[aprssig] APRN news from Dayton!

Gregg Wonderly gregg at wonderly.org
Mon May 23 09:32:55 EDT 2011

This is why we really need to start dealing with consumer smart devices. 
Practically, smart phones and devices like the iPad2 and others with cameras of 
similar nature, have the ability to make TCP connections to a network available 
IP->TNC->RF gateway.  This is where the future is for vastly more cost effective 
advanced digital data streams.  The Ham radio manufacturers are never going to 
support anything close to what is possible there.

The iPad in particular also has the SDHC card adapter and can import pictures 
taken from a digital camera of any nature using such media.  You can then use 
software there to publish such pictures for APRSN kinds of uses.

Gregg Wonderly

On 5/22/2011 7:25 PM, Stephen H. Smith wrote:
> On 5/22/2011 5:33 AM, Bob Bruninga wrote:
>> Exciting news for the Automatic Picture Relay Network (APRSN).
>> Since the handheld SSTV/APRS camera transceiver from Kenwood has not been in
>> production for years, there has not been much APRN growth. But now at Dayton,
>> ARGENT Data Systems (Maker of the APRS Opentracker2) has introduced a tiny
>> golf-ball sized SSTV camera (outputs Robot mode).
> Do you mean he has now encased the naked SSTV cam shown on his website at:
> <http://wiki.argentdata.com/index.php/SSTVCAM> ?
> Why do you want to use the absolutely awful Robot modes? The resolution is
> horrible and really not useable for any kind of serial photo documentation of
> disasters or anything else. Fine details (parallel clapboard siding, fences with
> parallel wires, overlaid text,etc) aliases into shimmery rainbows of colored
> fringes on contrast lines.
> Unlike the Kenwood VC-H1 which defaults to Robot 36 until it HEARS a
> transmission in another mode, the Argent device can be forced to default to the
> vastly-superior Scottie modes.
>> Every APRS ham in emergency response should have such a camera for instant
>> image reporting from the field.
> The problem is that there is no display of what the camera is seeing, or any way
> to focus.
> Is a normal NTSC output available from the camera daughter board? My Garmin Nuvi
> 855 has a NTSC video input intended for a car backup camera. The 4.3" Nuvi
> screen could make a really nice viewfinder for the "mobile LiveCAM" if the
> device has an NTSC output.
>> For those not familiar, the way APRN works, is that you snap a picture, tune
>> to the local APRN input frequency,
> Of which there are about 2 in the entire world.....
>> then TX from your handheld, followed by your APRS radio's packet report which
>> identifies who, what, when,where, why, etc about the picutre.
>> The APRN site, then catalogs the image using the APRS STATUS packet info so
>> that all local response personnel can see it (as well as everyone else in the
>> world!).
>> Please see WA8LMF's APRN site:
>> http://wa8lmf.net/aprn/
>> APRS, Kenwood,
> And Kenwood then bungled the product a) by using a camera head with insufficient
> auto light-level control that grossly overloads in broad daylight (i.e.
> essentially only usable indoors) and b) with the incredibly awful, buggy, clunky
> support software provided with the VC-H1. The final coup-de-grace to the VC-H1
> is that all versions of the support software for this device absolutely
> positively won't work on Win2000, Win XP or later. The three versions of the
> software Kenwood issued for this device ALL used a communications control
> library incompatible with NT-based Windows, as did the two third party
> alternative apps for the VC-H1 & Tasco scan converter.
> When XP superseded Win98 as the mainstream OS on consumer PCs, the VC-H1 was
> killed rather than update the junk software. (I maintain a Win98 virtual machine
> inside my Win XP machines solely to run the VC-H1 upload/download software.)
>> and APRN were years ahead of the cellphone camera, now we're back!
> Back at about 1/50th (!) of the resolution of current cellphone cameras.
> The SSTV image is 320x256 pixels (quarter VGA) for a total of 81920 pixels or
> (drum roll) .081 megapixels.
> Compare to the 3-5 megapixel resolution of current mainstream cellphone cams....
> One can achieve a VASTLY better live SSTV system by using a $225 Asus or Acer
> netbook. These lightweight (about 2 lbs) devices are full Windows PCs with
> Ethernet and WiFi connections, a sound system and a 120GB hard disk or larger.
> The netbook's built-in Webcam is full VGA resolution (640x480 pixels) or higher.
> A simple pair of audio cables can connect the netbook's sound system to the
> TX/RX audio of a radio.
> I have an Acer ZG5 netbook running soundcard packet for APRS --AND-- mmSSTV for
> SSTV send (AND RECEIVE!) on the same sound card. (It seems to be a well-kept
> secret, that since Windows XP, more than one app at a time can access the sound
> card as long as they both use the same sample rate.)
> My configuration has AGWpe (soundcard soft TNC), UIview and Precision Mapping
> (allows quickly and easily editable comment fields and status messages for APRN)
> and mmSSTV running at once. Unlike the VC-H1, you can run ALL the SSTV TX/RX
> modes including ones that can send 640x480 pixel full VGA and 600x800 pixel SVGA
> images. Further, mmSSTV can send/receive the MP73-N SSTV mode that is only 500
> Hz wide, and is legal on the data-only 30-meter band!
> For a "LiveCAM" shot, you just hold the netbook in one hand, and point it's
> built-in web cam at the target of interest. You can see live (fast scan)
> full-motion video in a monitor window before grabbing a single frame for
> conversion to SSTV.
> I am now playing around with combining Chris Moulding's soundcard-based APRS
> Messenger application with MP73-N narrow SSTV for an APRN solution for 30M HF.
> Again, both apps can share the same sound system at the same time.
> Or if you really want send hi-quality pics, VK4AES's EasyPal "digital SSTV"
> system will run on these mini PCs. This program is actually a generic binary
> file transfer program embedded in an SSTV user interface, and can transmit any
> kind of file guaranteed error-free. The program encapsulates JPG images (or Word
> documents, spreadsheets or any other kind of file on your hard drive) in TWO
> layers of forward-error correction encoding. It then transmits them with 4, 16
> or 64 QAM audio subcarriers (depending on the bandwidth of the radio; i.e. FM or
> SSB) in a manner similar to a "56K modem". The program has TWAIN links that can
> capture images directly from a digital camera, scanner or the netbook's built-in
> webcam.
> Like most digital transmission systems (such as our newfangled ATSC digital HD
> TV), you either get a perfect image --or-- nothing at all. The EasyPal
> transmission is broken up into multiple independent blocks. If some blocks are
> defective at the receive end, the program on the receiving end can ARQ and
> request just the retransmission of the bad blocks. The ARQ requests can even be
> answered by a third-party bystander station that happened to get the required
> blocks successfully.
> I have actually had this experience transmitting on 40 and 20 meters from my
> mobile on Interstate 70 in Utah and Colorado. As you drive through the canyons
> and mountain passes of I-70, HF propagation is constantly being blocked in
> ever-changing directions. (Deep canyons mean only high-angle short hop radiation
> gets out) Typically no single station will get an entire transmission on the
> first try I have made EasyPal SSTV LiveCAM transmissions that were partially
> received by two or three different stations. With several station issuing NAKs
> for missing blocks, and other stations responding to ARQ requests for the blocks
> they DID got, all stations ultimately get the picture perfectly.
> I have had mmSSTV (for analog SSTV) and EasyPal (for digital SSTV) running
> simultaneously on the sound system of a Dell 866 MHz Pentium III, along with the
> AGWpe packet app for a complete entirely software-based APRN dual-mode (analog +
> digital) receive setup.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> --
> Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf (at) aol.com
> EchoLink Node: WA8LMF or 14400 [Think bottom of the 2M band]
> Skype: WA8LMF
> Home Page: http://wa8lmf.net
> ===== Vista & Win7 Install Issues for UI-View and Precision Mapping =====
> http://wa8lmf.net/aprs/UIview_Notes.htm#VistaWin7
> *** HF APRS over PSK63 ***
> http://wa8lmf.net/APRS_PSK63/index.htm
> "APRS 101" Explanation of APRS Path Selection & Digipeating
> http://wa8lmf.net/DigiPaths
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