Search Wikipedia via APRS?

It occured to me it would be possible to set it up so if a APRS message was sent like:

Outernet wiki [en] Some Wikipedia search term YHYHDE (Ham callsign)

Then Outernet could write a script to grep these messages, from the public internet pass " Some Wikipedia search term " to the Wikipedia API and wget the resulting page (if any) If a page is received from the API, then it gets broadcast over Outernet.

You could limit each callsign to one per month to stop it getting silly.

I’d be up for researching the script if you’d be up for using it?

Does anyone know if you can reach a satellites with a handheld?


There are some rules about what a ham can and cannot do. But assuming requesting a Wikipedia page is within the rules then APRS is a good method.

APRS has a capability to use look up tables so you can designate certain ASCII characters as a sort of hot keys. This increases the amount of text that the small APRS message can send.

When I started using the APRSDroid they said they are working on increasing the size of APRS messages. Does any one know anything about this?

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This is really easy.

The 8 watt little handhelds with a directional antenna, ie YaGI should be able to send APRS messages on 145.825 Mhz up to the APRSsats witth Digi - repeaters. This includes the International space shuttle.

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Great, how could we find this out? Would you know where to look?

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I can’t see anything that would prohibit sending Wikipedia requests?

@Syed @Abhishek are you interested in trying this out?

If you wanted to keep bandwidth down you could investigate sending these as plain text from wped

Have it in a separate bit of the interface to your full wikipedia articles?

Example output:

[email protected]:~$ wped -f aprs
APRS Calling

APRS Calling is a manual procedure for calling stations on APRS to
initiate communications on another frequency, or possibly by other means.
It is inspired by Digital Selective Calling, a part of the Global Maritime
Distress Safety System.^[1]^[2] It also builds on existing digital
procedures inherited from morse code and radioteletype operation.^[3] ITU
Q codes are used in conjunction with APRS text messages to implement APRS
calling. APRS calling is intended to complement monitoring voice calling


 * 1 Procedure
 * 2 Example
 * 3 See also
 * 4 References
 * 5 External links


1. The calling station sends a QSX signal to the station or group they
   wish to reach using an APRS text message. The QSX should include the
   necessary information for contact, possibly including frequency and
2. Once the called station or stations are ready to communicate on the
   specified channel, they answer using a QSX text message on APRS.
3. The stations shift communications to the arranged channel.


All APRS transmissions include the call sign programmed into the APRS
unit. The text message doesn’t necessarily require the station
identification commonly seen in voice, CW or RTTY exchanges, so long as
the programmed call sign is valid.

This example shows N6BRK announcing a net on 147.480 MHz to the NALCO APRS
group. When ready to communicate on the coordinated frequency, KJ6VVJ
responds with an acknowledgment to the QSX. If the operating mode isn’t
obvious in context of the frequency, the initiating stations QSX should
specify what it is.

| Sender | Recipient | Message |
| N6BRK | NALCO | QSX NALCO Net 147.480 MHz |
| KJ6VVJ | N6BRK | QSX |

See also[edit]

 * ACP-131 - Combined Communications-Electronics Board Communications
   Instructions / Operating Signals
 * Amateur radio
 * Automatic Packet Reporting System
 * Digital Selective Calling
 * Global Maritime Distress Safety System
 * Q code


1. ^ Brehaut, Denise. GMDSS A User's Handbook. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc,
   2009, p. 35.
2. ^ Bass, Richard K. GMDSS A study guide for the Global Maritime
   Distress Safety System. Tele-Technology, 2007, p. 9-1.
3. ^ Combined Communication Electronics Board (CCEB). Communications
   Instructions ACP 131 (F) Operating Signals. Combined
   Communications-Electronics Board, 2006, p. 2-25.

 * American Radio Relay League. Field Service Form FSD-218. American
   Radio Relay League, 2004.
 * Bass, Richard K. GMDSS A study guide for the Global Maritime Distress
   Safety System. Tele-Technology, 2007.
 * Brehaut, Denise. GMDSS A User's Handbook. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc,
 * Combined Communication Electronics Board (CCEB). Communications
   Instructions ACP 131 (F) Operating Signals. Combined
   Communications-Electronics Board, 2006.

External links[edit]

 * Amateur Radio Universal Text Messaging/Contact Initiative
 * Automatic Voice Relay System
 * ARRL Field Service Form FSD-218 (1/04)

 * v
 * t
 * e

                    Packet radio
                     * ALOHAnet
   Traditional       * AX.25
                     * Terminal node controller
                     * FBB (F6FBB)
      APRS           * APRS
                     * APRS Calling
                     * AMPRNet

TCP/IP packet radio * KISS (TNC)
* KA9Q
* Phil Karn
* Spartan
Specialized * FX.25 FEC
* Encoder receiver transmitter


You need to be a ham. Plus there may be some kind of fair use policy that I do not know about.

APRS was developed by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR he is amazing guy and has started to use a Outernet Kit and is writing about it I believe.

Goo to his website and start chatting or invite him to get involved in this forum.

Sam the APRS messaging system is amazing and its working now.
I just sent these 8 test messages across it.

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This would be entirely illegal under the UK ham radio rules. Read your copy of BR68 that came with your license.

Whilst we can use lots of “professional” network tools (many of which were invented by the ham radio community) we are limited to the kinds of access we are allowed. Many countries prevent the interconnection of public networks with ham networks.


I don’t yet have a radio licence, well only a VHF one, Googling seems to suggest that BR68 has been obsolete since 2009? Could you reference where in the new rules this would be prohibited?

Here is the latest iteration of BR68. It’s changed it’s name a few times over the years.

Clause 2.5 refers.

Thanks Mark

So it would be the re-imbursing Outernet for the bandwidth that’s the problematic bit?

No problem with the actual process of requesting a Wikipedia page over APRS?




Connecting your ham gear to a for profit network would be the issue. Tesco or Demon or Virgin or whomever you buy your Internet service from would be the issue. At some point along the way your data would be connecting to a paid for network.You would be enabling them to conduct their business over ham radio. this has been tried and tested in many places including the UK.

That said, OfCom turns a blind eye to amateur tunnels over the internet. Linking repeaters for example. As the end goal is ham-ham connectivity they let it go.

The other thing to consider is the speed. APRS uses AX.25 packet radio running at 1200bd on a single collision domain. It is also not within the realms of APRS to do such things. It is further hampered by its 64byte packet size. If you really want to forward data other than positioning then you should consider a “full” AX.25 system. Unfortunately these are a dying breed. Back in the day I used to run GB7TVG in Slough. It was connected to the Internet for the purposes of email forwarding.

2.5 Ofcom interprets these definitions to mean that Amateur Radio is an activity pursued
by individuals for personal (or ‘hobby’) purposes, with no commercial, financial or
profit aspect to it. The UK Amateur Radio Licence does not, therefore, authorise the
use of Amateur Radio for business purposes

Thanks for taking the time to explain, it’s still a bit unclear to me. In what sense is Virgin etc conducting their business over ham radio?

Aren’t they just providing a network service to their customers? And the customers are sending arbitray data over it? Which may or may not have originated on ham channels?

Wouldn’t that interpretation mean for example that / / were illegal?

I’m not trying to be difficult just trying to understand what the objection/ obstacle is? It seems to me that Internet service is being used for the purpose of Amateur radio, not that Amateur radio is being used for anything other than sending APRS messages.

Have you got any links to case law I could look at?



What possible business purpose is Outernet conducting when it takes public information that is un-encrypted and already out on the world-wide-web internet-APRS networks and just simply “repeats” it on its own Satelite L-Band network as a “FREE” service.

OUTNET was set up by HAMS, I believe it is a legitimate use and benefit for ALL hams.

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OK, you connect your station to your Virgin Internet feed. I send a message via my radio to request an internet based service. My request is picked up at your station and relayed to Virgin whom relay it to … and so on. Eventually the request is returned and I get my webpage.

You have enabled Virgin to operate its business over your radio equipment. Your arguments about how you can do whatever you like with your connection do not hold water. 1) read your Virgin T’s & C’s (most companies do not allow you to share your Internet service outside of your premises) 2)This has been tested in court numberous times and the RA/OfCom have always prevailed. By forwarding me the results of my request you have enabled Virgin to use ham radio and possibly stiffed them for fees they would reasonably have charged me for my requests.

However, INPUTTING information into the Internet to be served up by the Internet to wired users would NOT be a contravention. That too has been tested in court.

Your example of the RSGB web-SDR-receiver is not strictly “ham radio” related. It comes under the broader heading of Short Wave Listening which whilst uses similar equipment and techniques to ham radio does not require a licence (in the UK and most western countries at least) and in turn is a receive only medium.

Likewise the APRS agregators are inbound only sites. Traffic does NOT flow from them to the RF side. Gating received data from your station into the Internet does not cause any commercial gain as the APRS information is not commercially available. It is not for example used to track vehicles along a certain route to ascertain how fast the traffic is going (I worked on Traffic Master way back when - we did this). If you ask google to show you the route I used to go make my 300 mile round trip to Morristown, NJ today it’ll point you to Steve’s Findu site or

We could care less about Outernet’s business as it does not traverse ham radio.

Having said all this, it has just occurred to me that I may have missed the point here? Are you suggesting that a wikipedia request gets addressed to OUTNET via APRS causing Outernet to download the relevant page over their service? Again, I’m not sure that would be allowed at it’s technically a broadcast because there is no licensed entity called OUTNET operating in the amateur environment.

For ham radio purposes, a “broadcast” is a transmission designed to solicit a response from an unknown station (calling CQ etc) or to inform stations unknown of various events. EG in the USA we can re-transmit live NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts to warn of impending doom but we cannot simply read the paper over the microphone (don’t get me started on the ARRL news bulletins every night!!!). In the UK the news is read by specially licensed stations under the GB2RS banner.

Here is the explanation given by the Amateur Radio Message service WINLINK

Message Content
There is no privacy over amateur radio. Anyone who is properly equipped can read messages handled by Winlink. Each gateway sysop routinely monitors messages passing through their station to ensure acceptable message content. Any message violating local rules is deleted and the sender advised. Gateway sysops are legally responsible for traffic flowing through their stations.

Third-Party Traffic
Third-party traffic is any message transmitted that is either from or to a non-licensee. In the Western Hemisphere (with a few exceptions) there is no restriction on third-party traffic being passed over amateur radio. Many countries outside of the Western Hemisphere also now permit third-party traffic over amateur radio. Messages between amateurs if they originate from or are delivered over Internet are not considered third-party traffic. Third-party traffic rules only deal with that portion of the message path which is transmitted over the radio spectrum.

For example: if a message originates from a non-amateur as an internet email in the U.K. and is delivered to a U.S. amateur over the radio from a gateway station in the US, no third-party rule is broken even though the U.K. does not allow third-party traffic over amateur channels. Likewise, a message originating from a U.S. amateur and passed by radio to a U.S. gateway is okay even if it is addressed to the Internet address of a non-amateur in the U.K.

Users and sysops must make themselves familiar with these third-party rules for the country in which they are operating as well as linking with if they are exchanging messages with non-amateurs. US gateway sysops should know that §97.219© provides protection for licensees operating as part of a message forwarding system. “…the control operators of forwarding stations that retransmit inadvertently communications that violate the rules in this Part are not accountable for the violative communications. They are, however, responsible for discontinuing such communications once they become aware of their presence.”

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But note that this is the US position. US FCC Part 97 rules apply here.

I don’t know who told you that, but the length of APRS packets in general, and therefore APRS messages, is fixed in the infrastructure of AX-25 unconnected packets, something dates to the late 70s. It is possible to build a layer on top of this splitting a message into parts, but there would be problems with using this in Outernet. Each Outernet message file is only about 5000 bytes, so anything more than that would be impossible in a single go, and messages near that limit would only handle one per hour from the entire world. If you are using the ISS or other ham satellite for your uplink you have the additional problem of low bandwidth and multiple users on those birds. In general it is safe to say multiple packet messages would not be appreciated by the bulk of APRS users.

I think there’s a bit of confusion here. I was never proposing sending Wikipedia pages over APRS. That’s clearly unfeasible. I was proposing sending search terms of two or three words. Where the downlink/ page is then sent over Outernet. It still seems to me that this is technically and legally feasible if @syed is interested in trying it…

Yes, seems like a useful way of hams (or third parties, where allowable) to use Outernet and APRS.

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