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APRS. Automatic Packet Reporting System. Scott Honaker – N7WLO. What is APRS?. Ad-hoc, connectionless network able to relay position reports and messages No routing information is required Packet delivery is not guaranteed Packets contain position, status or short messages

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Automatic Packet Reporting System

Scott Honaker – N7WLO

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What is APRS?

  • Ad-hoc, connectionless network able to relay position reports and messages

    • No routing information is required

    • Packet delivery is not guaranteed

    • Packets contain position, status or short messages

    • Most stations can automatically digipeat

    • IGates make data available to the world

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  • Originally intended for events

    • Provides basic location and message handling

    • Can communicate between base, mobile and portable stations

    • Allows assets to be plotted on map whether moving or fixed in near real-time

    • Simplifies deployment

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Other APRS Uses

  • Web page eliminates “Where are you” cell phone calls

  • SAR/EOC – Many now have APRS capability because it is nearly custom tailored

  • Messaging – Ability to reach someone live

  • Email – Can send Email via an IGate

  • Weather – Current weather reports available from connected weather stations

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APRS Uses - Continued

  • Security – Can send emergency message when broken down

  • Tracking – Use like a low-jack system

  • Direction finding – Several packages support DF capabilities by triangulation with multiple stations simultaneously

  • Extra Field Day points – post your score

  • Anything you can think of…

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How to connect to APRS

  • http://map.findu.com/callsign

  • 2m nationwide on 144.390 MHz

    • With DOSAPRS, WinAPRS, MacAPRS, etc

  • HF on 10.151 MHz LSB

  • Winlink 2000 (HF Email)

  • Satellite via PCSat or International Space Station (ISS)

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APRS Network

  • APRS Station Types

    • Basic – Transmit and receive

    • Tracker – Transmit only

    • RELAY – Provide basic digipeating

    • WIDE – Dedicated digipeaters with specific coverage areas

    • IGate – Internet gateways to repeat APRS packets to servers on the Internet

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APRS Network Diagram


RELAY Digipeater

WIDE Digipeaterand IGATE

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APRS on the Internet

FINDU Server


WU2Z Mail Server

User on map.findu.com

Email user

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APRS Routing

  • NWAPRS Default – RELAY,WIDE3-3

    • One generic digipeater hop and 3 WIDE

    • Covers area with good WIDE support

    • Good coverage with minimal traffic

  • Little Infrastructure – RELAY, RELAY,WIDE

    • Uses two generic digipeaters to get to WIDE

  • Fixed Station – N7WLO-0,WIDE3-3

    • Minimizes traffic if path known

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APRS Naming

  • Callsign-SSID

    • N7WLO-7 is car with Kenwood TH-D700A

    • N7WLO is home station

    • N7WLO-8 is boat

  • Tactical Callsigns


    • More informative

    • Callsign included in status text

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Typical APRS Station

  • 2m FM Radio

    • Units with packet data ports are more reliable

  • TNC – Kantronics KPC-3+ is the standard

  • GPS with NMEA support

  • Computer – Most anything

  • Software – For nearly any platform

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APRS Station Diagram


TNC Cable – Unique to Radio/TNC Combination

RS-232 Serial Cable

2m Radio

VHF TNC - like Kantronics KPC-3

Computer running APRS Software

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Minimal APRS Station

  • 2m FM Radio

  • Windows computer with a sound card

  • AGW Packet Engine (software TNC)

  • AGW-Compatible software (like APRSPoint)

  • Optional GPS – not required for fixed station operation

  • A laptop and HT can work well

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Dedicated APRS Stations

  • Kenwood TH-D7A/G

    • Dual Band HT with internal TNC

    • Includes APRS software internally

    • All position/message functions available

    • Jacks for PC/Laptop and GPS input/output

  • Kenwood TH-D700A/G

    • 50w Dual Band Mobile with internal TNC

    • Adds digipeater and other features to TH-D7

    • Voice synthesizer option

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APRS Technologies

  • MIC-E (Mike Encoder)

    • Short (~100mS) APRS burst at the beginning of voice transmissions

    • Provides APRS support through voice repeaters

    • Available in Kenwood D7/D700

    • Rarely used

  • APRStt (APRS Touch Tone)

    • Latest from Bob Bruninga

    • Make APRS available on ANY radio with DTMF

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APRS Trackers

Tigertronics TigerTrak

  • Basic location data

  • Balloon experiments (with altitude profiles)

  • Telemetry – River levels in Lewis County


Kantronics KPC-3 Plus

Byonics TinyTrak II

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  • “Real-time” tracking of assets

  • GPS and radio standard equipment

  • APRS and voice available with D7

  • All other stations visible on GPS displays

  • APRStt will provide access for everyone else

  • Messaging to/from units with D7

  • Message traffic and positions logged

  • Messages/positions available on Internet

  • Email available for stations via IGate

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APRS Software Platforms



  • MacAPRS

  • PocketAPRS (Palm devices)

  • APRSce (Windows CE devices)

  • Xastir (Linux)

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Windows Software

  • WinAPRS

    • Oldest, feature-rich, confusing interface


    • Good features, Street Atlas maps, two programs

  • APRSPoint

    • Limited features, cleanest interface, no better maps

  • UI-View

    • Good features, must create maps

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APRS Resources

  • map.findu.com

  • www.TAPR.org

  • www.NWAPRS.org

  • www.APRSPoint.com

  • www.QSL.net/soundcardpacket

  • www.PacketRadio.org.UK