Older findU News


January 12, 2003: Changes in near.cgi

I've made some changes in the near cgi, most obvious is that it shows icons (as the the ariss and pcsat pages). There are also new parameters affecting length of time, number of stations, maximum distance, and the packet transmission rate. See the details.

May 10, 2002: NWS Weather Warnings

Thanks to the finger sever Dale Huguley, KG5QD has added to his weather server, I now have findU doing some interesting things with NWS weather alerts. The parser triggers on the weather alert objects Dale's server puts out, and launches a program that fingers his server and saves the alert to a table in my database. There is a page to look for alerts near a location (zip, lat/lon, and call just like near.cgi):


If you just want the table, add &nomap=1:


If no zip, call, or lat/lon is specified, the cgi sorts by time_received and shows a CONUS map:


You can include or exclude specific types of alerts (type list to follow, but it is the 4th charater in the object name:



Clicking on an object name shows the text of the alert, and there is a link to show nearby APRS activity.

April 18, 2002: Baker to Vegas

The Baker to Vegas event is, as far as I know, the largest APRS event in the world. This year there were nearly 40 trackers following 200+ teams of runners over a 120 mile, 21 leg course through the mountains and deserts of California and Nevada. Befitting such an event, there was a customized findU page, including a table showing which leg a tracker is on and where within that leg they are located. This also showcases a new feature of findU, the ability to display APRSdos maps, and pan and zoom them. (More on this when I have a way to make it more generally useful.)


April 12, 2002: Time limits for plots

You can now control the oldest data show with mapurl and plot cgis. The default is 120 (5 days) the maximum is 240 (10 days, the time positions are maintained in the lastposit table).


April 12, 2002: Track Line drawing!

You can now draw track lines in colors of your own choosing. Multiple callsigns are also supported. This can be used in the track cgi as well.


April 9, 2002: Documentation

Finally I've gotten around to finishing the documentation on all of the public cgi's available on findU.

April 8, 2002: mapurl.cgi

Ever want to insert a map of your position into your own web page? Now you can! This new page, mapurl.cgi produces a very simple web page, when you call this from within your own web page in a frame, it seems like the picture came from your web site. It was requested by Darryl Smith, VK2TDS, and you can see it in action here at his site. Use the "View Source" command in your browser to see how the magic is done.

April 8, 2002: Absolute times in PCSat and ARISS displays

You now have a choice of seeing the times in these pages either relative to now or in UTC. The default is the relative times that we have been using up until this time. To see absolutes, use the links on the page, or just add "?absolute=1" to the old URLS:



April 7, 2002: I'm an Environmental Hero

I just found out that NOAA has designated me as a recipient for their Environment Hero award! Undoubtably the only one driving a 6000 pound diesel truck and with nearly a kilowatt of computers on all the time! This was given for the work I did in modifying findU to accept reports from weather stations and forward them in real time to NOAA. There are some details of the Citizen's Weather Network here. Radio amateurs in the network generally report using their FCC assigned callsigns, non-amateurs use a CW number, you can see those stations using CW numbers here.

The contributed data are used for numerical weather prediction research at NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) and for training and research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), both in Boulder, CO. The data are sent to the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in Camp Springs, MD. In Florida, the data are used by NWS Weather Forecast Offices for local area weather prediction. They are also used at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for weather prediction in support of launch operations. The data are also used by the Long Island Railroad for weather monitoring along their routes. This summer the data will be used for a major temperature and air quality study in the New England area.

April 2, 2002: Geo Cache tracking

While going through the logs for findU I came across a very interesting user. A couple of hams in Miami have made the world's first mobile geocache, and use APRS and findU to lead people to it. A couple of pages about what they are doing:



April 2, 2002: Australian zip codes

Thanks to Darryl Smith, VK2TDS, you can now do most Australian zip codes in the same way as you do US zip codes (they are 4 digit codes so there is no confusion).


April 2, 2002: Over 2 Million Hits!

(Actually posted April 1, but I don't want anyone to think it is a joke!) As findU enters its third year (it went online March 23, 2000) it has just finished its busiest month ever, with 2.1 million hits, 1.5 million page-views. Wow!

March 31, 2002: Cracker Tracker!

No, Keebler isn't putting APRS on the elves...turns out that the lead singer of the band Cracker is a ham, and has a D-7 along on the tour bus! Their web guys did one of the coolest pages ever with findU data:


March 31, 2002: Extract portions of a radar image

I've been working on the radar-find cgi to enable it to extract a portion of a radar image.


My reason for doing this now is that I am planning to send small radar images using the telemetry feature of my EarthLink SPARK unit. I won this unit in a contest sponsored by Earthlink, I won the unit, $500 and a year of free service. There are some very interesting features of the unit, but the price is rather hefty for what you get. I'll be detailing my experiences with the unit here. The plan is to have a near-real-time radar display in my truck as I drive!

For this application I'll need a small file size (something like 1-2k bytes), and to remove the callsign and icon from the display, this example covers roughly 30 miles from the truck:

findU display

The location of the tracked object will always be in the center of the display, I'm planning on expanding the image for display anyway, and I can add in central crosshairs if desired after reception. After being expanded, the display will be easier to see, and look something like this:

findU display

March 29, 2002: More zip codes for the near cgis

I found a CPAN routine (WWW::MapBlast) that queries MapBlast for lat/lons of zipcodes from many countries. I've updated the cgi's which accept zip codes to accept a new form. If you supply just a zip code, it queries the same old US database as before:


Now though, you can add an additional parameter of country which forces the MapBlast lookup (even for USA):

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/nearwx.cgi?zip=33042&country=United States

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/wl-near.cgi?zip=M5S 2C6&country=Canada

These are the cgi's which accept this new form:


There is a list of the countries MapBlast knows in the source code, but the formatting is bad. I hope to get it into an HTML format soon so I can link to it here. The important thing to remember is the country name must be spelled out, not abbreviated, with appropriate capitalization.

Also, at least one country (Australia) on the list has been confirmed not to work. The MapBlast web site does not know them either, even though it is on a pull-down menu, so it seems this list is very optimistic.

March, 2002: APRS IS Stream Monitoring

APRS users are aware of problems with the APRS Internet System. To help the efforts of those trying to track down the problems, I wrote a simple analysis tool. This simultaneously captures 5 minutes of data from the three central hubs and two of the AHub sites, and then runs an analysis of the resulting files, looking for data that appears on one site but not on another. The results are interesting, most of the differences are due to different filtering algorithms used in the four different programs, but there are usually a few unexplained packets. At times though there are very large numbers of missing packets, so something is going on there...

The test is run every hour, fresh results are available at the 30 minute mark. You can look at the data here.

I was the top prize winner in the Earthlink AVL contest! My AVL box is on its way to me, I'm anxious to get it...it uses a 386 embedded Linux board, with ethernet for connection to a host computer, Motorola ReFlex telemetry modem via PageNet's nationwide network, and their own software. There is full access to the internal board, so you can develop custom onboard applications. They also have their own middleware to make it easy to develop your own web sites, but I won't be needing that, findU is far more sophisticated. I won with a proposal to have the box work with findU, which really will be a trivial hack. Cooler (and more challenging) plans are to use the modem to pass images back through to a laptop...imagine a realtime NWS radar display in your vehicle showing its current position! I think it also will be easy to make a wireless IGate and produce an APRS implementation in the onboard machine.

Don't want to figure out all the parameters and write your own URL to get the page you want? N1BQ has done a nice web page where you can simply fill out a form.

I've done a lot of work lately in drawing data over maps and images. The system now has the ability to use the NWS NEXRAD images as the underlying maps. For example:


This cgi generates a png image, it accepts multiple callsigns separated by commas and wildcards. Since it is just an image, you can easily add it into any web page of your own with a simple IMG tag. It can be called in the regular find cgi in place of one of the MapBlast maps, by adding a parameter &radar=***:


The *** will auto-select which radar site to use, but you can specify a specific radar site using the three letter NWS callsign (not neccesarily the same as the NWS office ID or airport abbreviation:


It also can be used in the wxpage cgi in the same way:


I finally have a track cgi that works, it can use MapBlast maps, radar images, or use your own!


You can specify the start time (in hours from the present) and length of track (in hours) (limit of 16,000 points from database), for example this is 1 day of data beginning 2 days ago:


You also can make your own maps and overlay them with APRS data. To do this, you must generate a geo file. These are explained in the WinAPRS docs:


To overlay the radar images, you must give the cgi the url where the geo files for the radar images are located on the findu server:


To use your own maps, your geo file must contain the url of the map image, and both the map image and geo file must be on publicly accessable web servers, simply substitute the geo url with yours, this example has the geo file on the aprs.net server:


Older stuff:

The server sports a page displaying historical weather data for any station reporting to the APRS Internet System. This link shows the weather at my house in the Florida Keys:


You can use the server to find the location of specific APRS stations. For example, this link finds where I am in my travels:


This page understands wildcards, so to see all my stations, enter:


An interesting use of this is to browse the lastest activity on the server:


You can query the server for weather data for the last 24 hours, for example here is AE4MR in Sarasota, FL:

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin /wx.cgi?call=ae4mr

You can find messages from/to a station, for example here is N0AN:

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin /msg.cgi?n0an

Or you can use this page to find the 20 stations closest to any lat/lon.

More features are added frequently!

email questions and comments to Steve Dimse k4hg@tapr.org.

APRS is a registered trademark of APRS Software and Bob Bruninga, WB4APR.