Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA



Thanks for your efforts. They’ve been a great help for all but especially for those of us with limited self-spotting capability.


Andrew, a huge thanks for all your efforts.
Very grateful this service is in place.


This is because there were multiple alerts for HA5AZC, and at this point, the alert would have been closer to the latter summit.

I do say so, because I can see in the logs the lock-out being in place and being triggered. But, because the skimmers vary more widely than anticipated, I’ve pushed the bandwidth out to 2.5kHz (1.25kHz either side of the spotted frequency). Over time, I may build up a list of excluded skimmers, but I’d hate to not spot an activation because it was only heard on a skimmer that’s set up a little skewed.

You are now added to the list. I did test this functionality, but if it accidentally spots you, let me know and I’ll chase down any bugs there may be.


Thanks! 73 Hal n6jzt



Many of us are really grateful for your hard work in restoring the RBN spots. I currently have no way to self-spot, and many of our wilderness summits in Colorado have little cell, VHF, and UHF coverage anyway. Getting spotted by the RBN makes our CW activations more fun and efficient.

Another big benefit is that when propagation is poor, a spot facilitates getting contacts in a much shorter time. When the RBN Hole has been down, I’ve sometimes called CQ for 10 minutes or more on 40 and 30M CW, and even though I’ve posted my intended frequencies in my alerts, no chasers found or spotted me. Each time this has happened, I later saw decent RBN spots that would have spotted me. The reverse has also been true - some of my sharper chasers often have found me on my Alert frequencies, spotted me, quickly, and made the day!

The effect of the automatic or self spots is especially important late in an activation, when we’ve contacted most of our eager chasers, but we’re still interested in making more contacts. This is what I call an extended activation. The RBN Hole makes changing to new bands - perhaps frequencies not mentioned in the Alert - a reasonable idea. Without the ability to get spotted on a new frequency, there’s little incentive to try to make a few contacts up on 15M or 17M, late in the activation, where no one is listening. Calling CQ into the void is not why we do SOTA activations. With a spot, it’s possible to get a surprise call from someone on another continent!

I especially want to thank you for sending the link to the original RBN Gateway Instructions!! I was not aware this information was accessible - I knew other activators were using the tools offered - but I didn’t know where to find these details. Perhaps at some point a link to these instructions can be provided from the page where we post Alerts. Perhaps it’s there and I never saw it…

I’ve saved this link where I can find it.

Your comments about which RBN spots to list and to ignore shows that your approach is very reasonable and balanced. You’re aware of the key things that we like and don’t like about these automatic spots - we know that some fine-tuning may be needed. I hope everyone will be patient as improvements are made.

Yes, some of the skimmers are not dead-on frequency. I’ve been spotted on frequencies I never was on! There are many small errors and occasional gross errors. As a chaser trying to find a weak CW activator deep in the noise on 40M, even an spot error of 100 Hz matters, with the receiver bandwidth narrowed down, and my brain processing near its limit.

You will be blamed for some of these spot errors, even though the individual receivers feeding the RBN are off-frequency or make glitches. Some of the comments today reflected that lack of understanding. Self-spots have errors too - especially errors in the summit reference - wrong letter, wrong digit, cold fingers, etc.

Others have said that not knowing whether the RBN Hole will be operational or not is much of our frustration, and I agree - yet we have to accept that this happens. Please continue supporting and improving this worthwhile tool, and know that we appreciate your work! Every time I’m doing a cold or windy activation, near the edge of my patience - or watching a thunderhead growing nearby - running out of time - I’m thinking what a huge difference getting spotted quickly makes.




Dr Om Andrew,
Yesterday I was activating in DM/NW. That is a drive of about 4 hours from near Amsterdam were I live. The planning was to activate 3 summits. Thanks to your RBNHole it was a very succesfull day. Many thanks for the Good Work Andrew!
73 de geert pa7zee


Thank-you Andrew. It is very much appreciated.
73, Malcolm VE2DDZ


Looks lit it is down again…dang. Only spots showing are from activators or chasers.



last RBNHole spot was at 1352Z


Yeah, looks like the rbn side has dropped us. It will reconnect a bit after utc


[quote=“VK3ARR, post:53, topic:12464”]I also report the skimmer with the strongest SNR rather than just the first one.[/quote]Spotting the skimmer with the weakest SNR might give a better feel for the DX possibilities the activation offers? (Of course, spotting the skimmer furthest from the summit probably does that best, but that’s a whole lot of extra information-gathering and calculation…).


As long as RBNHole works it’s fine with me. Remember: 'I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had no feet.'
73 de geert pa7zee


Ah, but, inevitably, once something is working, folk will get ideas about how to make it better (for various interpretations of “better” that almost inevitably include other folks’ ideas of “worse”). :wink:


To be honest, I considered both options, and went with stronger as I figured that will give the best indication of where the signal is hitting the ground first. Eric didn’t put his approach on paper anywhere, so I am guessing.

Having said that, how useful do people find the SNR read out? I am willing to adjust as necessary, the options begin strongest, weakest or first spot in


As the spotters all use different radios, antennas, the differences could be due to anything. So assume the spotter with the strongest signal has the most accurate decode and go from there.


Not really, as good ideas are usually unamoumus. An emphasis on the “good”.


How about the median? :slight_smile:


In my opinion, the main (or the only) thing a SOTA activator expects from RBNHole is that it raises a spot on SOTAWATCH as soon as the activation has started.
RBNHole picking up the first spot from no matter which skimmer and raising the spot on SOTAWATCH is the goal.
Best 73 de Guru


Standard Deviation would be better ? Taking the SNR numbers from spotters in close proximity to one another ?


Que ?