Here is the response to the original posting by N5FDL. I hope everyone
gets some great information from these posts.
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I received this message from Bob, WB4APR, in response to my earlier
posting concerning what I see as the failure of APRS to live up to its
As the original author of APRS dating back 20 years, I have to
respond to your blog.
You are right!!!
You can imagine my frustration over the years at seeing how the
APRS concept has deterioriated by all kinds of issues that you have
raised. Fortunately beginning in 2004, I had had enough and was able
to break away from the APRS satellite projects that have consumend so
much of my time for the last 9 years, and get back to APRS full time.
Your concerns are right on! I will show you how each one of them
has been and is being addressed, though we have to reverse a number of
trends. ANd we must re-educate most existing users and all future users.
1) Fix the network! See www.aprs.org/fix14439.html. This
initiative began in 2004 and has shown a 2 to 5 fold improvement in
local RF network reliability.
2) Transmit-only-trackers! These transmit-only devices were
killing the APRS concept of rapid-real-time human digital
communications (APRS) by attempting to turn it into nothing more than
a vehicle tracking system. (APRS was never intended to be a "tracking"
system. Please read www.aprs.org/APRS-tactical.html.)
3) TRACKER MANEFESTO. I have asked all manufacturers to include a
copy of the APRS Tracker Manefesto in their products to help educate
users about the above topics and to try to get them to join the
"communications" network, not the tracking network. I also encourge
them to design two-way systems in the future.
4) TWO-WAY communications for all TRACKERS. We must be able to
communicate at least by voice with all APRS operators including those
with TX-only trackers. THe Manefesto tells them to transmit their
LISTENING frequency included in their position reports. APRS positions
are NOT intended for detail tracking, only for locating the
comunicator in the APRS network.
5) APRS Voice-Alert (on the open road) for easy contact. Far far
better than 52 and finding nearby operators. www.aprs.org/VoiceAlert3.html
6) Station and Mobile Attributes. APRS symbols were designed with
at least EIGHT VISIBLE attributes. 8 colors displayed these attributes
by a simple glance at the COLOR of an APRS station or mobile. None of
this is displayed by most new follow-on "APRS" clients because most of
them use simplistic one-dimensional WINDOWS ICONS instead of
multi-layered/multi-colored SYMBOLS. see www.aprs.org/symbols.html
7) FREQUENCY OBJECTS: Since APRS is supposed to rapidly facilitate
communications between operators, ALL APRS digipeaters are supposed to
be putting out front-panel objects to the Mobile Radio operator that
shows him the recommended voice repeater frequency in EACH
digipeater's coverage area. Please see www.aprs.org/localinfo.html
8) Universal Amateur Radio Text Messaging. APRS has had keypad
text messaging for over 11 years long before it became the rage of
today's youth, yet the rest of amateur radio has ignored this powerful
real-time communications capability. We are reversing that, by
initiating a new initiative (see "Eclectic APRS" in Feb 2009 QST) and
the web page: www.aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html
9) Smart Beaconing: Too many people have been lead to believe that
APRS is a vehicle tracking system, and therefore that a GOOD APRS
network will provide GOOD tracking, and the smarter the beaconing, the
better the track. This is IMPOSSIBLE on a 1200 baud channel never
inteneded for detail vehicle tracking! APRS is a two-way
communications system between operators. The purpose of transmitting
POSITION is only to inform others of your activity status,
availability, and approximate position in the network. NOT YOUR
PRECISE position while moving. Please see the MISCONCEPTIONS web page
under #2 above
10) EDUCATION! We must educate. Simplifying and fixing the network
starting in 2004, was the biggest step towards user education. By
simplifying the network, shortening paths, and getting rid of old
legacy concepts, now we can finally educate users.
a) APRS is a 2 way system between live operators
b) APRS cannot support detail tracking on the national network
c) TRACKERS are ideal for special and LOCAL events on small nets
or other freqs
d) APRS is about COMMUNICATING with fellow hams, not pushing
one-dimensional objects around an internet map.
Hope that helps.
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