[aprssig] Road Trip so far...my experience

Joel Maslak jmaslak-aprs at antelope.net
Sun Jun 18 21:41:30 CDT 2006

I am in Toronto, and have taken people's advice and honoring the  
spirit of the law by transmitting my position when I ID - in other  
words, my normal, every-day, US APRS configuration.  :)

The trip from Wyoming (via Denver) to Toronto was interesting, I  
followed a few people on the interstate but never observed anyone  
coming the other way or within what would be reliable simplex range.

I was surprised with how good coverage along I-76/I-80/I-94/401 is.   
There were certainly spots where I heard no digipeat, and I drove  
through some moderately crowded RF networks.  Things do act  
differently on crowded nets, I certainly had many less packets  
successfully digipeated, and I can see how it would tempt a user to  
run higher power and more frequent beacons (I resisted both urges!),  
only making the problems worse for everyone else.

Looking at Find-U, there were very few places where I didn't make it  
into the Internet.  There were gaps in every state I drove through  
(the biggest gaps being north-eastern CO and western NE, where I  
could go hundreds of miles without hearing myself digipeated.  Iowa  
was the opposite - I had coverage almost from border to border, and  
almost always heard myself digipeated successfully for the entire state!

I think Toronto is a bit hard on my D700 receive (not having sent  
time being able to debug exactly why my radio seems deaf in Toronto,  
I'm guessing there is just too much general RF around here).  But I  
am getting out, and am even being heard direct by a downtown station  
that gated my packets to the internet (I was shocked to see that,  
since I hadn't heard a digipeat of my packet since I turned south off  
of 401 to head to my current location on the south edge of downtown).

N0YXV apparently messaged me to tell me about a passing another  
mobile APRS station, K3BZG-9, but I was likely on the edge of  
coverage and my signal was probably getting out better than I can  
hear...  That's unfortunate, it could have been fun if I noticed the  
other station.

The equipment has worked flawlessly other than the receive  
performance (which isn't horrid but isn't great either - I'll have to  
see what I can do about that when I get back home).  Everything has  
been rock-solid, which is amazing.  It's required very little  
adjustment and set-up - I turn the GPS and D700 on, and it just plain  
works - and best of all, I can still participate as a 2-way station  
(instead of just as a tracker; No, I don't do 2 way communication  
digitally while driving!).  I've built a few trackers and such, but  
almost all of them suffered from cables getting disconnected and  
such.  It's nice to not have that problem with my current installation.

The only other problem is that I am not used to parking garages, and  
even the 5/8 whip on the trunk deck hits the ceiling in the parking  
garage I parked in today (SCRAAAPPPEEEE...  Oh $#@!, I left the  
antenna on the car!  Stop, hold up traffic, and remove both 2m  

I've kept my path at WIDE1-1,WIDE-2-1 for the entire trip.  Along the  
Colorado front-range, I heard up to *8* repeats of each packet, even  
on 5 watts power.  But elsewhere I never heard more than 2 or 3, and  
most of the time just 1.  I adjusted power when it sounded like I was  
making it into the digi well, although I'm curious whether more or  
less power is likely to cause the least interference and if turning  
power down may actually make things worse, because of the hidden  
transmitter problem - ideas, anyone?

There hasn't been anywhere yet that WIDE1-1,WIDE-2-1 hasn't worked,  
at least not anywhere where I was able to hear other stations.  So  
even though everything may not yet fully implement the "new  
paradigm", it does seem that most existing digis do support new- 
paradigm stations.

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