[OZAPRS] APRS at Burning Man

Paul Mullins pmullins at vk5vco.dyndns.org
Wed Sep 17 11:36:01 EST 2014

Now that is a great story for the use of APRS, and the use of messaging 
on top of the presence data is a great idea, well it is all AX25 in the 
end, great story and keep up the great work.


On 16/09/2014 7:40 AM, Darryl Smith wrote:
> Hi all
> Now that I am back from the ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications 
> Conference in Austin, Texas I can now catch up on my emails. The 
> following was from the APRS Mailing List at TAPR. Enjoy
> Darryl
> ........
> Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:09:43 -0400
> From: Allan Sadowski <polymath99 at gmail.com <mailto:polymath99 at gmail.com>>
> To: "aprssig at tapr.org <mailto:aprssig at tapr.org>" <aprssig at tapr.org 
> <mailto:aprssig at tapr.org>>
> Subject: [aprssig] Fwd: Burning Man Trackers and Display Software
> Message-ID: <B68BD529-6164-46D7-8011-13B31C25302D at gmail.com 
> <mailto:B68BD529-6164-46D7-8011-13B31C25302D at gmail.com>>
> Content-Type: text/plain;    charset=utf-8
> OK... I'm finally digging out from the nearly 3000 mile drive to come 
> back from the Burning Man Event.... catching up on email....
>> I can respond to some of the outstanding work that Scott Miller did 
>> for my Burning Man "Practical" Art Project..... if somebody wants to 
>> see pictures of equipment or the display... or installation... I 
>> guess we can figure out how / where to place the pictures for general 
>> viewing....
>> First... OUTSTANDING gear Scott.... I bought 10 trackers from Scott 
>> to trial ambulance tracking for this event....
>>       low power... SUPURB power management
>> 9600 bps... time slotting...
>>       robust... works in HEAT... works in DUST... works in vibration 
>> environment... just plain WORKS...
>> I'm thinking a few more - (improved from lessons learned) trackers 
>> for the future if Scott can put up with me for another round....
>> As Scott related... we tracked almost 20 vehicles .... and they were 
>> running around the clock.... UHF.... I figure less than half a watt 
>> at the antenna... and yet we had great tracks to 10 miles as the crow 
>> flies (town of Empire).... from a 24 ft magnesium mast .... with a 
>> Hustler G6-440 antenna.  30 ft of VERY LOW LOSS Wilson LMR 400 coax 
>> from antenna to lightning arrestor.... arrestor bolted to copper 
>> ground rod... and then another 30 Ft of LMR 400 to my old Kenwood 
>> D700 receiver.  That in turn (via serial to USB converter) to a 
>> refurb Dell laptop... running the Depiction software.  Oh by the 
>> way... lightning hit within a few hundred yards during the event... 
>> when power was restored it continued to operate for 7 more days till 
>> we demob'd.  Oh... winds were near Hurricane strength a couple of 
>> times.... did I mention the salty talcum powder like dust :)
>> Why Depiction....
>> I asked a few authors about how to take a pdf file of the city map... 
>> (10k by 10k when converted to TIFF format and the map pdf not 
>> available till a few weeks before event)... oh by the way, that pdf 
>> was NOT north up... and make a decent quality map for display  (zoom) 
>> - usable WITHOUT the internet.... and it appeared that there wasn't 
>> an easy way for this dummy (me) to get a decent map georegistered and 
>> working with most software out there...
>> I'm sure some folks here on the SIG could have done it with some 
>> other software.... just I'm not that capable/good with most APRS 
>> software...  I did it my way.... and I'd love to learn a better way - 
>> especially if it is anywhere near as easy as it ended up being with 
>> Depiction.
>> FYI.... the event map changes every year, the location shifts a 
>> little bit every year... the city is about five square miles and 
>> probably over 60 miles of streets....  coordinates and pdf map come 
>> out less than 10 weeks prior to event.  I am not a GIS specialist... 
>> but with the 30 day trial Depiction allows... and the videos 
>> Depiction has on line... and Depiction has a module upgrade that does 
>> live APRS data - I could do what I need to get a georegistered map at 
>> the last minute (without internet)...
>> Depiction worked... and if we can find a way to post some images... 
>> you can see just how well the tracks followed the city streets.... 
>> outstanding results from Depiction and I can say enough good about 
>> Scott (Argent Data)....
>> Andrew... I was the one who approached you... and in NO WAY do I want 
>> any poor reflection to be upon you... it was the last minute when I 
>> reached out to you... and I dearly wished I could have used your 
>> software.... and some of the other authors software too... and I'd 
>> love to compare and see what we can do in the future - lets work 
>> together and shame on me for not working with you sooner.  Depictions 
>> ability to rotate, translate, and scale an image file derived from a 
>> converted pdf... to georegister it with a few surveyed coordinates 
>> (only available at the last minute)... made Depiction a pivotal part 
>> of the success of tracking medical vehicles.
>> This is not a benign environment....  but the system worked for 
>> DAYS....with updates at 6 second temporal resolution... WITHOUT being 
>> tied to vehicle power.... all in a size smaller than a paperback 
>> book.... mag mount to vehicle roofs where we had to place a metal 
>> plate....  I cannot say enough.... simply outstanding results from 
>> Scott and the Depiction product.
>> Problems I'd like to address for future use - and I hope Scott will 
>> decide not to ignore me in the future for all my failings......
>> 1.  I don't need to display a breadcrumb trail that lasts forever.... 
>> it'd be better to have three choices...
>>       forever... like now
>>       never (just current positions)...
>>       user selected time (5, 20, 60 minutes)
>> 2.  Ability to select (and display) just one selected vehicle and its 
>> track
>>       Similarly to highlight one track so it is different from all 
>> the other tracks
>> 3.  Log of all vehicle tracks and playback of the same - post event. 
>>  - even better to pick the time range and vehicle out from the logs....
>> 4. Ability to change unit ID on screen.  When a vehicle role changes 
>> during the event I'd like to be able to change it there... not have 
>> to go reprogram it in the tracker
>>       Example - the Airway team moves from Ambulance 5 to Ambulance 
>> 7..... I'd like to hook the new unit and modify its attributes 
>> immediately...
>>       without changing callsign or having to reprogram tracker.
>> 5.  Want to be able to dynamically change beacon rate.... universally 
>> (all devices at a minimum)
>>       Individually even better... from the base station....  even if 
>> I can only do so when the vehicles are within 100 ft of the base station
>> 6.  Need the tracker to adjust it's position rate due to power 
>> available... as well as report it's current power status.
>> 7.  Though Scotts devices exceeded my design specs...I learned (my 
>> fault) we need trackers that work 3x as long a period (two weeks at 
>> the incredible rate of 20 of 24 hours a day and NOT tied to vehicle 
>> power) ....  OK Scott... I know the device will be twice the size... 
>>  I'm ok with that....
>> 8.  Need to be able to take tracker  feeds coming in on multiple 
>> frequencies simultaneously.... Ambulances on one freq, logistics 
>> vehicles on another freq, fire on another freq, security vehicles on 
>> yet a fourth freq.  At four vehicles reporting every second (TDMA) 
>> and six second update interval.... that's 24 vehicles per freq.... no 
>> digipeater involved.  To get all the other vehicles displayed.... 
>> need to accept that multiple freqs are in use.  Using multiple freqs 
>> is  NOT AN ISSUE IN REMOTE AREAS FOLKS.... plenty of freqs... I have 
>> no desire to feed this to the internet... it's not for internet 
>> consumption.... in any case, this is LOW POWER....  If you have 
>> different needs... then do it the way you want to in your sandbox.... 
>> this event has 70,000 people in 5 square miles.... no town within 12 
>> miles and the next town is about 15 miles... their combined 
>> population is 750 people... and no city within 100+ miles....
>> 9.  Need to have trackers shut themselves off when they go outside 
>> geofence.... (patients being transported 120 miles away to regular 
>> hospital)
>> 10.  Need to have the map display at 10 to 20 
>> <x-apple-data-detectors://9> others locations all on a LAN... but do 
>> not need ten to twenty base stations (antennas, receivers, power 
>> supplies, etc).... screen capture at six second rate and display at 
>> multiple displays elsewhere (I'm thinking screen captures and dumps 
>> to web server application every six seconds... then use Raspberry Pi 
>> at the other 10 locations ... using Pi browser.... gotta check 
>> license issue).... yeah... other 10 locations do not get to 
>> manipulate screen or data like at the master station.... but most of 
>> them don't need to.... but it's clear that everybody needs to see 
>> this location info... and make decisions with common picture of 
>> locations.  A picture is worth 10,000 words.... an advanced life 
>> support supervisor turned to me during one point in the event and 
>> said - why is that vehicle over there... that Nurse didn't realize 
>> how that one comment was priceless to me.... I had no clue why... 
>> .but that individual was making decisions about patien
> t care with the additional info we were providing... that was 
> priceless and made my anxiety/funding/contribution worth it to me... 
> exactly why I took on the project... and to be fair... Scott had more 
> skin in this game than me.... THANK YOU SCOTT.....
>> 11... quick attach and detach to UTV's... where no metal to mag mount 
>> on roof....
>> 12.  I have been requested for man portable device... .needs to be 
>> real small.... also a distance and direction like Yaesu does.... 
>>  events in cities where walking (running) responders can get to the 
>> scene where huge crowds are at and no addresses are known
>> 13... OK Scott... 10 second updates would probably have worked :)
>> I gave Scott lots of freedom (not that I had a choice:) for this 
>> "Practical" Art Project.... I did not worry about backwards 
>> compatibility.... I had a set of Specs and gave the Engineer (Scott) 
>> his reigns to make a go of it.... I did not nag him (well... no more 
>> than once every three weeks)... nor have scope creep.  I trusted him 
>> and did not question his pricing ... yeah... I was getting anxious at 
>> some project schedule issues.... but I tried to stay low key... 
>>   blew some operational test, integration, and training schedule 
>> dates... but Man oh man... did Scott come through with outstanding 
>> results.
>> Folks, 9600 is here today at a reasonable price point with the UHF 
>> device Scott did for me... .and we received the data on my D700 in 
>> 9600 mode.... and if I could do OpenTrac instead of APRS as the 
>> protocol I would have... just on principal....
>> We did NOT need all the backwards compatibility baggage of APRS... 
>> BTW 18 plus years of baggage.... we didn't need to be everything to 
>> everybody.  Oh.... there were APRS packets on at least three freqs at 
>> event......  we were only one on UHF that I found... .
>> As to other issues.... yeah.... digipeating is needed in the future 
>> to accommodate terrain masking... but as far as my needs go... .it 
>> too can be to a separate freq... just set up yet another receiver at 
>> the command node... .
>> I guess I could work with display folks to take multiple concurrent 
>> feeds on separate serial ports... but it seems it'd be more flexible 
>> to have a SoC or SBC that merges multiple serial feeds onto one 
>> feed... .I'd love to take ACARS and AIS and have the option of 
>> converting to same format.. .interleave them into the serial stream 
>> and have that too.... we had one of the busiest airports in Nevada 
>> for a week.... some other place might be a lake or harbor so tracking 
>> those with existing aviation and vessel tracking would be useful.
>> Some additional (thinking as I type thoughts).... I worked on an 
>> system 18 years ago that had two speed (1200 and 9600) digis to 
>> accommodate trackers and digi relay on one freq... when you go back, 
>> I believe this was the first time - time slot APRS happened... using 
>> PACCOMM TNCs... those of you who've been around for 18 plus years on 
>> APRS (like me) possibly recall the effort I'm talking about...you can 
>> have the pain of two speeds on same freq.... same system tried to do 
>> ROSE network to control movement of data back to command center... no 
>> way I'll go that route any time soon.... the world has changed in 18 
>> years. But we continue to saddle APRS with backwards compatibility... 
>> I don't need the baggage.... messaging... don't need it.... auto 
>> QSY... don't need it... bulletins... don't need.... this is about 
>> TRACKERS.... for tracking acute care patient transport and maybe 
>> other critical asset tracking... where no cellular exists.... or 
>> where crowd density precludes cellular being reliab
> le.  Ambulance drivers don't need to message some of the odd vanity 
> ego stuff that I see with some APRS users....  I did AVL that 
>  predates APRS - APRS wasn't the first GPS tracking approach over RF 
> by a long shot....but I give Bob credit...his baby has moved some of 
> the common use forward at a low cost....  I just don't need everything 
> and the kitchen sink.....
>> Oh... it's my hope the other 50 weeks a year... some of that time 
>> it'll be used to track racing dinghy's at local regattas :)
>> Armor on ... shields up.... back into the hole....  and obviously --- 
>> you do what you want to do for your event....
>> I'll tell you something.... ... anything Scott or Bill V. and a 
>> couple of others that contribute here say to me... I'll take that to 
>> the bank by golly....
>> Parting thoughts.... Thinking about having some weather instruments 
>> out there.... like what the wind speed and direction are at the 
>> primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency LZ's....   Hey... a 
>> vehicle counter would be REAL useful.... counting vehicles at ingress 
>> and egress points....   oh.... some emergency call boxes - 
>> strategically placed.... could be very useful.... ever tried to call 
>> for help when no cell service is available?  Hmmm... seems like this 
>> might be just another other kind of telemetry....
>> Aloha
>> AH6LS
>> ---------------------------------
>> From: Scott
>> I didn't do the map setup, so I can't speak to that.  Station display 
>> was pretty good, better than what I remember on ArcGIS anyway. 
>>  Couldn't seem to limit trail length, and that was the biggest 
>> limitation.  It was easy to bring in other data sources, though most 
>> of those required network access.  Which we *had* most of the time, 
>> but we can't count on it out there.
>> Scott
>> N1VG
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