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[aprssig] APRS Event Scoring and Messaging

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Mon Jan 28 21:33:52 UTC 2008


Had another great Scout Event using APRS D7's for troop
reporting.

There were 17 event stations and 50 scout troops.  We were able
to field over half of the stations with D7's for score data
entry (10).  In an afterthought, we could have done at least 3
more for a total of 13 with data entry.

Using the D7's substantially reduced voice traffic and
transcription errors, and repeats, while providing error free
data recording at the HQ tent.  See

http://www.ew.usna.edu/~bruninga/aprsevent.html
The 2008 photos are at the end.

This is APRS at its best!  Not only did the APRS data entry
stations not have to busy up the 146.43 voice net, but we
operated on 445.925 with our data to avoid any QRM to the 2m
voice traffic -AND- we could also chat on the same UHF channel
for data coordination.

Further, every D7 operator could be tracked on the main APRS map
back at HQ as operators moved around the event -BUT- without the
encumberance of any GPS's, wires, or fussy cables.  We prepared
a LAT/LON grid on the event map, and every location in the
entire square mile venue could be entered on the D7 by just
pressing the POS key and dialing in the last 2 hundredths digit
of LAT or LONG.  These were "scouts" and dads by the way, who
should know how to look at a map and estimate their position.

To make that even easier, we prepared the four XX/YY digits for
each of the 17 event stations in advance, so that if an operator
changed locations, he only had to adjust those 4 digits to
update his position.

RESULTS:  It worked great!  Net control could leisurely look at
the incoming scores on the D700 control panel mounted to his
clipboard, and pass them to the score keepers.  The contrast
with Voice reporting is that each voice report, interrupts the
netcon's chain of thought and the voice net everywhere, and
demands immediate attention, while with the data messages, they
arrive in the background, and can be viewed by Netcon at HIS
convenience.

Even the newly trained D7 HT operators said it was great (after
they got the hang of it).  Of the 10 D7 operators, only 4 had
ever used a D7 before.  Training was 5 minutes on the spot when
they were handed a D7 and a gouge sheet.

LESSONS LEARNED:

1) Don't plan on the NETCON with the D700 on his clipboard at HQ
trying to use it also as his voice rig...  Everytime he might
decide to read some messages, a voice call might come in, and
the PTT bumps him off the message screen.

2) Don't abbreviate Cub Scout and Boy Scout station as CS# and
BS#.  They sound the same on the air.  Call them BS# and WS#
(for Weblos).

3) Don't assume the battery on your 10 year old D7 is any good.
Yours truely showed up with 5 overnight-charged D7's, but two of
them were dead in the first 15 minutes.

4) The few other ops that had D7's also had D700's in their
cars.  We should have realized that the D700's could just as
easily been used for data entry at those stations, thus freeing
up their D7's for use elsewhere.  Score reporting is only a
one-time event every 45 minutes.  Easy enough to walk over to
the car and enter the data on the Mic Keys.

5) The D7 is ideal for this application.  Operating dual band,
it was able to do both the 146.43 voice net and the 445 APRS
data net at the same time.  But to save power, either band could
be toggled off when not needed with the DUAL key.  Or both could
be on for voice but the TNC toggled off between entries.

6) Owners of D700's and D7's need to learn how to send, receive
and edit messages.  These radios (and APRS) are much more than
just vehicle tracking!

On the web page above, we had even prepared an APRSdos map so
that detailed tracking of multiple objects was possible.

APRS, its not just vehicle tracking!

Bob, WB4APR





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