[Skimmertalk] Monitoring Band Openings

David Gilbert xdavid at cis-broadband.com
Mon Jul 14 14:17:14 EDT 2008

W4PA has written up a brief summary of his experiences operating the 
IARU contest from K4TD with six Skimmers networked together.  I'm not 
sure if he is a member of this list, so I'm passing on the link.


I thought his comments about monitoring band openings were especially 
interesting.  I personally find that application much more intriguing 
than simply populating a bandmap, although networking six Skimmers (and 
six Softrocks) sounds a bit daunting.  It seems that a more elegant 
solution might be to use a wideband SDR like the QS1R 
(http://www.philcovington.com/QuickSilver/) or Ettus 
(http://www.ettus.com/) to cover the entire HF spectrum, and then have 
the software scan it user-definable chunks.  The information gathered 
from each chunk could be aggregated and displayed in whatever fashion 
(bandmap, geographical map, etc), that might be appropriate.  For 
example, if I was able to set the software to step through the lower 100 
KHz of each HF contest band once per minute, I could have a full 
spectrum bandmap (or a pretty complete global propagation map) that was 
refreshed every six minutes.  Wide-bandwidth SDRs like the QS1R have 
their own internal A/D and processing capability and I'm not sure how 
much load they put on the user's computer for decoding any particular 
bandwidth, so probably the refresh capability could be much better.

All of brings up a question in my mind.  I'm in the camp that says 
Skimmer is very cool and would be fine for assisted or multi-op 
categories, but I'm not in favor of allowing it for unassisted (or 
"classic") categories.  However, if I had a QS1R with software 
capability as I described above, and I had it set so that it displayed a 
geographical map of band openings without individual callsigns, would I 
consider that inappropriate for "unassisted" use or not?  At this point, 
I'm honestly not sure what I think about that.

Lots of possibilities for sure, though ...

Dave   AB7E

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