ASOS information via APRS?!

In other radio related news, one of the cool tricks I learned last night at the San Lorenzo Valley Amateur Radio Club meeting was from KA6MAL about a system he built. He’s got an APRS infopeater in Boulder Creek and has it set up so if you send a properly formatted message to it the system sends you a message back with the ASOS (Automated Surface Observation System) weather for the airport of your choice.

For the specific details and permission of how to use it, get in touch directly with KA6MAL, but the summary is you format an APRS (Automated Position Reporting System) message query to his infopeater callsign and SSID with a message of “?” for information on the system, or “?AVWX KWVI” for example to receive the Aviation Weather report for the ICAO airport identifier KWVI (Watsonville Municipal Airport). When you send that, his system replies with an “ack” and then passes along a report like this one:

082253Z AUTO 24007KT 10SM CLR 19/12 A2992 RMK AO2 SLP131 T019401{al

One of the downsides of either APRS or the Kenwood TH-D7 is that the TNC has a limit of 45 characters before it cuts off the message. If it’s a limit of APRS or common amongst other radios, it would be nice if Kamal’s system would break the packet at 45 characters and send a follow-up message with the remaining information.  The 45th character is after the “k” in “RMK” … generally the useful information is before that, but if the remark is that the station is unreliable or out of service… that would be a key piece of information!

I’m not sure how often I’d be able to use it, but when you need it, you need it! If nothing else I love seeing more practical uses of APRS and amateur radio! Now it has me wondering what other fun information we might be able to get access to via APRS?  I’ve seen earthquake data broadcast before, it might be really neat to query the infopeater and have it respond with the USGS data on the single most recent largest event in the last hour for a given state.

Either way, keep up the great work KA6MAL and thanks for sharing the information!

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