[CQ-Contest] RBN Announcement on FT8 Spotting

Peter Sundberg sm2cew at telia.com
Wed Jun 13 13:53:24 EDT 2018

Let it rip.

Who cares any more as FT8 is about computers 
talking to computers while the operator is doing 
- or has his mind - on other things. Ham Heaven 
is here according to the masses and apparently 
statistics. RBN is all about computers anyway. 
And we must make decisions based on statistics - right?

To be able to make use of the FT8 "Deep" 
functionality the computer needs the info to 
decode unknown callsigns that are "22 dB below the noise level".

So why not feed the computers with as much info 
as possible to speed up the journey up the DXCC 
ladder. Then, when the barn is full, some 
operators might even return to real ham radio 
again without concerns over what is fed to the RBN network.

Peter SM2CEW

At 13:35 2018-06-12, N4ZR wrote:
>As some may be aware, we’ve been debating for 
>some time about whether the RBN should handle 
>FT8 spots.  A few weeks, ago, several prolific 
>RBN nodes began spotting FT8 signals, using the 
>combination of WSJT-X and an unreleased 
>Aggregator, version 5.  The purpose of this 
>limited Alpha test was to get a feel for the 
>load and other implications of carrying FT8 
>spots on the RBN; it has been very revealing. 
>The most striking characteristic of FT8 spots is 
>their sheer quantity. Here are some weekday 
>statistics from one of the US testers: *23-May* 
>CW 4294 14% RTTY 69 0.22% FT8 26318 86% Total 
>30681 *24-May* CW 4370 13% RTTY 46 0.14% FT8 
>29298 87% Total 33714 Whether due to the 
>startling popularity of the new mode, or to the 
>ability to spot stations at 22 dB below the 
>noise level, it seems obvious that adding FT8 
>spots to our spot flow could have a huge impact 
>on the infrastructure of the RBN.  These 
>numbers suggest that if only 20-30 RBN nodes 
>added FT8 spots, those spots could outnumber the 
>total CW and RTTY spots being delivered by the 
>140-150 nodes currently active on the network, 
>doubling the total required throughput. We 
>frankly don’t know whether the RBN servers 
>will be up to the task, so we decided we had 
>better find out before the fall contest season 
>is upon us.  Accordingly, we are taking the 
>following steps on a Beta test basis: 1. 
>Effective immediately, the RBN’s current spot 
>feed     (telnet,reversebeacon.net port 7000) 
>will be repurposed to handle     only CW and 
>RTTY spots. telnet.reversebeacon.net port 7001 
>will be     set up for FT8 spots only. 2. 
>Operators of “retail” DX clusters are 
>encouraged to offer the option     of RBN spots 
>with and without FT8 spots, as they now often 
>give     users a choice between spot streams 
>with and without “Skimmer”     spots, and to 
>advertise when they begin to carry FT8 spots 3. 
>A Beta test version of Aggregator Version 5 that 
>can handle FT8     spots received from WSJT-X 
>will be made available on the RBN web     site, 
>along with instructions on how RBN node-ops can 
>configure     their nodes to spot FT8 on one or 
>multiple bands.  Note, please,     that doing 
>so will not interfere with your ability to 
>continue     spotting CW and RTTY. We will 
>closely monitor how the RBN servers handle this 
>new load, as more and more nodes begin sending 
>FT8 spots.  We also reserve the right to take 
>steps as necessary to protect the core mission 
>of the RBN, including shutting off the FT8 
>stream on major CW and RTTY contest weekends or, 
>in an extreme case, discontinuing spotting of 
>FT8 altogether.  Even in a worst case scenario, 
>FT8 spots will continue to be carried by 
>PSKReporter. We hope we’re not doing this in a 
>vacuum.  The RBN team has been collecting the 
>views of contesters and DXers on this, and we 
>think that we’re headed in the right 
>direction.  Feel free to let us know what you 
>think of this experiment. 73, The RBN Team 
>(KM3T, N4ZR, PY1NB, SV3SJ, W3OA) 
>CQ-Contest mailing list 
>CQ-Contest at contesting.com 
>http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest </x-flowed>

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