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Author Topic: Er...what is aprs used for ?  (Read 2728 times)

Posts: 177

« on: July 21, 2018, 12:11:14 AM »

I am searching for a new angle on radio to keep me interested in this low part of the cycle. My kit is starting to gather dust...

Assuming virtually zero knowledge, could somebody tell me in laymans terms what hams use aprs for ?

Is it just sending reports of location from your radio that can be seen on a map later, or is there more to it than that ?

Interweb and youtube seem to assume a lot of knowledge.


Posts: 63

« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2018, 02:26:43 PM »

Posts: 32

« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2018, 02:37:27 PM »

I'm really new to the hobby in general (May), and just started playing with APRS this weekend.  I did it for a few reasons, and the main one was I enjoy learning and trying out new stuff.  I think the GPS tracking and messaging that APRS provides is lost in the current world of everyone having a cell phone on their pocket.  I don't care if I really get into APRS fully, but I'm enjoying learning about it.  I use a backup radio, use an old Android phone, and I ordered an $18 cable.  I know it's kind of popular in the Summits on the Air crowd.  If some thing big happens to the grid I'll have the knowledge if I need it.        

Posts: 1492

« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2018, 04:04:40 PM »

It's another way to make contacts.
If you look at the beacon info, there's usually a repeater frequency, and tone.
I have 146.520 followed by my name on my 'profile'.

Can also pick up general info, clubs send beacons with hamfest dates & hours.

Posts: 372

« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2018, 03:22:45 PM »

Well, it was doing just great when GPS, Cell Phones and the Internet came along and screwed it up. ;-)

But I use it at home and mobile anyway with APRSISCE32. I’ve seen Wilderness Search & Rescue use it where there was no cell phone and internet.


Bedford, NH  USA

Posts: 1961

« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2018, 07:37:44 AM »

Herr M6EES,

Did that explain it? Glad to have helped.


Posts: 17

« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2018, 04:50:03 PM »

APRS can be used for regional messaging.  When I travel (all the time for work) I always have a rig set for APRS. 

Some areas have APRS beacons giving local information about repeater frequencies, tones, and nets.  Some have set up APRS beacons for hospitals and police (location type beacons).  I have encountered beacons giving traffic/road construction/road closures information.  Others setup APRS to beacon weather warnings/watches for the local area.  Not to mention many times I have been driving in an area and get a "text" APRS message from a local ham, they just say hi and give me a local frequency to QSY for voice comms.

My kids have my call sign and information to lookup my location online whenever they want, if the ex allows it.  This allows another method to stay connected to dad and my life when I travel.

It is a real effective method to mass broadcast a simple message over a local area or a region (if digipeaters are available) to many people.  APRS can use digipeaters to increase the area serviced if needed or not use a digipeater to keep it very local.  It is simple, relatively inexpensive and for the most part automatic if needed.

Exciting, not really.


Posts: 133


« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 07:49:09 AM »

Despite the fact, people worry about "being tracked"...I take a different stance if *I* am the one with control over it. So my APRS usage is mostly just setting my radio to SmartBeacon and letting it run. I enjoy going on to and looking at my path later...seeing where my antenna might have gotten out and what it hit. Sometimes you'll find the possibility that you did some tropo when you go back and look at your logs.

This is sometimes handy for reminding me of where I might have gone a particular day...despite the fact I'm a young guy with a pretty good memory. Sometimes, especially on road trips; I'll make a quick stop I don't even think about and I'm left wondering "Oooh...where was that place I stopped". Chances are I can look at my APRS log. Sure, I can do this with my phone directly to a log file that no one sees...but if I'm going somewhere I don't want people to know about...I just turn the APRS off. The information is public...but so is my callsign. It's also "hidden in plain sight" to a degree. Do a lot of people know you can punch in websites and look up my last beacon'd location? I've given the link to friends who were expecting me at the other end of a road trip. I've followed fellow hams as they've taken roadtrips. Heck...a bunch of us were following a friend who suddenly "stopped moving" in a town for a very long duration. Turns out he was in some trouble and didn't have a way to get to his phone or a radio. We called his dad, his dad contacted the authorities where we last saw him, and I guess he was being held against his will...cops got him free and he was able to get home.

Anyway...I got off on a tangent...but I also wanted to work in that I've gone back and looked at APRS logs when my GPS has failed me and I've gotten lost. It's a bit surreal to find out how many times you were right where you needed to be...but the stress and fustration shows you taking the obvious "I'm lost" path.

So...the thing has a lot of uses. Like has been mentioned; you can send messages with it. I've actually been able to pass messages over RF to APRS-IS and back to RF to the other guy. Repeaters will sometimes beacon their frequencies and tones. I've seen beacons used to announce hamfest locations. It's got a lot of uses....but like much of ham radio; it's up to you how you assemble the pieces to use it.
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