Author Topic: APRS: Still viable in this age?  (Read 3253 times)

Offline idelphic

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APRS: Still viable in this age?
« on: December 26, 2017, 12:34:25 PM »
Its crazy to think that the Kenwood TM-d700 sitting in the truck is nearly 15 years old.  Set up and used on APRS for a while, the radio as a whole has sat unused for a while.  But my brother and another ham got me to looking into running it again  Both mobile as an iGate.

One of the projects that has since come to mind is a portable APRS station - this could be useful for HamFest, FieldDay, and other events.

But just how much is APRS used these days?  It seems that with all the HF work I have been doing, I'm away from the VHF/UHF digital modes. 

Offline Carl

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 12:56:57 PM »
  I find APRS is viable in some parts of the country and is one of the best at transferring data or text in a more discrete manner.
You just must have someone at the other end of the string.

Offline DonC

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 01:12:29 PM »
Thanks for the heads up Carl! APRS is very much alive. Maybe not everywhere. I can say that it gets used a lot in my area. We use it not only for tracking purposes, but as Carl had said, we use it a lot for messaging. Kind of the way HF is used for email with WinLink, we use APRS for text messaging between our members.

We choose to use this form of messaging not because our cellphones don't work, but as practice for when they don't. As everyone knows, in disasters, the 1st things to go down is electricity and phone service, both cellular and landline. Or they're so overloaded, you can't make a call to save your life.

Now, how do you do you set up a portable APRS igate? Well, that isn't too difficult. However, you can be limited if cellular data quits working. There is a Raspberry Pi for about $100 setup just for this purpose.

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F263177516492

This is an item that several Hams here use. They attached a battery pack  to their Pi or use a 12v plug to their power ports and connect it to their Cellular data plan. I hope this helps answer your question. At the very least, it gets you thinking.

Offline idelphic

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 01:40:55 PM »
Thanks Carl and DonC - We are 'suppose' to have an iGate about 15-20 miles north of me, but at 50watts can't seems to hit it.  sigh

I have some thoughts on a portable APRS node.. and even would like to set up a digi on the club repeater or local water tower(s).  I don't care to have the iGate here at home - I"m about 800' ASL, and have three water towers within a 2mile radius...  So I should have decent coverage.

On the cases of the water towers,.. I'ed like a full self contained unit - so that no hardline or powerline is needed.  Means solar self contained unit(s).

Offline DonC

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 02:13:10 PM »
Thanks Carl and DonC -

On the cases of the water towers,.. I'ed like a full self contained unit - so that no hardline or powerline is needed.  Means solar self contained unit(s).

Sounds like you have quite a few resources available. A self contained unit is doable and recommended. However, bear in mind, without a source of data or wifi, might not be feasible.

As for not being able to hit the igate at high power within a 20mi radius, something doesn't seem right. Either your antenna height or their igate. Something to check as I can hit our igate at 15 watts and it's 22mi out. (Thoughts Carl)?

You're very welcome! That's what makes this hobby fun! Helping each other out. (And making things work that otherwise shouldn't......LOL)!

Offline DonC

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2017, 02:18:02 PM »
Oh, and there also could be something in your way, a tree, tower, building, etc! Just another thought that popped up after my last reply.

Offline Carl

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2017, 02:29:28 PM »
  I GATE's and some APRS sites require permission to access at times. Look up the identified custodian and send them a contact email to see what needs to be done for access...may be a subaudible tone is needed.

Offline Carl

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2017, 02:33:08 PM »
Oh, and there also could be something in your way, a tree, tower, building, etc! Just another thought that popped up after my last reply.

Twenty miles on normal,no hills or mountains,earth would need a combined antenna height of over 100 feet.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 08:03:24 AM »
I've been working on building APRS into our county for about 3+ years now.  When I installed my UHF repeater I used a dual-band antenna and put a Digi/Igate on the VHF side.  That unit is comprised of a Tiny-Trak4, and a Pi3  It works like a champ as a Digipeater-I've yet to pull an Ethernet cable at the FD-soon. 
A re-newed ham and avid APRS user is very local and just put up an iGate at his house and that's helping to move traffic to the web from my repeater site.  We have another digipeater at the opposite end of the county as well-but pretty much nothing in between.

I replied with this in an email to some friends last night re: GoTenna...
Quote
Either way, the hardest part (as David and I are seeing first hand with the Packet radio movement) would be getting someone else to 'buy in' *themselves* and then put *their* gear into use.


In both scenarios the BIGGEST roadblock is other hams opening their pocketbooks! (see above)

We're not using APRS for messaging-yet-but that was the primary reason for starting this so many years ago!  DonC could you hijack this thread or start another to fill us in on how y'all are doing that?

OP (and all) if you're a podcast listener-these are pretty informative:
http://hamradio360.com/?s=aprs



Offline Carl

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2017, 09:37:47 AM »
  I must add that it is a cooperative effort that makes for a good APRS system and too many Ham's these days are 'just listening'.

My local Ham club (one of four clubs) requested that I set up ECHOLINK as an accessory to a club repeater,I did and they brag-vertise about it...but as a system I have maintained for NINE YEARS and operational 24 hours a day with solar power...even when I spent 5 months in a nursing home after a bad surgery...I am the only active user and not one club member ,besides DON,who is now in OK,has USED ECHOLINK and I have friends who check in from Europe,Japan,Australia,Italy and others ,on a regular basis and I am the only one to answer their calls..

  Ham radio has mostly become a NOUN and not a VERB. You have to have an active group and a good net weekly to distribute news,get check in's and verify stable operation of equipment....and this takes effort that few are capable of for what reason I just don't know.

I will jerk DON's chain(he is one of my more successful students) as he is somewhere in New York and get his ideas as how his area got active...I do know it is mostly for emergency weather.

Offline DonC

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2017, 09:59:43 AM »
We're not using APRS for messaging-yet-but that was the primary reason for starting this so many years ago!  DonC could you hijack this thread or start another to fill us in on how y'all are doing that?

OP (and all) if you're a podcast listener-these are pretty informative:
http://hamradio360.com/?s=aprs

SC and all;

I moved here in February 2017. While I had been a member of this club for a year prior, I only started using it when I moved here. From what I can tell, it's a collective of a few igates here and a few in the surrounding cities. I'll get the full details. But suffice to say, they had these setup long before I moved back.

Now, to the how! Most of the HAMs here have APRS capable radios in their vehicles or at their homes. They are monitored regularly. As stated, some use it for tracking purposes via Skywarn and the rest of us use it for messaging. In my case, I cannot afford an APRS capable radio as of yet, so I used an old Baofeng UV-82, a BTECH APRS-K2 audio interface cable, and an older Android smartphone. I use APRSDroid because it has built-in messaging capabilities. I use this primarily in my truck. Once it's up and running, it'll populate the app with whois pinging the igates. If you can see them, you can send them a message.

One key thing to remember is: RF to RF or TCP/IP to TCP/IP when it comes to messaging. Example: anyone can open the APRSDroid app and even without a radio attached, you can track other TCP/IP people, but that's about it. On the flip side, people with radios attached can see and track either mode. However, you can only message other RF people. You can't cross message yet. (Kinda doubt we'll be able to).

I'll ask around when I get a chance and see if I can figure out our exact setup. But I'm fairly certain I'm close.

Finally, surprise, surprise, Carl is right, HAAT is important. Our igates are on top of a mountain, on top of a water tower, and on top of the radio stations tower, all more than 100' up.

Hope this helps. I will be out of pocket for some time for family matters, but I'll monitor and chime in as I can.

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2017, 10:20:11 AM »
I picked up the Kenwood TM-d700 about two years ago but haven't had much chance to play with it. Perhaps I should get up to speed while my HF antenna is down. Being in a large urban area there appears to be enough other stations around on APRS that I should be able to get use of it. Would the rig be an ideal candidate for setting up a Go box for? For now just setting up the radio again, programing it and getting on the air might be a good wintertime project.

Offline Carl

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2017, 10:49:11 AM »
  HAAT...High Antennas Are Terrific....Height Above Average Terrain   :tinfoily: 

Offline DonC

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2017, 03:18:06 PM »
I picked up the Kenwood TM-d700 about two years ago but haven't had much chance to play with it. Perhaps I should get up to speed while my HF antenna is down. Being in a large urban area there appears to be enough other stations around on APRS that I should be able to get use of it. Would the rig be an ideal candidate for setting up a Go box for?

It wouldn't be a bad radio at all for Go-Box use! I have a D700 I'm using right now as my base radio. It works like a charm and with the built in TNC and GPS, it makes for a decent little radio. I also enjoy how easy it is to program from the radio! However, the remote head cable is quite long. It might be better to buy or make a shorter cable. Good luck and let us know how the final setup works!

Offline machinisttx

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Re: APRS: Still viable in this age?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2017, 11:26:18 AM »
APRS is only turned on if I'm out storm spotting.