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New digipeaters for Southern Highlands "Black Hole"

Hopefully within the next few weeks we should see two new digipeaters appearing on air, covering the notorious "Black Hole" in coverage along the Hume Hwy between Sydney and Canberra.

Thanks to a couple of interested amateurs in the area, VK2RHR-1 at High Range and VK2RGN-1 in Goulburn (Mt Gray) are in the process of being built.

The addition of these two digipeaters should then allow almost continuous coverage along the Hume Hwy to almost the VK3 border, thanks to the excellent coverage from VK1RGI-1, and the relocation of the Wagga digipeater VK2RWG-1, which is now providing excellent coverage out to Gundagai and down towards Holbrook.

WICEN NSW - HCC APRS Trial

The 2009 Hawkesbury Canoe Classic over the weekend of 25-26 October saw APRS being used not only for position tracking of key assets, but also a fairly successful trial of updating a central database with canoe times at three checkpoints.

The event operated on the WICEN frequency of 145.200, with three digipeaters (VK2RWK-1, VK2WIM-1 and VK2RWS-1) providing pretty good coverage over the entire course.  An IGate (VK2XGK-5) provided an Internet link back to APRS-IS, where the timing data was collected by a custom server application (VK2XJG-5).

Three checkpoints (Charlie, Delta and Echo) operated a customised version of VK5EX's MEX package (Thanks Andrew) to enter some 400 canoe "Left Here" times into the network, which were logged successfully by the server.

Although Race Control did not have direct RF access to the APRS network, they did have Internet access and were able to track the various trackers via aprs.fi, and access the timing data via the web interfaces of the server.

TinyTrak units were fitted in the land-based First Aid vehicle, the Event Commander's vehicle, the Safety vessel and the Closedown boat.

Unfortunately some of the trackers ceased operating correctly at various points into the event, however the HCC officials were very impressed with what we were able to show-off.

Being a trial of the MEX software, there were some items identified that will require some more thought, as there were some situations that arose that the current software is not capable of handling currently... however this was the purpose of the trial and hopefully we will see this application of APRS used by additional checkpoints next year after ironing out the issues.

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