[aprssig] APRS System Overriding Fundamentals

aa8ei aa8ei at cinci.rr.com
Thu Mar 10 12:48:12 CST 2005

This image display of assets, situations, and important items is what 
attracted me the first time I saw APRS.

The critical criterion is having non-ham, non-radio, non-technical folk 
understand what they see because they have used a paper map. Another is a 
gentle learning curve in order to quickly train inexperienced operators.

I need to display unpaved state/federal park roads and have tight control 
of objects. "Highways" would be county numbered roads. I need to draw lines 
and symbols and indicate fixed and moving assets, but I also need a variety 
of symbols and text boxes.

I need maps, not vectors, displayed. If you have seen the NationalG's topo 
maps, you know the kind of detail I am looking for. PM3, SA, other common 
software doesn't show all the back roads of interest, though they do show 
much useful material.

The basic visual aid without radios and tracking CAN be done with 
commercial mapping software that shows the necessary details and is 
operated with an ear to the comm network. Show it with a projector and it 
makes a good display. It's the ability to send the details to other places, 
and have categories entered from other places, and the other aspects of 
APRS software that make desirable a more complete client. The tracking 
features are just extras since, as has been pointed out, having enough 
trackers available is not likely anyway.

I'm not able to get current APRS software to show what I need and do what I 
need, as far as I know, at the moment.

If APRS could display using NG TOPO I would have the bull by the horns. The 
display, by computer projector, would be in the command and control center. 
Being able to use the map software features, overlay the material on APRS, 
and transmit the result by some medium would be ideal.

Another 'image making' problem is the stuff that mapping software lets me 
do - lines, labels, funky symbols, etc. - and which APRS clients don't. In 
my application, coloring and sizing sections of the road to indicate 
various status and use functions is essential. Indicating situations that 
happen along the route can be as important as showing assets, but I need 
text boxes and other features to explain what is happening.

I live 6 hours or more from the places of interest so I can't drive a 
route, record it, and then add it to a map. I need to 'draw' the route on 
the APRS/mapping software image. I need the 'real' looking map to make 
sense to the officials trying to use the display. All that detail, such as 
railroads and buildings, is important.

I hoped that, in time, the map image problem would be solved, still 
retaining all the 'radio' (and then internet) capability. I haven't tried 
UI-View and PM7. I gave up on UI-View some time ago because I couldn't get 
maps of interest to me. WinAPRS does make great images, but doesn't do the 
work I need to do. APRSDos would be great for knowledgeable hams, but not 
much use for anyone else with a lot of explaining.

I believe what is needed is a large-scale, volunteer professional, effort 
such as produced the first TNC boards, cooperatively creating a new, 
integrated, mainstay APRS client. There are lots of authors with good 
ideas, but no single effort has a complete product. I'm not sure how to 
solve the quality map problem, but if we could get a group to concentrate 
on the real use as Bob defined it, rather than big networks and 
GPS/tracking technologies, we can have the kind of APRS we have visualized.

I believe we need to slip off the concentrated internet networking for a 
while and concentrate on a useful product which happens to be able to use 
multiple media to connect to other users; we need to concentrate on 
fundamental modern client software instead of worrying about network rules 
and TNC settings.

Then, when a really super software with dynamite applications is developed, 
APRS will no longer appear as a toy, or a solution looking for a problem, 
and all the networking specs can be subsequently developed and implemented 
willy-nilly. (I will admit I have no interest in big, fixed, permanent 
networks. Only temporary, special situation and event use has my 
attention.) With greater APRS utility, there will be greater interest in 
spending the capital to implement proper networks among a larger group of 
hams, greater impetus to cooperate with the 'rules'.

I hope so, anyway.

I have an application over the 18-19th of March where I could use APRS if I 
had the client software and the map (Cherokee National Forest and 
Chattanooga area). Anyone want to help? No GPS or trackers needed, although 
they could be used if they were available.

Tony AA8EI 

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