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MIR/APRS SCHOOL Club Roundup Reminder



MIR/APRS During the Annual ARRL SCHOOL Club Roundup
 
APRS inventor Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, posted some information about this
event earlier, but I'm reposting information as a reminder for other hams
and schools to get in on the fun.

The School Club Roundup (SCR) will run from Feb. 8 to 13, 1999 and has the
objective of getting as many SCHOOLS on the air as possible (all bands, all
modes). Coincidentally, the Space station MIR's orbit during that week is
over the USA during school hours, so this makes an ideal opportunity for
students to participate in satellite communications as well. As part of the
ongoing APRS (Automatic Packet/Position Reporting System)/MIR/School
experiments, MIREX president Dr. Dave Larson has endorsed the participation
of all schools to use the MIR digipeater to exchange communications between
schools during this week long event.

APRS-style (UI) packet operations do not require a connection with MIR. In
fact, by avoiding formal connection protocols, as many as 100 stations per
pass can have their "unconnected" packets digipeated by MIR. Any school
with an omni whip antenna, a TNC, and a 2 meter FM radio on 145.985 MHz,
should be successful.  Note that the APRS/MIR portion of the SCR event is
NOT A CONTEST, but an opportunity for students and schools to learn about
amateur radio, GPS, and satellite communications.

If you can, work with a local school to demonstrate packet and digipeating
thru MIR. And while schools should have priority during the week, if
traffic is light, an occasional APRS-style postion and icon packet from
non-school stations would help illustrate APRS to those schools running
APRS. Using the format below, your call and a suitable icon will show up in
your grid square on our APRS USA map.

The packet setup is not hard.

For automated TNC operation, set your TNC parameters as follows:

Beacon E 6   -----> Beacon Every 6*10 seconds (Kantronics: B E 1  for 1
minute)

UNPROTO ###### VIA R0MIR  ----> where XXXXXX is your gridsqare, e.g. FN20SR

BTEXT ]@[your message  ----> where @ is an APRS icon (see list below) and
your message might be the name or your school, your first name, a QSL
e-mail address, or anything else you want to say... but the shorter, the
better.

For manual packet program operation:

1. Set TNC UNPROTO parameter as above.
2. DO NOT try to CONNECT with MIR; instead immediately enter CONVERSE mode.
3. Type and enter messages as per BTEXT parameter above, e.g.

	]K[Hi from Chatham Middle School in NJ!  

An initial beacon rate of once every minute may help reduce QRM and packet
collisions and give   everyone a better chance. (145.985 has recently been
very busy with connect requests and very frequent UI beacons). If you are
unsuccessful after a few passes at that rate, try every 30 seconds.

Some common APRS station icons to substitute for the @ in BTEXT example
above are:

K	School (upper case K)		
k	truck (lower case K)
-	house with Vertical Antenna
y	house with Yagi (lower case y)
>	car
v 	van (lower case v)
U	school bus (upper case U)

If you are unfamiliar with APRS, I can provide icon codes for other
objects, as well as information about APRS in general. You can also visit
Bob's APRS site at:

http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/aprs.html

Bob also maintains a LIVE MIR downlink at the Naval Academy's MIREX web page:

http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/mirpass.htm

This page displays the record of packets received in Annapolis, Maryland
via MIR for its last several passes. His page at
http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/mirex.html shows the results of last
year's APRS/MIR SCHOOL testing, and it will be updated with specific
details about the SCR event (if any).
 
Satellite tracking software will obviously help determine when MIR will be
above you. It, too, would be an interesting item to demo for the kids.
Software is available at:

http://www.amsat.org/amsat/ftpsoft.html

Current Keps for MIR are at:

http://www.amsat.org/amsat/ftp/keps/current/nasa.all

The ARRL School Club Roundup contest is described on page 92 of QST
january, 1999 or at:

http://www.arrl.org/contests

Good luck and we hope our kids will hear from you via MIR!


Ralph, KC2RLM
Chatham Middle School, NJ

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