[aprssig] The PropNET Project (ACDS 2/2)

Ev Tupis w2ev at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 10 12:11:48 EDT 2015

The PropNET Project was originally built upon foundational learnings from the APRS community, the "HF packet forwarding/BBS" community, the OSCAR satellite pioneers and the wisdom of 10 and 6 meter meteor-scatter operators from the last century.
>From the APRS community, we learned about (and built upon) standardized protocols and creating an Interet "backbone" to share information when the Aether failed to support direct links.
>From the HF packet-forwarding community, we learned the importance of implementing an anti-QRM-to-human-operations strategy.
>From the OSCAR satellite community, we learned that experimentation is important, and humans liked to tinker and "talk" to robots (I'm really trying to avoid mentioning thw whole Ashley Madison thing...and obviously not so well).

>From the wise 10 and 6-meter meteor-scatter operators of the 20th century, we learned to use constant sources of RF to decide if a link is open, even if a human being was not actually transmitting at the time.  While inexperienced operators (most of them were, after all) would mostly "listen" during meteor showers, the wise ones would attempt to work random "blue whizzers" by listening to distant USA TV stations and call a quick "CQ Scatter" when hearing one pop out of the noise; often resulting in completing a quick QSO with those "listeners".
All of this culminates in what we know as "The PropNET Project".
We built software that is used by the Amateur Radio community to check their radios for proper PSK31 operation (see previous post) 24-hours a day and leverage that single altruistic service to track, analyze, "uncover new modes of..." and explore RF propagation.  As an aside, folks who were once associated with The PropNET project have gone on to develop other services as well!

As an Automatically Controlled Digital Station, all of this happens (1) automatically (like "packet" stations and "FM Repeaters") and (2) as if a human operator was present and making decisions (whaaaaaat?!?).
The ACDS software has taken automatic control to an entirely new plane of operation.  Using a typical computer and PSK31 capable transceiver as found in a ham shack, we have gone to great lengths to both assure (1) long term operational stability by applying "fail safes" to assure no "lock up in TX" modes are present, and (2) significant anti-QRM strategies that will either QSY an automatic ID if the PSK31 stream frequency is in use or outright abandon an automated ID if a unoccupied nearby frequency can't be found!
Yes, the software used (ACDS) will "RX before TX" to be a good neighbor to human operations (on HF, we try to co-locate in the same sub-bands)...just like a human operator would!  Is it perfect?  NO!  Are human operators perfect?  NO! ;-)  But rest assured that we're always looking for ways to improve, just as human PSK31 operators are.
So...what's NEW in the upcoming PUBLIC BETA of ACDS?  A "*LOCAL* dashboard", for one!  While we (and others in the Amateur Radio Community) rely heavily on our web site (http://www.PropNET.org) to present "aggregated" data from all participants ... ACDS now has a Local Dashboard with statistics about YOUR stations' operations.
That is the subject of the NEXT "tickler".
STAND BY for the announcement of the release of the ACDS, PUBLIC BETA.  It is coming soon!
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