Herb Gerhardt hgerhardt at wavecable.com
Thu Oct 20 13:41:38 CDT 2005

I am forwarding this message at Dave's request.

Hopefully, we can all let this issue die!  I am tired of reading all the
gibberish and opinions on how to interpret the rules.  One of my local Hams
took me to task a couple of years ago about putting an APRS tracker in a SAR
team member's backpack during a SAR mission.  The ARRL's response was that
it was perfectly legal for a non-ham to carry a tracker as long as he can
only turn it ON and OFF, and, the control operator was able to communicate
with him via any mode including commercial radio used by SAR or cell phone.
Any device was permitted as long as the control operator could reach the
person carrying the tracker could be told to shut it OFF should a problem
arise.  Dave's application certainly meets those ARRL guidelines.  I know,
the ARRL is not the FCC and most of you responding on this issue are not
lawyers either.

So please lets move on to some more constructive discussions.


Herb, KB7UVC
NW APRS Group, West Sound Coordinator
Our WEB Site:  http://www.nwaprs.info

-----Original Message-----
From: nwaprssig-admin at nwaprs.info [mailto:nwaprssig-admin at nwaprs.info]
On Behalf Of David Dobbins
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 10:38 AM
To: nwaprssig at nwaprs.info

Some of you may be following several postings/comments to the national sig
regarding one of my trackers with a tactical callsign aboard a friend's
aircraft as they are flying around the country. Some people are taking issue
with the legality of these trackers being operated w/o the immediate
presence of a licensed ham. Others are taking issue with using tactical
callsigns, and still others are taking issue with using an aircraft N number
as the tactical callsign.

I've been around APRS for awhile, and freely admit there's still much to
learn, but one thing I know (because I bothered to check) was that these
trackers are fully legitimate operating w/o a licensed ham sitting next to
the tracker while in operation. Part of the operation is legitimized because
we're using these trackers as telemetry devices, which do not require the
presence of a control op 24/7.

Can you imagine having to go up with your balloon or rocket package? It's a
long way to hold your breath from 12,500 ASL to 100,000 feet, and don't
forget about breathing on the way back down. How are you going to multiply
yourself when you have 3-4 trackers out doing a marathon or parade, or SAR
event? Good luck with the saw, better luck with putting yourself back
together. How about your satellite tracker? There's no control op except
when the satellite is over head a place where a control op or assitant can
make contact and change settings.

Jump over to the government freqs for a moment, and look at all the remote
sensing equipment on rivers and mountains that are TX only. There's no
control op nearby to shut that equipment down if it goes awry until somebody
drives out. Those telemetry devices are all FCC approved. We are no

Tactical callsigns are legitimate too. If you disagree, show me where it say
they are forbidden? I can't find it anywhere, and I've looked. Our "process"
to make tactical call and digipeaters legitimate devices thus requires we
put our real callsign somewhere else that is routinely TRANSMITTED, so the
rules say. But that's all it says. That means it's OK to set your tracker to
WIDE7-7 for position reports, and no path for the status text. Ergo, the
position reports get transmitted and digipeated all over the world, but the
status text, containing the callsign, only goes out as far as the signal
will reach on its own. I recognized we might encounter some problems with
this if we had to track down the owner an errant tracker, and thus we
recommended folks use the same path for both the tracker and the status text
info. Remember, the rule says the signal must be transmitted, it DOES NOT
say somebody down the road has to RECEIVE it. A loophole in the system?
Maybe. Is it one we !
 need to change the rules for? I don't think so. I'm on the side of less
government control, not more. The rule says we can even transmit the
callsign in morse code, but I think (I hope) we're smart enough to discard
that idea as not being the "right" way to ID on packet. Use morse or voice
on the repeaters, and packet on the packet systems to ID our callsigns, eh?

Using the aircraft registration number as the callsign was my idea too. I've
seen a couple on the air before, and thought that was a good way to ID. I
could have used my own call, but I didn't want to confuse people to think I
was piloting the plane. I could have easily used CIRRUS or SR22 or DELANY or
something else for the callsign, but the N number was my top choice. Do the
rules say you can't use an aircraft registration number as the tactical
callsign on a APRS tracker.  Hmmmmm, nope.

I don't know what else to say. I'm standing beside myself wondering why the
hell I have to defend my position to a few of the 3000+ subscribers on the
list when the same operation has been done before. Nothing came up until the
east coast portion of their trip began. Oh, I can just feel the heat now.
When the Delaney's flew up from the Bay area to Portland, then over to
Spokane and across Montana and the northern tier of the country, the
comments I got usually began with "Dude" and included "this is way cool".
Why would.... oh never mind. I'll jump off my soap box now and get back to
something worth spending time on.

JHC, David K7GPS

and 73 to the most of you who don't have a problem with this issue, even
think this is a non issue.

Herb... will you fwd this to the national list, please. I don't have a
subscribe address from this email.

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