[aprssig] Open Source/Commercial Use acceptable APRS Alternative?

John Gorkos jgorkos at gmail.com
Tue Aug 15 17:55:25 EDT 2023

                          DARPA INTERNET PROGRAM
                          PROTOCOL SPECIFICATION
                              September 1981

It's not the software we're interested in, it's the protocol.  Protocols live for decades, when they're written well and implemented effectively.  OpenTrac was written with the explicit purpose of taking what we learned from APRS, and other low-bitrate, size-constrained on-air protocols and building a better mousetrap.  And, while microcontrollers have gotten more powerful, the most common embedded systems framework at the hobbyist level is still Arduino, introduced in 2006.  The javAPRSLib parser library is over 5k Source Lines Of Code and sits at a cool 188kb of source code.  I guess, technically, I could put it on an ESP32, but it's a lot more efficient to use on of the 500 SLOC C parsers that's a couple hundred bytes when compiled, on something that will run for a 3 days on a 1000mAh lithium battery.

If Scott's interested, I'd ask him to maybe write something for PSR proposing a revival of OpenTrak.  Once I get past my current project, I intend to sit down and really look at the protocol and see what it would take to implement it on more modern microcontrollers.  I'm sure I'll have questions and suggestions.

This LoRa stuff, honestly, it's pretty slick.  It's robust, it can be run on Ham frequencies, and since we apparently gave up on the whole "proprietary modulation schemes aren't encryption" fight with D-Star (I can taste the bile in my mouth), it wouldn't hurt to embrace it for public service events where a dozen or more trackers are needed.  I just got a 5 pack of these (https://heltec.org/project/wireless-tracker/) for less than $100.  Coupled with a 3d printed case and a $8 3000mAh battery, you're tracking 5 key assets at your next public service event for 1/3 the cost of a D-74.  Do it with a 433Mhhz LoRa stick, and you're 'providing a service that only licensed hams can provide'.

I started this thread because I got the impression that Bob didn't want non-amateur use of the APRS protocol.  If that's not the case, it's all kind of moot.  But if it opens the door to discussions of new protocols and new applications of our technology that can serve to keep us relevant, well, that's not a bad thing.

de AB0OO

On 8/13/23 12:19, wa7skg wrote:
> I'd be concerned that nothing appears to have been done with OpenTrac 
> in almost 20 years. Technology moves a lot faster than that. Pretty 
> much everything that OpenTrac originally addressed has long since been 
> incorporated into modern APRS clients and protocols.
> I'd be interested to see what applications currently are supporting 20 
> year old software.
> Michael WA7SKG
> Gregg Wonderly wrote on 8/13/23 10:11 AM:
>> We really need to open the door to investigation of OpenTrac.  It 
>> provides some much more consumable structure that avoids the append 
>> this string in this format “design” principals that make APRS 
>> difficult to create parsers for.
>> You’ll find OpenTrac (http://opentrac.org/) support already in some 
>> popular trackers!
>> Gregg Wonderly
>> W5GGW
>> Sent from my iPhone
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