In the aftermath of the roll-out of the new RBN website,
this is an attempt to set down, in one place, an explanation of how the RBN
locates spotters and spotted stations on its map. The RBN programmers have reviewed and
confirmed this. In the discussion below,
Aggregator refers to the software by W3OA that is required to connect Skimmers
to the RBN.
There are 3 use cases:
spotters, ordinary spotted stations, and beacons.
Spotters are located solely by the grid square
information they provide on the Operator tab of Skimmer or Skimmer Server (or
in the INI file of RTTY Skimsrv).
Ordinary spotted stations are located through a
process: The primary source is
QRZ.com. You can check your QRZ data by
going to your callsign’s listing, and then going to your call on the right end
of the blue menu bar. Name, address etc.
may be provided either by your licensing authority (in the US case) or by you
when establishing your QRZ presence. However,
if you go to the sub-menu entry “Edit [callsign]” you’ll see the item “Map,
Grid Square, and coordinate settings.”
What is reflected there can readily be changed by a station operating
portable – enter a new grid square, lat/long coordinates, or simply move the
mapped location to where you are now (if you do the latter, don’t forget to
change back when you return home).
If the QRZ lookup fails, we check the FCC database for
US-licensed stations. If that lookup
fails, or the station is not in the US, we then go to a static location
database and look for the station’s callsign prefix (https://www.country-files.com/). It will then return the geographic center of
the call area (W0 for example) or the geographic center of the whole country
The website caches such lookups for a period of time (less
than a day) and then tries again the next time the station is spotted.
Beacons are a little tricky, because their
transmissions typically do not meet CW or RTTY Skimmer definitions of a CQ
transmission (number of repetitions of the callsign, and CQ or TEST key words) . Aggregator usually forwards only CQ spots to
the RBN (to avoid spotting every reply to every CQ, except on 6 meters and
above, where the Aggregator will forward every spot it gets from Skimmer). There is an option in Skimmer and Skimmer Server
(on the Telnet tab) to uncheck the Post Only “CQ” Spots checkbox) to forward
all spots, and we recommend that all node operators uncheck that box, so then the
Aggregator will be able to forward beacon spots to the RBN as well.
NCDXF beacons are easy – we have a list, and forward them
automatically. Other beacons are
forwarded in the same way *if* they are included in a list of beacons derived
from three widely-accepted lists that are publicly available. Aggregator automatically downloads the latest
So that’s the story.