The reverse beacon network has started to take off. As I write this, we
have 8 CW Skimmer reverse beacons active, and 14 have been on the network
in the last 24 hours. 20 and 40 meters are currently covered, and stations
are active in the US east coast and midwest, as well as northern and
southern Europe. The US west coast came on last night, and will be
back. I have a promise that a station will be activated in VK-land soon.
Reverse beacons come and go at will. The network is constantly
changing. You can find out which reverse beacons are active by going to
http://skimmer.dxwatch.com/skimmers.php. See the spots pour in at
Felipe, PY1NB has also activated a pretty sophisticated query capability on
the main site at http://skimmer.dxwatch.com/ With a little thought, you
can find out what is being heard by a given reverse beacon, by whom, on
what bands, etc. For example, you can see what European stations were
heard first on a given band on a given day in the US - F5RRS opened the 20M
band today, all up and down the East Coast.
A couple of notes for prospective participants:
-- A wide-band receiver is not absolutely required to try out the reverse
beacon idea. Download and install a trial copy of Skimmer 1.1 (you can do
this again even if you downloaded a trial copy of version 1.0) from
www.dxatlas.com. Download the "aggregator" from
http://skimmer.dxwatch.com/downloads/skimmer_aggregator.zip. Connect a
cable from the audio of your transceiver to the Line In jack on your sound
card (any old sound card will work for this).
Run Skimmer and set it up in 3-KHz radio mode. Fill in the operator
tab. Tune your radio to an area of activity on any band, and you should
see CW streams on the Skimmer waterfall. Start the aggregator, and your
spots will go to the network - that's all there is to it.
One caution - Skimmer works best if you use its frequency controls to
change your radio's frequency - you will have to set up Omni-Rig for your
radio, on the CAT tab in Skimmer's settings, and set up for computer
control of your radio if you don't already have one. My experiments
suggest that if you tune your radio with that big knob in the middle you
will have to stop and wait a bit before Skimmer gets sorted out and starts
decoding properly again.
-- Be sure you enter a 6-character grid square in the location field of the
Operator tab in Skimmer. We will fix this, but for the moment, if you do
not have a full 6-character grid, your spots will not be displayed by the
server. If you don't know the last 2 characters of your grid, just use XX.
See you on the reverse beacon network?
73, Pete N4ZR
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