So you wanna know what this program does without reading all the README files.. The following steps give the maximum exposure with the minimum of reading. You may read the various .TXT files in the README sub-directory using the F1(HELP)-FILES command while on-line in APRS. Also check out the APRS WEB page @ http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/aprs.html. The javAPRS site, http://www.aprs.net/javAPRS.html has many of these demo files available for viewing within a web browser, a great way to show APRS to your friends!
MAPS: To see examples of some good maps, zoom into Idaho falls to see my first city digitized to the every street level. See Baltimore and New Orelans to see larger cities digitized to the major streets only. See the typical 2 mile map that can be produced from the 1:100,000 USGS CD ROM data by zooming in to my neighborhood (3909N 07636W) done by KB8JXO. And finally see the northern Tennessee map to see the kind of map that can be easily generated from the 1:2,000,000 USGS CD ROM using the MAKEMAP1.bas program.
MARATHON EVENT: First, run APRS and use FILE-LOAD to load the MARATHON.BK file. Hit SPACE to show the position of APRS packet stations at our marathon event. Next do a FILE-REPLAY. Select the File MARATHON.HST. You will see 3 GPS jeeps at the MC marathon, the lead, lead-handicapped, and tail end Charlie. Turn off CALLSIGNS with the C command during REPLAY to keep the screen cleaner. Redraw the screen at any time during REPLAY with the SPACE BAR. Also load RUNNERS.BK and replay RUNNERS.HST to see another local marathon.
FOOTBALL RUN: To see the Army/Navy game football run from Annapolis to Philly, load FBALL.BK, and then REPLAY the FBALL.hst file. During replay, you can Re-center the screen with the HOME key and zoom in/out with Pg keys. To speed up replay, hit (F)ast. FBALL93.hst is this years run.
AUTOMATIC DOPPLER DF: To see a great demonstration of the N7LUE automatic Doppler DF interface to APRS, zoom into Phoenix Arizona, and replay the AUTODF.HST file. It shows what the APRS screen looks like as the DF radio is tuned to each of three on the air signals in Phoenix AZ. To see a manual DFing event, load FOXDF.BK and then REPLAY FOXDF.HST.
OMNI-DFing: To see the potential of the APRS OMNI-DF technique, load the DF-OMNI.BK file. Next press the MAPS/PLOTS/DF command to see APRS draw the overlapping signal strength contours from each of the omni-df reporting stations. Notice that I was the only APRS station, and all of the other reports were voice reports that I quickly added to the map with the INPUT- ADD command. All of this could be done automatically if there had been more APRS stations on that day. (This was the day after I finished the new OMNI-DF technique, so no one had the latest version of APRS at the time!)
HF TRACKING: To see the capability of APRS for tracking mobile units, replay the Naval Academy boats 93BLOCK1.hst file. Or replay my trip to Alabama over XMAS93.HST. To see the number of stations on our HF tracking frequency, use FILE-LOAD to load the HF10151.BK file. REPLAY the N2CZFALL.hst file to see how Rich used just an 8088 laptop and TNC to report his position as he drove from NJ to Florida. He manually typed his LAT/LONG from his highway map into his TNC BText!
SPACE AX.25 DIGI's: See SPACE.HTM for info on using APRS for plotting satellite DX contacts and how to replay the SHUTTLE.HST demonstration.
CHANNEL MONITORNG: Zero memory with FILE-ZERO command. Tune your radio to an active packet channel and monitor for 10 minutes. Select the LATEST display, and you will see all UI frames (BEACONS) on the channel. If you know where these stations are, insert them onto the map and save the file. Rename the file to include the frequency for later recall. If no one is beaconing, and you get impatient, you can turn off the beacon-Only filter by hitting the CONTROLS-OTHER command. Then ALL packets will be collected.
LOCAL AREA: To see where the activity is, and what frequencies are being used, load the APRSFREQ.bk or DIGIS.BK files. To see how well your area is covered by existing maps, use the FILES-CHANGE command to change the default MAPLIST from MAPLIST.USA to either EAS, WES, CEN, AK, SE or TX as appropriate for your area. Hit the HOME key to center on the area of that MAPLIST and select the MAP-BORDERS command. The outlines of all existing maps will be shown. Move the cursor to your area and zoom in (PgDwn) to within one of these maps. To move long distances, CTRL-PgUp to large scale map, move to your area and then Ctrl-PgDn.
EVERY TNC ON THE MAP: Have a friend place his LAT/LONG in his TNC BText as follows: BText !DDMM.xxN/DDDmm.xxW/Comments... You will see him appear on your map! He can also just use his Grid Square enclosed in Brackets [GRidsq] at the start of his BText. Better yet, give him a copy of APRS and Add objects locations to your screens by moving the cursor and using the INPUT-ADD command. Send messages using the S command.
OTHER IDEAS AND APPLICATIONS: See WX.HTM for using APRS in a weather reporting net. APRS supports an optional home weather station serial input to make your station automatically include WX conditions in your position report. See DF.HTM for triangulation in fox hunting, and SPACE.HTM for displaying satellite beacons. Or HF.HTM and come join us on the APRS HF Boater and RV tracking net. Finally, read the full system documentation in APRS.HTM, and start drawing local maps as described in MAPS.HTM. There is a chess board map in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico at 25N 90W (below 64 mile scale) to show the flexibility of APRS to use any maps for any purpose. Play chess on the air using APRS!
NOW WHAT?! APRS is a human communications tool. Try APRS during weekly emergency exercises or events when humans are at their stations. Find a two meter freq that is not saturated with BBS's and start an APRS network. In the Wash/Balto area we are using 145.79. Please consider using this freq in your area to help us build a nationwide mobile tracking network. Encourage periodic reporting weather nodes (not the store-and-dump kind) and keyboard QSO's to also join your frequency. Anyone with low duty cycle data is welcome, but BBS's, file forwarding, TheNET and databases should operate elsewhere! This is NOT meant to be discriminatory, it just optimizes the frequency for the maximum number of individual real-time users. This is best for all HAMS if there is a frequency where human operators can communicate in real-time and not only exchange text, but also see the instantaneous network topology.