Long before all of our smartphones came equipped with GPS and fun location logging applications, there was APRS
(Automatic Position Reporting System). This is an amateur radio-based digital communication system for real-time exchange of information over the radio network, created by the legendary Bob Bruninga (WB4APR) over 20 years ago.Xastir
is an open source project (available for Mac, Linux, and Windows) that links your Mac to a radio and then translates the APRS packets into location and message information that can be displayed on maps. Think of it as an open-source amateur radio version of Loopt [iTunes Link
], and you've got the idea.Morse Mania
For many people, ham radio brings up the mental image of somebody hunched over a telegraph key, sending out the dits and dahs of Morse Code
to the world. Knowledge of Morse Code is no longer required to be a radio amateur, but CW (as it is known) is still the best way to communicate over tenuous radio links and could be extremely important in emergency situations where other radio modes won't work.Black Cat Systems
, the same folks who came out with Elmer, also have created Morse Mania
[US$19.99], a Morse Code tutor for the Mac. Not only does it run on all versions of Mac OS X, but it will actually run on OS 9! The application can be used to learn individual letters, groups of letters, and to simulate full conversations with other hams.
There are several online Java applets that are available for free and actually seem to be somewhat more useful, so you may want to search resources such as the American Radio Relay League's website for more information. iPhone owners who are interested in learning Morse can browse the App Store for a number of Morse Code tutors, including a couple of freebies.
If you're a ham and would like to pass along your tips for your favorite Mac or iPhone applications, please leave a note in the comments.