[aprssig] 20th century radio (was: APRS MileMark data base)

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Mon Apr 14 13:19:46 EDT 2008

Continuing the debate between getting people to 
-use- APRS now (such as milemarks), versus dreaming 
of the future where everyone and everything has a 
GPS in it:

>> Because 95% of important things that impact 
>> an event and that people need to see, will never 
>> have APRS GPS gizmo's attached to them!
>> APRS had automatic DF interefaces to ALL existing 
>> DOppler DF units since 1995.
> Bob, the rest of the world abandoned DOS years ago. 
> If you want to provide something useful for the APRS 
> community, do it in linux, or even Windows (if you must).

You missed the point.  Im not saying to use APRSdos, I am saying
that the APRS protocol going back 13 years fully supports
auto-Dfing, its just that so few people ever use it, that those
interfaces have rarely been used, nor have they made it into
most of the follow-on-APRS versions that are out there.  Again,
separating the "dreams of technology" from the problem of "who
does it" and what can all the rest of the people do with what
they have until then.

> And since when did APRS-DOS = APRS?

Since about 1992 (and earlier for the real-time connectionless
packet distribution concepts that many modern APRS clients
>> but what exactly about a LAT/LONG, a course and 
>> speed, and a few bytes of text message would 
>> benefit from "better protocols", "Higher data 
>> rates (but shorter range)", and better modulation 
>> (at higher cost) provide?
> Maybe it would provide the capability for more
> stations/objects/messages on the air, for a start?

I think we are saying the same thing there!  We need more
objects and messges, and that means OPERATORS entering info into
APRS for disemmination to everyone.  The channel rate is not the
problem if done properly.  And the cost/benefit ratio for
getting more objects by adding more GPS trackers to
rarely-moving objects is a waste of resources.  And the lack of
messages is not due to lack of technology, but lack of operators
sending and receiving them, and some poor implementations of the
APRS acking techniques in some clients.

> Maybe more data, like vector objects to indicate 
> storms, spill areas, recommended evac routes,

All of that you can do with APRS since 1994.  I can draw any
polygon on my APRS map, and it should be displayed on everyone
else's display..  And I can move it, change it,
Expand it, delete it, and change the color of it.  But why don't
we see these during an event?  It is not because of lack of
technology, it is because operators are not entering the object
for others to see.   

> even complete maps or radar images?  D-STAR 
> managed to get voice and data on the same 
> frequency (too bad they used proprietary
> codecs to do it).

Yes, high data rate channels are ideal for sending bulk files
such as maps or images.  I have always said that APRS is only a
piece of the puzzle.  Good amatuer radio response should also
always have the higher speed point-to-point channels for
delivery of these kind of files.  Remember, when APRS began, we
had a very large and functional PACKET RADIO BACKBONE over most
of the USA.  APRS was not supposed to replace it, but augment it
for one-to-all distribution of small bits of data to eveyone in
real time.  APRS assumed that other channels (packet, WIFi,
D-Star) will do all the other bulk data transfer...

> Shorter range is your (apparently intentional) 
> mis-assumption. I have no idea where Maxwell
> says that more efficient modulation techniques 
> cost more...

It wasn't maxwell, it is HRO, AES, Yeasu, Kenwood, Icom,
Kantronics, MFJ, and all the other sources for ham radio for the
general ham.  Remember, we are arguing from two different
perspectives.  Im arguing what existing operators do at local
events, now, today.  You are arguing for new technology for the

I am saying that existing ham radio operators are not using APRS
nor digital to even 10% of the current capability and what can
we do about that?  You are arguing that giving them better
technology will solve that problem.  I disagree.

Historically, my experience for the last 30 years of ham radio
use of digital is that only a very small group rolls' their own
new technology no matter how great it is.  And it takes 10 years
or more for it to be adopted by the other 90%.  (mostly you have
to wait for them to die)...  So I focus my energies on how to
get that other 90% involved, rather than forever moving the
future target forward for the 10%.

Until we can get all the relevant information *and* volunteer
operators sharing the same tactical picture, digital will always
be a side show.  Though we are still a great experimental
playground for testing new ideas.

> _Thank_ you.  That is my point, and we (APRS) 
> are NOT doing anything NEW.  Nothing.

Ah, ha!  And that is my point too.  Who is "we"? 

I'm saying the "we" are the 95% of APRS operators that are not
fully using what they have, and with encouragement, can
gereatlly improve APRS support to ham radio just by using it to
share data, most of it only manually available during any
particular come-as-you-are event, and not be so focused on
tracking trackers...

On the other hand, the "we" that you are talking about are the
5% that are working on new data rates, new protocols, and new
modulation methods..  This sounds more like "they" instead of
"we".  Sure, there are a few "we"s who are trying hard to
develop new things for Ham Radio digital, but the other 95% are
the "we" operators that we need to get motivated to learn to use
the tools they have to support the current needs of our
organizations we try to support.

>> The point of this thread was to the OPERATORS 
>> to learn to USE what they have effectively while 
>> they wait for the wunder-kids to bring out 
>> something new. (in this thread it was to get them
>> to use the built-in Milemark data base to place
>> non APRS (but important) objects on the map...
> Maybe I'm in the wrong place then - where is the 
> new stuff being developed?  Not in ham radio, and 
> certainly not in APRS, as far as I can tell.

Ah, sounds like you are looking for the "they" in Ham radio.  I
donno, I have never been able to really find "them" either.  In
the mean time, "we" should be exploring inside our box and
learning how to use the tools we have, rather than thinking of
APRS as just tracking GPS devices.

Back to the original thread...  I think it would be hard to tell
all the local governments that using Mile-marks for locations
along major interstates is old out-dated technology.  Because
most of them are spending millions of dollars to maintain and
update their milemarkers now every TENTH of a mile because of
their tremendous value to location information for first
responders.  It ain't high tech, but it works.  And 100% of
every human with at least one eye can use it, not just those
with GPS...

Bob, Wb4APR

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