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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Net Troubles

I wasn’t able to get on the ORCA net last Thursday. It’s worked before and I haven’t changed anything on my radio. Very strange.

In talking things through with Peter (KO6R), we realized that the batteries ran low. Without enough power, the VX8-DR wasn’t able to transmit far enough to be heard by anyone. I was running with the AA battery pack instead of the lithium ion battery pack. It looks like AA batteries just don’t have very much power in them and they ran out of power much faster than I expected. I’ll need to experiment a bit to see how the various battery options last w/ the HT.

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First Radio – VX8-DR

I’m now the happy owner of my first radio, a Yaesu VX8-DR. It’s a lovely handheld that I’m looking forward to using and getting on the air.

It’s actually not my first, I have a Micro-Trak RTG tracker that I used on K9 for Burning Man last year. I was able to use it because Phil (K6CQU) was gracious enough to let me run it under his call sign. Now I’ll be able to use it under my own call sign. Simple pleasures!

I chose the VX8-DR because it has a GPS receiver and can receive and transmit on APRS, just like the Micro-Trak RTG. I’m a bit enamored with the idea of tracking locations via ham radio operations.

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Radio Club – ORCA

I’ve joined the local Oakland ham radio club, ORCA. I’m hoping that the other folks in the club will be able to help with any issues and learning about getting on the air.

They also run a local net to help with communications in the event of an emergency. With the classes I’ve been taking through the Oakland Core program, I think it’ll be a nice match.

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Ham Technician License – KK6RUH

A couple of weeks ago on a lovely Saturday, I sat in on an all day prep / test for my ham technical license. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do since I was around 12 years old. (Yes, I am that much of a geek 😉 The test was interesting and is predicated on the idea that you learn more / better once you have your license and can get on the air.

The prep work was to read through all the possible multiple choice questions with the answers and highlight the correct answer and only the correct answer. Then re-read the question and answer. And re-read it again. Ignoring the wrong answers with each re-read. Now move on to the next question.

It’s not about learning the material but learning which is the correct answer for that question. You’re actually at a disadvantage with this method if you actually know the material. About 60% – 70% of the questions I already knew the answers. And I just had force myself to follow their process and not work out the correct answer for myself. This goes against everything I ever learned about learning and test taking. But at the end of the day, it worked and I passed w/ 2 wrong answers. Not bad though it’ll be interesting to see how I learn and recover from mistakes as I get on the air.

Today I received the notice from the FCC that it’s official, I am a licensed amerature radio operator! My call sign is KK6RUH. Wahoo!