EOSS and I-Gating
I-Gating, for the uninitiated, is relaying APRS data received via over the air RF signals onto the internet's APRS-IS (Automatic Packet Reporting System-Internet Service). There is a web page that provides an overview of this service.
EOSS, for the uninitiated, flies balloons equipped with APRS beacons. See our EOSS related APRS information page.
Why should EOSS want their balloon's APRS positions relayed to this service?
The Primary Reason
Edge of Space Sciences always keeps the Federal Aviation Administration up to date on our flights, regardless of our exempt status (1). In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to I-Gate the APRS data received from our balloon payloads to the net (APRS-IS).
Russ Chadwick, with some assistance from his son, has developed a web page where FAA controllers can obtain current location information regarding any airborne EOSS payload. This information is given to them in FAA Speak, that is, they can see where the balloons are in relation to any VOR station in the balloon's immediate vicinity. With this information they can easily incorporate our payload system's location into the tracking of the high altitude air traffic they control thus making it easier to clear that traffic around our balloons.
(1) Payloads that individually weigh less than 4 lbs (under certain circumstances 6 lbs.) and payload trains that do not exceed 12 lbs. are exempt. For an exact definition of exempt see FAR 101.1 exempt status.
The Secondary Reason
APRS-IS provides an excellent means of gathering tracking data for the purpose of predicting landing locations of airborne payloads.
Normally, balloons fly close enough to the "EOSS Prediction Center" (NØKKZ's QTH) that this isn't strictly necessary. However, without internet based location information, a radio failure there would mean that a post burst landing prediction would become impossible. In the case where the balloons are flying a great distance away and their signals are lost at the Prediction Center, predictions become either less accurate or completely unavailable.
With the availability of APRS-IS, it is now possible to track the balloon real-time via the net and also gather historical data about the flight. Both of these data sources provided by APRS-IS can be used to generate real-time or near real-time prediction information which can assist the Tracking and Recovery teams in their search for a payload system.
The Tertiary Reason
If you're on vacation in Japan, you can still follow the flight.
With services like www.findu.com, it is now possible for anyone anywhere to track any APRS station that is being I-Gated to the net.
Many individuals around the country track the progress of EOSS and other groups' flights. EOSS has an interface page to Findu.
The Quaternary Reason
Your Log Files
Our technical committee members would also request you open a log file and record all the packets you hear and forward onto APRS-IS. Whenever there is a technical failure of a package it is always helpful to have the most complete dataset possible to attempt to determine the cause of failure and possible fixes. After a flight send your data files to me (webmaster) and I will distribute them to the appropriate payload builders. They appreciate these logs even if all goes fine during a flight.
Become an Official I-Gate Station
In order to I-Gate data onto the APRS-IS system you need to be a licensed amateur radio operator, have a Packet Radio Station, have packet radio software that has the I-Gate capability built in and a connection to the internet.
If you would like to become an official I-Gate station write to Russ Chadwick.
If you want to be included in the APRS I-Gate prediction page you'll need to provide me with location information for your station. I will need your amateur radio callsign, latitude, longitude and altitude as a minimum dataset to produce these predictions. However, you can send me a full record of your I-Gate site. Go to the Multi-Site Prediction page for Balloon Track to see what additional fields of information are useful. And you can visit the Multi-Site prediction page to see what predictions for I-Gates will look like when we start generating this report. A web page specifically targeting ONLY I-Gate stations will be posted to eliminate the "clutter" of so many other non I-Gate sites.
I attempt to note all official I-Gates in the flight recap pages regardless of their appearance on findu.com. "Unofficial" stations will be noted also
Any station is welcome to become an unofficial I-Gate station. You don't need to coordinate with us. However, we really appreciate our official stations because we can plan out our I-Gate strategy ahead of the flight and ensure we have coverage.