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[aprssig] Field APRS texting event!

Bob Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Sun Jan 17 16:41:49 UTC 2010


Another great Klondike Derby (Camporee) where APRS and HT's were used exclusively for reporting TROOP scores for each of dozens of troops at dozens of stations throughout the day.

Text messaging from HT's is so successful for this kind of event, it was almost 100% this year.

The GOOD news is that this year we also had DTMF decoding software running on a a screen at NETCONTROL so he could see any scores coming in from non-APRS HT's using only their DTMF keypad...  One guy was using his 30 year old IC-2AT! (I love it!)...

THe OTHER news is that we had APRS HT's at EVERY station! and some brought extras!  Out of nowhere, the volunteers that showed up (unbeknowngst in advance) all showed up with either a D7 or VX8R.  So to my disappointment, NO one used DTMF... argh...

This cleared the table top (pushed the DTMF laptop back out of the way) at NETCON who now only had his D700 display on his clipboard and one other APRS laptop to see the venue.

See www.aprs.org/aprsevent.html

To me, THIS IS WHAT APRS is all about.  Oh, by the way, no one  was reallly moving, and so "one-way-tracking" was not of any real value.  The value of APRS was sending in TEXT scores in an error-free mode on a dedicated data channel and NOT cluttering the VOICE channel with 1960's erra voice reporting of numbers!

The net control could take the numbers at HIS leisure from his D700 display head attached to his clipboard and otherwise not be stressed by constant attntion and interruption by voice traffic.

Actually, the only statios that actually transmitted their positions were the VX8R's with the built-in GPS's.  So we strapped one of them to the golf-cart being used by the scout VIP staff and so yes... APRS was used to track something.

BUT APRS IS SO MUCH MORE.  THink about how you can use text messaging from ANY KEYPAD on ANY HT (APRS, or DTMF) at your next event.  Do something new!

The DTMF decoder software we used only decodes digits and does not display ALPHA letters (though the author says he will add it later).  But all we needed was NUMBERS anyway.  Here is a typical report for each sled at each station once every 45 minutes:

NNSS#TTT

Where NN was the reporting station
SS was the score (01 to 10)
TTT was the troop number.

TTT was last because some troops had 2, 3 or 4 digit numbers and it was easier to do this editing on the end than in the middle.  

Remember how easy it is to EDIT an old message with NEW info and then send it as a new message.  The NN does not change, the SS only changes sometimes... (most got a 10 or a 09).  So on the D7 or VX8R, just bring up the message list, select one you have already sent with the score you want, right arrow over to change the troop number and SEND.  Done.

Far faster than waiting your turn (out of 20) for your change to read off your scores...

APRS is MORE than dumb tracking... USE IT!

Bob, WB4APR



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