Automatic Packet Reporting System
Originally known as “Automatic Position Reporting System” but renamed by its creator, APRS is an amateur radio based digital communications system for local, regional, or long-distance (as in the case of HF APRS) tactical, real-time exchange of information among all members of a net, including map based displays for situational awareness. It was developed by Bob Bruninga (WB4APR), who currently works at the United States Naval Academy. He maintains the main APRS web page.
What it can do
APRS is used to transmit real-time information such as messages, bulletins, announcements and the locations of any stations or objects via amateur packet radio protocols. Real-time reporting of station position for mobiles is facilitated using the Global Positioning System. APRS is capable of transmitting a wide variety of data including weather reports, short text messages, radio direction finding bearings, telemetry data, and storm forecasts. These reports can be combined with a computer and mapping software to show the transmitted data superimposed on a variety of map displays.
In its most widely-used form APRS is transported over the air using the AX.25 protocol at 1200 baud Bell 202 audio frequency-shift keying on frequencies located in the amateur 2-meter band (see Frequencies). An extensive digital repeater, or digipeater network provides transport for APRS packets on these frequencies. Internet gateway stations (IGates) connect the on-air APRS network to the APRS Internet System (APRS-IS), which serves as a worldwide, high-bandwidth backbone for APRS data. Stations can tap into this stream directly. Databases connected to the APRS-IS allow web-based access to the data as well as more advanced data mining capabilities. A number of LEOs (low-earth orbiting satellites) and the International Space Station are also capable of relaying APRS data.