I emailed the following to area hams in hopes of sparking more
interest in APRS. Some of them have shown interest, but it's hard
for me to sell the idea. I know what I'm looking at and what I want
them to see, but I have a hard time getting the point across.
Some of you have APRS, some don't and some may be planning to have
APRS going soon. I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know of
the activity in the area and how APRS is expanding.
First off, I'll tell you why I'm interested in APRS and why I share
it with others. For those of you that may not know me well, I live
in west Colbert County (1 mile from the AL/MS stateline). The
community is called Allsboro. I commute daily 25 miles to/from Red
Bay. My route takes me across 7 miles of the Natchez Trace, which I
enter/exit 3 miles from my house. I drive through Belmont and
Golden, MS along the route. APRS is very useful and informative for
me because of what I see on the screen while mobile or at home.
Living and driving in the "boonies" limits my repeater usage
sometimes, but APRS helps provide meaningful information in my
favorite hobby of Amateur Radio. It's another tool in communications.
Some examples of fun with APRS are:
1 - while mobile, I can send a message to my home station to check
propagation by checking "DX" as seen by my home station. The home
station will send me the distance in miles and coordinates. I can
get an idea of which direction the propagation is favoring by seeing
2 - while mobile, I can send a message to my home station to see
what stations are currently on the air and being seen by my home
station. I can also check for individual stations to see if that
station is on the air and being seen by my home station.
3 - while on APRS, it is possible to send a brief email to anyone
with an email address.
4 - chasing APRS equipped balloons is possible, although I haven't
done it yet, but I plan to join in the fun this year. This is
possible by using an APRS equipped mobile station with an APRS
Mapping program on a laptop/PDA or via a Kenwood TM-D700A or TH-D7A
5 - messaging keyboard to keyboard with other stations. Some of you
may have operated Packet in the past. Messaging via APRS is similar
to Packet with the exception of "connecting" to another station and
a few other differences. It is possible to message (QSO) with more
than one station at a time also.
6 - working stations via the ISS digipeater when the ISS APRS
digipeater is operational during it's orbits. ISS=International
7 - working stations via APRS satellites (i.e. PCSAT).
8 - using Voice Alert on 144.390, the national APRS frequency. By
using this mode, one can put CTCSS Tone of 100 Hz on that frequency.
Other stations with the same setup (and close by) can receive
[voice] calls on the frequency to QSY to another frequency for a
QSO. So, every APRS station with this setup will be monitoring
144.390 and be able to QSY to another frequency for voice
communications. If your running a dualband radio, it's possible to
have APRS on one side and VHF/UHF on the other. So, you want have to
leave APRS to use voice.
9 - working nearby stations, DX stations (via Tropo or E skip) or DX
stations via I-Gates for a quick contact.
10 - locating waypoints/locations while mobile using coordinates or
station icons on a map. I've done this more than once, by simply
viewing my D700's APRS screen with latitude/longitude coordinates.
On the serious side of APRS, it is used to:
1 - present weather icons/objects on the screen to show severe
weather "blocks" very similar to what you might see on your computer
screen or television channel when viewing weather information.
2 - show exact locations of severe weather, crash site, missing
person(s), etc. by placing an object on the map for all to see. This
will especially work good when paralleled with use of the local
repeater in SKYWARN, ARES or RACES operations.
3 - communicate with other stations when other means of
communications may have failed (i.e. Hurricane conditions).
Sorry, I didn't mean to get long winded. It's good to see the new
stations on the air in the last few weeks...AB4MT-6 mobile, WB5SDI
home, WB5CON-1 I-Gate/Digi (Corinth), KB5VML home, KD5JXJ-2 I-
Gate/Digi/WX Station (near Tupelo). It's good to see the WX4CC-1
digi back on the air in Tuscumbia. One parameter needs to be changed
on it and I will do that soon. I will have my WX Station connected
to the APRS once again soon. Northeast Ms./Northwest Al. has some
pretty good APRS coverage now. Maybe we can continue to fill in the
gaps in the future.
I hope we can intergrate APRS more into SKYWARN, ARES and RACES
programs in our local clubs/groups. If you think you might be
interested setting up APRS or if you have more information to pass
along, feel free to email me or any of the APRS'ers. I'm sure they
will be more than happy to help.
Jeffrey K. Dover