Installing And Using Xastir

Xastir is a program for linux that lets you utilize APRS traffic. It allows broadcast and reception of aprs traffic via an internet connection or via a connected radio. I use it on my computer to receive APRS stations in my area

Installing Xastir

Generate Passcode

You need to have a passcode to use the software, run the following command replacing YOURCALL with your amateur radio callsign

APRS Callsign

Although you can just use your callsign to identify yourself it is best to use the standard suffixes used world wide. These suffixes are numeric codes used to differentiate the type of APRS station you are (IE: weather station / mobile boat / aircraft etc etc etc).

When you show up on a APRS map your icon will be that of your suffix. If your callsign was VO1XXX and you wanted to use aprs on a boat you would use VO1XXX-8 and if you viewed your status online you would be displayed on the map as a boat icon

The general list of suffixes are as follows:

-0 Your primary station usually fixed and message capable
-1 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-2 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-3 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-4 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc
-5 Other networks (Dstar, Iphones, Androids, Blackberry's etc)
-6 Special activity, Satellite ops, camping or 6 meters, etc
-7 walkie talkies, HT's or other human portable
-8 boats, sailboats, RV's or second main mobile
-9 Primary Mobile (usually message capable)
-10 internet, Igates, echolink, winlink, AVRS, APRN, etc
-11 balloons, aircraft, spacecraft, etc
-12 APRStt, DTMF, RFID, devices, one-way trackers*, etc
-13 Weather stations
-14 Truckers or generally full time drivers
-15 generic additional station, digi, mobile, wx, etc

Determine What APRS Server To Connect To

I found the best list for listing available APRS servers at there are possibly more or better listings out there, have a look around google in case that link is dead. Look for a server in your area ideally that doesnt have a lot of users connected to it.

Setup Xastir

Using the above information we can now start and configure xastir.

start xastir

Configure Callsign

Go to File->configure->station

In the callsign box enter your ham radio callsign with prefix and if it is a station thats not going to move you can put in your gps LAT/LONG position so it shows up in APRS queries properly. You can also provide comments about your staion in the comment field at the bottom of the configure screen. Once done click OK to return to main screen.

Configure APRS Internet Server

Go to Interface->Interface Control->Add

Select Internet Server->Add

Enter one of the servers you selected from the listing, including port number. Make sure to enter the passcode as well that you generated from step 2 above. You can also select the checkbox Activate At Startup if it does not get checked off by default. For filter parameters you can leave it as m/500 which means show stations that are within 500km of you (the cordinates you specified previously when you configured your callsign). The next section provides different filter parameters.

Feel free to add more servers to give redundancy in case one goes down, but I would recomend only having one up at a time.

APRS Station Filters

You can place as many filters as you want for your server connection. You can specify to show X stations withing X km's of your station, show all stations with a certain prefix, etc etc. The full list of filters are as follows

Parameter Filter Type Description
r/lat/lon/dist Range filter Pass posits and objects within dist km from lat/lon.
lat and lon are signed decimal degrees, i.e. negative for West/South and positive for East/North. Up to 9 range filters can be defined at the same time to allow better coverage. Messages addressed to stations within the range are also passed.
p/aa/bb/cc... Prefix filter Pass traffic with fromCall that start with
aa or bb or cc...
b/call1/call2... Budlist filter Pass all traffic from exact call: call1, call2, ... (* wild card allowed)
o/obj1/obj2... Object filter Pass all objects with the exact name of obj1, obj2, ... (* wild card allowed)
(spaces not allowed) (| => / and ~ => *)
os/obj1/obj2... Strict Object filter Pass all objects with the exact name of obj1, obj2, ... (* wild card allowed) (| => / and ~ => *)
Objects are always 9 characters and Items are 3 to 9 characters. There can only be one os filter and that filter must be at the end of the line.


Type filter Pass all traffic based on packet type.
One or more types can be defined at the same time, t/otq is a valid definition.

p = Position packets
o = Objects
i = Items
m = Message
q = Query
s = Status
t = Telemetry
u = User-defined
n = NWS format messages and objects
w = Weather

Note: The weather type filter also passes positions packets for positionless weather packets.

The second format allows putting a radius limit around "call" (station callsign-SSID or object name) for the requested station types.

s/pri/alt/over Symbol filter pri = symbols in primary table (| => /)
alt = symbols in alternate table (| => /)
over = overlay character (case sensitive)
For example: s/-> This will pass all House and Car symbols (primary table)
s//# This will pass all Digi with or without overlay
s//#/T This will pass all Digi with overlay of capital "T"
d/digi1/digi2... Digipeater filter The digipeater filter will pass all packets that have been digipeated by a
particular station(s) (the station's call is in the path). This filter allows the * wildcard.
a/latN/lonW/latS/lonE Area filter The area filter works the same as rang filter but the filter is defined as a box of coordinates. The coordinates can also been seen as upper left coordinate and lower right. Lat/lon are decimal degrees. South and west are negative. Up to 9 area filters can be defined at the same time.
e/call1/call1/... Entry station filter This filter passes all packets with the specified callsign-SSID(s) immediately following the q construct. This allows filtering based on receiving IGate, etc. Supports * wildcard.
g/call1/call1/... Group Message filter This filter passes all message packets with the specified callsign-SSID(s) as the addressee of the message. Supports * wildcard.
u/unproto1/unproto2/... Unproto filter This filter passes all packets with the specified destination callsign-SSID(s) (also known as the To call or unproto call). Supports * wildcard.
q/con/I q Contruct filter q = q Construct command
con = list of q Construct to pass (case sensitive)
I = Pass positions from IGATES identified by qAr, qAo, or qAR.
For example:
q/C Pass all traffic with qAC
q/rR Pass all traffic with qAr or qAR
q//I Pass all position packets from IGATES identified in other packets by qAr or qAR
m/dist My Range filter This is the same as the range filter except that the center is defined as the last known position of the logged in client.
f/call/dist Friend Range filter This is the same as the range filter except that the center is defined as the last known position of call. Up to 9 friend filters can be defined at the same time.

Using Maps

I have at the bottom of the page a section for offline maps, however most of the time you will probably have internet access, and your best map resource is open street maps. This is available easily from within xastir without any modifications.

Go to Map->Map Chooser

From the list you should see various maps with the heading Online/OSM....Choose a map (my preference is Online/OSM_cloudmate_5.geo) and click apply, the map will then load into the back window....feel free to deselct any map and choose another that suits your preference. Click OK to make your final selection and make it the default on the next time you use xastir.

Viewing Your APRS Position

As stations are received from the online server they will appear on screen. If the station broadcasted before you started xastir you will not see them until they broadcast again.

In that case I suggest using an online tool to look up a station. There are many resources online that show status information and report / messages from APRS stations. I personally find and very usefull as well as Once on either site enter your callsign or user wildcards to view stations. For example entering VO1XXX-8 will show that specific station, however if you use VO1* it will show all stations that start with VO1

Downloading Other Maps

You can use offline maps as well as online. I found all of my maps from but there are several resources online to get many more. You can download my maps for Newfoundland HERE

Once downloaded and extracted move the map files to /usr/share/xastir/maps/Online and make sure they have the proper permissions to be able to be read by xastir. The easiest way is running the following in the /usr/share/xastir/maps/Online folder