[aprssig] RE: APRS Usage in SAR Activities

Herb Gerhardt hgerhardt at wavecable.com
Thu Feb 9 00:20:31 EST 2006

Well Bob, I appreciate your comments but I don't think it is quite that

First of all in close to 10 years of SAR activities, we have only used air
support twice here in Mason County, WA.  Once I installed a tracker in a CAP
plane during our SAR Mock Search APRS Demo, the second time I installed a
tracker in the King County Guardian One Sheriff's Helo.  Both times APRS
worked exceptionally well but I don't recall setting either one of those
trackers up for being a digi since their flight time was very limited
compared to the actual SAR activity which may run for several days and run
day and night.  So to count on a flying digi is not realistic.

Second, the trackers used are given to a SAR team which probably does not
know anything about APRS, so the tracker has to be turned on with the
keyboard locked and stuffed into their backpack without any intervention
from the search team.  These trackers are usually personal trackers other
Hams bring to SAR Base.  So again, standard settings makes life much

Third in our county (Mason County, WA), our SOMTN APRS Digi sits on the most
strategic mountain top in our county.  It sits at about 3,000 ft elevation.
This digi was installed by the local Ham Clubs in conjunction with our
Division of Emergency Management and as a guest at a Simpson Timber Company
(now Green Diamond) Communication Site.  So it was really installed for
Emergency Support and the NW APRS Group who was also instrumental in setting
up this digi basically got an APRS digi at a very strategic location.  This
partnership  has worked well for all parties involved.  I became the care
taker and control operator for this digi a number of years ago.

So, the bottom line is, in our county we have a high mountain digi on 144.39
that can be hit with an HT tracker from most locations.  Where coverage is a
problem, a mobile digi in a strategically located 4  WD vehicle can be used
as a fill in digi during actual SAR activities.

The real problem is getting enough Ham's who support SAR trained up in APRS
so that we can convince the old school of SAR management that they should be
implementing modern tracker and computer mapping technology into the SAR
Activities.  That will be our goal of our presentation at the WA SAR
Conference this year.  That is why I was asking for inputs of areas/counties
where APRS has been used in the past during actual SAR activities.  The more
examples we can give them of successful implementation, the more likely it
will be for different SAR groups to try to implement APRS into their SAR

Herb, KB7UVC
NW APRS Group, West Sound Coordinator
Our WEB Site:  http://www.nwaprs.info

> -----Original Message-----
> From: nwaprssig-admin at nwaprs.info [mailto:nwaprssig-admin at nwaprs.info]On
> Behalf Of Robert Bruninga
> Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 10:52 AM
> To: nwaprssig at nwaprs.info; hgerhardt at wavecable.com
> Cc: rick at hoodcs.com; aprssig at lists.tapr.org; dave at roadfacts.com;
> sar-aprs at sbsar.org
> Subject: [nwaprssig] Re: [aprssig] APRS Usage in SAR Activities
> Herb,
> this is just an off-the-wall comment about SAR, so
> it may or may not be of any value, but my number
> one "idea" for optomizing SAR in some areas is
> the suggestion to put APRS Digipeaters on all
> SAR aircraft.  BUT the input to the digi is on 144.99
> and output is on 144.39.  This way, SAR can operate
> normally on 144.39, BUT if any small pocket trackers
> or somneone out in the boonies that is not getting
> in to the existing network, can switch to 144.99
> UPLINK and be heard.  The Aircraft listning on
> 144.99 only does not have any QRM and will
> hear anything that needs to use it.
> The only downside is that a tracker that starts
> transmitting on 144.99 and then the aircraft
> goes away, is left stranded.  But this is all
> solved by adding 144.99 RX to ALL APRS digipeaters
> in the entire area.  This is a good investment
> to all APRSdigis everywhere since it allows for
> LOCAL priority at any digi to LOCAL units in
> range of that digi.
> You guys might want to discuss this at your
> meeting...  This APRS +600 offset is a real
> winner in my book for just about everything.
> de WB4APR, Bob
> >>> "Herb Gerhardt" <hgerhardt at wavecable.com> 02/08/06 12:39 PM >>>
> The 2006 Washington State SAR Conference will be held on May 19 -21 at the
> King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, WA.  (http://www.wasar2006.org/).
> Curt Mills WE7U and myself KB7UVC are planning on doing an APRS
> Presentation
> (Radio Tracking Your SAR Teams) at this year's conference that will be
> slated toward the use of APRS into actual SAR searches.  Curt and I know
> what has been happening in that regard in Snohomish County and
> Mason County
> WA.  We have heard rumors about some other counties using or
> wanting to use
> APRS during their SAR activities.
> This message is a request for information on what your county is
> doing with
> APRS and its use during SAR Activities.  The info we are looking for is
> mainly for Washington State, but I do want to know of other
> places in the US
> and elsewhere in the world where APRS is being used in local SAR
> activities.
> We want to be able to list all the areas in the US and the rest
> of the world
> where APRS is already being utilized during SAR activities.
> So, if you are using APRS during SAR activities in your area,
> please forward
> me an email (hgerhardt at wavecable.com) and give me the particulars of how
> often and to what extent you are using APRS in your area for SAR
> activities.
> Thanks,
> Herb, KB7UVC
> NW APRS Group, West Sound Coordinator
> Mason County ARES/RACES ex-President & APRS Coordinator
> Mason County ComVan:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-1
> Mason County Relay Truck:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-2
> Mason County EOC:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-3
> Mason County Foot Tracker:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-6
> Where I am walking:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-7
> Where I am driving:  http://map.findu.com/KB7UVC-8

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