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New socialhams feature to combine APRS with geocaching

socialhams
What is APRS Caching?

APRS Caching of socialhams is aiming at giving the well known GeoCaching concept an amateur radio touch. The idea behind APRS Caching is to connect the fascination of GeoCaching with amateur radio. Thus, APRS Caching gives radio amateurs the opportunity to rediscover their fields of interest. The socialhams platform provides the following concept as well as the needed infrastructure. APRS Caching can be regarded as a user-friendly project and is according to the Ham Spirit open to criticism, support and change.

How does APRS Caching work?

Basically the APRS Caching system resembles the main features of GeoCaching. There are so called caches, which have to be searched for by the logger. After having found the cache the logger can make an entry in the logbook. The difference between APRS Caching and GeoCaching is that the logbook entry is carried out by APRS. This makes it possible to verify the logger’s actual presence at the coordinates of the cache.

What cache types are these?

There are single-stage, two-stage and other caches. Single-stage caches provide the ultimate target coordinates where the cache can be logged. Two-stage caches first provide the stage 1 coordinates where you get the target coordinates in some way or other, depending on the cache type. Currently “other caches” are the traditional GeoCaches.

Below is a small excerpt of cache types:

Single-stage caches

APRS – An APRS cache has to be an APRS station that sends its position to the APRS net in regular intervals. APRS stations can be iGate, mobiles, portables, weather stations etc.

Two-stage caches

Audio – The idea behind this kind of cache is to hide an audio recorder module, that plays an audio signal by pushing a button or any other kind of activation. The goal is to use a digital mode such as CW, PSK31 etc as audio signal. There are no limits to your imagination.

How can I join?

In order to be able to join APRS Caching as owner or logger, you first need to register on the platform socialhams. Registration on socialhams is free, requires a valid ham radio callsign, though. As a logger you can start immediately after registration. If you wish to contribute your own cache, this has to be done using the APRS Caching feature. As a logger you need to be able to send out your current geographical location using APRS. It doesn’t matter whether this is done via radio transmission or a feed-in in the APRS-IS. This means you can use your ham radio equipment or a mobile phone with a suitable APRS App for this.

Radio hams become living caches

Everybody who is familiar with GeoCaching knows that GeoCaches hold a static geographical position. The reason for this is based on several details. On the one hand, GeoCaches are meant to show loggers interesting locations and long forgotten places. On the other hand, GeoCaches cannot update their location in real-time. This is where socialhams APRS Caching comes in and allows on update of the geographical position of an APRS cache thanks to the global APRS network that can be reached via radio from nearly everywhere. This enables radio hams whether portable or mobile to function as living cache.

The average GeoCache experienced radio amateur should not experience any difficulties with the APRS Caching System. Inexperienced radio amateurs will find detailed descriptions and assistance on various GeoCaching sites relating to this topic. Once you are familiar with the basic GeoCaching concept, the APRS Caching will represent an exciting extension for you. It will certainly bring about unexpected challenges but most of all a lot of fun for radio enthusiasts.

Join the community now on https://www.socialhams.net to experience this novelty. If you have any questions concerning APRS Caching or socialhams in general, feel free to contact me at [email protected].

An introduction to socialhams, a ham radio social network

socialhams

Because my dad has been an amateur radio operator for decades, my interest in ham radio is as old as I am. I had always wanted to get my license. Some time passed by and my interests changed in puberty. There were so many other interesting things like girls, music festivals, journeys all over the world for my job as industrial automation programmer. But my interest in amateur radio never left me and so I decided to get my license in 2012.

After getting my license, I built socialhams. It was hard work but I have really had a lot of fun. I am trying to spread the word about my project.

Socialhams is a community for ham radio operators. It combines features from typical social networks with ham radio related ones. To join socialhams all you need is a valid email address and, obviously, a ham radio callsign. It’s as simple as that!

As a registered member of socialhams you can freely meet like-minded people as well as join the Chat, write Blog and Forum posts, start Polls, create Groups and Events. Photos, Videos and Files can be embedded or uploaded to your profile and many other sections, too.

The iPhone App, allows you to browse profiles, watch photos and videos, upload photos, send mail, and lots more. All from your iPhone! And if you have an Android-powered device, our Android App lets you use socialhams while on the go, right from your own handset.

You can meet people; chat online; check our top rated, featured items; read about popular topics; wish someone a special greeting on his/her birthday; match your interests; and even take advantage of our elaborate people search option.

You will also find unique ham radio related modules:

DX Cluster
Use the DX Cluster feature to make that contact or Spot one for the rest of the community! The DXCluster tool allows users to locate and spot other Amateur Radio operators transmitting on specific frequencies to make those rare contacts or find that missing location you’ve been searching for. This is the world first HTML5 web socket based DXCluster client.

Logbook
The socialhams logbook allows you to record those important Amateur Radio contacts. This tool gives members the ability to add, edit, organize and sort their contacts all in one convenient location.

APRS Map
The APRS feature will display the location of any APRS station in the viewable area. This feature also provides each member with the ability to send a message from socialhams to any APRS device with messaging capability.

NCDXF Beacon
The Beacon Map displays the location, status and the current or future action of each NCDXF beacon in the network. By listening for each beacon on each band you can determine which bands are open and to what part of the world.

World clock
The World Clock allows each user to stay up to date with the time on any part of the globe. Users can also keep track of the Grey line as it moves to make use of this unique propagation condition.

Library
Collection of various documents like manuals, schematics, spreadsheets, etc

Elmer’s corner
The Elmer corner allows any socialhams member to create and publish a tutorial or guide for the entire community to use. Become an Elmer today!!

In our Feedback section, you can post your questions, comments, regards, etc. without any restrictions (of course, you must strictly avoid obscenity, rude language, and abide by the terms of socialhams). To cater to a wider ham radio community, all our features are offered in both English as well as German. Additional languages are in preparation.

We will steadily improve existing functions as well as develop new, interesting ham radio related modules. At the moment we are working on a Geophysics and SOTA module. All our work in process can be previewed on our development site http://dev.socialhams.net, and additionally all our developments are available as Git repository on http://gitlab.paan-systems.com. We would be happy to find developers that are interested in joining the project.

To enjoy the unique socialhams experience, all you need to do is sign up http://socialhams.net!


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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor