Portable APRS Server

I had a thought yesterday, in the event of an emergency the internet connections will be down. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a localized APRS display to show the location of various people. Set up a radio to listen for APRS transmissions, send them to a small computer, run a webserver on the computer w/ OpenStreetMaps on it, have a wifi connection and power connections. Drop it all into a portable case of some sort and it can be made available to a local group of people who need access to the data.

There’s a bunch of unknowns here but it could be an interesting project. Would it be useful? Reliable? What else is needed?

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5 thoughts on “Portable APRS Server”

  1. Could be useful if enough of the people you’re interested in are using APRS.

    I’m wondering if you could do it all with just a Raspberry Pi, and a cheap SDR dongle. I’ve been thinking about putting together just such a setup at home, and putting it online, to make an APRS iGate for under $100. It won’t do TX, but with the addition of a battery and screen, it could work for your portable rig. Thoughts?

    1. Using a Raspberry Pi is just want I had in mind to start. It would be great to keep the cost down to a couple hundred dollars. Not sure yet if that’s possible because I would like it to be able to also transmit.

      1. You could certainly still go the Raspberry Pi route, but for TX you would need an attached radio with a TNC, or a RX/TX board like the HackRF. Actually, you could skip the whole computer part if you want… check out the Mobilinkd TNC2 ~$65 http://www.mobilinkd.com , which goes between the radio and an Android phone. It connects to the phone via bluetooth and takes care of all the APRS stuff. The phone supplies the GPS reception, the screen and an app to monitor the APRS traffic. So no need for a computer… just a radio, TNC, phone, and batteries.

        The would do nicely and actually lets you do it all through bluetooth to y, or a board capable of RX and TX. The HackRF board which does RX and TX.

        1. Thanks for the reference! I’ll add that to the list of possibilities.

          My current thought is that this(ese) are a self contained box with a couple of different types of power connectors, an antenna connection or two and some blinky lights for status. Pretty much sealed up. Interfacing with it happens through a local wifi connection. A regular user can look at the map, add waypoints and search for objects. Registered hams can gain access to APRS capabilities like messages and such.

          If there are multiple of these boxes in the vacinity, maybe something like http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/ can be used to let them talk w/ each other.

          I first need to get a working prototype with the APRS and mapping 😉

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