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[aprssig] Where to from here for APRS ?

Jim Duncan jdbandman at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 29 23:44:18 UTC 2006

APRS will die a slow death within 10 year if we don't do something about 
getting away from 1200 baud. Many areas are close to packet saturation.

In the first 10 years, while the network was still being built up, a 
universal frequency was the desired standard and a great idea. Now that 
most major metropolitan areas have major coverage and APRS has generally 
become widely used I believe that it is time to go multi-frequency (IF 
we continue to rely on TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD STANDARDS for speed and 

It is my opinion that major metropolitan areas should adopt their own 
specific frequency for "in network" use. Each area should also include a 
dual-port digi which receives on 144.39 MHz and repeats inward to the 
local frequency (i.e. 144.35, just an example frequency choice). A 
visiting operator could continue to operate on the national frequency, 
be seen and local operators could interact with the visitor by reverse 
gateway pathing. Further, the universal frequency digi/gate in each area 
should routinely broadcast a blanket bulletin identifying the local area 
and giving the local frequency thereby enabling mobile/visiting 
operators the ability to locate the local frequency.

Finally, and I've been saying this since 1999, it is well beyond the 
time to start rolling out higher-speed options (9600, 57600, etc.) on 
UHF (higher?) frequencies. This should be the path that local networks 
take when looking at setting up a unique local frequency.

All I've really seen happening in APRS for the past five years is more 
"bells and whistles" (which are nice, BTW) to existing software and 
network considerations. Is anyone working on developing anything that 
directly addresses the other considerations?

IMHO, APRS usage has peaked and I suspect that many other like me, lost 
interest in APRS after so many years of "watching the grass grow." Now, 
in my case my choice to step away from anything other than occassional 
mobile use are based on other piratical circumstances but the fact 
remains that there is only so long that a person will use a piece of 
software until the novelty wears off.

Personally speaking, I have used APRS as a means (in the past) of 
keeping band parents advised of my band's location on band trips, 
tracking school busses, and using it for trip driving by my bus drivers 
as well as myself.

The fact remains that the GPS manufaturers long ago left us in the stone 
age with talking devices, on-screen mapping, etc. Why bother with APRS 
if you can invest $600-$800 in Tom-Tom (and similar) that doesn't 
require a) a $1000 laptop, $200-$600 in ham radio equipment, another 
$100 for a GPS, special mounts for laptops, etc., etc., etc.

I rarely use APRS now even mobile. I can use my existing truck mounted 
GPS tied into other software which retrieves real-time weather radar and 
puts me right onto the map. High speed wireless internet is still a bit 
pricey for my taste but I could really care less where anyone else is 
when I'm out storm chasing (except my usual chase partner, of course, 
which is probably the only reason I still run an instance of APRS on the 

When I got into APRS way back in January, 1993, I was pretty much burned 
out on ham radio and APRS gave me a new focus and direction which 
reinvigorated my interest in amateur radio. It was a great 10-year run 
and I enjoyed getting to know others APRS people all over the country 
but it just became less and less important to me in the grand scheme of 
things (probably the result of marriage, a new home, returning to my 
lifelong hobby of model railroading, and the rigors of two graduate 
degree programs).

I would probably enjoy getting active in APRS again if there were new 
frontiers to tackle but it seems that we are just staying in the same 
place. New gadgets are nice but, as we all know, all gadgets are 
novelties, too and like a kid at Christmas the new toys eventually get 
set aside as the newness wear off.

I hope to see major developments in the coming years but the history of 
amateur radio is that we tend to get stuck in ruts and change doesn't 
come about quickly or easily. I hope that history isn't repeating itself 
with APRS.

Jim Duncan, KU0G

Andrew Rich wrote:

> What do you think the future will hold for aprs ?
> 1) Touch screen tablets with moving maps, GPS and radio built in ?
> ideas ?
> -----------------------------------------
> Andrew Rich
> Amateur radio callsign VK4TEC
> email: vk4tec at tech-software.net <mailto:vk4tec at tech-software.net>
> web: http://www.tech-software.net
> Brisbane AUSTRALIA
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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73 de Jim, KU0G

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