 AM »

N6JSX/8, you must not do any disaster service volunteer work, fore if you did you would see the functionality of APRS... it would jump out and grab you by the neck and show you just how neat it is to see where the tornado ravaged streets are in real time on your computer generated map back in your safe, dry, warm/cool Op Center, of where the high water mark hits, or where that missing Canteen is parked, or how about that truck of supplies that is being driven by a driver from 4 states away and has never seen the tiny 'burg your center has been established. Not to mention the real time text messaging feature.
UNTIL these things are needed, there are those of us out here with our own money, building trackers, developing systems,expanding networks, that COULD BE CALLED UPON. We are being prepared. Amateur Radio tradition being fulfilled.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2003, 01:10:38 PM »

One of the main uses for APRS out here in the boonies is to aid search and rescue personnel.  By using the APRS tracking info from the search teams overlaid onto a detailed map, searchers can better coordinate search efforts and know where searchers are at any given moment.  Areas can easily be identified as having been searched or not, and when whatever is lost has been found, coordinates and the path to get there are easily navigated.  Another use is during our annual Ballon Fiesta here in ABQ, a number of the hot air balloons launch with APRS on board, as well as the cross-country gas balloons.  I've also seen some of the high-altitude balloon experiments relay GPS data via APRS format.

The answer to your question, who needs to know where your house or mobile is, you're right- who cares.  Now take that capability and apply it to something else, and it becomes another communications tool we as hams can employ and use effectively.

The only dedicated equipment I bought was a TinyTracker, cost was $32.  The rest of the stuff- GPS, HT, battery packs- I already have and use for other purposes.  A very worthwhile accessory.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
k5lxp@arrl.net
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N6JSX
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Posts: 216




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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2003, 01:46:37 PM »

Ok, then in a search & rescue effort you will lug along another 2m radio/TNC hooked to a GPS. Plus have a regular 2m/440 radio to communicate to HQ as you don't what to lug a notebook while on a foot search. Wouldn't it be faster to communicate your GPS location via voice while in a foot search?

Oh, I do not respond to gutless no callsign(anomomous) remarks on eHAM.

I've been a very active T Hunter in So Cal and the last thing we want to tell fellow hunters is our location - due to the lowest milage wins.

I can see some reasons for APRS but few that couldn't be handled by voice and GPS. I'm trying to understand why APRS is being put on SATs. Also very few ARES groups can aford to equip all the memebers with a mobile ARPS station. There are no ARES/EMA groups in Western Ohio that have APRS systems nor could they aford this. There may be a few stations but like I said who needs ot know where the EMA building radio station is located elsewhere in the world. APRS is more of a localized usage tool but I see it trying to go world wide - why?

As I stated, I feel their are some other modes that would really benifit in developement. I'm looking into developeing my own PC based short range WX doppler RADAR using a gunnplexer for mobile SkyWarn use. And yes I never been associated with emergency actions - not earthquakes in So Cal, not tornado's or severe straight line winds, or blizzards in WI or OH, nor some localized flooding. That's why I haven't applied to be a volunteer fireman nor a NOAA WX spotter.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2003, 05:46:09 PM »

N6JSX wrote:

> in a search & rescue effort you will lug along
> another 2m radio/TNC hooked to a GPS.

The hardware supports a microphone connection through the APRS interface, and will inhibit data transmission while the frequency is busy.


> Wouldn't it be faster to communicate your GPS
> location via voice while in a foot search?

The advantage of the APRS interface is it will do it for you, based on time interval, distance traveled or a change in course. The map at the command center is continuously updated with everyone's location. You would tie up a lot of net time asking each participant their location if there were more than a few team members.


> very active T Hunter... the last thing we want to
> tell fellow hunters is our location -

Nothing says you have to have it on all the time, I carry mine in my "go-bag" along with all my other portable/mobile equipment.


> I can see some reasons for APRS but few that
> couldn't be handled by voice and GPS.

The main advantage is that there is no human intervention. You could put it on a boat, car, tracking dog or whatever and it will do it's thing unattended.


> I'm trying to understand why APRS is being put on
> SATs.

To be able to track without being in range of a node linked to the internet. Very handy out here in the boonies where radios, much less internet, may not be within range. Must say though I've only heard of it being done, haven't seen it in action myself (maybe the next thing I figure out).


> Also very few ARES groups can aford to equip all the
> memebers with a mobile ARPS station.

Any ARES group I've ever been affiliated with, the members provide all their own equipment. As mentioned in my last post, all it takes is a $32 accessory (less than the cost of a spare HT battery) to equip yourself with APRS, over and above what most people already have (HT, GPS, etc.).


> There are no ARES/EMA groups in Western Ohio that
> have APRS systems nor could they aford this.

Affordability aside, a need would also have to exist. I doubt no one in that group has considered it, so perhaps it doesn't fit into their plans or procedures. That doesn't make it bad or useless to someone else.


> APRS is more of a localized usage tool but I see it
> trying to go world wide - why?

Having a location on a fixed object can be useful, if you're associating it with other objects in motion. Having worldwide coverage means you can be anywhere and be tracked, not just within limited coverage areas.


> I feel their are some other modes that would really
> benifit in developement.

Why do you think that APRS is taking away from that development?


> I'm looking into developeing my own PC based short
> range WX doppler RADAR using a gunnplexer for mobile
> SkyWarn use.

Sounds like a challenging project. Not sure how APRS is keeping you from doing that.

Not all modes/capabilities are for everyone, each ham finds their niche and runs with it. I think APRS was a novel idea that has been reduced to practice, has generated a fair amount of interest in the ham community and has breathed new life into ham packet. Can't see how this is a bad thing.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
k5lxp@arrl.net
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IM4UKWIDCATS
Member

Posts: 38




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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2003, 11:12:02 PM »

"Oh, I do not respond to gutless no callsign(anomomous) remarks on eHAM."

I do not respond to displaced 6 landers that cannot spell.

You are wrong, there IS an ARES/EMA group in Western Ohio that DOES support APRS - Warren County.

Nothing says that you need to lug another 2m radio or a laptop into the field -- a Palm device works, a Kenwood D7 works nice too. You DO NOT NEED A GPS OR A LAPTOP OR EVEN A TNC to play APRS.
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