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Practical Uses of APRS

Discussion in 'General Ham Radio Discussion' started by Need2Know, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

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    I am interested in the concept of APRS and am drawn toward APRS-capable radios.

    What are some scenarios that describe how APRS would be used in emergency or disaster situations, especially if there are only a few APRS capable units in vicinity of the emergency or disaster. I can understand the APRS abilities if ALL mobile operators could plot their locations, but I'm sketchy on a scenario with just a smattering of such devices.

    I guess if I'm out and about and I get into a jam, APRS could act in a manner similar to On-Star and locate my position for those who might be looking - they would need to know that APRS capability is located with me.

    Search and Rescue teams would benefit by everyone knowing where all team members are located.

    When Ham operators are doing public service communications, e.g. providing communications for a group of volunteers involved in a lake front clean up effort, knowing the whereabouts of the ham operators providing communications support along the lake front could be helpful.



    Other examples?

    Is anyone aware of a comprehenisve listing of the ways APRS communications have actually been useful? I could brainstorm potential scenarios all day, but I have no idea which of my user scenarios are practical.
     
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  2. KE5MC

    KE5MC Guest

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    MS150 Bike race north of the Dallas metroplex area. We run about 15 sag wagons picking up bikers that have mechanical or personal issues and can't get to the next rest station. Net control can keep an eye on the distribution of vehicle along the length of the course which is 75 miles for any one day(2 day event). Also the lead vehicle and turtle(tailend) vehicle are monitored for position by net control. APRS only plays a secondary role during the activities. Monitoring the net you can tell that voice is the primary means of position determination. There has been an interest in sending message via APRS during the event. Does not seem to get much traction. Mostly from the cumbersome text input.
     
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  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm pretty sure the Baker to Vegas Run support team uses APRS to help keep track of the comms team team that is strung out across the desert. I know a few local offroaders use APRS when they are on trips convoying so they know if they've got a vehicle too far from the pack.

    I've used it to send a simple email from the desert to a loved one.

    I admit that APRS isn't the "end-all, be-all" magic bullet to solve all coordination issues, but it does have some interesting uses.
     
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  4. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

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    From the little I know about APRS, it does seem to be an undiscovered and currently underutilized technology just waiting for a "critical mass" of users to make it really useful for a variety of tasks.

    The only thing holding back its great potential utility is the relatively small number of users. As it becomes more widely used, its utility will increase disproportionately.

    In the meantime, I need to find a "Dummies Guide to APRS-IS32." As it stands, I'm not understanding why before I closed that program a dozen stations were plotted on the map, and now after reopening it, 12 hours later it only shows "Me." A small mystery of life that will be resolved in time.
     
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  5. KE5MC

    KE5MC Guest

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    Say what?

    "undiscovered and currently underutilized technology"

    "relatively small number of users"

    To disagree means I have facts and figures to support my disagreement. I don't. Kenwood and Yaesu both support APRS with mobiles and handhelds. When I first got my 710 and looked at data feed into the internet from igates I was surprised at the volume. For any of the special events I have worked like the MS150, APRS does play a role at some level. That's the best I can do for disagreement and it is subjective.

    On your software program look for an aging options. Something that drops the locations if they are older than so many hours. Not saying I know there is one. Using aprs.fi when searching they do ask how many hours do you want to go back. Similar, but different than your problem.
     
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  6. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

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    By "relatively small numbers of users..." I guess I need to qualify that statement. "Relative" has to be compared to something to be "relative." So my comparison has to be in relation to the number of hams that can be contacted at any point in time. There may be many thousands of APRS-capable radios nationwide. But those numbers do little good when location and time period come to bear.

    So since APRS has a locational component, I would have to add that the number of APRS users in a particular location at a particular point in time is small relative to the number of total licensed hammmers we can communicate with.

    Further, the number of APRS-people available to participate in a ham function, public service or emergency at a specific location during a particular period of time is pretty small relative to total licensed hams in an area. I am basing this opinion on the very small number of APRS users in The Villages Florida ham club, which has a pretty sizeable number of members.

    But then, that very small sample in a retirement community could be very misleading because the older retirees, even though they dabble in ham stuff, and have for most of their lives, does not mean they are all open to newer technologies. So due to the demographic of my sample, APRS participation here locally is probably not representative of the proportion of APRS users natiionwide. In fact I understand there is a good concentration of APRS users 50 miles south in Orlando.

    So forget everthing I said. I am obviously drooling words as I type.

    Maybe this statement is more accurate: The uses of APRS will broaden as more people discover it and take advanatage of its features.
     
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  7. KE5MC

    KE5MC Guest

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    Forget what? I don't seem to recall what we where talking about. (y)

    PS
    It does have a following, but equipment cost limits some from not getting in. Another and for some this seems a big issue. Pin pointing your location. Along the lines of phones with GPS that can be tracked. Most of the hams I know that have APRS are into events that benefit from this functionality.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  8. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

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    $470 for an APRS HT limits some, when most of the guys I've seen have already spent thousands and thousand? I guess we can say they've already spent their last dime on ham equipment and can't afford/have any use for new technology.:eek:

    Maybe if many long time hams had to start their equipment buying today more would buy APRS or D-Star equipment. But I can understand that after you've spent as much as most have already and a "new thiing" comes along you have to draw the line somewhere, sometimes to save a marriage or credit rating.

    I feel fortunate that I'm new to the hobby and havn't spent a dime except for one magazine. I can have a field day equipping with the "new stuff."
     
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  9. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    APRSIS-32
    Try the Yahoo User Group, there are a lot of questions answered there. The author of the program can probably tell you more than you'd ever want to know about it, and he's on that forum.
    Sure, APRS can certainly be useful, but as already said, it's not -the- 'cure' for just a whole lot of things. There are quite a few commercial applications of the same thing that are just as useful if not more so. It can be interesting though, and that's enough reason for some people, not for others. I think you can say that about a lot of 'modes', not just APRS.
    And then there are those, who for whatever reason, just don't care to 'advertise' their location all the time, or ever, for that matter.
    I got into it for a few reasons, some more 'important' that others. Also because others I am associated with are doing it, and because I think it's interesting (and challenging). I have a personal use for it too. It's not for everyone.
    - 'Doc
     
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  10. JVT

    JVT Member

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    APRS

    download the "in depth manual" for the kenwood TH-D72. It is not only very useful for that radio but has lots of info that will apply.
    jim
     
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