[aprssig] AT Golden Packet goal?

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Mon Apr 6 13:11:43 EDT 2009

> I'm not sure I understand the goal [of this AT APRS event]...

Good questions...

A) Basically to go out and have fun with 2-way APRS
B) to claim the Golden Packet which has not been claimed before
C) to demonstrate long linear APRS LINKn-N systems (as opposed
to the disasterous attempts by some people to use
omni-direcitonal flooding paths of WIDEn-N to go more than 2
D) To break the mold of Field Day which basically ignores APRS
and Packet
E) To break the mold of VHF contesting (individual points) and
do a group effort
F) To tie it in with the national scouts ON-TARGET event (uses
flashing mirrors)
G) To establish an annual APRS 2-way national field event

> The stated purpose on your web page is:
>> PURPOSE: To field enough amateur radio emergency 
>> communications teams on mountain peaks in The 
>> Eastern USA to be able to communicate packets 
>> and APRS messages <http://aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html>  
>> from end-to-end of the Appalachian Trail. 
> But the planning that goes in - and the back-
> channel communications links to allow coordination 
> - make this seem more like a lab experiment than 
> a practical communications system.  

Actually I'd say it should make it more like a fun event with
everyone communicating with each other to accomplish a task in
the field, just like what any disaster planning.  Key
individuals in their areas should already know what drive-up
very-high elevation sites are avaiable for this kind of
emergency ad-hoc link systems.  And in those areas that do not,
this is a good exercise to bring that knowledge to the fore.

In my next email, you will see that I hope we can extend this
beyond the 13 states with the AT, by adding secondary LINKs to
other Eastern states.  And eventually to encourage the
activation of western trails too (maybe)...

The Echolink conference was just something we added to give some
fun once all is set up.  APRS should be fully integrated with
Echolink and all APRS field units should know how to establish
one.  I assume that most link coordinations will occur on
445.925 simplex from each point to each adjacent point
(real-world conditions)..  And the existing 144.39 network.

> Is the eventual goal setting up an alternate 
> APRS net along the Appalachian Trail using 
> self-sufficient devices? 

Not really, that would be a huge undertaking and it is not
really needed.  The existing APRS network provides good coverage
locally already for the AT (though I am sure there are holes we
need to fill.  But this Golden Packet Event is to do something
completely different than normal APRS and to show how we can use
linear LINKn-N to cover great distances under ad-hoc conditions.
And in the mean time, to raise awareness of field operations,
and to identify any holes in the existing network, and to also
find good digi sites which maynot have been explored before.

> Or is this just something to demonstrate that 
> with intricate planning and coordination using 
> existing communications methods an APRS network 
> can be built to deliver a message 1200 miles away?

I'd say its more like an exploration of the great out doors and
an opportunity to play Ham radio by having a unique challenge.
The VHF contesters and Rovers do this kind of thing all the
time, but they never make a network out of it, and they never
use APRS, or packet.  The HF people have their Field Day every
year and although it is supposed to be an ad-hoc demo of field
conditions, most groups that I see, do it exactly the same way
every year, and begin planning the day after it is over for the
next year.

> I apologize if this sounds rude; I'm just 
> trying to understand if this is a precursor 
> to something else or just a one-time demonstration.

No, I think your questions speak for a lot of folks who are
watching this with amusement.

But APRS began in the mid 1980's with just this kind of
challenge, to see how we can use digital packet comms to
exchange information in the field between large numbers of
stations in support of events.  Back then the AMRAD group (that
was instrumental in develping AX.25 for amateur radio) was
trying to support a 100 mile endurance run through the virginia
mountains where AMRAD provided comms support.. And CONNECTED
packet was simply not appropriate.

Hope that helps.  I'll be simplifying and clarifying the web
page as more inputs come in.


> --Forwarded Message Attachment--
> From: bruninga at usna.edu
> To: bruninga at usna.edu; aprssig at tapr.org
> Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2009 16:34:06 -0400
> Subject: Re: [aprssig] Appalachian Trail Golden Packet Event
> Good news - Bad news - Good news!
> AT Trail Golden Packet Planning:
> The good news is that the silo on the tree covered hill called
> Governor Dick Hill in SE PA is not a silo, but is a public
> Observation tower!  Piece of cake for operating (after
> the 60 feet of 8' vertical ladders between landings.  
> See  www.aprs.org/hamtrails/GD-hill.html
> The bad news is that there are no driving roads to the tops of
> the WV mountain station and the mountains are covered in tall
> trees..  But the good news is that we found a rock outcroping
> called White Rock Cliff that can see both links NE and SW and
> we no longer have to hike-up a 60' mast!  
> See www.aprs.org/hamtrails/WV.html
> Each of the 15 stations now has its own web page and cross
> between them all, so you can move up and down the trail to see
> how the project is coming.  The main page is still:
> www.aprs.org/at-golden-packet.html
> This event on Sunday Afternoon 26 July should be lots of fun
> APRS and packet and VHF
> folks that like to get out into the great outdoors.  We will
> also have voice comms, and an echolink conference for mountain
> top coordination over all 2000 miles of the trail!
> Bob, WB4APR
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: aprssig-bounces at tapr.org 
> > [mailto:aprssig-bounces at tapr.org] On Behalf Of Robert
> > Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:50 PM
> > To: 'TAPR APRS Mailing List'
> > Subject: [aprssig] Appalachian Trail Golden Packet Event
> update
> > 
> > The date of the Golden Packet event on the Appalachian Trail
> has
> > moved to the weekend of the 25/26 July to avoid QRM at the
> > mountain tops with our teams and the CQ World Wide VHF
> > on the original 18/19 proposed date.  Those guys try for
> 50,000W
> > ERP to make DX contacts... See updated web page:
> > 
> > http://www.aprs.org/at-golden-packet.html
> > 
> > An interesting wrinkle is that the rules of the Baxter State
> > park, prohibit any electronics (from radios, to walkmans, to
> > cell phones) from Mt Katahdin in Maine, and so we may have
> > use a human eyeball and flashing light for that final leg.
> > Woultn't that be a hoot.  Trying to close the 91 mile path
> from
> > Sugarloaf to Katahdin with a CW keyed laser at 5 WPM to an
> > eyeball receiver.  Actually, that would be quite easy to
> build.
> > 
> > But the only allowed TX capability will have to be a
> > mirror and hope for sunshine.  A small relay mechanically
> > coupled to a 1 foot mirror would do it, though the
> > would have to be on a motoroized polar mount to maintain
> > alignment with the movement of the sun.  I guess smoke
> > could also be used, if anyone has any ideas how to generate
> big
> > ones without using any electronics.
> > 
> > So, pass this to any OPTICAL crazies out there..  We
> > want to cheat with a D7 now would we.
> > 
> > FOUR of the 14 sites so far now have good photos and images
> > the mountain peaks and the parking lots.  The goal is to do
> this
> > with drive-up D700 mobiles to keep it simple and
> > 
> > Still need volunteers along the way...
> > 
> > http://www.aprs.org/at-golden-packet.html
> > 
> > Bob, WB4APR
> > 
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
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> > aprssig at tapr.org
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> > 

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