Developed by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) is a local tactical real-time two-way communication system that provides a local ham operator the capability to track local events in real-time. It provides the location of the ham operators and events on the computer generated map, and let all ham radio operators see the same that are near your area.
It is not just a packet radio. It is far different from a packet radio, as it is a multi-user data network. It converts a packet radio message into a real-time communication, so that it can reach everyone in the network in real-time.
Listed below are the four ways that make it different from a usual packet radio:
APRS is not just a vehicle tracking system. Also, the motto of Bob Bruninga was not to develop a local vehicle tracking system, but to develop a local tactical real-time two-way communication system that has the capability to provide real-time information about everything happening around the ham radio operator.
It can track all objects and events, including Repeater frequencies, events, accidents, traffic speed, emergency situation, and a lot more. It automatically updates all ham radios in the network using APRS about the collected information. Moreover, the GPS attached with the APRS displays the location of the event, accident, etc. so that the help can reach quickly to that location, if required.
It also allows mobile hams to send and receive email messages without any PC. Say thanks to APRSLink, a WinLink system. It is available everywhere at local frequency, so that it can collect all required information from the nearest area and transfer it to all hams.
In different areas, APRS has dedicated frequency, for examples, 144.390 MHz is dedicated to North America, 144.800 MHz is dedicated to Europe, and 145.178 MHz is dedicated to Australia. Like this, all local regions have dedicated frequency. A ham should know its frequency to collect required information about other hams in the area, events, accidents, traffic information, direction finding, pointing to EchoLink and IRLP, and more.
APRS also provides support for Universal Text Messaging. The benefit of this feature is a ham can message other ham regardless of the type of the device. The supported devices include cell phones, BlackBerrys, DTMF HT, pagers, and several other types of devices.
With its small size, you can carry it anywhere to become a mobile ham radio operator who likes to cover an event like the marathon. It can be used to track hidden transmitter or jammer.
These are some of the benefits of APRS among a big list. So, you can imagine how useful APRS is for a mobile ham radio operator.