Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trackers in airplanes

Only a moment's consideration will reveal the amazing possibilities for our aviation community.
Sam (KJ4CKK) has installed a Byonics MicroTrak-300 in his self-built RV6 kit aircraft (which took him 995.25 hours to build) and prepared a very nice guide for non-ham aviators about getting a license and installing an APRS tracker in a plane. Tracking airplanes is becoming more and more popular.

His plane's tactical callsign (as assigned by the FAA) is N399SB. Currently the last received position seems to have a lat/lng of (nearly but not exactly) 0/0 , probably a bad GPS fix, but just pick another day from the date menu on the right to see some of his flight tracks. They look even better on Google Earth.

Some more planes: N789PH (RV-9A) OH-XKR (Kitfox 4) OH-XST (experimental) N821RP (Long-EZ) has a discussion forum dedicated to APRS tracking of airplanes.


KC6VVT Blog said...

It seems to me that APRS Aircraft using amateur radio APRS mode transmitting packets on amateur radio frequencies, should use their amateur radio call sign, with the comment giving the aircraft information or FAA ID
Today's example:
e.g. MyCall: KC9WAS, comment: APRS Aircaft N631DG (RV6 Blue over white) listening 146.52 MHz simplex

Conversely, if the aircraft is transmitting on public/air frequency bands with APRS or ACARS, it would be better to reverse the format
e.g. MyCall: N631DG, comment: KC9WAS aircraft (RV6 Blue over white) listening 146.52 MHz simplex

Just saying, it seems to be more proper in the above than using the FAA ID of the aircraft as a 'tactical' callsign, while using the FCC amateur call in the comments of every beacon, position or status sent on the amateur radio frequency....73 de Pat KC6VVT

Heikki Hannikainen said...

On the other hand, if the callsign goes in the comment, it's quite hard to look up the aircraft in any APRS application or web site, as searching or tracking by comment is not a common feature.

It is also apparently common and legal to use a tactical callsign for an APRS digipeater too, at least in the US, just look around Albuquerque, NM or Amarillo, TX, for example. Aircraft callsigns are not an exception in this sense.

I still use my own callsign when flying over here, since tactical callsigns are not a common thing over here.