Reverse Beacon Network Client
The Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) is a network of so-called skimmers. These are broad-band receivers, that listen to the CW portions of HAM radio bands. These skimmers report every CQ call (also beacons etc.) back to a central server. These reports contain the call of the transmitter, signal-to-noise ratio and speed (WPM) of the transmitter.
To this end, this network not only allows to find out how far your own CQ calls reach, but also which operators can be heard in your neighborhood (i.e., by the skimmers close to you). Hence, it provides a kind of automated DX cluster.
Being a newbie in CW, I always look for QSO partners that operate at modest speeds (e.g., < 20WPM). Although the RBN website allows to filter spots by various means, it does not allow for filtering by speed. Moreover, the website only allows for filtering based on the country of the skimmer, but not on the actual location of the skimmer. For example, I live in the northern part of Germany, if I would restrict myself to skimmer in the proximity of 500km, I would exclude some skimmers in the southern part of Germany but include some skimmers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Poland etc. which are closer to my actual location than skimmers in southern Germany. Due to these shortcomings, I decided to write a small system-tray application that provides some more detailed filtering.
Interfacing the RBN is quiet simple. There is a open telnet port providing a DX cluster-like interface to the RBN. This port just dumps out every spot. From the website a list of all skimmers including their locations can be obtained. This information is all, a RBN client may need.
The RBN client provides the following features:
- System-tray application. The RBN client resides in the system tray and can notify you about anything interesting happening on the band.
- Restrict spots to skimmers near to you. The RBN client allows restrict spots from skimmers that are actually close to you. The user can specify the maximum distance to the spotter.
- Identify, filter and highlight spots as new DXCC, Band, Mode, etc. based on QSOs stored in a user-defined ADIF file.
- Beside maximum spotter distance, filter spots by band, speed and minimum SNR.
- Shows self-spots irrespective of filter settings. This option allows you to spot yourself irrespective of all filter settings. This allows you to judge the band-conditions easily. More over, as your location and the location of the skimmer are known, these spots can be shown on a build-in map.
- Show all spots of friends. You may specify a list of friend calls. These calls will then be spotted, irrespective of your filter settings. This feature can be used to get notified whenever a friend is active on the band.
You can get the latest releases for Windows and MacOS X at GitHub.
For Ubuntu Linux, I provide some binary packages at my PPA. You may add my PPA to your list of software sources with
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:hmatuschek/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install rbnc
You may build it yourself from the sources. The only dependencies needed are CMake (build system) and Qt5.
Best & 73,