Well, a number of us from a couple of counties did a trial run of the 100-mile route for May's Tour de Cure. We started at 2pm with stations located at key mile markers along the route. I then drove the route from start to finish to see how well my APRS packets were received.
Several of the guys had Kenwood 710s running and the hope was that they'd be able to digipeat for me. Unfortunately this didn't quite happen as planned and I went off the grid for over an hour. We had one station positioned at a rest stop in the middle of our "dead" zone and he was running UI-View on his laptop. We made a great discovery. He could see all of us and his packets were being seen online. So as long as we can work out the technical kinks so that the digipeating actually works then we should have full coverage. Another point about this critical location is that we have some former ARES members that moved and now live 15 miles south of his location along another portion of the route. Hopefully we can stage a digipeater at their QTH and see the same results.
While I was driving I also used today as on opportunity to test my new Virgin Mobile Wireless Broadband adapter. It worked great the whole way with covering ranging from 1 to 4 bars. I only briefly lost the signal in one area and it was back quickly. I also noticed that I have very little bandwidth usage when just trying to get APRS updates and not browsing, emailing, etc.
I left the course about 6:00 with good feelings about what the future holds. Overall I think it was a great learning exercise for everyone involved. Now my critical need is to figure out a way/place to download individual APRS tracks so I can overlay every station's track in Google Earth. So far the only KML options I've found (through aprs.fi and openaprs.net) are only real-time options and don't let you download the resulting track. The latter says you can save tracks but it hasn't seemed to have worked for me yet.
Well that's all so far. I'm sure I'll have more to report back later.