I am working with APRS a lot at the moment. I started a couple of months ago with almost no knowledge about this mode and now I have the feeling, I slowly understand it. Here are my 10 reasons, why APRS is a great mode!
1) You don’t need much to start.
You can monitor aprs traffic on aprs.fi to see what’s up in your area
You can start sending aprs messages to the aprs network just with a smartphone app like APRSdroid
To send real APRS messages, you just need a simple TNC and a cheap hand trx. You even can use your soundcard instead of a TNC. There are also tons of ideas for building own APRS hardware based on Arduino, RaspberryPI, RTL-SDR and many more.
– Using linux command line to generate APRS messages (German):
2) It’s on 2m so you don’t need big antennas. So it’s a great mode for mobile or portable
3) You can use it to discover repeaters and other hams in unknown areas. If you are somewhere on holiday or a business trip: Just switch on APRS and see what’s around. Many repeaters are sent via APRS, so it’s easy to find unknown frequencies and start QSOs
4) You can send messages. Most hams use APRS just to send out position messages. But you can also send direct messages to other hams. With the help of the APRS-IS this even works worldwide.
5) You can work satellites and the International Space Station. The ISS and PCSAT have an APRS digipeater on board. WIth this it’s possible to have short text-QSOs within a range of several 1000 kilometers. You can even get a QSL-card from the ISS for being repeated from space.
See here, how this works: http://dk3ml.elbebilder.de/2016/06/20/qsl-karte-von-der-iss/
6) Bulletins and group messages are a great tool to inform other hams in range about events or other important things. Sadly this feature is not used very much. Why not?
7) There are a lot of fun tools connected to the APRS-IS network. You can send emails via APRS or post tweets on Twitter. You can query weather or receive information about callsigns. You can even log geocaches via APRS. There might be much more I just did not find out yet. Any ideas? Leave a comment!
8) You can use APRS to monitor band conditions. If you suddenly receive many stations from far away it might be a hint for dx conditions on 2m (or for a good tx-igate in range)
9) You can build a RX Igate just with a RTL-SDR dongle and a raspberry PI and increase the coverage of the APRS-IS network
10) Of course the killer argument: It can be a great mode for emergency situations. As the network is self organizing and it’s easy to install digipeaters it can help to generate a realtime overview of the area. This might be true, but only if you know how to use it. So get started now and be qrv on APRS frequencies