APRSBB is Finally Here! (Almost)

A few months ago I promised a whole bunch of people that I’d finish version one of APRS for Blackberry before I started school in the fall, well that time has almost come and guess what, it’s almost ready!  I just want to address a few things before we launch though, so here’s some FAQs.

What to Expect?

Well the short answer is “not much.” APRSBB version one will be a position reporting application, that’s about it. I know that everyone wants flashy APRSISCE style maps, but the flat answer is, that’s going to be a while. After we get this first version launched, we’ll probably focus on building a really nice messaging interface since I’m a big “connectivity” kind of guy.

What do we have so far?

We have two prototypes so far and they’re identical if you don’t know what to look for.

The first prototype is one that I’ve actually been using for quite some time now, it grabs the position from the Blackberry location service, and reports it to an HTTP gateway which then reports it to APRS and a little system that I built a few years ago called anyTrac (I’m sure there will be more on that later). This prototype will never see the light of day, I promise.

The second prototype connects to the APRS-IS feed and interfaces with it directly. I was extremely hesitant to go this route because deep down I know that this is going to use a little bit more battery than the above method. Lynn (KJ4ERJ) (who I’m friends with) over at APRSISCE had to convince me to go this route, and ultimately I decided that this would be a much more sustainable route for the project.

How do I know when it’s going to be announced?

Great question, subscribe to our list, I’ll be posting there when it’ll be available and where you can get it, and of course you can check back here.

What’s the procedure for installing?

I will be releasing two versions of the software with every release.

  • The first way will be through Blackberry App World, for a $.99 (hopefully) fee, you will be able to download APRSBB right on to your phone, over-the-air, and that will be that.
  • The second way will be through the JavaLoader.exe tool that comes with the Blackberry Developer tools. Hardcore Blackberry-heads will know how to use this. I will release a .COD file and you can just load it right on to your phone that way for free. I will, however, absolutely NOT be able to give ANY support on this method for the simple reason that every phone is different. Not every model of phone, EVERY phone.

Why Charge?

Also a great question, also a simple answer. I’m just a broke college student, think of yourself as donating to my college fund… with absolutely zero tax write-off. Also, I had to buy the Blackberry Developer keys to make different parts of the software happen, so that was an expense that I need to cover. Furthermore, because I am a busy college student, the App World offers me an easy way to put my software out there and it will make sure that it installs correctly and without issue. This will lower the amount of support emails that I get and increase the amount of time I have to do other things… like develop.

What about Blackberry6 (and other compatibility for that matter)?

If you’re an early adopter and you’re going to be one of the first people with a Blackberry Torch (or another OS6 device), then I envy you with a passion. As of right now I see no reason why the software wouldn’t work on OS6. Though I’m going to have to wait for some field reports from users to come in before I can say that with more confidence.

As far as other devices, APRSBB is developed and tested on an OS Blackberry Curve 8330m on Sprint PCS. I’ve used it on an 8300 on AT&T with no problems also. I will be able to tell you some time next week if it works on an OS5 Tour (as soon as it arrives).

I’m really not expecting compatibility to be a major issue through version one as it’s such a simple program.

When’s it going to be available?

Short answer: “When it’s done and hardened a bit.” Shorter Answer: “Hopefully around August 15th 2010.”


Thanks everyone for the interest in the project, I hope that I can make your APRS on Blackberry a much deserved reality for those that have been looking for it.

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