[aprssig] APRS in Hethrow, Stenstead and the Polish Alps

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Thu May 28 15:27:28 EDT 2009

Using APRS in the Polish Alps:

Wife arranged a quick visit to see daughter in Poland, I carried
the VX8R, mic/GPS and lightweight charger to avoid baggage
charges on my one rolly bag under 10 kg. Without the manual,
there was a lot of on-the-job training. After 12 hours in
Heathrow and Stanstead airports in London, I copied 2 APRS
stations.  On arrival in Krakow, Poland my radio filled
completely (40 stations) in 30 minutes.  Although it takes 5 key
functions to move from one station text to another, eventually I
got into a rythm and could scan through all 40 stations in a few
minutes to see what was going on around me.

Coverage in the Old City Krakow with all the tourists was good.
Using the above scrolling technique, I found one freqeuncy
object and three stations announcing their frequencies.  Glad to
see they were up on the New-N paradigm as well!  But since I did
not know the repeater offset in Europe, nor the tones, I was
never able to make a contact.  I sent BLN's asking about the
frequencies etc, but never got a message back.  Shame on me for
not doing my homework before I got there.

The next day we went along with my daughter's student group and
their Polish professor south on a bus to Zakopanek, then a small
bus to the mountains where we were dumped along side the road
and pointed up the mountains saying "its only a short walk from
here".  Our rolly bags gave us the big advantage to all the
hikers with heavy backpacks... for the first 30 minutes.  Then
it was a scene out of laugh-in as we had to carry our rolly bags
the next 6km and two hours up the mountain path to the "lodge".

Next day, the short 300 lb Polish Professor suggested we go on a
short hike (4km and 600m straight up).  We got to the top of
Grzes(sp?) at 1650 meters with clear horizon in almost all
directions on the Slovac border.  The HT was buzzing with
stations, and I was excited to enter mine.  Anyone who has heard
my talks has heard me say that "no one needs a GPS unless they
are lost or cannot read a map."  So I had left my GPS down at
camp, and figured I would just pull it off the map when we got
wherever the professor was leading us.  Later we learned his
nickname was "mountain goat"/

The trail had lots of people, everyone had a map of all
varieties.  No one had a GPS, and NONE of the maps had any
coordinates!  So my radio continued to beacon my position as if
I was in Krakow!  ARGH...

We had lunch sitting amongst the bushes out of the wind and then
we started back down...  but not the mountain goat... He said
"no, this way"...  My wife and I and the English professor who
was also along suggested "no... this way".  Three hours later we
were back at the lodge but I was able to monitor the travelog on
my HT from my daughter and her friends who followed the mountain
goat up another 6km along the mountain ridge and 400m up to the
mountain Wolowiec at 2050m.  As they came down, there was snow
and a group in front of them slipped and slid and had to be
evacuated by helo.

Anyway, using only the VX8R slipping in and out of my pocket was
a joy.   Also, I think next trip I will not take the speaker
mic, but just use the GPS attached right on the HT.  I normally
never use a speaker mic on any of my HT's as just something else
in the way, so I think I bought the speaker mic/GPS to make sure
it was high on my body.  But the sensitivity of the VX8R GPS is
so good, that using the GPS mounting clip to the HT itself would
better match my style, and be more compact.

The radio ran all day (10 hours or more) and the VX8R was still
running on its original charge.  I did not use the GPS, but I
was in frequent QSO with my daughter so the radio was on the
whole time..



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