Saturday, February 27, 2010

Starting to Find Our Way Out

Well, in a nutshell, the thing has grown too fast. The Reverse Beacon Network website and database share a single server. We could add a second one (which we understand would need to be co-located with the first), to put the database functions on one server and the web functions on another. The trouble is, that costs real money, and Felipe is already out 49 Euros a month for the system.

In the short term, Felipe has ordered additional disk space and memory for his server from the ISP in Germany. That will be some help. But Ideally, we would go at the problem from both the hardware and software sides at once.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Victims of Our Own Success

For those of you who are currently trying to use the RBN database and experiencing erratic behavior... it broke under the strain last weekend, and Felipe is repairing it now. Unfortunately, first indications are that a lot of QSOs never made it into the database - in my case only 17,000 of 47,000 made it. We're asking Skimmer Server operators who contributed spots to the RBN last weekend to be sure and hang onto their spot logs (the spot.txt file in the SkimSrv directory) while we figure out whether we can use them to recover at least a portion of the data.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nice Articles About RBN

Nice Articles about the RBN in WorldRadio Online and on . Unfortunately, the QRZ post elicited some misinformation about what RBN is and how it works, which prompted me [this is Pete speaking] to write the following reply:

There seem to be some misunderstandings afoot, so let me try to briefly put them to rest.

First, the RBN is not an advertisement. There are far more people using CW Skimmer than are connected to the RBN. Individuals are using it to chase DX. Others are using it as an alternative to DX clusters, for DXing or for contesting. What we have done is to make it easy for people who are already using Skimmer to report their spots to a central point for display and archiving.

There is one critical difference between the RBN and PSKReporter/WSPRNET, which is enabled by the unique combination of CW Skimmer and software-defined receivers. Skimmers report all the CW activity on a band, or up to seven bands at once, *independent of frequency*. During the ARRL DX Contest, in 48 hours the RBN archived over 300,000 spots on 160-10 meters, despite serious problems with the server throughput which suggest that as many as 2/3 of spots didn't get through.

Multi-band Skimmers were operating from Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan. If you were on during the contest, the chances are very good that you were spotted. You can go to the RBN and ask.

We are very conscious of the fact that the RBN is having growing pains, and that it could be a much better resource for the amateur community with an expanded team working on configuration and code optimization, a more flexible query engine, and similar problems.

With this in mind, we have set up a blog at and intend to use that platform to invite others' contributions. Please check it out.

73, Pete N4ZR and Felipe, PY1NB

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Welcome to Our Blog

It's been almost two years now since we had the idea for the Reverse Beacon Network. The RBN (we'll call it that here, mostly) has prospered since then, and we have big plans for it now, but the ability to realize those big plans requires us to reach out to the wider community for help. That's the idea of this blog. Stay tuned. Much more to come.