APRS? Whazzat?

For those that might be interested in APRS, here’s a bit of information. If you just want to look at pretty pictures, you can see a couple screen grabs in my gallery, or a snapshot which is updated every ~5 minutes of the live Xastir station running at home. The image on that snapshot will change not only based on what stations are nearby and heard, but also on what maps I have loaded at the time and what area I was looking at.

APRS, or Automatic Position Reporting System, is a neat thing in Amateur Radio where you connect your radio to a TNC (Terminal Node Controller, a modem for on-air use) and optionally a GPS receiver. The GPS spits out messages to the TNC to tell it where you are, and the TNC will format those messages and send them out over the air. What’s neat about this is other setups, called digipeaters (for “digital repeater”) will hear your message and echo it; since digis usually have a wide coverage area, this means your small signal can be heard for quite a ways. I’m now running this at home, using the TNC-X kit that I built a little while ago and a new Yaesu FT-2800M, which is currently hooked to my old magmount antenna sitting on the grill. Have a new 5/8 groundplane antenna which I’m going to mount on the peak of the garage, possibly this weekend – the NEMA box I’m using for passing coax in/out of the house should arrive Friday, and I hope to spend a good chunk of Saturday getting that mounted and holes drilled so the window in the shack can finally be closed all the way.

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