[aprssig] Using APRS to support public service events

R.E. Walton mtcwop at gmail.com
Tue Jan 12 18:23:38 EST 2016

   The Helllgate Amateur Radio Club of Missoula MT makes regular use of
APRS for public service events.  The two events where our use of APRS is
greatest are the Missoula Marathon, in mid-July, and the Ovando Gran Fondo,
a charity bicycle ride in support of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra in
   The Missoula Marathon attracts 5500 to 6000 runners from all over the
U.S. and several foreign countries for a full and a half marathon.  In each
race skilled bicycle riders accompany the leading runners, first and second
places for both men and women.  The bicycles are equipped with Byonics AIO
trackers, the antennas mounted on an aluminum strip attached to the
bicycle's seat post, extending out over the rear wheel.  The position of
the bicycles is displayed on a UI-View map projected on a screen at race
headquarters.  The trackers employ tactical callsigns identifying the
runner they are accompanying by position, sex and race, The course is
well-covered by the local digipeater.
   The Ovando Gran Fondo is a 60 mile ride on gravel and forest service
roads, some barely a trail.  The route runs through country just outside
the southern boundary of a major wilderness area.  It crosses ranch land,
forest service holdings, and an important game preserve.  The country's
inhabitants include black and grizzly bears.  Keeping track of ride
participants and rapidly getting aid to those in distress are the primary
challenges of the communications team.  We create a local network on 2
meters, with headquarters in the small town of Ovando, about 65 miles north
of Missoula.  The net control station and race directors are in close
contact.  The network consists of 16 to 20 operators located at strategic
points on the course, generally in conjunction with a ride aid station.
Operators are also stationed with the sag and medical units.  There are 2
or 3 bicyclists who act as sweep riders.  Their bicycles are equipped with
Byonics AIO trackers.  There is no digipeater in the area, but the
trackers' signals are received directly at headquarters from almost
everywhere on the course.  Thus, ride officials can consult the UI-View
display of the ride map at headquarters and see the position of the sweep
riders at almost any time.  We expect to expand the use of APRS for this
event in the future.

     --Dick Walton, W7XT

On Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 6:18 AM, Bob Harris via aprssig <aprssig at tapr.org>

> I have been approached to make a 45-50 minute presentation at this year's
> New Hampshire ARES Academy on using APRS to support public service events.
> I'd like some specific examples and details from this august body of how
> they have used APRS in such events. Also, how it was done. For example, did
> each ham have to provide his or her own APRS gear or did the group (i.e.
> the radio club) have it in part or in total? What APRS software was used?
> I am familiar with using the tracking feature (sorry, Dr. Bruninga) for
> keeping track of the support vehicles during long bike rides so I'd like
> examples of other uses. Or even variations of using the position reporting.
> What challenges did you face in using APRS? Was there sufficient permanent
> infrastructure in place or did you have to augment it?
> Any other thoughts?
> --
> Bob Harris (K9UDX)
> Can MOTCH Katmai Henry David Thoreau UDX Bda UD (1992-2005)
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> Bath, NH
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