T.Rex Arms did a video on ATAK today. Its pushed a lot of traffic here, but he’s a bit behind on some things, and some others will be addressed soon. “On the move side, its a powerhouse. It has everything I need for mapping... On the communications side, ATAK is built to do off-line comms very well*”).
T.Rex also said “You need a radio infrastructure that you have access to”, and he points out that there’s a plugin for ATAK for Gotenna Pro-X, but he can’t run them with the version he has.
In spite of this, T.Rex says “Everyone with Android should go download it right now… And even if you are a poor iPhone user, I would consider going to Ebay and used phone just to experiment with it”. That’s right — T-Rex thinks ATAK is reason enough for iPhone users to get an Android phone!
T.Rex has some complaints however, and the TAK community is working to address them. His first complaint was that the publically released version of ATAK doesn’t have a plugin architecture.
Good news! As of today, you can have the version that you need for plugins, CivTAK 4.0.7 is available here, or directly from TAKMAPS.com. CivTAK has the complete plugin Architecture, and support for legacy Android operating systems and architectures, so you can run those plugins that T-Rex was pining for.
Second, CivTAK 4.0 is currently in the process of being Open Sourced (GPL 3). There are a couple of things left to do before that is complete — when that’s done (probably next week) the whole thing, including SDK will be on GIT Hub.
He also goes over some other tools. The highlight was integration with OSM’s Vector Maps. This is obviously a great idea. (I hope TAK incorporates this soon — but not yet guaranteed).
T.Rex also discusses the possibility that communications could control the comm. Its worth noting that TAKServer and FreeTAKServer have the benefit of being decentralized, and optionally secure, as does ZeroTakServer. It is also possible to run that secure traffic through TOR and a second VPN. Thus they are as secure as you want to make them (this is an exercise left to the reader, but on the TAK Discord site, there’s been discussion of this and many other TAK topics).
Finally, T.Rex’s biggest complaint was that there’s not enough off-grid options for ATAK. There are at least four commercial options. T.Rex mentions Gotenna Pro-X. The lower priced Gotennas also have a plugin, as does BearTooth (expect to see that in the Play Store shortly — along with CivTAK).
For the truly off-grid, there’s the two-way SatCom option from SomeWear.
With the Open Sourcing of the CivTAK codebase and associated SDK, you are likely to see an avalanche of plugins for off-grid tools, such as LoraWan and APRS — and soon.