As ham radio operators we are full of ideas and, of course, opinions. Combine this with an age to expand our network but really a standard and at our own expense. Lots of clashing principles. Ideal vs budget. Almost like an oxymoron. It just doesn’t agree some times.
So what is the ideal Digital and I-Gate Network? It depends:
- Urban – where we have a great data/cell-network cominimg the two provides a wonderful convenient infrastructure for Event Control Monitoring (I’ll get back to this topic). Simply consolidate all resources via APRS-IS and you are set.
- Suburban – although the data/cell infrastructure is expanding rapidly there are time and places where the Event Control Monitoring (I’ll still get back to this) must be by RF.
Thus there are two philosophies in how to build the backbone network. The key is to minimize the repetition of data. We can do this numerous ways and certainly combine them.
- Silent mountaintop I-Gates collecting data into APRS-IS with digi-peating. This provides a wonderful wide area coverage with minimal “noise” in the form of redundant data. Granted, it is not easy to to get internet service at the peak of the mountain (interesting challenge, however).
- Have mountaintop didi’s transmit to an I-Gate on another packet frequency (145.01 – 09). A brilliant way to achieve the same silent goal.
- Numerous lower elevation I-Gates, much like cell towers. Great low noise environment, but it takes a large number of I-Gates (equipment).
- Using digi-peaters with intelligent software beyond the wideN-N scheme. One example is the Microsat PLXDigi which also employs a geographic discriminator. Thus ignoring data from outside the “service” area.
- Combination of the above.
This is where the strength and weakness of our hobby. We do what we have to do to achieve what we need. Sometimes efficiently, sometimes not. However, as most hams, we commonly have an opinion and a drive to make the technology better.