Re: APRS trackers IDs for all balloons.

AE5IB (Kip)

I agree with Michael. 

We have radios when we I-Gate from cars it is a side function from what we are already doing.  I do it because it makes it easier for people watching the event on APRS. We announce the launch on the internet, (Facebook, and email lists) and people who can not make the flight are able to follow the action and live vicariously through our I-gate feeds. 

Also we have done launches with elementary schools kids, high school students, and college students. In the case of elementary schools, they see the launch with their payloads going up. Then they go inside and follow the tracks of the balloons and the Amateurs that were just at their school following it, on

With the older students, they sometimes are able to follow in their cars and all they have is a smart phone. They are not Amateurs but they see the value in becoming a ham (recruitment). We have in one or two cases put our extra trackers in their vehicles so we can help them if they get lost (via cell phone). 

As a result they are usually 10-15 minutes (or less) behind us. Which is not so bad all things considering. 

I think of a mobile I-gate as publicity for your launch and recovery.


On Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 1:48 PM, Michael mw@... [GPSL] <GPSL-noreply@...> wrote:

Hi James!

Not sure where you got the misunderstanding, but almost all the vehicles have APRS radios on board and most of us are very seasoned ARHABr's.

You are likely questioning the focus on i-gates. We are using standard and some non-standard frequencies, so we are setting up I-gates to service those non-standard frequencies. We have a lot of balloons flying and the DFW area is extremely saturated with APRS '390 traffic, so those i-Gates for those odd frequencies allow guys like you to see those flights on findu or too. Some are using mobile i-Gates - we have a fair bit of coverage with cell towers here - but not 100% by any means, so there will be drop outs. However, yes we have radios in our cars and with some setups like mine, remove the GPS unit and GeoCache right to the balloon.


On 6/15/2016 1:37 PM, James Ewen ve6srv@... [GPSL] wrote:

Are any of the chase crews going to have radios onboard?

With an APRS capable radio in the chase vehicle, you can hear the payload right down to ground level if you are located close enough to the landing area.

It's pretty hard to have a fixed I-gate installed right next to where a payload will land, but a chase vehicle with an APRS capable radio onboard can usually drive fairly close to the landing area, even when the winds aloft and burst altitude change the landing area from the predicted landing area.

Trying to get a final landed position report to the APRS-IS via fixed assets is a difficult proposition. Mobile I-gates can help get packets to the APRS-IS where cellular coverage allows, but the best bet is to receive the packets directly off air with a radio in the chase vehicle.

Using the APRS-IS stream as your intercept source leaves much to be desired as both the payload can disappear from view of the APRS-IS, but your chase vehicle can lose access to the cellular network as well.

Rarely do remote observers ever recover payloads. People watching the flights from hundreds or thousands of miles away are probably content to see the general landing area within a couple hundred feet based on a last heard position from a thousand feet above terrain as last heard via an I-gate located a hundred or so miles away.


--Michael Willett
Advanced Sourcing, Inc.

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