Friday, September 03, 2010

APRS Chat

It has been a while since I wrote about the new APRS client for Windows and Windows Mobile being developed by Lynn, KJ4ERJ and known as APRSISCE/32 but it has been coming on apace with new versions being released almost every day. Many of the improvements probably won't mean much to anyone who doesn't know anything about APRS. But one of the more recent and quite revolutionary developments has been the chat window, which allows you to carry out a two-way text chat conversation with another APRS user.

Instead of the primitive edit box found in most APRS clients in which you would have to type your messages in 64-character chunks due to the limitations of APRS messaging you can now type just what you want and APRSISCE/32 will split it up and send it as separate messages transparently. It also takes care of ensuring the parts are displayed in the right order at the other end. You can also view the entire conversation in its own window - useful if you are having conversations with two or more people when you are tired late at night and lose track of what you are saying to whom!

You can chat with anyone, anywhere in the world. True, at the moment most of these conversations are being conveyed over the internet not RF, which will inevitably incur the complaints that "it's not ham radio." But they could just as easily use RF. The only problem is that for most of us an adequate APRS RF infrastructure to support worldwide messaging doesn't exist. But the more people are attracted to the mode - and even the hobby - by cool developments like this, the more likely it is that an effective infrastructure will be built. In many parts of the world you could certainly link up across town on VHF like this.

Regular digital modes are fun. But is there any reason why the only way to have a contact is for two people to have sole occupancy of a frequency and one sends to the other, then the other replies back, repeat until finished, the way contacts have been made ever since Marconi first picked up a morse key?

4 comments:

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Hi Julian, this reminds me of worldconverse via packetadio many many years ago. Of course then there was kind of a infrastructure but sometimes also via the internet. 73, Bas

Theodore said...

Congratulations, ham radio has finally discovered instant messenger, sms, or any other number of pedestrian mainstream technologies.
No matter how it is painted, or dressed up in modern clothes, it is still just internet messaging with an RF component - just like a cordless phone handset.
The word boring comes to mind, but I am loath to use it as I have to go and have some "Marconi" type digital qso's in a moment.

Julian said...

To be honest, Theodore, endlessly filling the log with contacts made using the same old modes on the same old bands under the same mundane conditions, exchanging the same old information - rst, name, qth, rig, power, antenna - seems to me to be getting pretty boring. I'm glad that it hasn't got that way for you. But trying a different mode of communication that has some different technology to get my head round - even if a lot of that technology is computer based and not rf based - provides an intellectual challenge that bashing out signal reports on the key or the keyboard just don't, for me. Good job we're all different, isn't it. :)

Theodore said...

You have a point Julian, learning is good, no matter what the vehicle.
I have found in ham radio that a stratification takes place with people gravitating towards favoured modes of operation.
There is almost a gulf between SSB/voice guys and digital guys for example.
I am one of those who is sitting on the HF/digital modes layer and very much a bareback rider on these modes. No dx clusters, qrz.com lookups and that sort of thing.
Just a PC and a rig. I put my experimentation into antennas, particularly simple transportable HF beams.
However, I do recognise that we are all different and deserve to indulge whatever fancy our hobby leads us towards.