APRS: Quick and Dirty


I’ve heard several hams ask recently what is the best/quickest/cheapest way to get started with APRS.  I’ll try to answer that here.  I didn’t have much help in this and had to sort it out myself, so maybe there are better ways, but this is what worked for me.

First, let start with what APRS is.  APRS stands for Automatic Position Reporting System.  While it can do other things too, most of the APRS traffic I see going through my iGate is position reporting.  Basically, you report your GPS positioning data to a central repository where you and others can view it.  There’s lots more info out there about it, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably looking to skip some of the background and jump right in?

First: It might go without saying, but you need an amateur radio license.  Even if you’re posting your data only via the internet, that message will likely be transmitted over RF and thus it needs your station identifier.

Second: Go to openAPRS.net to create and activate a free account.  Follow the instructions to verify your account.

Third: For iPhone users, get iAPRS. It’s free and works great.  The author’s page is here.  There are other APRS apps out there, but I haven’t used or tried them (and most aren’t free), so feel free to explore them yourself.

Fourth: Request an APRS-IS passcode for your call sign on this page.

Fifth: Launch the app and enter your above credentials in the various setup screens and you’re off and running!  Visit the app author’s page linked above for help setting it up properly.  It’s pretty straightforward.

That’s it!


image: aprs.org