From the BEACONet web site... How often have you wished you were part of actual research, but lacked the knowledge, funding or equipment? Wish no more: the days of Amateur experimentation have not passed us by. Here is your chance to join-in on an experiment which will run for 24-hours a day, 7-days a week! Before you start, you have to check your prejudice at the door. BEACONet uses technology that some would consider "old" or "antique" in a new and very exciting way. To participate, you will need the following:</p> <ul> <LI>Vertically polarized, omnidirectional antenna <LI>FM Transceiver <LI>"Packet" TNC <LI>Computer with a simple terminal program (Level-1 System) -or- Computer with special software (Level-2 System) [/list] In its simplest form, one configures their equipment to periodically transmit a packet frame that includes one's callsign, gridsquare and eMail address (the eMail address is optional, but makes reception reports easy). As the band "opens" for long-distance communication, distant transmissions are decoded and displayed on your screen.</p> In a Level-1 system, no special software is needed, just a terminal package that communicates with a TNC. One simply issues the MHEARD command to see the last 5 stations that were heard; along with the date/time they were snagged.</p> In a Level-2 system, one may use either a DOS or Windows based software package which decodes the packets and places an icon on a computer screen on the precise point on a map corresponding to the transmitting stations' location! As the band "opens" and "closes", icons will come and go. It is easy to see a weather front's effect on RF (tropospheric anamolies) or one can watch as icons follow a moving Es cloud during the summer Es season on 6-meters (ionospheric anamolies).</p> At present, activity takes place on 53.530-MHz on the 6-meter Amateur band, and 147.585-MHz on the 2-meter Amateur band. The frequency choices were well thought out. They represent the "furthest" frequencies away from the SSB/CW subband. This was with the intent of allowing SSB/CW DX chasers to participate with minimal self-interference to their DX chasing at the "bottom end" of the band. There is no reason that they ought not be able to run a BEACONet node around-the-clock, providing others with a signal to attempt to receive, too.</p> In the future, an Internet "backbone" is under development that will allow BEACONet stations to pass what they hear on RF to a central Internet "reflector", which will "echo" those receptions to any other Internet connected BEACONet station. The power of such a system is astounding. Propagation enthusiasts will be able to "watch" as the band "opens" across the continent! Intrigued yet? You ought to be!</p> At this point, there are only a handfull of pioneers. Some day, we hope to have the continent blanketed with similar minded experimenters and the examples referenced above will surely be commonplace. Until then, there is much to learn. Come, join us! For more information check out the BEACONet web site.