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Author Topic: Emergency Beacon Tutorial?  (Read 8792 times)
K5LXP
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« on: December 04, 2012, 11:55:01 AM »

I've been investigating the use of the emergency beacon function in APRS and am finding very little about practical implementation and use.  This feature appears to be not well supported by the APRS community but nonetheless, is there a how-to or tutorial on the proper way to set up one's beacon/tracker to send emergency beacons?


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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WN2C
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 09:23:39 AM »

When would you use an emergency beacon? Only in an emergency of course. So if you have an emergency you can put in the text portion "emergency - need help" or some other text.  When you beacon, your position will transmit alerting others as to where you are.  If it were me and I had an emergency and only had an HT (say on a hike in some national forest) I would try a voice repeater first and use the GPS to give my position.  If you need some more info, you could always talk to wb4apr.  Send Bob an email and see if he can help or steer you towards more info. Hope this helps.

73 de wn2c  Rick
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K5LXP
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 12:24:06 PM »

you can put in the text portion "emergency - need help" or some other text.

No.  The point to the emergency beacon, as defined in the APRS protocol and implemented more or less in various equipment and software, is that it's handled differently.  You wouldn't have to manually annotate it, and it would automatically be flagged/prioritized by receiving stations/nodes/servers.  Example, FindU has a separate page for nothing but emergency beacons.  Kenwood mobiles show a big "EMERGENCY" on the display. 

In reading up on the topic it's poorly implemented and used, so I'm not looking to it as a foolproof solution.  My interest is to find out how it *should* be set up and used if one had the desire or need.  I do hike in the mountains and sometimes travel remotely.  While I wouldn't consider APRS as a primary distress solution I think it could be part of one, and as such it would be useful to know how it should be set up correctly.

I see where you set the icon to the emergency identifier using the alternate symbol table and it only works using MIC-E, but beyond that I can't find any other detail.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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KG6HXO
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 06:24:35 PM »

Periodically, our customers will ask us to enter the emergency symbol in either the MT-AIO or the MT-RTG transmitters. Typically, this is requested by pilots ( especially experimental A/C pilots) and back-country hikers. I enter the symbol ("!") and the table ("\") and will generally turn off "Smart Beaconing" and use a fixed 2-3 minute interval.

There is, as I see it, little question of whether you will be noticed .If you make it into the APRS-IS, you are going to light up screens worldwide, and hams from all over the world will start flooding the local agencies with 911 calls. I donj't think anyone should bet their life on crashing in a place where APRS has coverage, but it is a great secondary system, and unlike an ELT, you leave a historical trail of where you were, so SAR agencies have a last-known-location to start looking for you.

73,

Allen AF6OF
VHS/Byonics
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K1DA
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 07:50:00 AM »

Every fall hereabouts when the yards start hauling boats, EB's get triggered, the airline pilots pick them up, and the chase is on.  It costs a LOT of dough to keep a Coast Guard chopper up to look for them.
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K0JEG
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 10:15:19 AM »

There is, as I see it, little question of whether you will be noticed .If you make it into the APRS-IS, you are going to light up screens worldwide, and hams from all over the world will start flooding the local agencies with 911 calls.

I have to question that statement. With most users of APRS using headless trackers (and HTs with very limited function and display) I doubt many people would notice.

While I agree that there's a lot of untapped value in an APRS based emergency beacon system, I don't know that the response you describe would be a realistic scenario.
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KG6HXO
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 08:26:56 PM »

I would concur that an emergency beacon received locally (direct RF) would be significantly less likely to attract attention. I specifically noted beacons making it onto the APRS-IS, where there is little doubt that they will attract attention. Hessu can sleep well knowing that there are people actually looking at their APRS.FI screen 24/7!

Allen AF6OF
VHS/Byonics


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