[aprssig] weak signal ISS packet (APRStt)

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Fri Jan 23 14:06:36 EST 2015

On Jan 23, 2015, at 11:35 AM, Bill Vodall <wa7nwp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yes - we need the killer app - probably worse than most folks think -
> and it's not touch tones...  Ham Radio is hurting big time.  We need
> to quit using our telephones to upload positions and get on to
> building a world wide social system (HamBook?) with live video, apps,
> pictures, etc.  The technology is there and we Hams have unique
> resources to make use of to do something like this.  We can make it so
> it's worthwhile once again to turn on a radio and not just download
> another App.
You are thinking of this all wrong. When Bob created APRS IS he wasn't trying to copy something everyone had and reproduce it on ham frequencies. He took existing equipment and repurposed it to do something we the people did not have access to.

When I created the APRS IS, I was taking Bob's idea and linking it to the rising star of the internet, using ham radio for what it was good for and the internet for what it was good for. When I did that, few other than hams had portable data, and ham radio was still essential.

Along with all the other people that drove APRS in the good old days, we took ham radio to a place that was 10 years ahead of the rest of the public. It was leading the ham's access to mobile data before the general public that made APRS a success, even if it was done with obsolete RF technology.

If you start with the premise that hams should create an RF based network that can never match the commercial network and the billions constantly spent to upgrade it, and then plan to place duplicates of the apps running on the internet (Hambook) on the RF net, you create absolutely nothing novel. There is no value. At best you get to where everyone else was 10 years later. Whopptie-do.

Sure ham radio is in trouble. Our killer apps - those things we led the world in - first world wide communication on HF, followed by local mobile and portable networks on VHF, satellite communications, message forwarding systems, and APRS geolocation - have all been passed by the commercial communications that power the modern world. 

We can't out-smartphone the smartphone. We can't out-internet the Internet. Expecting some salvation to come from projects that parallel state of the art infrastructure will never be fruitful. If there is to be something that moves ham radio forward it must be something for which no modern parallel exists. I can't think of any such thing. And if I could, I'd probably implement on the internet anyway, because if it is something worthwhile and novel the internet is where it will have the most impact. And make me the most money. 

When I started linking the Internet and APRS I was widely and vehemently criticized as killing ham radio. I didn't think so at the time, and today I can make a pretty good case that my actions and those of the other Amateur Radio/Internet pioneers did much to preserve ham radio over the last 20 years, allowing it to remain relevant in the increasingly digital world. Will anyone in the next generation step forward to keep ham radio relevant another 20 years? I don't know, but I am sure the answer is not a WiFi based RF internet-clone, running Facebook clone apps!

Steve K4HG

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