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Guide to the New RBN Website

Guide to the New RBN Website

Here is a brief guide to the features of the new RBN website and how to use them. We hope you find this version a worthwhile successor to the old one.


The new map is based on Open Streetmaps, and replaces the Google Maps version used in the old site, which was priced out of reach a couple of years ago. Key changes include:

  • Red dots on the map now indicate the location of RBN nodes that reported in to the RBN server within the last 15 minutes, as well as spotted stations. Mouse over the dots to see the callsign of the node. This feature replaces the list of skimmers online on the old site. Blue dots indicate spotted stations, and again you can mouse over them to see the callsigns.
  • The lines between spotter and spotted station are colored to correspond to the band of the spot, and the colors are given below the map, above the individual band checkboxes. If a band is checked, only the spots for that band are shown, and if a spotter or spotted stations are specified (see below), then only spots that meet both the band and mode requirements are displayed.
  • Lines between spotter and spotted stations are nominally short-path only. You will note that any lines that cross 180 degrees Longitude (such as paths between Japan and the US) are interrupted. These are limitations of the current line-drawing code. At this time, path information (long vs short) is not available from the RBN, so in those cases the lines serve only to indicate the relationship between the spotted and spotting stations.

Spots List

Basic options are set on a panel below the map on the right.

Options Panel

Before we get into the details, one important note. Any time you change a value in one of the boxes that allows you to fill in a number or a callsign, you need to hit either the Enter or the Tab key on your keyboard to tell the site to update. You'll know because the Windows "in-process" whirligig will appear just to the left of the "Show Spotters” checkbox, to let you know that it has accepted your new instruction.

Now, on to the various commands. The "Unfreeze Zoom" button appears when you pan or zoom the map. While it is displayed, the zoom level and pan position (set by dragging left to right) do not change. This lets you zoom in or pan as far as you want and keep that coverage until you are ready. even stopping and restarting your browser if you wish. When you click the "unfreeze zoom" button, the map is redrawn in the default state. That state changes as needed to display any new spots that have appeared since the last re-draw.

The "Max rows" setting, as the name suggests, sets the number of spots displayed in response to the search you have entered. Click the down arrow to see the options from 5 to 100, and click on the one you want to set it.

The "Max age" setting sets limits on how old the spots are that are displayed in the Spot Table. You can set the numeric part of this parameter to any number, simply by editing the numeric value (1-99) and clicking the down arrow to select the units to be used, from minutes to years.

The New Spots display tells you how many new spots were displayed the last time the RBN server updated, which happens every 30 seconds. Its background lights up yellow when a new table of spots is displayed, and gradually fades as the spots age.

The "Show Spotters" checkbox determines whether the map displays all the active nodes, or only those that have spotted within the parameters above.

The Advanced button to the right of the checkbox lets you select whether you want to have the full range of search options or just the band, mode, spotter and spotted callsigns. When you click on Advanced Mode, a set of additional search parameters can be specified. We'll get into those in a minute.

And finally, you can choose whether to show on the spot list only stations whose CW speeds are either lower than a maximum value or higher than a minimum (or both). Just fill in the number and hit Tab or Enter. This is great for new CW ops.

Band and Mode Selection

This set of options appears below the map on the left.

Band and Mode

You can select any band or combination of bands and modes by clicking in the appropriate check boxes, and both the map and the list of spots will display only spots that meet your specification. The map and the list will update as soon as you click or unclick one of the band or mode boxes.

Search by Spotter and Spotted Callsign


The search for spotter and spotted has been changed and, we hope, improved. Enter a single spotter callsign in the left-hand box and hit [return]. The map and the list displayed will change to reflect only spots by that node. A caution - you must enter the full callsign of the station, including any portable or SSID suffixes, like N4ZR/3 or W1NT-6. The * wildcard does not work here.

On the other hand, the "Spotted" box lets you enter multiple callsigns, separated by a comma, to return spots of several DX stations at once. There is also one neat new feature. The * wildcard in the spotted station column is extremely flexible. Enter */B and it will list beacons that sign with that suffix. Enter *n2* and it will show you ON spots as well. The wildcard can denote null (nothing) as well as both single and multiple characters, anywhere in the callsign. The only real limitation is that the resulting list is limited to the last 100 occurrences, chronologically.

Be sure to press either [Enter] or [Tab] after you enter a callsign, to tell the website that you want it to look for just those spots.

The Spots List itself is essentially unchanged. Mouse over a callsign and every instance of that call in the list will be highlighted in yellow.

We hope you enjoy the new website.