Amateur Radio

Some Reviews of Our Software by Hams from 2011.

Recently came across some reviews of our software at EHamnet.  For the most part they are very positive reviews and we thank the reviewers.  The second reviewer comments that our software is a resource hog.  He says that he got a bunch of files from his GIS department and they bogged down the system.  What he didn’t realize is that Depiction is not a full blown GIS.  It is a mapping tool that will allow you to do many  GIS tasks on a small scale.  Version 1.4 can handle effectively about 10,000 elements. When you start to get more than that you will see performance issues.  Most folks that use our software don’t need that many elements and are quite happy to spend only $199 to get the capabilities they need rather than the thousands of dollars for an ARCInfo system.  The version 2 of our software that is currently under development will allow a 100,000 plus number of elements.

New WMS Sources -Nexrad and NWS Ridge Radar

One of the advanced features of Depiction is its ability to bring in data and images from WMS sources.  But   WMS formatting is a bit esoteric and I am still trying to figure it out.  However, I had a customer recently tell me how NexRad ridge radar was very valuable to them. So I started a search on the interenet and I found a couple of promising sites.

There is this site which lists several WMS services.  http://trac.osgeo.org/openlayers/wiki/AvailableWMSServices

However of all the sources give I only had success getting one to work so far.

http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/cgi-bin/wms/nexrad/n0r.cgi?”,

If you go to the Add Menu and enter this URL and select WMS and then hit the show content buttons you will get a list of layers.  I chose the first one

I then selected Auto Detect and hit the add button.

And this was the result

http://nowcoast.noaa.gov/help/mapservices.shtml

Then after a bit more searching, I found this site.

They list several WMS sources but I chose this one and entered the URL in to the add menu.

http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/cgi-bin/wms/nexrad/n0r.cgi?”,

This time I chose the last layer listed and got this image.

It should be noted that all of these images are snapshots as of the time you grab them.  You can continue to grab new snapshots and each one will come in as a separate image in a new revealer.

I as of yet don’t fully understand what all of the layers are.  Maybe some of you that are more familiar with the NEXRAD service can enlighten the rest of us.  I will continue to try and educate myself about WMS and these sources but in the meantime, I thought that those of you that are interested in current weather might be interested in these.  It would be great if any of you could add to this knowledge by making posts to the  support page telling what you found out. Put the info in as an idea.  http://www.depiction.com/support

APRS Live 1.4 Beta

There is now a beta version of APRSLive for 1.4.  If you have purchased APRSLive then the install zip file should be available for download on your account on the Depiction.com web site.  If it isn’t there let us know and we will add it.  Contact us at support@depiction.com.

This is still a beta but it has been tested by several users in the field.  If you find any problems or have ideas for enhancements email davidl@depiction.com.

Amateur Radio Webinar Series

Last month, we started a new webinar series for Amateur Radio users of Depiction. You can view the inaugural session recording or sign up for the second session (TONIGHT). The series is hosted by Tim O’Shea, KY7Y, a Depiction Preferred Consultant, Assistant Emergency Coordinator and PIO for the Washoe County, NV ARES/RACES and the ARRL Nevada State Government Liaison. We are excited to have Tim present topical and important information for Depictions users involved in Emergency Communications. This week will focus on APRS with Depiction, and the APRS Live Add-on in particular. See you there!

Depiction and National Preparedness Month 2010

National Preparedness Month is a monthly reminder to all of us that we need to prepare ourselves–our homes, businesses, communities, families and more–for disasters. During September, we’re going to be running at least six different webinars to help people do this.

Though they’ll be using Depiction, they won’t just be product demos–the webinars, some by Depiction staff, some by Depiction users–will show you actual concrete ways that people are using the software to prepare, and how you can do the same. Each of the webinars is targeted at the tasks of some specific groups, but we hope you’ll attend as many as you can.

Full details are available here, but here’s the list:

New public service event webinars

During July, Summit County, OH AEC Dennis Conklin, AI8P, gave a very popular presentation on how he used Depiction before and during the Northeast Ohio ‘Tour de Cure’ bike ride fundraiser to build a communications plan and maintain situational awareness.

So much information was packed into that webinar that Dennis has agreed to give his presentation again, this time in two parts.

On Monday, August 30, at 7 PM EDT, Dennis will present part 1, showing how he built his plans beforehand in Depiction. You can register for this webinar at http://www.depiction.com/webinars/public-service-1

On Tuesday, August 31, at 7 PM EDT, he will present part 2, showing how he took his “depiction” into the field where it enabled him to keep track of events as they happened–visually, and without Internet access. You can register for this second webinar at http://www.depiction.com/webinars/public-service-2

These webinars are ideal for both Depiction users who want to use the software for their own public service events, and for anyone who just wants to see what the software can do.

“As valuable as the radios we use”

Doug Carter, the Emergency Coordinator for Crown District ARES in Florida, has a really fantastic post about how his group is using their copies of Depiction. He gives a great overview of the software and how his groups are implementing it, but here’s the part I liked best:

First let me just say that this software should be in the tool chest of every EmComm group. This software is as useful to our execution as the Radios we use. Depiction software is a one stop shop for the planning, deployment and execution of any event or exercise. In a single Depiction a full graphical plan can be developed to take care of every aspect of an event or exercise.

When a ham says that something is as valuable as their radios, I think you’d better pay attention!

Depiction and Public Service Webinar tomorrow

When Dennis Conklin, AI8P, AEC for Summit County ARES in Ohio, was tasked with coordinating situational awareness for the American Diabetes Association’s “Tour de Cure” this summer, he wanted to go beyond the paper and pencil methods he had used in the past. He turned to Depiction mapping and simulation software to get the job done.

Dennis told us that “in past years, I never felt I had the level of situational awareness I desired. This year, with everything mapped in Depiction, I was much more aware of exactly what was going on and what the implications were.” He’ll have more to say, too–tomorrow, Dennis will present the webinar “Depiction and Public Service Events” at 7 PM EDT/4 PM PDT.

In the webinar, Conklin will share how he used Depiction to quickly combine spreadsheets of stations, rest stops and shelters with street maps, topo maps and aerial imagery, and how he took his “depiction” into the field where it enabled him to keep track of events as they happened—visually, and without Internet access. We hope you can make it!

Depiction and Field Day

Saturday was Field Day for amateur radio operators, and a few enterprising hams put Depiction to good use in visualizing their contacts. Thanks to Dale, KB5NFT and Kevin, N5KRG for sending this along. Did anyone else use Depiction on Field Day?

Field Day Logs

APRS Live now available!

We’re excited to announce today our first third party add-on–APRS Live. APRS Live is an add-on for Depiction that enables amateur radio users take real time data received by a radio using the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS), and bring it in to Depiction, combining it with all the maps, data, simulations and imagery you have combined there. Because the APRS data is all being received by radio, this can all be done offline!

Here are a few key paragraphs from our news release this morning:

“Depiction is a powerful tool for the integration of multiple types of data, including images, spreadsheets and GIS files,” noted the add-on’s creator, Brian Smucker. “The ability to receive APRS data in real time via radio, and to visualize it using the advanced tools that Depiction provides is a powerful new capability. Now hams can do things that used to only be available to big corporations and large government agencies.”

APRS Live is the first Depiction add-on built by a third party. “We are very excited about APRS Live, both because it provides our customers with exciting new capabilities, and because it is the beginning of what we expect to be a wide range of third-party products that work with Depiction,” said Depiction, Inc. President and founder Mike Geertsen.

APRS is a digital communications protocol for exchanging data between multiple radio stations across a region, including position information, telemetry, weather data, short text messages and more. APRS is used by amateur radio users for position tracking, gaining situational awareness during emergencies, coordinating large-scale public service events such as bike races and marathons and more.

The add-on allows APRS packet information received by a radio and transmitted to a computer using a terminal node controller (TNC) connected to a serial port to be displayed within Depiction as simulation elements. For example, search and rescue workers can be tracked alongside a simulation of an eight-foot storm surge, or bike race volunteers can be tracked along race maps. APRS Live also enables the sending of short APRS messages from within Depiction.

APRS Live data within Depiction