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APRS/GPS:

Automatic Packet Reporting System

APRS was developed by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, for tracking and digital communications with mobile GPS equipped stations with two-way radio. It has grown to encompass just about every aspect of Amateur Radio. TAPR supports this aspects of the hobby with kits, publications, and the TAPR APRS Special Interest Group.

What is APRS?

Excerpt from APRS.TXT by Bob Bruninga

APRS is a real-time tactical digital communicatons protocol for exchanging information between a large number of stations covering a large (local) area. As a multi-user data network, it is quite different from conventional packet radio.

APRS is different from regular packet in four ways. First by the integration of maps and other data displays to organize and display data, second, by using a one-to-many protocol to update everyone in real time, third, by using generic digipeating so that prior knowledge of the network is not required, AND FORTH, since 1997, a worldwide transparent internet backbone, linking everyone worldwide. APRS turns packet radio into a real-time tactical communications and display system for emergencies and public service applications (and global communications). Normal packet radio has only shown usefulness in passing bulk message traffic (Email) from point to point. It has been difficult to apply conventional packet to real time events where information has a very short life time and needs to get to everyone.

Although the recent interfaces to the Internet make APRS a global communications system for live real-time traffic, this is not the primary objective. But like all of our other radios, how we use APRS in an emergency of special event is what drives the design of the APRS protocol. Although APRS is used 99% of the time over great distances, and benign conditions, the protocol is designed to be optimized for short distance real-time crisis operations.

APRS provides universal connectivity to all stations by avoiding the complexity and limitations of a connected network. It permits any number of stations to exchange data just like voice users would on a voice net. Any station that has information to contribute simply sends it, and all stations receive it and log it. Secondly, APRS recognizes that one of the greatest real-time needs at any special event or emergency is the tracking of key assets. Where is the Event Leader? Where are the emergency vehicles? Whats the Weather at various points in the County? To answer these questions, APRS is a full featured automatic vehicle location and status reporting system too. It can be used over any 2-way radio system including HAM, CB, Marine Band, and Cellular Phone. Now there is even a nation-wide LIVE APRS tracking network on the Internet!

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