Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Where Are They?

We’re travelling around the country this summer, and this gives me an interesting opportunity to play with some gear.   Here’s a bigger version of the map from the front page:

Google Map Image

This is something on one of your phones, right?

Actually, no.   I’m using “Automatic Packet Reporting System,” which is something from ham radio.   Basically, it’s the combination of a computer, a GPS, and a radio.  Normally, software runs on the computer that reports your position occasionally to other people using the system.  The software also provides you with a map, and everyone who’s on the frequency with APRS gear and are within range show up as icons on the map.

Some of these systems are hooked up to the internet, and packets from the APRS system are passed to a set of servers on the network to back up diffuse, worldwide APRS network.   If you don’t have APRS gear, or aren’t a ham, you can take a look at the APRS network by querying these servers.   The best website I know to do that with is APRS,fi, which I’m using to pull our location on the trip and provide it to you.


Yeah, yeah, yeah… tell me about your rig.

Picture from here.

Picture from here.

On the road, I’ve got a VX-8R plugged into a 30 watt mobile amplifier, and it not being my car, a mag mount antenna.  I’ve had it about four years, and it’s nice.   I also use it for checking a debugging things at the radio station, thanks to the wide receive on it.  I also shelled out for one of those Baofeng cheapies a couple weeks ago, and I’ll have that on the road.

I’ll probably have the voice VFO on 146.52 the trip, since it’s a VHF only amp and I don’t want to confuse it with 220 or 440 stuff, but I’ll probably hunt around on repeaters as I go.   My call is on this page, if you know where to look.

I’ve done a little bit of HF here and there, but honestly I got into it more for the VHF and UHF weather spotting stuff, digital modes, and experimentation.   Pounding brass never really interested me, so older hams can start feeling superior to me…. now.

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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