[aprssig] Weather Stations and Net Neutrality

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Fri Aug 15 19:14:54 EDT 2008

>> Because Weather without position is meaningless....
>> Yes, I agree telemetry is an exception that does 
>> require additional apriori information for full meaning.
> No, it didn't _need_ to be an exception. 
> you manage to make telemetry work just fine in your 
> software, associating a position received before 
> or after the telemetry data.  
> Amazing! But you cannot do it with weather?

Don't know where you got that idea.  APRSdos and all the mobile
APRS radios and every client I know of has no problems
associating positionless-weather with the weatherless-position
packets.  The PROBLEM is how long one has to wait until one
successfully receives the weatherless position report from a
positionless-weather station to be able to combine the two to
have any meaning.

The frustration is how many meaningless positionless WX packets
one has to watch go by while waiting for an eventual
once-an-hour POSITION for that WX station that is the issue.

It is a royal pain to all mobiles, travelers, new-comers, late
checkins, first-responders, SAR, and just about everyone else
who has not been on-the-air for an HOUR PRIOR to when he wants
to look at the weather.

>> When I am driving down the road, and have 
>> a black cloud ahead, I want to look at my 
>> APRS radio for the nearest WX station ahead
>> of me and see what is going on.
> First of all, this would be (barely) useful 
> if there were APRS weather stations with the 
> density to be likely to provide helpful info. 
> The  odds of finding an APRS weather station 
> under a random dark cloud are pretty slim.

That is an exaggeration.  While I am travelilng, I routinely
look at WX stations in front of me in the direction of my travel
looking for significant changes in temperature or wind speeds to
give me an idea of what I will be getting into over the next few
hours.  TO me, that is what APRS is for...  It is silly to use
the argument that because there are not enough WX stations, that
the WX from the ones that we do have should be transmitted
without any meaning for 6 out of every 7 transmissions (or 12 if
you miss the position packet once).

> If I'm driving and see a dark cloud, I pick up 
> my iPhone, and press the icon on the front page 
> which pulls up this URL:

And that is the problem.  You see APRS as an internet resource.
I see and use APRS as a mobile RF resource.  And since your
internet resource at terrabye machines can keep every position
for every weather station on the planet for the last year, you
fail to accept that those of us on RF are in different
environment and need complete WX data in one packet and halves
stretched out over an hour or more.

> I use another bookmark on the iPhone desktop 
> to warn-near.cgi, showing a sorted list of warnings 
> by distance from the center of warning to my car. 
> The text of any warning can be pulled up with a tap.

Great for Internet users and Iphones.  But that is not RF ham
radio helping the APRS mobile operator.

> APRS is great for getting short data, like my 
> position, from a mobile to the internet on an 
> ongoing basis. (If Apple ever approves my findU 
> app, even that can be done on the iPhone.) I've 
> used the mobile internet to download a 10k image 
> that would tie up 144.39 a couple minutes to  
> transfer if you tried.

Which is why those of us on 144.39 without an IPHONE need to
have the simple APRS weather show up in real time COMPLETE with
its position, instead of having to wait an hour for the
position data that should have been in the WX report in the
first place.

> And, if I really wanted to use APRS weather 
> stations, I can use wx-near.cgi on the iPhone 
> to see those stations near me. Or, I could  
> add ,* to the callsign in the above URL, this 
> adds all the APRS stations on the radar image

That is great for internet users, but is not accessible to the
APRS mobile without an IPHONE of other Internet acccess.  It is
this kind of focus on the Internet at the expense of the mobile
operator that has gotten APRS off track.  Because of that, for
10 years we still see some WX in our mobiles every 10 minutes,
but it has no position or meaning for an hour simply because
MacAPRS, WinAPRS and you insist on separating WX data from
Position data on RF.  It saves 10% of local RF WX channel load,
but makes maybe 70% of most WX unuseable in the mobile for the

> This was exactly what I imagined when I began 
> findU. Combining the data from APRS with the 
> other data sources out there. I had hoped  
> amateur radio would supply the downstream mobile 
> bandwidth I needed. 
> Face reality. There will never be enough amateur 
> digital bandwidth built out to match the useful 
> bandwidth to mobiles that mobile internet has today. 

Which is exactly why we need to get get rid of this
positionless-weather abomination and at least make sure that the
WX that we do deliver over our meager 1200 baud APRS channel to
the mobile is at least useful and complete, instead of sending
positionless Weather most of the time of no use to the mobile
traveler, even though he is receiving it every 10 minutes... But
cannnot use it until an hour or more when he finally gets a
position to match it to.  Which by then he is in the next county
or state...

> It was a nice dream, but it is over.  Ham radio  
> could not match the economy of scale of the cell 
> phone industry. I say, use each system for what 
> it does best.

Yes.  Send a WX report complete with its position.  Best for

> And as always, if you really need to know a WX
> station's position, you can send ?APRSP? to them.

I'd rather send every WX report in the original APRS "complete"
format so that every single packet has complete meaning to
anyone/everyone that receives it in real time, rather than
sending out the weather as a "tease" and then suggsting, " now
if you want to know WHERE this rain or this cool temp, or this
wind is, you have to wait an hour or ASK me for it with about a
dozen key presses.  Sorry, that is not how I would design an
APRS service for amateur radio RF users.

Bob, Wb4APR

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