Ham Radio and APRS

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Ham Radio and APRS

APRS ("Automated Position Reporting System") is a system that uses GPS and ham radio technology to let you track a moving vehicle like a car, truck, or motorcycle from another APRS-equipped radio base station or on the Internet via gateways. APRS does other things too, including remote-sensing weather reports. But mobile tracking is what I wanted to use it for.

To learn more about APRS, you can go to the APRS Wiki.

In the first half of 2006, I got my ham radio license and a radio so I could use APRS to track my motorcycle when I went on trips. I did this in the name of Domestic Tranquility: the idea was that my wife at home could check to see that I was still moving, and she could tell the cops my last known position if I didn't report in. I ultimately gave up on this technology because I found it was not reliable enough: it required too much checking and fiddling to keep it working, and I never did manage to put an antenna on my motorcycle that could get a signal out reliably at freeway speeds.

In the end, I found that APRS was not the solution for me, and I sold my complete rig to another ham. You can read about the rig I had and sold on this page.

While I was studying APRS, I downloaded some data for January to March of 2006 and made some maps of the areas where APRS works and where it doesn't in the American West.

APRS in the American West, January - March, 2006


This page was last edited April 26, 2008.