the Automatic Position Reporting System as a WX NETwork

Amateur radio has a long and proud tradition of public service in the United States and around the world. One example is to provide emergency communications in natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a part of the American Radio Relay League, the national organization of U.S. Amateur Radio Operators, that provides centralized management structure for these emergency services. But, the real heart and soul of amateur radio public service are the ham operators who donate their time, equipment, skills and data.

One aspect of amateur radio public service is supplying atmospheric data to various users, including individuals and federal, state and local governments. Many amateur radio operators operate their own weather stations to collect local weather data and transmit these data for anyone to receive and use. Oftentimes, receivers capable of receiving and displaying this weather information are located at local National Weather Service Offices where forecasters can monitor the data.

The Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS tm) is a part of ham radio that provides an ideal way for weather station operators to distribute their weather data much further than the regions within their transmitter range. APRS was originally intended for position information data but actually provides a means for automatic transmission of all sorts of digital data. This is especially true now that the original APRS packet radio concept has been enhanced to include the capabilities of the Internet. The reporting of citizen weather data is a particularly useful application of the APRS Internet Service (APRS-IS).

The Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) is a group of ham radio operators and other private citizens around the country that have volunteered the use of their weather data for education, research and use by interested parties. The APRS-IS collects weather data transmitted from individual stations and communicates these data to the amateur radio findU server where the data are organized and made available to the MADIS Program at 15-minute intervals. The CWOP data also go to the MADIS Quality Control and Monitoring System (QCMS) which checks data quality using a variety of techniques. Based on these checks, data may be declared questionable. Occasional questionable data is normal. However, a high percentage of questionable data may indicate instrument or siting problems.

The results of this quality checking are then made available to the station operators on the CWOP Data Quality web page. This feedback to the weather station owners can alert them when a problem has developed. The goal here is to provide tools for station owners to help them keep the data quality high so that the data can be widely used with confidence.

For information on how to join APRSWXNET/CWOP, click here.

APRS has been copyrighted by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR.

This description is from Russ Chadwick, KB0TVJ. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, send them to him at
cwop-support@noaa.gov. Last changed April 15, 2013.