[aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events

Dallas Clements dallas.clements at gmail.com
Wed Jan 13 20:40:45 CST 2016


Bob,

I live one county south of Nashville, TN. Our county hosts a 100 mile bike
ride called the Harpeth River Ride every June. We man five rest stops, an
Incident Command Post with the race organizers and an EMS supervisor, and 8
assistance vehicles.

A week or two before the race we start sending out the rest stop locations
as 3rd party objects so people can familiarize themselves with the layout
prior to race day. It also makes it easier to find the rest stop as a
volunteer or an assistance vehicle driving around.

Our main purpose in using APRS is to track and dispatch the assistance
vehicles. We use a computer aided dispatch (CAD) program called Tickets to
quickly see who is currently on a call and who is awaiting assignment. When
a rest stop calls with a request, instead of asking who is nearby and not
already on a run, the operator can quickly determine that information by
looking at the CAD. Plus rest stop captains can tell bicyclists how far out
their ride is.

We are trying to get to a place where everyone provides their own gear.
However, we usually pick our most dedicated ARES members to be rest stop
captains. These folks also tend to be some of the most active on APRS. As a
result, we usually have to loan out a few APRS setups to assistance
vehicles. Due to the rural parts of the course, the hilly terrain, and the
gaps in Digi or IGate coverage on the Southeast side of the county, we
require the vehicles to be capable of 40+ watts. We have experimented with
standing up a Digi just for this event but testing has shown that it's not
a requirement.

In order to encourage readiness for an emergency call out where cell towers
may be compromised, we don't allow people to use APRSDroid in lieu of a
capable RF rig.

The sweeper riders are all bike club members. To track them one of our
members built Arduino based microtransmitters operating around 900MHz that
run off of a 9V battery and fit in a pill bottle. The range is only a
couple of blocks. However, he also gave each vehicle and rest stop a
receiver. When a transmitter is nearby, the receivers flash and a LCD
screen displays their identifier. Ex: "50 mile sweeper A" (There are four
lengths on the courses and two sweepers per.) The vehicles and rest stops
radio these "sightings" in and I would use this to manually update the
position of 3rd party objects that I had created or each bike. The comments
would feature the "as of" time. This was helpful for when the race
organizers would ask, "when/where did we last see the 100 mile sweepers?"

In the fall there was a writeup on this event from the point of view of the
COML in QST if you would like to read more. The exact month escapes me but
the author was Andrew Gossett, AK4FA.

I can also tell you that neighboring county clubs use APRS on two other
bike rides... Tour de Cure and Hot 100 (I think that is the name).

For severe weather nets we've talked about posting spot reports on the
voice net as APRS objects so folks a little late to the game can see what
reports they've missed and to help the county build their common operating
picture. We haven't gotten that off the ground, yet.

Finally, our ARES is in the process of standing up a Search and Rescue team
and one of the core features of the team is the fact that every two person
search team will have an APRS capable HT so our net control can show the
incident commander the progress and area coverage in near real time. Plus,
if a team runs into trouble and stops reporting, we know where their last
position report showed them.

Dallas
K7DCC
On Jan 12, 2016 12:00 PM, <aprssig-request at tapr.org> wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>
>    1. Using APRS to support public service events (Bob Harris)
>    2. Re: Using APRS to support public service events
>       (Eric Lorenz K9LGE)
>    3. Re: Using APRS to support public service events (in NH)
>       (Robert Bruninga)
>
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Bob Harris <knineudx at gmail.com>
> To: aprssig at tapr.org
> Cc:
> Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 08:18:03 -0500
> Subject: [aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events
> I have been approached to make a 45-50 minute presentation at this year's
> New Hampshire ARES Academy on using APRS to support public service events.
> I'd like some specific examples and details from this august body of how
> they have used APRS in such events. Also, how it was done. For example, did
> each ham have to provide his or her own APRS gear or did the group (i.e.
> the radio club) have it in part or in total? What APRS software was used?
>
> I am familiar with using the tracking feature (sorry, Dr. Bruninga) for
> keeping track of the support vehicles during long bike rides so I'd like
> examples of other uses. Or even variations of using the position reporting.
>
> What challenges did you face in using APRS? Was there sufficient permanent
> infrastructure in place or did you have to augment it?
>
> Any other thoughts?
> --
>
> Bob Harris (K9UDX)
> Can MOTCH Katmai Henry David Thoreau UDX Bda UD (1992-2005)
> Longmeadow Bradford Torrey CD (2001-2014)
> Ch Silvercreek Gossip Girl
> Bath, NH
>
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Eric Lorenz K9LGE <k9lge at emlorenz.com>
> To: Bob Harris <knineudx at gmail.com>, TAPR APRS Mailing List <
> aprssig at tapr.org>
> Cc: Michael Johnson KC9QLT <cellsell2005 at yahoo.com>
> Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 07:49:22 -0600
> Subject: Re: [aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events
>
> Hi Bob,
>
> We have been using APRS here in Chicago to support the American Diabetes
> Assn. Tour de Cure bike event for over 5 years now. This is a ride that
> attracts over 1000 riders and uses a hundred+ volunteers, including 40 +
> hams and a bunch more non hams to support it. A few things I'll throw out...
>
> (I've copied our current Safety & Communications lead and I can pass along
> his comments as I don't think he is a member of this list)
>
> As far as equipment, we have a mix- I was surprised at the number of hams
> who do have their own gear- and that certainly helps. We also have a club
> here (North Shore Radio Club) who has a small stockpile of gear, as they do
> the "Northshore Century" ride each year. So we usually end up borrowing 5-6
> trackers from them. They also have several members who are well versed in
> APRS.
>
> Amazingly enough, partially due to area topology, and a deficiency of
> digis in the area, we have several of our units that just use Android/iOS
> apps and it works well also.
>
> We end up indirectly using the APRS-IS feed, and it pipes into the
> tracking software we use (forgive me, I've been out of the loop- "retired"
> for a couple years now and I've forgotten what we used) and it shows
> position of all the SAG vehicles.
>
> Infrastructure can be an issue. Here in the far western suburbs of
> Chicago, we could use 1 or 2 more digis...So that is an issue. For now, we
> have to augment with a temp digi sometimes to fill a hole. Again, that's
> where having the smartphone apps helps too.
>
> Any more questions, please ask.
>
> Eric K9LGE
> On Jan 12, 2016 07:18, "Bob Harris via aprssig" <aprssig at tapr.org> wrote:
>
>> I have been approached to make a 45-50 minute presentation at this year's
>> New Hampshire ARES Academy on using APRS to support public service events.
>> I'd like some specific examples and details from this august body of how
>> they have used APRS in such events. Also, how it was done. For example, did
>> each ham have to provide his or her own APRS gear or did the group (i.e.
>> the radio club) have it in part or in total? What APRS software was used?
>>
>> I am familiar with using the tracking feature (sorry, Dr. Bruninga) for
>> keeping track of the support vehicles during long bike rides so I'd like
>> examples of other uses. Or even variations of using the position reporting.
>>
>> What challenges did you face in using APRS? Was there sufficient
>> permanent infrastructure in place or did you have to augment it?
>>
>> Any other thoughts?
>> --
>>
>> Bob Harris (K9UDX)
>> Can MOTCH Katmai Henry David Thoreau UDX Bda UD (1992-2005)
>> Longmeadow Bradford Torrey CD (2001-2014)
>> Ch Silvercreek Gossip Girl
>> Bath, NH
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> aprssig mailing list
>> aprssig at tapr.org
>> http://www.tapr.org/mailman/listinfo/aprssig
>>
>>
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Robert Bruninga <bruninga at usna.edu>
> To: TAPR APRS Mailing List <aprssig at tapr.org>, Bob Harris <
> knineudx at gmail.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 09:53:38 -0500
> Subject: Re: [aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events (in NH)
>
> Also, the Appalachian Trail runs right through new Hampshire and we always
> need some help for the annual mid July APRS Golden Packet event.  So when
> you make your APRS pitch in NH, be sure to mentinon this event.  A few
> years we have had no one in NH, and thus unable to complete the 2000 mile
> APRS link.  See:
>
> http://aprs.org/at-golden-packet.html
>
>
>
>
>
> *From:* aprssig [mailto:aprssig-bounces at tapr.org] *On Behalf Of *Eric
> Lorenz K9LGE via aprssig
> *Sent:* Tuesday, January 12, 2016 8:49 AM
> *To:* Bob Harris; TAPR APRS Mailing List
> *Cc:* Michael Johnson KC9QLT
> *Subject:* Re: [aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events
>
>
>
> Hi Bob,
>
> We have been using APRS here in Chicago to support the American Diabetes
> Assn. Tour de Cure bike event for over 5 years now. This is a ride that
> attracts over 1000 riders and uses a hundred+ volunteers, including 40 +
> hams and a bunch more non hams to support it. A few things I'll throw out...
>
> (I've copied our current Safety & Communications lead and I can pass along
> his comments as I don't think he is a member of this list)
>
> As far as equipment, we have a mix- I was surprised at the number of hams
> who do have their own gear- and that certainly helps. We also have a club
> here (North Shore Radio Club) who has a small stockpile of gear, as they do
> the "Northshore Century" ride each year. So we usually end up borrowing 5-6
> trackers from them. They also have several members who are well versed in
> APRS.
>
> Amazingly enough, partially due to area topology, and a deficiency of
> digis in the area, we have several of our units that just use Android/iOS
> apps and it works well also.
>
> We end up indirectly using the APRS-IS feed, and it pipes into the
> tracking software we use (forgive me, I've been out of the loop- "retired"
> for a couple years now and I've forgotten what we used) and it shows
> position of all the SAG vehicles.
>
> Infrastructure can be an issue. Here in the far western suburbs of
> Chicago, we could use 1 or 2 more digis...So that is an issue. For now, we
> have to augment with a temp digi sometimes to fill a hole. Again, that's
> where having the smartphone apps helps too.
>
> Any more questions, please ask.
>
> Eric K9LGE
>
> On Jan 12, 2016 07:18, "Bob Harris via aprssig" <aprssig at tapr.org> wrote:
>
> I have been approached to make a 45-50 minute presentation at this year's
> New Hampshire ARES Academy on using APRS to support public service events.
> I'd like some specific examples and details from this august body of how
> they have used APRS in such events. Also, how it was done. For example, did
> each ham have to provide his or her own APRS gear or did the group (i.e.
> the radio club) have it in part or in total? What APRS software was used?
>
> I am familiar with using the tracking feature (sorry, Dr. Bruninga) for
> keeping track of the support vehicles during long bike rides so I'd like
> examples of other uses. Or even variations of using the position reporting.
>
> What challenges did you face in using APRS? Was there sufficient permanent
> infrastructure in place or did you have to augment it?
>
> Any other thoughts?
>
> --
>
> Bob Harris (K9UDX)
> Can MOTCH Katmai Henry David Thoreau UDX Bda UD (1992-2005)
> Longmeadow Bradford Torrey CD (2001-2014)
> Ch Silvercreek Gossip Girl
> Bath, NH
>
>
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> aprssig mailing list
> aprssig at tapr.org
> http://www.tapr.org/mailman/listinfo/aprssig
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