[aprssig] A Proposal for the Continuation of APRS

Andrew Pavlin spam8mybrain at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 14 15:55:02 EST 2022

 You can't practically run both protocols on the same RF channel because it wastes channel bandwidth on signals some (single-protocol) stations can't understand. We have enough problems with collisions and hidden transmitters without making it worse with doubled transmissions from the same stations. Plus, there are some digipeaters that can't handle two AX.25 frames back-to-back (i.e., one APRS, one OpenTRAC).
An alternate frequency would be much better, so the stations that understand a particular protocol tune to that frequency (just like we don't do APRS on the Winlink or PBBS frequencies). Merging is a problem, because if you're going to have a translating digipeater, that doubles the traffic on the output side from all the dual-protocol stations. And it would be quite difficult to write a good OpenTRAC<->APRS translator, because some single OpenTRAC packets map into multiple APRS packets, and not cleanly (for example, how is an OpenTRAC sub-entity represented in APRS? how are APRS Telemetry packets mapped into OpenTRAC entity values when there is no fixed meaning of APRS telemetry fields?). I know this, because my YAAC program speaks and receives both protocols, and has a tough time coming up with consistent data display to end-users, and that's just doing the merge at the presentation layer, rather than translating and re-transmitting.

And promoting OpenTRAC still doesn't deal with the existing hardware base of APRS-only devices (ex.: Kenwood D700's don't do OpenTRAC natively). For that matter, do all the existing digipeaters behave correctly when asked to digipeat an OpenTRAC packet (using APRS-standard New-N digipeat aliases)?
And no one has written an OpenTRAC I-gate yet.
Interesting ideas for a future or parallel project, but it doesn't work with APRS As She Is Written.
Andrew, KA2DDOauthor of YAAC

    On Monday, February 14, 2022, 03:29:42 PM EST, Jason Rausch <jason at ke4nyv.com> wrote:  
 >> What makes more sense is to look at replacing APRS with OpenTrac.
I absolutely support this and have thought this was the way to go for years.  I know people are worried about backwards compatibility support.  Can we viably run dual protocol on the same channel as people migrate over?  With the exception of Scott's example of the balloon running OpenTrac and choking some server code, I haven't seen a good example of why we couldn't.  Maybe we propose an alternate frequency, such as 144.790 for OpenTrac and then merge the data together at the digipeater level.  Dual port TNC, dual radios.
Remi VE2YAG and I are dusting off some tracker/digipeater hardware designs based on the ESP32.  I'm sure we could look into the idea of creating a dual port version to support something like this.
Just a thought.
Jason Rauschwww.ke4nyv.com 

    On Monday, February 14, 2022, 12:05:14 AM EST, Gregg Wonderly <gregg at wonderly.org> wrote:  
 Ultimately, the concepts of APRS are interesting.  But the implementation is problematic for future use.  What makes more sense is to look at replacing APRS with OpenTrac.  It is much more rigorous in design, less bandwidth and trivial to use on small processor systems where data processing needs to be memory and power friendly.  
Gregg WonderlyW5GGW

Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 13, 2022, at 11:20 AM, Jeff Hochberg <jeff at w4jew.com> wrote:


My name is Jeff Hochberg (W4JEW) and I’m located in Atlanta, GA.

I chatted with Steve Dimse earlier this week about what I am about to cover here. He asked that I ensure this is an open discussion with aprssig, hence the reason for this message.

I’ve been a member of the aprssig mailing list for quite some time now but haven’t been an active participant - primarily due to other commitments, work, and most importantly family.

Some of you might be familiar with the annual Appalachian Trail Golden Packet (ATGP) event that Bob Bruninga started back in 2009. 

Bob and I connected shortly after he was first diagnosed with cancer and he asked me to take on managing ATGP just shy of 3.5 years ago. Not only have I been managing the group, I’ve been coordinating the annual event, and running a new monthly ATGP Knowledge Share series that is focused entirely on APRS. 

APRS has been at the forefront of my time with amateur radio and is something that I am extremely passionate about. I, along with a core group within ATGP have been very concerned with the future of APRS and have been watching closely to see what would happen after Bob left us.

With Kenwood’s uncertain demise - discontinuing the TH-D74 and not making any official statement of their future on continuing with production of the TH-D72 and TM-D710 has left a dark spot on APRS. Granted, there are other manufacturers that continue to support APRS and there’s a strong community of hardware manufacturers that are still shipping TNCs, as well as a wide array of open source and closed source software projects (Direwolf, APRSIS32, PinPoint APRS, to name a few.

Yaesu’s implementation of APRS is probably the strongest outside of Kenwood - which isn’t saying much. Icom’s conscious decision to not include analog APRS in their radios baffles me. And there are other manufacturers such as AnyTone that are limping along with half-rate implementations of APRS that do more to harm the ham community than help. Thankfully they seem to realize the error in their ways and have been making a slightly concerted effort to remedy their sophomoric attempts with the original AT-D878 and AT-578 with the recent release of the AT-D878UV2 Plus and the AT-D578UV3 Plus - both still leave a lot to be desired. 

I think we can all agree that the APRS standard stagnated and has largely remained the same for the past several years. We’ve been stuck at the current version for far too long and have fallen out of the limelight. The time has come for that to change!

And I know there’s some that feel as though it’s time for APRS to publish a final chapter and close the book forever as there’s been advancements in other areas of amateur radio that overlap APRS either in part or in full.

I couldn’t disagree more strongly! There’s plenty of lifeblood left and there’s tremendous opportunity to bring it back with a vengeance!

What APRS needs is an overhaul. The standard needs to be updated to include relatively recent extensions as well as a group of people that are invested in driving it’s future. I’ve been reading through an active discussion on a replacement for APRS - that is also something that could be considered. Truthfully, there are lots of directions this can go in.

What is needed at this juncture is an organization - more specifically a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation that will represent APRS at a global scale that is focused on a renaissance as well as adding to an already strong foundation that can compliment the some of the latest and most exciting areas of amateur radio including, but not limited to, the likes of the M17 Project.

John and I are putting forth a motion.

This email serves as an official proposal to kick off this effort. I, Jeff Hochberg, along with John Tarbox (WA1KLI) are proposing the creation of a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation who’s charter is to re-establish APRS as a kingpin of the ham radio world. To take on the trademark and the aprs.org domain, with the mission to ensure that APRS continues to thrive.

But that’s not all. This corporation will have an open door policy where any like-minded licensed amateur radio operators around the world can join provided they are committed to advance APRS into version 2.0 and beyond!

While this is still very early stages, it is something that we are willing to commit to 100% and begin with the formation of an organization immediately.

There are two other prominent members of the APRS community that we are all familiar with (and are also members of aprssig) that have also shown interest, but I do not want to name them without their permission.

Who is Jeff Hochberg? That's an excellent question!

Just to share a little bit more about me... I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my wife Charity and my stepdaughter Tatam. 

I currently hold a General Class license and have been a licensed amateur radio operator since 2015 (originally KM4KPI). I am currently pursuing my Amateur Extra license and intend to take the exam in the not so distant future.

I’ve been working in the Information Technology sector (specially in the networking and security world) for the past 26 years. I am a Field Solutions Engineer (a.k.a. "Sales Engineer") focused on enterprise customers for one of the world's leading cloud providers - a name many of you are likely familiar with.

In addition to sales engineering, I also have several years experience in the realms of technical marketing and business development and a proven track record of solving complex problems for some of the worlds largest organizations in the Fortune 100 and Fortune 50.

John has been a ham since the 1960s and holds an Amateur Extra license (WA1KLI). He has worked in the IT field his entire career as a programmer, IT Manager, and currently as Adjunct Faculty in Computer Science. He is a life member of ARRL and a member of Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA). He has participated in ATGP for over ten years, first from Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine and, more recently, from Mount Washington in NH.

John resides in Phillips, Maine, and in 2020 earned an MS in CIS with a concentration in Cybersecurity from Boston University. During 2019-2020 he served with Americorps as a Digital Literacy Instructor.

Besides ham radio, John enjoys Sailing and outdoor activities with his partner, Carolyn KC1MGI. SOTA and POTA figure prominently in his plans for this summer.

You can review our profiles on LinkedIn to learn more about our professional backgrounds:



This new organization can use the help and support of all the hams who have worked so hard to make APRS what it is today, as well as those who will join us to advance and promote APRS as we go forward.

We intend for this organization to be as open and inclusive as possible, and thus we welcome all who wish to join us on this exciting journey to make APRS move forward in the 21st century.

As mentioned, there are a couple of others in the APRS community that are actively giving consideration to joining John and I, but wanted to take additional time to give it thought. It was important to John and I to make sure we reached out to aprssig as quickly as possible.

We are excited at the prospect of this opportunity and hope we can count on your support!

Please do not hesitate to let John Tarbox and or myself know if you have any questions or concerns via this thread on aprssig. At the request of Steve Dimse, it is important that all discussions related to this matter remain in the public domain.

Thank you for your consideration!

Best Regards,

Jeff Hochberg - W4JEW

Atlanta, GA

w4jew at arrl.net

John Tarbox

Philips, ME

wa1kli at arrl.net

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