[aprssig] Igates Are A Fair Weather Solution (was: "Finito")

Geoffrey Dick wa4ikq at nevets.oau.org
Sun Aug 28 11:49:29 EDT 2005

Subject: Igates Are a Fair Weather Solution, Earl's "Finito"

Amateur Internet APRS is only a "fair weather" tool useful only
from armchair observers who have a good wired connection, and an 
unlimited source of power.   It is great for when the sun is shining, 
for watching parades, and weather-permitting outdoor events.   When 
it comes to a foul weather disaster, my experience has demonstrated 
it comes up quite short of being useful for tactical purpose.  As 
utility power is lost, the computer-operated "smart" Igate digis 
die first, leaving only battery-operated TNC-only digis with preset 
path limits, that are now set to break the RF connections.   

Here in Florida, we spend half the year under a hurricane watch.  
When this type of event occurs, wide-spread areas undergo fallen 
trees, powerlines, telephone, cellphone, and cable outages.  As 
that happens, the RF connection becomes essential to for doing 
anything tactical.

On RF, we can no longer receive the severe weather bulletins, and
hurricane position updates from a West Coast station, only 60 
miles away.   We also can no longer see on RF the picket fence of 
weather stations, that surround us in Central Florida.  Working 
from a hurricane shelter, there is no internet gateway hookup to 
complete the connection.  For lack of the completed RF connection, 
Amateur RADIO APRS fails as a mobile tactical tool in disaster areas. 
For the sake of limiting the path of a few abusers in densely
populated areas, we have become obsessed with strangling the 
wonderful RF network capability that has been put in place.  

I have to support Earl Needham.  His "Finito" is a summation of
the decline of APRS some of us are experiencing here on the Florida 
peninsula.  I used to enjoy seeing 150 to 250 stations coming in
on RF APRS each day here in Central Florida.  Yes, the single
1200 baud APRS channel IS sufficient to accomplish this.  Now,
all we see is 5 to 15 stations, depending on the time of day.
Sometimes we see a glimpse of a distant station when band 
openings occur.  

With the new path-limiting paradigm, blindly being put into 
place, WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2 RF APRS is like watching paint dry, 
lacking the tactical usefulness it once had.  It is my belief
that Florida digi owners should consider adding increasing 
alternate paths of FL4-4 for the Keys, and FL3-3,FL2-2,FL1-1 
in general to achieve 460 miles of State connectivity South 
to North.  That would give us a tactical path to go to in
a State wide emergency, without overwhelming neighboring 
border States.

Geoffrey Dick, wa4ikq

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