APRS: Social Media for Hams

While exploring APRS, I’ve found inspiration to help guide my adoption.  This inspiration comes straight from the developer of APRS, Bob Bruninga WB4APR,  who said recently in a post to the TAPR APRS Mailing List that “APRS and its APRS-IS cloud are not being used to their full potential” and that “The original intent of APRS in its 1992 paper at DCC was to be a single information resource channel”  I’m inspired by this because I’m feeling like I want to push beyond the usage I see locally here in central Maine, near Bangor, ME.

The Original Vision for APRS

Bob continued to outline his original vision in more detail by saying:

[it is] to maintain real-time situational awareness of *everything* going on in HAM RADIO is an area.  Everything we could think of to identify our activities, station capabilities and actions was included in the format.

All we got instead, was a wasted decade of one-way GPS trackers with no one even looking at what was going on in their area.

Are you doing something useful right now in Ham radio?  Are you beaconing it?

Social Media for Hams

I am so happy Bob said this.  It supports my evolving notion that APRS should be the advertisement free, totally non-commercial Twitter and Facebook of Ham radio!  You know, with that athentic amateur radio twist 😉  I know I’ll talk more about this usage pattern in future posts.  Especially while I’m implementing some packet BBS (BPQ?) and advertising it with APRS.  I may even post a “listening frequency” and begin monitoring it…  THIS is starting to look a lot like the Ham radio I dreamed of as a teenager at the end of the 1980s.  Hang on tight!

By the way, Happy New Year!


SDR’s killer app?

Andres Vahter, whom I discovered through rtl-sdr.com’s blog, has created command line apps to do Doppler corrections based on a Ham satellite’s red shift (wavelength stretch) and blue shift (wavelength compression) IN REAL TIME using satellite data (current Keplerian elements).

The idea that an SDR coupled with the right right software tools can automatically tune to a satellite’s downlink frequency even as it compresses or stretches its radio transmission as it approaches us and then recedes is just the most empowering application I’ve ever heard or conceived of for SDR — beyond the simple fact that SDR is an amazing mathematical reality.  Wow.  Thank you Andres for strengthening our tool set!

I am new to the field because of my concerns with Software Defined Radio (SDR) and, let’s be honest, time and energy constraints, so forgive me if de-Dopplering as signal is an old SDR topic.  It’s new to me and maybe some of you as well.  Either way, since I find comfort on the Linux/BSD/Unix command line, this implementation is right up my alley.

Here are links directly to Andres’ blog:

Further reading on Ham satellites