SN Spotter Network: APRS—>SN Unstable Again

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Mar 30, 2008
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1,018
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
Interesting, I don't see any reports from you on Saturday. Did you try reporting? If you had some very serious activity, I would assume there was something to report. And how would have APRS specifically helped in this situation? You obviously had cellular connectivity, couldn't you just say 'meet me here'?
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
905
85
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Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
Mark, can you provide your APRS string for the same time period as when you were not on SN?

As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s difficult to support APRS for us as none of us use it. We may discontinue support in the future for this reason
 

J Weeks

Enthusiast
Dec 22, 2018
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Yuma, AZ
So I take it that SN is not going to put any effort into fixing the !SN! issue on APRS? This continues to be an issue. It worked fine when Ryan at AH was supporting it. Has anyone reached out to him from SN to try to troubleshoot why something that worked for years has stopped working? This is a very important feature and when it work, it is the most seamless way to report positions. Its a shame that SN feels since its something they can't make work that they're just going to throw their hands in the air and move forward not supporting it. For me, it was the primary reason to use SN.org. Without this feature, there is no reason to use SN as NWSChat is a better place to post storm reports for our group. It has been a main operational feature to be able to see the APRS positions in GRLevelX software. I guess we'll just use aprs.fi and NWSChat and move on. SN seems uninterested in supporting us.
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
905
85
11
Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
So I take it that SN is not going to put any effort into fixing the !SN! issue on APRS? This continues to be an issue. It worked fine when Ryan at AH was supporting it. Has anyone reached out to him from SN to try to troubleshoot why something that worked for years has stopped working? This is a very important feature and when it work, it is the most seamless way to report positions. Its a shame that SN feels since its something they can't make work that they're just going to throw their hands in the air and move forward not supporting it. For me, it was the primary reason to use SN.org. Without this feature, there is no reason to use SN as NWSChat is a better place to post storm reports for our group. It has been a main operational feature to be able to see the APRS positions in GRLevelX software. I guess we'll just use aprs.fi and NWSChat and move on. SN seems uninterested in supporting us.
Hi J,
We've spent a ton of time on this but can't see what is the issue. Ryan is still supporting it as he has for some time, we've thought we've squashed this bug several times but apparently not.
 

J Weeks

Enthusiast
Dec 22, 2018
7
0
1
Yuma, AZ
I learned something interesting this morning that may shed some light on the problem. APRS had been working flawless for me for several days. This morning I fired up Radarscope on my phone, which I hadn't used for a while. I had Radarscope configured to also give my position info to SN. I have since disabled it. However after Radarscope reported my location info to SN, the APRS !SN! position info stopped working. In my case, it looks like Radarscope may be a culprit. Interesting observation anyway.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Temple, Texas
I learned something interesting this morning that may shed some light on the problem. APRS had been working flawless for me for several days. This morning I fired up Radarscope on my phone, which I hadn't used for a while. I had Radarscope configured to also give my position info to SN. I have since disabled it. However after Radarscope reported my location info to SN, the APRS !SN! position info stopped working. In my case, it looks like Radarscope may be a culprit. Interesting observation anyway.
That is an interesting observation, but I’m not sure that would have anything to do with it since it stopped working across the board. If it was an isolated incident where it only affected a single user, then yes I could see that as a culprit.
 

J Weeks

Enthusiast
Dec 22, 2018
7
0
1
Yuma, AZ
That is an interesting observation, but I’m not sure that would have anything to do with it since it stopped working across the board. If it was an isolated incident where it only affected a single user, then yes I could see that as a culprit.
I didn't know it had stopped working across the board again. That is unfortunate. It was working well again, even if just for a short time.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Temple, Texas
To be honest, it hasn't worked sufficiently for about two years (about the same time Spotter Network was separated off of Allison House's back end). To be brutally honest, I don't see it working again on a reliable basis. That being said, it's time to look for an alternative way to send out a spotter's beacon in the field, whether it be Chaser Location on an Android Device or RadarScope on iOS. This may be an unpopular opinion among some, but it is what it is.
 
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J Weeks

Enthusiast
Dec 22, 2018
7
0
1
Yuma, AZ
I personally have found Chaser Location to have some limitations as well. For one, it stops reporting when the person stops moving for a time. This is also a limitation in Radarscope. APRS !SN! works and used to work reliably, as has been mentioned. Maybe its a possibility to move the APRS functionality back to AH. Perhaps it could be part of AH subscription features or even an addtl. add-on. Or perhaps SN needs to invest in its back end. There may need to be some monetary investment by the community. I work in IT so I get it. I just don't think we should abandon APRS. We need to determine the actual problem and move forward with a solution, even if that solution has some costs attached.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Temple, Texas
Just FYI, APRS only updates once every fifteen to thirty minutes when a person is stationary. Allison House still has an APRS placefile that can be used separately from Spotter Network as well. You just have to have a list of users you want displayed. I’ve actually stopped using APRS because of its unreliability. Like I said, it’s better to look for other alternatives rather than depend on something that hasn’t functioned correctly for a couple of years.
 
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So the question I have at this point is as follows, what does the APRS functionality provide that using the beacon on RS does not? Once of the reasons why I've never seriously considered APRS to report is because there are enough areas that I regularly chase where there's not a digipeater. Southern Oklahoma for example. There's a big gap near Ardmore, and that's pushing 50W through a good quality antenna with good radiating properties. I still call in reporters via radio, but I've always just run my beacon via RS. The only area I regularly chase where I don't have reliable data with Verizon is western Illinois.
 
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There are also several ways to pull data from the TNC on APRS rigs where it can be displayed on a computer and/or a tablet and filter for certain call signs if all you need to know is where your people are at. Another thing to consider is, if you are all transmitting reports to the same local repeater, consider upgrading capabilities to one of the digital voice modes (DMR, D-Star, YSF), which all have location reporting ability.

Keep in mind that AH has a small numbers of employees, and I believe SN is all volunteer. So resources on their end are somewhat limited as well
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Temple, Texas
@Drew Terril all good information. However, the problem isn't pulling the data in, but it isn’t transferred out to various sources where location is shown. It’s internal, not external. As @John Wetter has stated numerous times since this issue began, they can see the data, but it won’t transfer out to the various sources that display the SN beacons (GR, RS, etc.).
 
I totally understand that Mark. I'm just trying to understand why it's so critical for some such as J Weeks when there are a number of ways to track locations for his team in the field like I mentioned. I'm not trying to downplay it, but I'm genuinely curious, given the fact that anyone I know who has done net control going back to the mid 2000s has had a setup with enough screens to display all that information with ease.

Programming is not something I'm good at; hardware is the area I'm knowledgeable about (unfortunately that isn't the big money maker that programming is LOL), so I can't come up with a working theory as to what's causing the hiccup.
 
Feb 20, 2018
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Temple, Texas
Mark, do you have some other means of reporting turned on at times as well? That is an interesting finding.
Hey @John Wetter! I'm not sure if you'll find this by tomorrow (Monday), but I'll turn it on during the day for testing. I don't run it as much on my Yaesu rig when I'm stationary because the constant beaconing drains my battery. This is also my only means sending APRS data.
 
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DPetsinger

Enthusiast
May 22, 2019
2
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Minnesota
After reading some of the post in this thread, I have a few inputs that I would like to contribute. First my local SkyWarn Net Control does use the GR overlay of locations for spotters, as we get spotters from all over and we like to know who is in the area. Knowledge is power in this case if something like a pop up storm rolls in. So from my point of view, SN should continue with working out the bugs in the APRS to SN location issue.

Second, I do use APRS a lot, and when I'm spotting I find it better then using Cellular data. So I did a few test with my Digipeater and what is out on APRS-IS and found everything is working getting into the APRS-IS but as described does not seem to be making it to the SN output TXT file. However I do show up when I set a stationary location on SN.

I hope some of this helps, and I would be willing to work with/help SN get this figured out. I'm just not a programmer, but I do know how to work with Linux as that is what my digipeater uses (APRX). And just to be clear, I too am having issues with my APRS updating on SN