Are wildcards working?

On Saturday, 5 September 2020, I was planning to activate two summits where I would have no mobile signal. I posted an alert using the wildcards “W4C/WM-???” with an 8 hour time window in the comments line.

On the first summit I sent CQ on 40m and 20m CW, and never had a single chaser despite 30 minutes of trying. Due to unexpected delays I would not have reached the second summit until after the alert time window had closed, so I packed it in for the day. The nest day I had a successful activation with chasers on both 20 and 40 m, so I suspect the problem was not with the equipment.

Is it possible that RBNhole didn’t spot me because of the wildcards?

I see 3 spots from Saturday Sept. 5th that had wildcard refs and were picked up by RBN Hole - 2 from AA6XA and one from N6AN.

RBN Hole appears to have been working. Suggest you post your alerts using syntax like this: W4C/WM-XXX

Where you received by any skimmers? No skimmers hearing you guarantees no automatic spotting.

RBN certainly spotted WB8ICQ a few times both on Saturday (highlighted below) and on Sunday, but I havn’t been able to find any corresponding RBNHole spots, so details in the alert are probably the next thing to check. (However, any alert there might have been is now out-of-sight as far as SW3 is concerned.)

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 09.02.44

I can weave a magic spell and look at the spent alerts. But not from this computer as I’m currently at work (i.e. laptop in the kitchen). I can have a look when I get home (walk to shack and turn on shack PC) :wink:


Thanks very much for all the responses. M0LEP, thanks for confirming that the RBN system heard me. MM0FMF, I would greatly appreciate it if you can look at the alert and tell me what happened. I thought I was following KU6J’s guide, which recommends using ??? for the wildcard characters. If I made a mistake I would like to learn from it!
TKS & 73,
Scott WB8ICQ

ActivatingCallsign ActivatingName Association SummitRef DateActivated BandMode Comments SummitName
WB8ICQ Scott W4C WM-??? 2020-09-05 13:30:00 7.060-cw, 14.060-cw, 10.000-cw, 146.52-fm s-2, s+7, 1st W4C/WM-020, then W4C/WM-011 Summit not recognised.

I’ll take a closer look, but capital-S for the S+7 S-2 is required iirc

So at some point it was case-insensitive, and now it is only upper case. I looked through the change log and it occurred when RBNHole took advantage of the then newly published API. There’s no indication why it was removed, but I do vaguely recall there being a reason caused by someone’s failed spot somewhere. That then got carried through into the next version that was recently released.

I’ll see if I can find out why the change was made with some deeper digging and whether I can easily revert it to handle whatever other bug was there, but basically your window was only -1/+3 for that alert and as you can see you were spotted on the RBN at 1800z for an alert time of 1330z

Interesting that the there is a message “summit not recognized.” What does that mean when wildcards are used?

Literally that with “WM-???” it can’t work out the summit name in advance, so if you mouseover in SW3, you get “Summit not recognised”

I note that the alert I posted for Monday, 7 Sept for a named summit (W4C/WM-011) had time windows in the comments using lower-case “s” (s-2, s+7). I was chased on both 20 and 40m on that summit, without self-spotting, so I assume RBNhole must have spotted me even with the lower-case letters in the comments line.

Maybe the case sensitivity is conditional for some reason and is a problem when wildcards are used, but not when wildcards are not used? Just guessing here.

Ah, so that’s not necessarily an initiation of why RBNhole didn’t post a spot. Which means the answer is…?

Nope, nope, nope. On the 7th of September, you were alerted for 13:00 on WM-011, and your first RBN spot was 13:57z,which is well within the default window of -1/+3 hrs of 13:00z. You were spotted by RBNHole at 13:58z. Likewise your later summit SU-036 alert had no comment at all, and a start time of 18:45z. Your first RBN spot was also at 18:45z and RBNHole picked this up at 18:46z. It spotted your change to 40m at 18:58z after a RBN spot at 18:57z.

I’m staring straight at the source code and I can assure you that there is nothing conditional about the case sensitivity. The spotting and alert fetching code are actually completely isolated source code wise.

The RCA stands: on the 5th of September, your alert, by not having capital-S for spotting windows, defaulted to the normal window of -1 hours to +3 hours. Your RBN spots were outside this window. On the 7th, your alerts were also defaulted to the normal window of -1 to +3 hours, and because all of your RBN spots were within this window for each summit, RBNHole spotted you to SOTAWatch.

Ah, of course. I should have realized that.

Thanks very much for taking the time to explain it all. I very much appreciate it. Uppercase from now on!