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[aprssig] APRS System Overiding Fundamentals

A.J. Farmer (AJ3U) ajfarmer at spenet.com
Tue Mar 8 21:06:46 UTC 2005

Bob gave a brief APRSdos demo at the Richmond hamfest.  To be honest, I was
amazed at the capabilities of APRSdos.  So many people have written it off
because it is a DOS program.  I know better now after seeing it in action by
someone that knows how to use it!!

One of the things he demonstrated was tracking a marathon without the use of
trackers.  It will do exactly the things that you described.  Each
checkpoint along the route can update the objects as they make visual
contact with them and it updates everyone's map.  Additionally, an APRS net
control station for the event can update objects as information is received
through voice reports.  Objects are given an estimated speed and direction
(most runners run at a steady rate!) so the next checkpoint will know when
that object will be arriving because they will see it on the map.  The route
can even be overlayed on the map and the objects will follow the course!
That's cool!  All of this without the use of GPS or trackers.  I never knew
this feature was available in APRSdos until Bob did the demo.

APRS can be used at a marathon even if it is only one person running APRSdos
at the net control point.  It is still very useful.  As Bob said, think of
it as an electronic map with the objects as your push pins that you move to
keep track of everything.


A.J. Farmer, AJ3U

-----Original Message-----
From: aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org [mailto:aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org]
On Behalf Of maiko at pcs.mb.ca
Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2005 3:33 PM
To: TAPR APRS Mailing List
Subject: Re: [aprssig] APRS System Overiding Fundamentals

William McKeehan wrote :

> At that event, I saw how much help an APRS display would be to the net
> controller. Net control often had to ask where different assets were; they
> had no way (other than a log) to keep track of any assets.

We do a marathon each year here in Winnipeg, and our ARES group has used
APRS in the past to track medical vehicles. I want very much to continue to
use APRS for the same purpose. The voice traffic dropped tremendously when
we used this system, because vehicle locations no longer had to be asked
for, freeing up the frequency for the important stuff.

> I do not expect anyone on the route to have APRS trackers ...

I'm having trouble finding them as well :-(

> My plan is to establish a list of assets that I need to keep track
> of and key points along the route.

What we have plenty of is TNCS and LAPTOPS ! What I'm thinking of doing
is having a list of waypoints, one for each mile in the marathon. There
will be a person in the medical van who will essentially be running a
piece of software, and each mile check point the van happens to pass,
the person will manually select that mile check point in the software,
and have the software broadcast the waypoint information.

I've had a couple of guys laugh at this, and a few say "that's not a
reasonable thing to do, the person will be too busy to man a laptop",
but besides cancelling the use of APRS because no one wants to provide
us with Trackers, I can't think of any better way to do this.

> We will have the assets use voice to alert us each time they pass
> one of these key points.

Similar ideas here I guess. You guys will have someone on voice, we'll
have someone on a laptop running *this* software.

QUESTION: Is there software out there that can do this ? Ie, provide
me with a list of 10 or 20 checkpoints, I click on the particular check
point, it broadcasts a position packet, etc. I can write that, that is
so easy to do, but why bother if someone already has done it.

BOB : does APRSdos have this ability ?

Robert Bruninga said:

> SUMMARY:  In summary, I am frustrated that APRS these days is beoming
> too much of a GPS toy and is actually being used less and less as an
> information management, communications and display tool for events
> and operations.

I agree with Bob, and unfortunately I need to somehow sell my own
ARES group on the concept that GPS is not essential to making the
marathon work. The first thing I hear is "we don't have any tiny
trackers or GPS units, so we probably wont be able to do it".

Thanks for highlighting your past experiences Bob, that information
may wind up being very handy for me to change some mind sets.

Maiko Langelaar / VE4KLM

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