[aprssig] Extensible APRS

Ev Tupis w2ev at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 12 08:02:48 EST 2022

APRS was/is a blank canvass waiting for painters.  Statements like, "Somebody should..." accomplishes nothing where "See what I did, and you can, too" proves points.  Bob both created the concept and delivered a proof-of-concept that grew (extended) over time.

What most of us know as APRS was the foundation of a significant amount of innovation that grew from it.  In two cases...

Case 1:
PropNET used APRS protocol on 1200 baud AX.25 in the early years and moved to PSK31 (yes! APRS on PSK31!).  Sensors (called "Probes") simply ID'd every n-minutes.  When a DX probe was heard, the event was sent to a central database and plotted on a map in real-time.  This happened 24-hours a day.  T-H-E most authoritative amateur radio source for how propagation changes during a complete solar cycle sits in 9GB of data on http://www.PropNET.org.  Oh by the way, it predates the whole HamSCI thing by decades and was initiated by non PhD's.
As a side benefit, Probes RX'd before TXing (gasp!) and would QSY or outright hold-off the TX if the frequency was busy.  Additionally, they were "smart probes".  If a human being initiated a call to them, they would reply (once, to avoid other problems).
PropNET sunset a couple years ago; and sincere thanks to Steve (K4HG) and Pete (AE5PL) for their core support and mentoring.  Many of the founders of other similar systems (pskreporter, etc.) "cut their teeth" as part of the early years of this project.
How extensible is the APRS protocol?  PropNET launched APRS-compliant packets that embedded callsign, band-of-origination, location, station ERP, ID interval and a checksum to assure accurate data was received across highly variable 10 meter pathways.  Brilliant, Bob!

Case 2:
How extensible is the APRS digipeater network itself?  The http://aprs.mennolink.org/ site likewise uses APRS data and is active now.  It parses APRS data from the Internet Stream to show in real-time propagation conditions on 2 meters.  It is used extensively by the VHF narrowband/DXing community.
Both are examples of APRS being the precursor of the whole IoT craze that was "discovered" by others later.
I offer this perspective because most people focus on tracking cars.  It does so, for sure.  However it can be (and is) much more than that.  Somewhere along the way, we stopped painting on the blank canvass that Bob created.  There is still so much that can be accomplished for those with BOTH a vision ("ya know what somebody should do") and a motivation to accomplish ("look what I did, and you can too").

With deep respect and admiration for the e-n-t-i-r-e APRS community,Ev Tupis, W2EV
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