[aprssig] APRS System Overiding Fundamentals

Keith - VE7GDH ve7gdh at rac.ca
Tue Mar 8 16:00:31 CST 2005

Bob WB4APR wrote on Tuesday, March 08, 2005 8:59 AM PST

(lots of text trimmed)

> In retrospect, I think some of the differences of opinion in 
> some matters can be traced to some basic missunderstandings
> of what APRS actually is and how it is being used...
> 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.

You are probably right that most APRS users  (just a guess... 90-95%???) use it is used for tracking vehicles. APRS can be done at an event the way you originally described it with someone manually placing an object on the map, but to me, the addition of a GPS makes it so much more useful by making it automatic... isn't that the A in APRS? Come to think of it, the P in APRS stands for position too. About the only way to get rid of those pesky vehicles that only use it tracking a vehicle is to get rid of the vehicles and the trackers. I don't think that is going to happen, and the chances of the people that are using trackers dumping them en masse for (e.g.) a more expensive but more usable D700 or a laptop / TNC combo are fairily low. I think we are more or less stuck with what we have got - for now.

> But now, nothing.  The current perception that APRS is 
> just for tracking GPS trackers (which can never have
> enough to fully do any event) is killing the use of this 
> powerful tool in many areas... and many HAM radio
> support applications.

As you keep telling us, tracking trackers is just one part of APRS. I hear what you are saying, and your points are valid, but it doesn't change the status quo. Is it an observation, or are you proposing to do something about it? What can be done about "it"? Run "events" on their own frequency? That's a possibility, but you lose the advantages of the existing digipeaters and IGates over on 144.970 MHz. You can try and "ban" trackers on 144.970 MHz. Not much chance of people listening to that suggestion.

I don't know what the answer is, if one is needed. You have done a lot over the last while with the "new paradigm" and it seems to be paying off. In many places, more reasonable paths are being used. The fact remains that unless APRS collapses and becomes completely unusable (too many people running higher power than they should and beaconing too often with abusive paths), there is going to be a steady trickle of more and more people getting into it. Some of them will view it as a tool for tracking assets at an event or during an emergency. Some will (at events, emergencies or just for regular use) will use it to exchange messages. Some will use it strictly for keeping track of where their vehicle is, or for their spouse to keep track of how the commute is going. Some will use it for weather stations. The genie is out of the bottle. APRS exists. Some people use it differently than you envision it. There have been some problems, and some have been solved or made less of a problem. I don't know if we are at a crossroads yet, but we may come to one. It may take new hardware with faster connection speeds. Who knows... maybe it will require a completely new network with a combination of low powered UHF "cells" along with VHF "cells" with a greater range in mountainous terrain. In the meantime, the existing infrastructure exists and it works. It will grow and it will improve. Maybe at some point in the time, it will have to be more closely modelled after the way cellular telephone works with automatic frequency hopping and automatic adjustment of the transtmit power on the end users end. It could be done, but it would take a tremendous amount of cooperation, and either the outlay of cash to either build the equiment, or perhaps convincing manufacturers (one or all of Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood, etc.) to build equipment so it was readily available and affordable. Who knows... maybe Icom with their digital equipment is the start. Maybe not.

73 es cul - Keith VE7GDH
"I may be lost, but I know exactly where I am!"

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