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Appalachian Trail Golden Packet - Comm Coordination Checklist


This document was originally written by Bob Bruninga in July 2016 and updated in February 2020.

Some sections have been updated for style.. Otherwise, for all intents and purposes, the content of the document has largely been left intact.

Overall Checklist

Camera and Book

Take a camera and a book. The book is in case all works 100%.

Signal Mirror

For signalling other peaks in view as part of the Boy Scouts Operation On-Target or any other cooperating target.

ARRL Pamphlets

Take Ham radio hand-out pamphlets for onlookers

APRS-enabled Handheld (Mandatory)

Use a second APRS radio (HT) to maintain APRS text communications with the designated Shack Potato and all other stations using NORMAL APRS on 144.39. Use your station's root callsign without any SSID. Begin using it as you leave home! Periodically send status updates to ANSRVR with the first words: "CQ AT ..."

See: The dual-band APRS HT can also be used to monitor your local published Voice repeater. Use EL power or long RG58 coax and a beam to the nearest Digi to minimize self-QRM to your primary operations on 144.34.


You will need about 4 AHrs. Take two to have a main and a spare. And give you a half-way indication when the first one is out.

Kenwood Radio

Band A: APRS Digipeater (144.390 MHz)

Set up your D7XX APRS digipeater radio BAND-A on 144.34 MHz and set the volume so you can hear what is occurring on the channel. This channel is shared with Balloons and ATV, so we want to be aware of any conflicts and hear how the packets sound.

Band B (445.925 MHz CTCSS 100)

Use BAND-B 445.925 simplex for voice coordination to adjacent sites. This avoids QRM to the 2-meter event band, which is important! Also, a voice relay around a failed APRS mountain top will still count.

ATGP Kenwood Configuration - Alternate PM

Set up your D700/D710 radio as a HOPn-N and TEMPn-N digipeater operating in APRS mode. The Kenwood D710A and D710G can be configured from the front panel, but a PC is required for the initial setup of the D700 before the event but is not required during operations. This digipeater radio will be used only for the 144.34 DIGI, APRS DIGI beacons (STATUS text updated as needed), and voice UHF coordination on 445.925 MHz voice.

AT Golden Packet - Kenwood TH-D72 - APRS Digipeater Settings.pdf

AT Golden Packet - Kenwood TM-D700 - APRS Digipeater Settings.pdf

AT Golden Packet - Kenwood TM-D710 - APRS Digipeater Settings.pdf

AT Golden Packet - Kenwood TM-D710G - APRS Digipeater Settings.pdf

*** TURN OFF any AUTO-REPLY MESSAGES in the digipeater radio!

Duplicates (still an issue?)

The D7XX has a bug that causes your station to digipeat its OWN packet a second time. Fortunately, the other digipeaters will not because they will see that second one as a dupe. We just live with this quirk (and it does slightly improve success).


If possible, have a second APRS receive-only station running APRS on the event channel with a PC for logging all packets. This station can be left unattended in the car or at home since it can hear all packets from your station's digi. Do not let it beacon on the event channel, even once—too much QRM.

ANSRVR: Coordination/Status

Use your mobile (en route) or your APRS HT (note 4 above), to be in communication with everyone at all times on 144.39. LOGON TO ANSRVR early on EVENT day on your normal 144.39 APRS channel before you leave, so you will receive all EVENT group messages that day. Check in to either the "CQ AT" Eastern group or the "CQ OT" On Target group. To do this, use your assigned station callsign (without SSID), send a message to ANSRVR, and include your status.


MESSAGE BODY: CQ AT leaving home... etc…


CQ OT headed up the mountain to... etc

ANSRVR Group Status

These messages will be reflected by the ANSRVR engine to all other similar stations that have also sent their message to the same AT or OT group on ANSRVR. You will remain logged onto ANSRVR for a few hours, so send a new message each time your status changes so that others will see your status and so that you remain logged onto the ANSRVR. This lets all other participants over the 2000 miles see the status of all other stations in real-time, even before the -event- links are established.


Beacon Rate

Set the Springer and Katahdin rates to 5 minutes. If these get through, we know the intermediate ones are still there. The middle GDHILL-8 will also be at 5m since its path is just a single HOP7-7 and will reach both ends!

If either of the end stations is not yet online, the next one can set a timer for 5 minutes until they show up.

Digipeater Checkout

With the menu 625 INTERRUPT Display set to FULL ALWAYS, you cannot see your TX meter to confirm your digi is digipeating. Temporarily turn it off to see if you are TXing.

As an additional exercise of your own ham radio skills, it might be nice to try to also use your local Echolink node to connect to the designated ECHOLINK CONFERENCE NODE (if any) for the event. This way we can all TALK if needed. This is more of a test of capability than essential since few of us do this regularly. (We should practice!)...

Tactical Callsigns

Use ONLY the designated callsigns and SSID's below in the DIGIPEATER D700/D710/D72. The SSID's help us remember the sequence from Georgia to Maine. Use the ROOT CALL (without SSID) for your secondary station on 144.39 but use the SSID always on 144.34 during the event.

Status Text

Keep it updated and BRIEF. First must be your FCC call, then update to inform others what is happening at your station. Here are some examples:

WB4APR online 11:15 WB4APR See 3-7 and 9-12 <== showing stations heard


Use VERY sparingly. APRS MESSAGES are inefficient since they require ACKS and severely load the channel. Update your STATUS text instead. If you must send a MESSAGE to be sure to send it as a BLN#XXXXX (incrementing the # from 0 upwards for each new bulletin. By using bulletins, everyone can read the mail along the way. The extra bytes XXXXX go along for free, so if you want to indicate a RECIPIENT, use their abbreviation and/or SSID there. Such as BLN2MD-7 would be an outgoing 2nd bulletin line to MARYLAND

MOUNTAINS-7, though everyone else can read it along the way.


If you get an incoming STATUS or BULLETIN addressed to you, please respond in your STATUS or a BULLETIN so that the other end knows you got it. This has a much higher probability of success than ACKS.

ANSRVR Message (Announcement) Server

Use your 144.39 APRS HT to maintain your status on normal APRS via the ANSRVR using the CQ AT or CQ OT group as noted above. Once every half hour or so, UPDATE your main-line STATUS and also send out a status update on 144.39 via the ANSRVR to keep everyone informed of your status.

Event Messages

We may authorize an end-to-end SHORT message test if we successfully connect end-to-end main-line beacons. Once successful, we may authorize other auxiliary or off-line stations or hikers to join with their BEACONS for a 5-minute update.


We may authorize an end-to-end SHORT message test if we successfully connect end-to-end main-line beacons. Once successful, we may authorize other auxiliary or off-line stations or hikers to join with their BEACONS for a 5-minute update.

Message Overflow!

Be warned: The D7 and D700 can only hold 10 or 16 messages/BULLETINS, and then they will REJECT ALL FURTHER MESSAGES. You will not be alerted, but your station will then hear no more, and you will be jamming the net with REJECT packets. So copy down notes of any important messages. Once you READ one message, the NOT-READ flag is cleared on ALL messages, so they are all available for pushing out of the buffer.

*** MESSAGE BUG!!! Some D710 radios may ACK all incoming BULLETINS and messages to ALL. If so, replace the radio or update it with the new firmware!