Usually when I start to explain APRS to someone, the first thing out of their mouths is: "Why would you want to do that?"
It's a fair question. Why would someone want to put out a beacon giving information like their GPS coordinates, speed, and elevation? Or why would you want to send a text message to another APRS radio? Why would I want to do any of that with a radio, when my trusty iPhone is so capable. For me, I have lots of reasons.
One, I don't want to depend on my smart phone for everything. It's too dependent on things that are way outside of my control to operate in any kind of emergency or distressed event. Two, I just like playing with Radio, and figuring out all the different modes and things I can do with it.
I didn't want to spend a ton of money on APRS, and really have no interest in being able to text people via the service. My main goal was to put up an APRS radio beacon, that my kids at home could then track on http://aprs.fi, and see where their dad's work travels were taking him that day, or how close to home I was.
With the small scope of what I wanted to do, I could have just used an iPhone app called OpenAPRS if I wanted, but to me that's cheating. It had to be a signal transmitted on 144.39 to count. So I went with the MicroTrak - All in one from Byonics. That unit puts out a beacon every 2 minutes, and has a 2m transmitter putting out 10w. It also comes in an excellent pelican case that is shock-proof, water-proof, etc. I have that transmitter hooked up to a 1/4 wave mag mount antenna on top of my truck. The system works very well. Usually enough of my beacons get picked up in the rush hour traffic that my travel lines make sense.
My next foray into APRS I think will include putting together an arduino powered iGate. More on that later.
73s de N9AWM