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[aprssig] The APRS Travel Experience

Bob Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Sun Dec 5 16:27:32 UTC 2010

On my trip to Atlanta, Here is my APRS Travelers experience for better or worse...

1) Flew Air-tran.  Had Free WiFi on board!  Looked at my destination (Atlanta) on APRS.FI to get the pre-arrival tactical situation...

2) Pleased to see WB4HRO Symbol at HRO store to make it easy for me to drive to when I arrived.

3) Turns out that was a D-star object on APRS-IS of no value to the mobile operator on RF.  Was lost until I saw enough APRS mobiles all piling up at the same lat/long in north Atlanta.  When I pulled into HRO parking lot, the WB4HRO object did happen to show up.. (came via a nearby Igate).

4) From Airport (south of ATL) to the middle of Atlanta, there were NO frequency objects showing up on my radio to suggest where to find QSO.  Fortunately the main central Atlanta Voice channel (146.88) was busy enough and without a CTCSS so I was able to scan and find it.  

With almost all repeaters everywhere now having PL, it is almost impossible to raise a random QSO in a strange town without the APRS-Local-Info objects telling us the FREQ and PL and "best" repeater to try.  Then it is only 1 button push!  Why cannot we get all DIGI operators to add these objects???

5) When I got to North Atlanta, I was very pleased to see two recommended voice repeaters show up on the front panel of my APRS radio (146.82 and 146.61), QSY'd there with TUNE button and instantly found APRS locals.

6) But these two FREQ objects do not have unique calls, so when reviewing the map today (a day later) they do not show up on APRS-IS (two North Carolina ones do)  Of course two repeater objects with same name will ping-pong on the APRS-IS and it is random which ones you will see.  Hence, the importance of choosing a UNIQUE object name.  There are at least a dozen of each of the above freq objects.  Easy to see.  Just http://map.findu.com/146.82* for example.

7) Was very pleased to see a "Meeting" object alerting me to the next club meeting of the Swanee(?) radio club.  But now a day later I cannot resolve it on FINDU because there are two "meeting" objects in Canada.  Although APRS itself can resolve the differences between "Meeting", "MEETING" and "Meeting!", FINDU does not.  FINDU does not honor the case-sensitivity of Object names, and cannot distinguish punctuation marks in object names.

8) Finding these objects (in the 100 deep station-list) on the D72 (or D710 or FTM350) is easy.  Just hit SORT button, and the freqs all come to the top of the list.

I notice that the new D72 sorts smartly, meaning if I have my cursor on a WD4xxx station, and hit MENU-SORT then the entire list is sorted AND it keeps me ON the same call in the SORT.
This keeps me from having to then scroll down to the 84th sorted station in the list to find the WD4's...

9) SORTING on the D710, D72, FTM350 (new vx8?) also makes it easy to find ECHOLINK EXXXXXX and IRLP IRLPXXXXX nodes too.  ANd with the automatic one-key TUNE/QSY functions, it is possible to bring up these VOIP nodes with one key press. 

9) I could receive APRS info sitting in the airport gate with the HT sitting in a window, but couild not get out.  All major airport hubs should have a local WIDE1-1 digi to make sure travelrs with their APRS HT's can get info as soon as they land, or while stitting there for an hour waiting to leave.  (good luck with TSA!)

Now with full APRS in your shirt-pocket HT, we need to make sure our APRS infrastructure provides the service to these travelers everywhere.  This includes AIRPORTS and NATIONAL PARKS. See http://aprs.org/aprs-parks.html

Stay tuned.  There will be more.  This was an inspirational event...


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