We’ve been hard at work on #LaunchWithFaraday moving ever so closer to an awesome ham radio buoy. This pushed us to focus to improve telemetry support. In doing so we realized that remote telemetry is one of the things that amateur radio can absolutely thrive at. The current support for it in the hobby is lacking greatly. APRS is the most omnipresent example and while it supports telemetry we often see stations never utilizing it or only utilizing the 8 bit data format. In-fact, it is pretty lonely when you look at stations on APRS putting out telemetry values. We developed and open sourced aprs2influxdb which is about to help change that.
Using the APRS-IS system with Faraday has two huge advantages. First, it is already there and well supported by clients such as aprsc and aprslib. We don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. Secondly, by pushing APRS-IS in a few areas such as acceptable data rates (like once every 10 seconds without RF re-transmission) we may cause some discomfort while we force the realization that ham radio needs to advance or be left behind. APRS-IS see’s about 50 packets per second and by internet standards this is nothing! We have room to grow.
FaradayRF develops and supports open source technology for ham radio. It’s awesome to be able to introduce something that is generic to the entire hobby and that is was aprs2influxdb is. This open source program installs on a computer and connects to APRS-IS to siphon of the full data stream. Each packet is parsed and saved into an influxdb database for use by other services. Influxdb is a time-series database which means it is optimized for uses such as telemetry where time is the x-axis. It is also widely supported by open source dashboards such as Grafana.
The goal of aprs2influxdb is simple, provide a local database for APRS-IS data so that it can be parsed quickly. It is simple and intuitive. While most radio amateurs may not find a need to run aprs2influxdb we know that some of you will. Please give it a shot and help us move it forward on GitHub. File bug requests, help improve usability, help document better. This is a great step towards making telemetry in amateur radio absolutely kick-ass.
Enabling Better Amateur Radio Telemetry
Influxdb is supported by Grafana, a widely used open-source metrics dashboard. Our aprs2influxdb software is the path of least resistance to interfacing APRS data with Grafana. In a future blog post we will be announcing a general amateur radio website that uses aprs2influxdb to access all station data on APRS for anyone. Think of it as an aprs.fi for telemetry. If you’re on our mailing list you’ll get a sneak peak at using the website before anyone else so join the newsletter :). Come help user test with us!
We believe the future of amateur radio is bright. There is room to grow and telemetry is our focus at this time. Ham radio will become the go-to technology for those interested in remote sensing over tens of miles. Using our open source projects radio amateurs will be able to leverage ham radio for absolutely awesome high altitude balloons, marine vehicles, repeater monitoring, and all other sorts of remote applications. It’s exciting! Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know what you think of aprs2influxdb.
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Author: Bryce Salmi
Licensed radio amateur KB1LQC and Co-Founder of FaradayRF. Professional Electrical Engineer designing and building avionics for rockets and spacecraft during the day and developing the future of digital amateur radio experimentation by night. All opinions are my own.