Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How @WaffleHouse compares to the Automatic Packet Reporting System #ARRL #hamradio @CraigatFEMA @FEMA

If you have heard, there's a "Waffle House Index" at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Craig, KK4INZ said this about the Index, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.” 

However, outside the "Big City" there are not so many Waffle Houses.  There are other "disaster resilient companies" to track.

What about those places where there are no Lowes and Home Depots or they are located outside the disaster zone?

Welcome to the concept of using the Automatic Packet Reporting System to see "how bad is bad" before, during, and after a disaster.  

On a "normal day" with no power outage, tornado, hurricane, ice storm, etc., open a map.  Zoom out and one will see all manner of people and places.  

Add a disaster and the resources begin to fail.  One by one the pretty icons evaporate from the map.

Folks at the Voice Over Internet Protocol Weather Net have been using APRS, among other tools, to get data for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.  

For example, before a land-falling hurricane strikes the island of Bermuda, VOIPWX team members look at APRS to see what is in play.  A few hours after the event, another look would paint a very different story, if the disaster really takes a toll.  Similarly, internet-dependent communications such as Echolink, D-Star, and the Internet Radio Linking Project could provide planners with the "ground truth" they need to see "how big bad is".

Do you use these tools in your disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and planning programs?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Here's an APRS Tool for #Skywarn and other folks #hamradio #ARRL

I am in the process of working on a program which provides a US Weather forecast 
via APRS message. I have most of the kinks worked out and it is ready for testing
by a larger group.

Send a single character APRS message to KI6WJP and the program will respond with a 
brief forecast for your location.

You can specify "where" and "when" you want the forecast.  If you wish a full forecast
add the word "full" to your "where" and "when".  The full forecast is spread across
multiple APRS message.  The default "brief" forecast usually fits within a single

"where" is any APRS callsign/object, zipcode, grid, or decimal lat/lon as long as it is 
located in a place covered by the US National Weather Service.

"when" is any day of the week with optional night.  I.e. Wednesday night

The forecast is derived from the US National Weather Service point forecast.
Usually the forecast is produced within 1 or 2 seconds, but during periods of
heavy activity, the weather service can take 20 or 30 seconds.

The latitude/longitude for the requested object is extracted from,  
As a result, anything that appears on is valid including 
CWOP stations and AIS ships.

Here are some example forecast requests that can be sent to KI6WJP:

Any message less than 3 characters
    Returns a brief forecast for the current location of the sending station.
Tomorrow 96067
    Returns  tomorrow's forecast for Mount Shasta, CA
    Returns the forecast for tonight at your current location
Tuesday night full
    Returns the Tuesday night full forecast at your current location.
    Returns the current forecast for the location of station W1AW
usna-1 Sunday
    Returns the forecast for the Army Navy football game on Sunday. 
    (Assuming usna-1 is at the stadium)
    Returns the forecast for the center of maidenhead grid CN81uh
    Returns the forecast for the summit of Mount Whitney.

Currently the program is running on a raspberry Pi on a home dsl internet connection.
The program is single threaded and can handle a single forecast request at a time.
Things are still in development and may break at any time.  

Obviously for this to work via RF, a transmit capable i-gate is necessary.

Many thanks to Heikki for Ham::APRS::IS, Ham::APRS::FAP and that made
this easy.

For more information see:

Thanks to Martin, KI6WJP on the APRS reflector for this information

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Exploring FM simplex #ARRL #hamradio #tweko

Are you using FM Simplex?  What frequency or frequencies do you monitor and your location?

Locally, I use 147.51, 146.52, and 446.000 in the scanner.  Traveling, I use 146.52 mostly but monitor the APRS alert (144.39 with 100 PL tone).

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