[aprssig] Where to from here for APRS ?

Ray Wells vk2tv at exemail.com.au
Sun Oct 29 18:37:30 CST 2006

Jim Duncan wrote:

> 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 bandwidth!).
> 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 laptop).
> 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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I disagree that APRS will die.

Rather, I'm suggesting that just like packet in the 1980's to the early 
1990's, APRS will increase in popularity, then decline,  and eventually 
find it's own level of users. Right now we're seeing an upsurge due to 
the novelty factor, but it's only a matter of time and users will be 
saying, "been there, done that" and move onto the latest technology, 
whatever that might be, leaving the diehards behind on quiet channels.

If packet is anything to go by, users complained about channel 
congestion but few (relatively speaking) opted to move up to higher 
speeds to improve the situation.

1200bps may well be 20+ years old but it will probably be around in 
another 20 years because amateurs either can't or won't modify equipment 
to make it work at higher speeds, or can't or won't expend money on 
higher speed equipment when their 1200bps gear works "just fine".

Just the thoughts of someone who's been in packet since almost day one.

Ray vk2tv

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