SN Spotter Network: APRS—>SN Unstable Again

May 28, 2009
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6/28 9:15 PM - I see it is working again. I am not sure when it started because I haven't checked for a day or so.
 
May 28, 2009
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7/4 12:00 PM - and I see no (not just those from APRS - all) spotter network tags anywhere. Even in Radar Scope the list is not populated.
 
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Feb 20, 2018
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Keller, Texas
AllisonHouse has a place file for APRS tracking. Why not look at that and incorporate that into the SN place file?

Oh by the way, it’s 7/8/2016 8:38am and APRS locations are still not showing up.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
With cellular networks working as well as they do nowadays, is there really a reason to use APRS to update your SN icon anymore? I'm just curious what the reasoning is behind it in 2019. The only thing you can do with it is update a position, with multiple hops that hopefully get to the internet.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Keller, Texas
With cellular networks working as well as they do nowadays, is there really a reason to use APRS to update your SN icon anymore? I'm just curious what the reasoning is behind it in 2019. The only thing you can do with it is update a position, with multiple hops that hopefully get to the internet.
A lot of us HAMs still use APRS when out in the field because

a) not everyone has the ability to bring a laptop in the vehicle.
b) not everyone has RadarScope on their mobile device, or the ability to have it open the entire time to plot location.
c) it is still a viable means of communication when cellular networks get overloaded (which they do) during times of severe weather and communication is critical.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
That goes back to my point, though. How is updating a position on SN a worthy cause when you are unable to report by those means to the SN? They have other apps than radarscope to update position with SN as well, and they allow reporting. Just curious as to what benefit it is besides the 'look at me im on a map'?
 
May 28, 2009
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Ben, I don't know you and you don't know me, so it is easy for us to misunderstand what each is saying.
I think many people would agree with me that your reply appears to be "chaser" concentric. I understand why that might be. I agree that most "chasers" have other methods of reporting their position and using Spotter Network to make reports. I am not sure the same can be said for those "spotters" that are staying in their home area and making reports to their local net via amateur radio.

I know several of our counties where the net control is using an APRS Client to keep track of their spotters. At the NWS where I volunteer at the amateur radio desk, we do not normally look at an APRS Client. There are just too many other windows we are concentrating on. Also, we may be working with spotter groups in many counties at the same time. It is not uncommon to have multiple instances of GR running looking at different parts of the CWA and using different radar sites. For us, that is why we like the Spotter Network interface to the GR radar display. There is a amateur radio operator in one of our counties that has written his own interface to the APRS-IS and builds a dynamic GR placefile for the APRS locations of their spotters. You know, kind of like what was developed for the Spotter Network/APRS interface. It is still working, by the way.

We rarely receive amateur radio reports from the Chaser community and I have ideas why that might be - not all of them are flattering so I won't go into my perceptions.

One has to wonder, with all the bad reports in Spotter Network, how much the trust in the SN community has been eroded? It seems daily there are multiple bad reports on SN - 1/4 inch hail, minor flooding, heavy rain, bad drivers, "high wind", etc. Sadly, the same is true in NWSCHAT and over amateur radio networks. Just now, I saw a report in NWSCHAT of "heavy rain and cloud to ground lightning".

I think your Look at Me reference is more for the "wanna be chasers" They are some that would probably never make a report to a local NWS anyway.

It was not my intention to belittle anyone or make anyone mad, just to present another point of view.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
So I still don't understand what the problem is. If you've got the APRS placefile, then use that. There's obviously a problem with the interface of APRS to SN, whether it be a feed or whatever. You're still not using your APRS function on the radios to place a report, you're using voice (VHF or UHF) or other means to do so. It's just showing up on a map on spotternetwork.org too.

And why would you want to receive reports from the chaser community? Why have to manually voice out a report to someone who doesn't know you from adam that may or may not pass it along to perhaps another liaison net or over nwschat when we can just send a lat/long through SN on our smartphones or computers? I still listen here in Oklahoma. I'd report via radio if my other means were restricted.

The bad reports are a problem, but every method of taking data from the general public is prone to the same problems. The difference with SN is that people QC the reports (like me - I've reviewed 100s of reports this year) and the bad ones are followed up upon. We're also working on better training. I believe there will be more about that in the coming future. Must be the heavy rain and cloud to ground lightning report was taken care of, because I don't even see it in our reports at this point.

But trust me, I am not ignorant of the duties and mission of running a local net. I've been in all positions from spotting to chasing to running net control to doing radar updates to running a large training session of 150-200+ spotters. I still fail to see how it's critical to have that link to SN from aprs at this point. Seems like there are bigger fish to fry, judging by your gripes with SN just in your post.
 
May 18, 2013
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As someone who is both a spotter in the FWD CWA and an active chaser who goes all over the place, I will share my thought's on this. First, I wiil note that you would be hard pressed to find a WFO that has ham radio as integrated into operations as FWD. The WX5FWD team volunteers hundreds of hours each year at the office, are well trained, and they sit across a short cubicle wall from the forecasters. There also is very good APRS coverage in the FWD area, especially in the northern 2/3rd's and center of the southern CWA. Putting on my chaser hat, I will note that outside of the FWD CWA and major cities, APRS digi access is lacking. I can chase in NW TX or large parts of OK for hours and not get any APRS packets digipeared or igated. It can also be very hard to find a frequency with an active Skywarn net (even after @ScottCurry and I created hamchaser.org to help with that). Having said that, it would be nice if the aprs -> sn interface worked again, because it is clearly used by at least FWD. I have been called out by net controllers in 2 counties in the FWD CWA because they saw my APRS becon and they wanted reports from the area I was in. I also understand that SN is ran by volunteers, and user support and other issues keep the team busy.
 
Mar 17, 2006
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Bedford, TX
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So I still don't understand what the problem is. If you've got the APRS placefile, then use that. There's obviously a problem with the interface of APRS to SN, whether it be a feed or whatever.
We'd love to use the spotternetwork.org APRS placefile... if it worked as it was intended, which included capturing those APRS positions that have !SN! located within the comment section of their APRS beacon.
 
May 28, 2009
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Ben, I guess you missed the part where I said the APRS Placefile that works is only for the registered spotters in one of our 46 counties.
You asked why I would want to receive reports from a chaser. Why would Spotter Network add fields in a person's Contact Information specifically for use by NWS and Emergency Management? Simple, so they could be contacted to get a better picture of what they are seeing. There have been times when NWS Forecasters have wanted more information about what someone close to a feature is seeing to aid in the decision making process of whether to warn or not warn on a particular cell. Yes, it is great to receive reports of severe or tornadic activity once it occurs, but there is a lot of thought process that goes into the warning decision making process. Information from people with eyes on that cell can help that process. How do we know who is near? The little position blips on the radar display from Spotter Network. You may never understand why that is important, but that is one of the ways that we use the position data inside of one NWS office. Disclaimer: I am not talking on behalf of any NWS office or personnel - just our team working the radio desk across the desk from some really smart NWS personnel.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
Well I was just going off your hypothetical of only amateur radio getting through (which is really not the case anymore, back to my original point) which means you can't report and the NWS cannot get ahold of you anyway. If you have cell service, you can update your SN beacon and receive a phone call from the NWS. I still don't understand the argument other than it's cool and I agree - would be nice if it worked. Obviously it isn't stable. I don't have any insight into why that is, but posting incessantly about it being down and throwing a tantrum in here seems counter intuitive as well.

I like APRS and ham radio as much as you guys, and have been running aprs on my kenwood d710 for over a decade, but even I can realize the usefulness of it has really gone downhill. I'm glad yall have something that works in FWD's CWA, but I've dropped plenty of SN reports around that CWA in my years of chasing(Looks like 18 according to the SN reports csv). Graduate to 2019. Everyone has a smart phone and anyone out there should have radarscope at this point at the very least.
 

Peter Potvin

Staff member
May 20, 2018
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Pembroke, ON, Canada
I would like to add a comment to this discussion, if you all don't mind.

In some areas, there may not be cellular service in order to use the RS --> SN reporting feature, but there is a digipeater. That is where the APRS !SN! reporting comes into play. If there's no cellular service but there is a digipeater, the APRS feature will should still work (under optimal conditions). If there is no digipeater but there is cellular service, then I see no problem using the RS --> SN reporting feature instead. Sometimes, it's just a case of one or the other, or none at all, that depends on service availability.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
Yeah, I get that. It updates your location on the map, but the NWS still has no way to get ahold of you if you are out of cellular range. You can still make a voice report. That's all I'm saying, is that the fringe cases of no cellular, it can be useful, but I'm not sure it's really something to get worked up over and post incessantly about. It either works or it doesn't, but dumping resources into fixing it permanently seems like a waste. That's been my whole point.
 
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Ryan Dobbie

Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2019
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Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
With cellular networks working as well as they do nowadays, is there really a reason to use APRS to update your SN icon anymore? I'm just curious what the reasoning is behind it in 2019. The only thing you can do with it is update a position, with multiple hops that hopefully get to the internet.
I was out on Saturday and my cell didn't update a darn thing to APRS/SN … I was trying to meet up with a fellow chaser in the area as we had some very serious activity and wanted to gather data before getting swamped but couldn't, we also kept having to hang up on the phone from talking to focus on repositioning .... very not cool for SN