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[aprssig] CQ FD shame on you

Jim Duncan jdbandman at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 29 02:57:57 UTC 2009

Jason said:

"The truth of the matter is, FD is about points and gaining them to win.
Until ARRL recognizes APRS as a valid point gaining part of FD, I am sorry
to say the participation won't change much."

And THAT is exactly my point! 

If we truly want a change in the FD rules then the effort must start TODAY,
NOT next week, not next month. It takes time to make a case for a special
rule addition. Remember: the League isn't just Newington, it's every member
and a large field organization from which and to which any consideration
will ultimately meet it's fate.

APRS is, to a lot of people, a novelty and now that we have talking GPS
units right in our cars (thanks in large part to the Bob's vision and his
influence upon people at Garmin and others).

Now the challenge is to look at APRS for it's base reality: it is real-time
tracking and data relay. It is not a panacea for communications and probably
shouldn't ever be the one, single resource that anyone uses to communicate
in any situation.

Perhaps a wholesale re-think of the entire concept is in order. It seems to
me that the past several years we have been seeing a search for relevance in
an ever-changing world of ham radio.

Let's look at where we are: 

* We've got the software that works and it reliably does what it's supposed
to do.
* For obvious reasons, the Sproul brothers haven't done anything further
with WinAPRS
* There's not much further that Bob can go with DOS-APRS, it has - for the
most part -reached "end of life" (sorry, Bob, no disrespect intended but
when we can buy a laptop for $249 there's no reason to keep using x86 class
* We have radios that do it all now so the need for a computer in the
vehicle isn't really necessary unless you need the screen size.

In short we have fallen into the exact trap I warned folks about on this
list several years ago: we have turned into 'packet' radio and didn't look
beyond the here and now.

Bob has tried to do this but the rest of us haven't (myself included). I no
longer keep an APRS station on the air from home because it's boring to
watching cars move around the screen. Without purpose or need we quickly
lose interest in our new toys, especially when other toys beckon. Remember
those great Christmas toys of your youth? How many of those were put away in
a few short weeks when something else more exciting and new grabbed your

I have a very old and favorite hand puppet from my childhood. It brings me
great joy whenever I take it out and look at it. It is an important part of
my youth but I don't play with it any longer. I have fond memories of
"bunny" and being tucked into bed by my mom and dad as a child with him next
to me. I keep it because of what it means to me.

I do, of course, have file copies of DOS APRS. I keep it because I spent a
lot of time developing maps of this area for it. Someday I may need it, if
an emergency arises where I have to drag out the one 386 machine I keep
stored away as a fail-safe. I haven't used those DOS maps in years but
they're there just in case I want a trip down memory lane or if there is a
catastrophe that renders everything else techie here dead to the world.

APRS has fallen into a zone of comfort. What else can be done to refresh and
revive it? That's up to us all. We USED to be on the cutting edge in ham
radio. Where are we now?

I think it's time to look at APRS as a starting point for something new.
Perhaps it's a new suite of software.... An integration with D*Star? Maybe
something completely new... Only the future knows!

What I know is this: the future of APRS in our hands.

Jim Duncan, KU0G

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