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  #1  
Old 04-24-2014, 09:14 PM
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N941WR N941WR is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
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Default To APRS or not to APRS? That is the question.

I have been on the fence for a long time with regard to installing a device in the plane to allow anyone to track my flights. That has changed over the past few weeks as a friend and neighbor disappeared in the swamps north of Zephyerhills, FL on the 5th while flying his Sonex.

They still have not located him or his plane and I'm positive that had he put an APRS unit on board, he would have been found by now and possibly saved.

Thus, I start my quest for APRS knowledge.
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2014, 11:03 PM
jclark jclark is offline
 
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Location: Columbia, SC
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Default Just Do It! :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by N941WR View Post
I have been on the fence for a long time with regard to installing a device in the plane to allow anyone to track my flights. That has changed over the past few weeks as a friend and neighbor disappeared in the swamps north of Zephyerhills, FL on the 5th while flying his Sonex.

They still have not located him or his plane and I'm positive that had he put an APRS unit on board, he would have been found by now and possibly saved.

Thus, I start my quest for APRS knowledge.
Bill,

The peace of mind is significant, not just for you but those who care about you. You can have an ON/OFF switch for those cases where you just don't want to clog up the system while beat up the pattern or when you are flying along with others.

I have used the system for years and now that I am having problems with my installation, at times I feel "naked".

Give a call some time and I will share more opinions.

James
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  #3  
Old 04-24-2014, 11:18 PM
tim2542 tim2542 is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Redding,Ca
Posts: 616
Default Good coverage

I've been amazed at the coverage, even while crossing some of the most desolate places in the country, like Northern Nv, Wy, SD etc. Always have have a good trail show up.
And my wife appreciates being able to follow me on trips from her phone.
Tim
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  #4  
Old 04-24-2014, 11:49 PM
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rv7boy rv7boy is offline
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Default Get Some kind of Tracker

Yes, Bill, whether it's an APRS or a satellite tracker or what have you, if you can get a reliable unit in your plane, do so. I bought a Byonics Micro-Trak RTG FA in 2011, and it has been very reliable for me. When I fly animal rescue flights I rely on it plus a VFR flight plan to help my family plus the search teams know where I've been.

As for the Ham license, in my opinion, anyone who can pass an FAA private pilot exam should be able, after proper study, to pass the FCC Amateur Radio Technician exam.

Good luck with whatever you decide, but just Do It!
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Last edited by rv7boy : 04-24-2014 at 11:53 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2014, 03:42 AM
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rleffler rleffler is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rv7boy View Post
Yes, Bill, whether it's an APRS or a satellite tracker or what have you, if you can get a reliable unit in your plane, do so. I bought a Byonics Micro-Trak RTG FA in 2011, and it has been very reliable for me. When I fly animal rescue flights I rely on it plus a VFR flight plan to help my family plus the search teams know where I've been.

As for the Ham license, in my opinion, anyone who can pass an FAA private pilot exam should be able, after proper study, to pass the FCC Amateur Radio Technician exam.

Good luck with whatever you decide, but just Do It!
I agree with Don. The ham test is easily passed with a few hours of study by anyone that has built their aircraft or is used to taking certification tests.

I've trained my family if I'm over due to check aprs to see where I'm at if not back by a predetermined time. While anyone can track me, I really don't care. I have ADSB-Out, so the Feds already know where I am.
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2014, 04:50 AM
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Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
 
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Default

I've installed a Byonics MicroTrak RTG-FA...easy to install and if you have avionics that can output basic NMEA sentences, you can integrate the RTG with that and avoid mounting another GPS antenna. I've integrated mine with my SkyView system. I've also put the unit on a power switch so I can control when I'm "tracking".
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2014, 05:09 AM
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humptybump humptybump is offline
 
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Default

There are a few very easy ways to add APRS to an airplane. The Amateur Radio Technician license can be studied over a few evenings.

Now here is the twist - it's called an "amateur license" for a reason. There are no guarantees. That said, I've not found many failure points in my three years of using a tracker.

My feeling is APRS is better than no APRS but if you are looking for safety, a satellite based system such as a PLB may be your choice since it works on the ground whereas APRS (as configured for flight) often will not. I also think ADSB-out will add another layer.

I enjoy having a tracker. My family and friends "check in" often. For cross country flights and most weekend trips I tell people at both ends of my route and they "watch over me".

It also helps with timing the "pick me up at the airport".

There are lots of reasons to enjoy APRS but remember, it's only as good as our infrastructure.

Disclaimer: I'm the guy distributing iGates through VAF members
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Last edited by humptybump : 04-25-2014 at 06:54 AM.
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2014, 05:38 AM
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Brantel Brantel is offline
 
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Love my tracker!
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  #9  
Old 04-25-2014, 06:12 AM
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Default

My installation cost less then $200, HAM included. Why not?
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  #10  
Old 04-25-2014, 06:57 AM
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Greg Arehart Greg Arehart is offline
 
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Bill,

Invaluable for tracking as has already been said. However, make sure that it is configured properly for wherever you are flying. With the "normal" configuration, mine would "drop out" when over the remote areas of Nevada because it couldn't find any primary stations within reach. This first time this happened (and I was very new to the APRS) Julia was really worried that I had disappeared and in trouble. Once reconfigured to hit secondary stations, I've not had any issues and have even gotten decent signals out in some very remote locations (i.e., east-central Yukon!). Even so, there are some places where no repeaters exist (northern BC along the coast is one) where you can't get a signal out. So I always also carry a PLB as well.

For most uses, as already noted by others here, it is a really good aid for a lot of reasons. Link to the map of North American repeaters:

http://wa8lmf.net/APRSmaps/NorthAmericaLarge.htm

Greg
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Last edited by Greg Arehart : 04-25-2014 at 07:22 AM. Reason: added link
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