Saturday, February 19, 2011

APRS aggro


I like to think APRS is a haven from the aggravation often found on the rest of the bands, but unfortunately we have our problems too. This afternoon an APRS message appeared on my screen from G1ZRN-10 that clearly had been addressed to ALL.


It obviously wasn't intended for me personally. I don't gate from one band to another. In fact at the weekend I leave my HF IGate receive-only because I don't want to add to the mayhem. But there is a lot of traffic gated from VHF to HF by stations in the south of France. It serves no useful purpose for me in the UK to receive information about French repeaters or French radio club meetings nor is there any point in gating position beacons from French VHF stations on to 30m. But what can you do?

I don't think getting your blood pressure up and acting like a band policeman will solve the problem. Unfortunately the language barrier doesn't help here. Because of that there are no common forums where European APRS users meet, where an approach could be worked out. A direct approach to the offenders would need to be made by a native speaker who could gauge the individual's attitude, find out why they are doing this, and tactfully dissuade them from it. Blunt emails in capitals and in English could easily have the opposite of the desired effect.

I think it is one of those things we just have to live with. Actually I'm not sure the effect is really that bad. I'm running just 10W to a magnetic loop in the attic and my beacons are reliably gated throughout most of the day by stations in Germany. When European HF mobiles are about I often gate them, so the network still works. But it would be nice to have a blacklist function in my IGate software so that I can refuse to pass traffic for the offending stations. If everyone did that, it might get them to mend their ways or get off the air.

Some folks have set up an alternative APRS network on 20 metres called Net14. I don't think that's the answer. Sure, you get away from the idiotic VHF to HF gateways, but you get away from all the other activity too. I tried it a couple of times and it was even more boring than VHF is here most of the time.

If anyone has any serious suggestions as to how to solve the problem of cross-band gating on 30m I'd be glad to hear them. Or even non-serious ones. Right, I'm off to bid for a GPS-guided missile on eBay!
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