[aprssig] Displaying Operating Frequency

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Wed Aug 1 11:15:02 CDT 2007

Robert Bruninga wrote:
>> You mentioned "EVERY ham would monitor APRS to see 
>> what was going on locally, and EVERY ham's station 
>> would beacon on the APRS channel a STATUS packet 
>> about what he was doing on any other frequency or 
>> band or activity so everyone would know."  
>> The $6 word for that is "Presence", and it's a shame 
>> we DON'T have something like that for hams now.  
> Actually, after Katrina, the ARRL made it an initiative to come
> up with a mechanism for determining and distributing the
> OPERATING frequency of all stations on the air, so that they
> could easily be found when needed.  It is called WOTA for "Who
> is On the Air".  Since we have always encouraged the addition of
> Operating FREQUENCY as a standard field, we tried to make APRS a
> big part of that initiative.  But I got little support.  But we
> have now formalized a standard for including FREQUENCY in APRS
> packets to improve this situation down the road...
> What I want to see are PIC processors connected up to Home
> stations that will MONITOR the operating frequency of the main
> RIG in the hamshack and automatically insert that frequency in
> that station's APRS *local* beacon.
> I do not want to see these beacons all over the state, but
> simply locally, so that if the need arises, that person can be
> contacted.
> In fact, I think it would make a nice set of Add-on's to many
> client software so that that software could monitor the stations
> other radios and include their operating frequencies in that
> stations beacon.
> IN fact, a TinyTracker or OT tracker or any PIC device could be
> made for the major CAT interfaces for Kenwood, Icom and Yeasu.
> Plug this device into the shack radios and plug it into an
> unused HT on the APRS channel, and there you go...
> Bob, WB4APR

This scheme assumes you are using one of the "DC-to-light" multimode 
rigs with CAT-enabled serial ports (i.e. FT-100, TS-2000, IC-706, etc), 
that are more likely to be on HF than VHF/UHF.   I am far more likely to 
be monitoring/operating VHF/UHF bands with FM-only radios that don't 
have CAT ports.

As a mobile, are you really interested in what HF frequency a fixed 
station is on?   Wouldn't the current VHF or UHF frequency be of more 
interest since you are far more likely to have a VHF or UHF radio in the 
car than HF?  Further, even if you have HF in the car, you are FAR more 
likely to be heard on VHF/UHF than on HF from the far side of town.    
(80M or 40M groundwave without the benefit of repeaters doesn't go very 

If the fixed station is using a dual-band FM-only rig or several 
mono-band FM rigs on various bands (i.e. FT-1500s, TM-G707s, TM-742s, 
etc) to monitor VHF/UHF, this scheme won't work since most of these 
FM-only rigs are not CAT-capable.   

Further, is there going to be enough space in the comment field for all 
this stuff?       [In my own scenario, I would have to somehow fit 
Echolink on 438.150MHz (Node 14400),  voice on 146.52 and on 147.09, 
APRN on 146.700 and voice on 52.525 into the beacon.]  

I suppose one could have a processor-based gadget with a keypad and 
serial ports, that could interrogate some rigs via serial CAT, and 
provide keyboard data entry for other radios. It would then generate 
APRS packets to be beaconed by a dedicated radio on a rotating basis; 
i.e. comment field info about a different radio on each successive 
beacon.    This gadget would probably also have to have some sort of 
serial port splitter/feedthrough functions since the CAT ports of radios 
so equipped are often already in use for automated logging, antenna 
selection/control, remote control, ALE or other functions.   

Just a thought:   The Kenwoods would be simpler for this application 
since their CAT ports can be set to "auto-reporting". In this mode,  
they spit out frequency info periodically on their own with no 
command/response two-way interaction required.  As a result, the APRS 
status-reporting box can just passively bridge any existing hookup on 
the CAT port,  just listening and never talking.  (This would be similar 
to the way one connects the input of a D700 GPS port, and a laptop 
serial port, in parallel across a GPS receiver.)


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink Node:      14400    [Think bottom of the 2M band]
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