Thursday, September 25, 2014

APRS and Public Service

One of the main features of my mobile is a Automatic Packet Reporting System.
APRS is a digital communications information channel for ham radio, and it gives the mobile ham the capability to capture what is happening in the surrounding area.

With APRSIS32 running on the computer, and Open-Street-Mapping to render the maps displayed on the computer screen as seen in the photo of my mobile command center, you really do have command as to what is happening in the area surrounding your mobile and beyond.

You can do messaging, APRS email, iGate, station tracking, callsign lookup on QRZ, and just about anything else you want it to. APRSIS32 uses the Internet or RF as a signal source, and its a real pleasure to have a real keyboard for messaging. So whether or not your mobile, or using your home computer, it's worth downloading and trying out the software.
With a big part of my day spent away from home, I am prepared for any situation that may develop, and my mobile is equipped to make that happen with APRS, HF, VHF/UHF, and a aprs weather station on board.

Also mounted in my mobile, and part of my radio-stack is the Garmin Montana. The Montana is paired with the Kenwood D710A.
As much as I like the various mapping devices that I use in my mobile, and you would think that my laptop running APRSIS32 and open-street-maps would be the ultimate mapping device, well you would be mistaken, as the mapping on my laptop is no way as informative as the maps that I have loaded on the Montana.
The Montana is a terrific mapping device, especially so with all the free mapping that I have down-loaded to it from various Internet sites.
I also have Backroad Maps for southern Alberta loaded on the Montana as seen on the screen in the photo, and this map set with its 100,000 POI's is worth the price of admission if your in to back-roading like I do on most week-ends.
The Montana proving to be compatible with my Kenwood  Kenwood D710A, provides GPS location information for my transmitted APRS beacons, and it shows the received APRS information on the map. You can set it to navigate to any of the APRS  stations shown on the screen, and get rerouting instructions when a new position for that station is reported. You also can watch APRS activity right on the screen. Station positions are indicated with a blue icon with the associated call sign, although you may assign a custom Icon for each station. The Montana provides fast and accurate fixes, and you get 2D, 3D and night views.

With the Canadian Topo maps enabled, you have all the mapping as per normal in your driving of urban and rural roads, and highways, but you now have national, regional and local parks, forests and wilderness areas, including points of interest such as campgrounds, scenic lookouts, hiking trails and land contours shown with elevations, as well as your elevation tracks and more.

The views that are shown on the various Montana screens in this photo, shows the screens with a number of beaconing stations depicted. I also have assigned custom Icons to each station, or at least for the hams in my local area, allowing me to identify them at a glance. I also can change the size of the font for the callsign, allowing for easy reading of the information shown on the screen of the Montana.
Another cool feature, is by touching any of the beaconing stations on the screen, all the pertinent information is high-lighted on the screen, and by touching "NOTES", a keyboard comes into the view, and I am able to include notes for that station, that may be anything of importance to me, like maybe the name of the ham, or possibly his email address and phone number, or anything else I might want to add to his resume, that is saved under waypoint management in the menu.
So to give you a heads up, I now have a view of the objects on the screen of my Montana, that can show repeater frequencies in the area, meetings, nets, events, hamfests, echolink and IRLP nodes and frequencies, traffic speeds, accidents, emergency situations and more. As well, the Montana can show the location of each of these events that are happening now.

Another APRS device that is proving to be perfect for public service is my Blackberry Z30 running APRSDroid, and communicating via Bluetooth with the Mobilink TNC attached to my  UV-3R.
This very compact APRS station does keyboard messaging, mapping, logging, individual station tracking, the works, and all via RF.
The Blackberry Z30 provides the GPS required for the TNC, so it makes for a nice tidy cable free package.
I realized what the limitations would be when I assembled this tiny APRS station, but I have a way around it.

I am never to far from my mobile, and my ROVER-15 mounted in the cargo bay of my mobile becomes a part of this, as I have my Argent Cable OT3m attached to my ROVER-15 ADS-WS1 weather station set as a digipeater, and therefore this way I am able to easily get in to the APRS Network.
If the digipeater is shut off, I can also enable the digipeater of my OT3m by sending it an APRS message from my BB Z30 commanding the digi on.

So as you see, there are many choices when it comes to APRS devices that may be used for Public Service. If your interested in reading more on how to utilize these devices and others, check out my ham radio gallery on my Website by following this link.....

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