Friday, December 6, 2019

Skimmer (RBN node) Callsigns Explained by N6TV

There seems to be a lot of confusion about Skimmer callsigns, so let me try to clarify.  There are at least FIVE (5) different places where you can enter a callsign, and they are used for different purposes:
  1. The Operator tab in Skimmer Server (SkimSrv.exe)
    In most cases, this is the callsign used to post spots to the RBN, regardless of what you do in Aggregator.  If are running more than one instance of SkimSrv, and they are covering the same frequencies (e.g. with two different antennas or SDRs, or even with a single a shared antenna), you should enter a unique callsign for each instance of SkimSrv in the Operator tab:  N6TV, N6TV-1, N6TV-2, etc.  Otherwise you'll generate duplicate spots under the same callsign, but with different signal strengths, and skimmer data in the RBN Analysis tool and raw data files will be quite useless.  However, if there is no overlap of frequency coverage per instance of SkimSrv, then you can use the same callsign on the Operator tab for every instance.  I do not think using a slash ( / ) in the Operator tab works for all the downstream systems and nodes, so I would avoid doing that.
  2. The [User] section of RTTYSkimServ.ini
    Set Call=N6TV
    This does for RTTY Skimming what the Operator tab of SkimSrv does for CW Skimming.  If using the same antenna or sharing segments via CWSL_Tee, use the same callsign as the SkimSrv.  If you are running more than once instance of RttySkimServ, on the same bands with multiple SDRs or antennas, use a unique callsign here:  N6TV, N6TV-1.
  3. The Connections tab of RBN Aggregator
    This defaults to N0CALL and does not need to be changed.  Entering a callsign with a slash or dash here may not work.  On this tab, I also recommend checking the following four boxes and leaving all the other boxes unchecked
    [x] Should Aggregator connect to the Primary Skimmer automatically ...
    [x] Should Aggregator record Skimmer telnet traffic
    [x] Don't show Skimmer's IP Address
    [x] Check here if users on this port should be asked for their call
  4. The Combined Skimmers tab of RBN Aggregator
    I do not run AR Cluster or WinTelnetX, so I always leave this callsign blank.  If you are using those programs to combine spots from multiple skimmers (usually not required), you can enter a callsign here, and it will be used to post all spots to the RBN (if the box at top is checked), but your spot signal strength data will be useless if there is any overlap in frequency coverage between the multiple skimmers.
  5. The CallSign column of the Secondary Skimmers tab of RBN Aggregator
    This works the same as the Connections tab.  You can use N0CALL here, as this callsign is only used to log in to your local skimmers.  Do not use this to connect to skimmers being run by other users.
In sum, set a unique callsign for every band/antenna combination, in the Skimmers, not the Aggregator.  The callsign used in the Aggregator (with the exception of the Combined Skimmers tab), is generally unimportant, and does not need dashes (-) or slashes (/).  Try not to set up your skimmers to post duplicate spots with different hardware or antennas, unless you are posting with a unique callsign for each.

I hope that clarifies things.

Bob, N6TV

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