Southern New Jersey Section EmComm

Share EmComm: Ideas; Problems; Solutions & Questions -- Section-wide & Beyond

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1/27/2020 9:48 pm  #1

APRS as an EmComm Tool

Hey, All.

Bob Bruninga WB4APR, the inventor of APRS, has been shouting for years that "APRS is NOT a tracking system". Well, he's got a good point. There's a lot of interesting stuff you can do with APRS that go well beyond mere locations.
Here are a few:
1) Send short (tactical) APRS messages. Bob Murdock WX2NJ used this method to get information to the Section Manager and Section EC during Superstorm Sandy when the Waterford Works repeater and internet went down. The local APRS Digipeaters were still up and running.

2) Get Weather Reports w/o Internet or cell service: Okay, you can always tune to NOAA radio and wait until they get around to the forecast you need, or... You can send an APRS message to WXBOT (that's the "callsign"). Type in the zip code or city and state that you need information for. Then type in when you need the forecast for. Ex: Today, Tomorrow, Tonight, Monday, etc... That's it. You'll get a short forecast back -- usually within 10 minutes. If you need a more detailed forecast, type the word full after the rest, and WXBOT will send you a more detailed forecast (this will usually arrive in 3 to 4 short, individual messages)

3) Mark locations of interest -- You can "drop objects" to mark fire; flooding, etc.... You can mark static locations and update their status in real time: During a marathon you can mark water stops or aid stations, and update their status and needs in real time on a screen at the Event's Command Center.

4) You can use APRSIS32 during a "foxhunt" (or its real life equivalent) to record bearings from your search teams and plot them on various types of maps to triangulate the transmitter's location. This also helps Net Control task the teams to new locations based on the plots. Using Topo maps helps visualize possible reflections off terrain. They can also help Net Control find good high spots to take bearings from and relay them to the teams in the field (by "dropped objects")

5) Using Topographic or Aerial Maps (offline) with APRSIS32, you can better task operators during a missing person search. You can direct them to specific areas of interest or guide them thru or around terrain, or "drop" and label objects if anything of interest is found.

6) You can send short, one-way emails out of an affected area. Sort of like mini Health and Welfare messages.

And these are just a few possibilities. Please feel free to post any other ways you've used APRS in the field or seen it used elsewhere.

We'll be posting more information about APRS in the near future, including: Setting up APRSIS32; adding Topo and Aerial Maps to it. We'll also cover  APRSDroid which couples an Android Device with any HT. It is a very low cost, yet very versatile, option for field work. It will also handle offline maps (OSM).
We'll also go into more detail about how to do everything mentioned above.



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