I have a few questions about the workings of RBNgate.
Is it connected permanently, or is there a schedule of times when it will not be available?
Does it use input from all RBN stations, or just a selected number?
Is there a way for the SOTAwatch user to determine whether RBNgate is actually connected?
The reason for my questions is my experience yesterday morning (Monday 15th). I decided to activate my local summit (G/SE-002), but did not post an alert. Once I was set up and ready to go, I sent an SMS message to SOTAwatch at 09:33 giving my frequency as 5261. This was received and diplayed.
After four QSOs and around fifteen minutes of calling, I moved to 10117.5. I did not send a further SMS as I expected the RBN network to detect me. Sure enough, between 09:48 and 09:54, nine different RBN stations logged me as I called CQ. I susbsequently discovered that none of these were displayed on SOTAwatch, and I only managed two QSOs.
From 09:57 until 10:00 I called CQ on 7032.5. This time eight different RBN stations logged me, but once again, no spot appeared on SOTAwatch. Incidentally, a couple of SOTA regulars found me on this frequency, but chose not to spot me either!
Having qualified the summit, and getting increasing cold in the strong breeze, I decided to dismantle the station and return home.
A subsequent examination of SOTAwatch shows that RBNgate (using DL2CC) spotted OK2PDT/P on 7031.4 at 09:46 which was immediately before my operating time on 10 MHz. The next RBNgate spot was for M0KLO/P at 11:26, despite a number of apparently valid operations in the interim. In fact RBNgate seems to have missed many of the later activations too, detecting none of the North American activators after 18:00.
So, what did I do wrong? Am I correct in my understanding that my initial SMS self-spot at 09:33 would have alerted RBNgate to search for me around the bands? As I know that the RBN found me, why did RBNgate (assuming that it was in fact operational at the time) fail to spot me on 30m and 40m?
I guess I was guilty of assuming that RBNgate would spot me after my initial alert, and I realise that further SMS messages after each band change would have solved the issue. However, RBNgate is a valuable tool, and I wish to understand its foibles in order to use it to its best advantage in future activations.
73 de Les, G3VQO