[aprssig] Xastir on Google G1?
steve at dimse.com
Sun Oct 26 22:37:46 CDT 2008
On Oct 26, 2008, at 10:20 PM, Greg D. wrote:
> Anybody know enough about this new toy to know if xastir would be an
> easy port to it? With a built-in GPS, it could be an interesting
If you have not used one of the new generation of smart phones that
started with the iPhone, you will probably be very surprised by how
quickly it becomes indispensable. With it comes a whole new
expectation of the content you view on the device/
I don't have specific knowledge of the G1, but I suspect it is not too
different in general terms from the iPhone. xastir could be ported to
the iPhone, and probably without too much difficulty, but I'd consider
it a waste of my time. Let me see if my experience with the iPhone
might help you frame your needs a little better.
Sometimes there is a temptation to follow an old paradigm a little too
long. I was certainly tempted, my original plan was a full APRS client
on the iPhone. Fortunately I had the phone for a year before it was
open to developers, which gave me plenty of time to understand how I
interact with the device. I recommend you think about how you actually
want to use the G1 on APRS, then decide what the right approach is to
get those features.
Here is my current reasoning on the iPhone as a guide.
First and foremost, I want to get the current position from the phone
and send it to the APRS IS and therefore to findU. On the iPhone that
turns out to be a very easy task, it took me a couple hours starting
from zero knowledge of the iPhone SDK (thanks to sample code!). Google
has a pretty smart bunch of engineers, I bet it is just as easy to do
on the G1. And, since whoever writes the program won't have to fight
Apple censors, it will be available to every G1 user much faster.
Getting position from the phone and sending it to the APRS IS has to
be done as a custom app, but it is pretty simple. What else do you
want to do from your phone?
For me, next on the list was seeing the weather radar. If you have
never been traveling and had the luxury of seeing the weather radar
image with your exact position overlain, trust me, you want it. xastir
can certainly do that. On the other hand, if your position has been
sent to the APRS IS, findU can do that with a fixed URL bookmark.
(Maybe other internet sites can as well, but I have no knowledge,
please don't consider the lack of mention a sleight.) I keep an icon
for the radar image centered on k4hg-8 on my iPhone, one click brings
it up. As long as I've run the app to upload my position, that icon
gets me the radar image I want, and in less than two seconds. Not many
APRS clients can get a radar image from a cold start in that length of
time, even on a high powered desktop computer and cable modem!
I also want to occasionally check to see what is around me on APRS.
Guess what, findU (and In this case I know other sites like APRSwor;d,
aprs.fi. openAPRS, etc. also) can do that wonderfully. I'd like to
send messages to people. Oh, yea, findU and openAPRS can too. Get the
idea? For a lot of the stuff I want to do on APRS, the web is already
capable of doing it, and it even is the better choice. And at least
for me, adding features to findU will be a lot less work than porting
The pages I announced yesterday are optimized for the iPhone, but it
did not take any top secret programming knowledge to create them.
Anyone with a G1 could produce the same thing optimized for the G1
xastir could certainly be ported to the iPhone. There would have to be
limitations though. For example, grabbing the APRS IS stream and
parsing it would take a lot of battery life, is it worth it? Remember,
when the app is running it is draining your battery, when it is not
running you are missing data. The web servers never sleep!
RAM is limited in a mobile device, you may not be able to cache all
the data you would like. And, the one real reason I could see to port
xastir, connection to a TNC/radio so it could transmit on ham freqs,
is not possible on the iPhone, and I'd bet not on the G1 either.
RS-232 is so twentieth century!
So, right tool for the right job. Where I sit (with iPhone in hand),
that means a custom app to upload positions, and the web for
everything else. I urge you to think about alternatives to running a
typical APRS client on your new devices.
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