Monday, June 15, 2015

The MS Bike Tour on APRS

Since 1989, cyclists of all ages and fitness levels have joined together for the MS Bike Tour, now the largest cycling series in North America.
This pledge-based fundraising event provides Canadians with the opportunity to ride through scenic and often spectacular parts of the country while raising money to help end MS. Annually, over 10,000 cyclists participate in one or two-day tours taking place between June and September.

Every year in Alberta the southern Alberta version of the MS Bike Tour is run along the backroads connecting the towns of Airdrie and Olds.  Also included in the tour are the towns of Carstairs and Didsbury.

This year I spent some time over the course of the two days shooting photos along the route that the MS Bike Tour is taking place on.

When I wasn't outside shooting photos of the participants, I was
driving the route and keeping track of the goings on via the various devices mounted in my mobile that had a birds-eye-view of the various APRS stations involved in providing the communications for the MS Bike Tour.

One of the main features of my mobile is APRS (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 APRSIS/32 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.
On this day each of the mobiles that were assigned to the various checkpoints with a APRS tracker on board,  had their APRS trackers programed with a tactical callsign, that appeared on the screen of my  netbook running APRSIS32 with open-street-maps, as well as on the displays of my Kenwood TM-710A paired with the Kenwood Avmap 6 GPS navigational device, when these individual stations beaconed at the checkpoints along the route.

I also had a lock on everything being loaded to on the Internet via APRS, as I had my smartphone enabled as a mobile hotspot for the duration of both days while going down backroads less traveled.

 When things slowed between participants passing the various locations that I had positioned myself by, I entertained myself by keyboarding on my computer running APRSIS/32 connected to my SCS Tracker and my TS-480HX rig running HF APRS on 30 meters, allowing for coast to coast contacts.

I was able to do this simultaneously on my netbook, as I was running two copies of APRSIS/32, one seen by my Kenwood TM-710A running conventional 1200 baud APRS, and the othe copy of APRSIS/32 connected to my SCS Tracker running robust packet 300 baud APRS, connected to my Kenwood TS-480 HX set up for  HF APRS.

In the end I spent a fun couple of days shooting photos of the MS Bike Tour along backroads in a beautiful part of southern Alberta, and plan on making it happen again next year.
It was a lot of fun, and if you would like to check out some of the photos that I shot of the 2015 MS Bike Tour, check it out here....
Note....all photos expand
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