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[aprssig] Igates Are A Fair Weather Solution (was: "Finito")

Patrick Green pagreen at gmail.com
Mon Aug 29 03:30:43 UTC 2005


APRS relies heavily on infrastructure.  In an emergency,
infrastructure will probably not be available.  HF is good because you
rely on your HF radio and an antenna system, both of which you can
have on the ready.  Having an APRS network on the ready is harder but
not impossible but don't rely on your local digi to get you out.  I
have a digi setup here in town but it isn't on power backup.  For my
shoe string budget, it would be costly to get UPS backup for the digi.
 So when that disaster strikes, you can count the intown digi probably
won't be there.

73 de Pat --- KA9SCF.

On 8/28/05, Ray McKnight <shortsheep at worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> I don't disagree with these arguements.
> But you make a few assumptions that I feel should be addressed.
> 
> First, APRS has seldom shown the usefulness that a lot of folks
> assume it will provide in disaster and wide-spread emergency
> communications.  There are numerous groups that have exploited
> it to its absolute limits, particularly a few highly skilled SAR teams.
> BUT, unfortunately too many people wait until the disaster strikes
> to start planning for their communications needs.  The SAR teams
> and others who have success with APRS realize its limitations,
> have fine tuned their procedures and integrated APRS only to the
> extent that they know it can be relied upon.
> 
> The majority of people never understand APRS limitations, and assume
> it will be the only tool in their bag of communications tricks.  Also,
> frequent training MUST be conducted for an effective emergency
> communications system to be valuable.
> 
> My biggest contention with your post is that you are intending to rely
> on APRS to cover a huge geographic area - 460 miles!  APRS is NOT
> designed, nor even minimally capable of providing this type of RF
> coverage *reliably*.  And reliability is *essential* in emergency
> communications.
> 
> Yes, we need to plan on ignoring the Internet side of APRS in a disaster
> or emergency.  IF that side is still alive and can be used, fine, but it
> would
> be foolish to plan on relying on it.  The true functionality of APRS lies in
> its great ability to provide TACTICAL communications to a small
> geographic area, and a small number of local assets (about 50 stations
> is optimum).
> 
> When you need to extend beyond your RF-direct boundary, or pass
> APRS collected information to a distant station, especially beyond 1-hop,
> you must consider other communications alternatives!
> 
> How many people have said "gee, I never even considered using HF"!
> Yes,  the perfect tool for reaching beyond your local area, especially
> out to 400-500 miles!  Plus, you have virtually UNLIMITED frequencies
> at your disposal to set up small, specialized nets for specific traffic or
> between
> two users needing to pass high volumes of traffic.  PACTOR is PERFECT
> for this as it can *reliably* maintain a connected link with error
> correction
> down to -18db BELOW the noise floor!  Even VOICE would be a better
> solution in most cases for the long haul vs APRS.
> 
> Not to imply anything personally about the original posters of this thread,
> but it's
> sad that in this day and age of the carbon-copy, Radio Shack Ham, how
> quickly
> we discard or ignore the simple and efficient methods that were used
> effectively
> for 50+ years, all for the sake of technology and "advancing the radio art".
> 
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Geoffrey Dick" <wa4ikq at nevets.oau.org>
> To: <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>
> Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 08:49
> Subject: [aprssig] Igates Are A Fair Weather Solution (was: "Finito")
> 
> 
> >
> > Subject: Igates Are a Fair Weather Solution, Earl's "Finito"
> >
> > Amateur Internet APRS is only a "fair weather" tool useful only
> > from armchair observers who have a good wired connection, and an
> > unlimited source of power.   It is great for when the sun is shining,
> > for watching parades, and weather-permitting outdoor events.   When
> > it comes to a foul weather disaster, my experience has demonstrated
> > it comes up quite short of being useful for tactical purpose.  As
> > utility power is lost, the computer-operated "smart" Igate digis
> > die first, leaving only battery-operated TNC-only digis with preset
> > path limits, that are now set to break the RF connections.
> >
> > Here in Florida, we spend half the year under a hurricane watch.
> > When this type of event occurs, wide-spread areas undergo fallen
> > trees, powerlines, telephone, cellphone, and cable outages.  As
> > that happens, the RF connection becomes essential to for doing
> > anything tactical.
> >
> > On RF, we can no longer receive the severe weather bulletins, and
> > hurricane position updates from a West Coast station, only 60
> > miles away.   We also can no longer see on RF the picket fence of
> > weather stations, that surround us in Central Florida.  Working
> > from a hurricane shelter, there is no internet gateway hookup to
> > complete the connection.  For lack of the completed RF connection,
> > Amateur RADIO APRS fails as a mobile tactical tool in disaster areas.
> >
> > For the sake of limiting the path of a few abusers in densely
> > populated areas, we have become obsessed with strangling the
> > wonderful RF network capability that has been put in place.
> >
> > I have to support Earl Needham.  His "Finito" is a summation of
> > the decline of APRS some of us are experiencing here on the Florida
> > peninsula.  I used to enjoy seeing 150 to 250 stations coming in
> > on RF APRS each day here in Central Florida.  Yes, the single
> > 1200 baud APRS channel IS sufficient to accomplish this.  Now,
> > all we see is 5 to 15 stations, depending on the time of day.
> > Sometimes we see a glimpse of a distant station when band
> > openings occur.
> >
> > With the new path-limiting paradigm, blindly being put into
> > place, WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2 RF APRS is like watching paint dry,
> > lacking the tactical usefulness it once had.  It is my belief
> > that Florida digi owners should consider adding increasing
> > alternate paths of FL4-4 for the Keys, and FL3-3,FL2-2,FL1-1
> > in general to achieve 460 miles of State connectivity South
> > to North.  That would give us a tactical path to go to in
> > a State wide emergency, without overwhelming neighboring
> > border States.
> >
> > Geoffrey Dick, wa4ikq
> >
> >
> >
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> 
> 
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