This morning on my drive to work I was listening to a conversation on the PAPA system via PAPA 22 which is on Pleasant’s Peak. The PAPA system has many repeaters interlinked throughout California. A ham operator was hiking up to Strawberry Peak to do a SOTA activation (W6/CT-018). I don’t know which repeater he was using, but it probably wasn’t PAPA 22. I’m thinking maybe he was on PAPA 4. Anyway, when I got to work I thought I would see if he was tracking his location via APRS and found him as N6MKW-7. I then sent him a message over APRS using the FindU APRS message gateway which enables people to send messages from a computer over to the air to a ham station. I received a confirmation a few minutes later:
I can also see that this ham operator has been busy on the SOTA activation he started this morning:
You may wonder, what does this all mean? Well imagine this guy needed help. I heard him on the radio. I was able to communicate with him that way. But since he was also tracking himself via APRS, I knew his approximate location and I was able to send short messages to him and receive messages in return. On his side, he was working over the air (RF frequency 144.390) while I was communicating via internet-connected RF relays.
This is an example of real-life communication including vital information without phones. If he was in trouble, I could have called for help and let him know help was on the way. And while he was waiting I could continue communicating with him and relaying vital information to emergency responders.