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HikerJohn
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PostSun Mar 22, 2020 11:17 pm 
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I started carrying a Ham radio into the woods a few years back, but last fall I decided to up my amperage and bought a new radio that was capable of using APRS:  Automated Position Reporting System.
APRS is a repeater-based beaconing and messaging system available on some modern digital radios.  In my case I bought a Yaesu FT-2DR for about $300 (there is a new version FT-3DR that is a bit pricier).
APRS works by sending out beacon reports from your radio to one of a few repeaters that then relay your beacon info onto the WWW.  With the Yaesu you can set the periodicity of your beacon reports.
I've been using it a lot last fall and this winter down on the 410 corridor.  APRS repeaters down in that area include one on Crystal Mountain, another near Enumclaw (Baldi), plus another on Tiger Mountain.  The Yaesu has dual band mode, so I set Band B on APRS and then have my normal repeater sites on Band A.
There are a couple of sites that let you see who is on APRS, but the one I like is www.aprsdirect.com.

What I've discovered:
APRS isn't perfect (requires a good line of sight to one of these repeaters) but it's a cheap way to get a live beacon of where you are at.  I've been able to push out beacon reports in lots of areas along 410, but NOT up in the Greenwater area.  It works much better if you have a real antenna instead of a standard "rubber ducky"-- A Signalstick or ABREE.
I've also discovered you can use APRS to send text messages to people's cell phones AND receive limited messages.  Messages are limited to 60 characters at a time, and the UI isn't great.  AND it does require you to have an Amateur Radio license, but that's pretty cheap: $15 and you have to pass the exam (not really that hard....)
Best of all: other than the cost of the radio, all of this is FREE-- no InReach or Spot fees!

My assessment:  I think APRS is a great back country tool, especially if you are going to be "off the beaten path" or want to have ANOTHER communications method in addition to a SAR PLB or a cell phone.

Anyone else been playing with APRS??
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moonspots
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 5:07 pm 
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HikerJohn wrote:
Anyone else been playing with APRS??

I have, and it was interesting at first, but then I was the only guy watching my progress, so I didn't keep up with it. But then also I was using an old Icom (IC-28) with only one frequency available at a time so when it was in use, I didn't have access to simplex or repeaters. But, it was interesting.

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"Out, OUT you demons of Stupidity"! - St Dogbert, patron Saint of Technology
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HikerJohn
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:17 pm 
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Moon,
I've actually now got my wife to follow me-- she doesn't have a Ham license, but this way she can be my "spotter".

The old Icoms were good radios, but dual frequency is much nicer!!

Hiker John
aka KI7RAW....
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Pyrites
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:26 pm 
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Is there a map of WA State repeaters?

Best.
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moonspots
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 9:07 pm 
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Pyrites wrote:
Is there a map of WA State repeaters?

Best.

https://aprs.fi/#!lat=48.2261&lng=-101.2974 Is the website I used. You can look around and see where the APRS repeaters are as well as weather stations and AIS (ships).

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"Out, OUT you demons of Stupidity"! - St Dogbert, patron Saint of Technology
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HikerJohn
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 9:27 am 
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Pyrites wrote:
Is there a map of WA State repeaters?

Moon's map is a great resource for APRS repeaters

Here is a good interactive map of all WA state repeaters
http://www.levinecentral.com/repeaters/google_mapping.php?State=WA
Note that this map doesn't show exact locations of repeaters, but rather the towns.
A better resource is this which is not a map, but a database.
https://www.repeaterbook.com/repeaters/Display_SS.php?state_id=53&loc=%&coverage=wide&call=%&use=%

And here's a PDF that has a number of maps that show coverage..
https://jeffersoncountyares.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/ps_repeaters.pdf

KI7RAW, monitoring....
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HikerJohn
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 12:13 pm 
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As long as we're talking Ham stuff, here's a really cool site that lets you plug in data for your favorite repeaters and then generate a coverage map.
https://www.ve2dbe.com/english1.html
Here's an example of what it creates-- this one is coverage for the Crystal Mountain repeater.  I captured the picture and added a few places to make it easier to orient!

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