New to CW and trying to understand RBN

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KD5NDQ, Sep 25, 2019.

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  1. KD5NDQ

    KD5NDQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am new to CW and learning how to user reverse beacon network spotting for how my antennas are doing. So I read this slideset from the Dayton Hamfest a while back and specifically the part on "How do I use the RBN to Check My Antennas?".

    As I understand it, when I call "CQ (or TEST) KD5NDQ KD5NDQ" I can then check the RBN to see how my signal is propagating, and so far it seems to be working fine (see attached image).


    However, some of my buddies from the cwAcademy class that we were all in are trying the same thing and getting NO results (or maybe 1 spotting) when we try it all around the same time. I am in Mississippi, they are in Iowa and Texas and they are trying both 20m and 40m bands. If they aren't getting spotted, what does that imply - their antennas aren't working too well? I am using single band dipoles cut to 20 and 40 while they are using a fan dipole and a Windom respectively. The other difference is they are using straight keys and I am using a paddle. They also have newer rigs (FT 450D and FTdx-1200) vs my Kenwood TS-530S. I am just trying to help them determine why they aren't seeing anything in the RBN results. We do have regular QSO's and I can make them out ok, not great, so I am a little confused by they lack of results myself.

    73's and cheers,
    Robert Opalko
  2. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    It could be the Skey vs paddle. I use a Skey most of the time, but seem to get spotted more if I use a paddle. Of course, if my Skey timing was prefect this wouldn't be an issue. ;)

    My workaround when I call 3x3 CQ with my Skey and want to check my RBN spots: I Skey send "CQ CQ". Then I hit a programmed button on my ICOM7300 to send "CQ de W5WTH". Then I finish by Skey sending "W5WTH W5WTH K" .

    The transmit result is "CQ CQ CQ de W5WTH W5WTH W5WTH K" sent, but with "CQ de W5WTH" sent perfectly by the IC7300 which helps trigger the RBN spot.
    KD5NDQ likes this.
  3. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You're getting a perfect dit and a perfect dah every time. Most likely they are not.

    KD5NDQ likes this.
  4. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It could be several reasons like how well they send CW but it could also be how they're viewing results on the RBN website. You're probably setting a filter for your call sign on the website to you can see all of your results filtered out from all of the signals the RBN skimmers detect. Are your friends doing the same thing or are they just looking at the summary page which shows results from many call signs?

    If they've got call sign filters set and aren't seeing any results then it's likely that their CW sending isn't well paced and crisp as others have suggested. Also if you want to see a lot of RBN results over a short time period then it helps to QSY a few kHz to a different open frequency between sending attempts as most RBN skimmers won't report the same call sign on the same frequency multiple times over short time periods. IOW you either have to wait a bit, QSY a bit or send test signals with multiple distinct call signs.
    KD5NDQ likes this.
  5. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    You need YEARS of practice on a SK to get it near perfect. I am sure that's why the spots are not showing up. Its a computer and they only copy near PERFECT Morse.
    KD5NDQ likes this.
  6. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are two reasons why they may not get spotted.
    a) propogation to the folk who are the RBN 'spotters'. But;-
    b) If they too are pretty new to CW, the skimmers which use computers to read the CQ signals, cannot read anything other than decent CW - and newcomers using straight keys are not likely to have pretty good sending - as others have mentioned.
    W9RAC and KD5NDQ like this.
  7. YO3GFH

    YO3GFH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Robert!

    Your friends can quickly check if it's a "less than perfect fist" issue - have them program a "TEST DE ..." in one of their transceiver electronic keyer memory banks, then send that message. If it still doesn't show up in any RBN spot, then it's location/antenna/propagation or any combination of them :D

    Good luck!
    M6GYU, WB5YUZ and KD5NDQ like this.
  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The sending doesn't need to be absolutely perfect. At least some of the skimmers copy my bug okay, right up to 30 WPM. I'm sure I'd get even more hits if I used a keyer, though...
  9. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Never had the slightest problem triggering the skimmers with a straight key, even a couple years ago when I first got back on CW after 20 years. I don't think it needs to be all that perfect.
    M6GYU likes this.
  10. AA8NN

    AA8NN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The reverse beacon network is funny sometimes. I built a linked dipole today and tested it in my driveway with a ft-818. I noticed I hit beacons to the east. I decided that I'd test some more by taking it out on on a pota activation. I ran my ic-706 and 100 watts on a quick test before starting. The results were more beacons to the east. I thought why is my signal not heard west. A contact with ca. Was all I needed to know that I was in fact getting out to the west.

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