Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Expanding Beacon Networks to Aid Propagation Research

The Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) is in the process of adding 15 new nodes in areas where amateur radio populations are sparse. The expansion is being funded by grants from the Yasme Foundation and Amateur Radio Digital Communications. According to the ARRL, an RBN node was installed in Tunisia last fall, with another in far northern Europe coming online on December 22. Additional nodes are planned for such regions as the Caribbean, South Pacific, Central Asia, South America and the Middle East. The League says selections were guided by the research community at HamSCI, where researchers are interested in the broad geographic reach of the RBN project. RBN nodes worldwide monitor the HF ham bands to identify band openings in real time.

Reverse Beacon Network spot map

A VHF/UHF reverse beacon network is being started in South Africa, under the guidance of the South African Radio League (SARL) and AMSAT-SA. The so-called "next-generation beacons" will use the PI4 digital mode to transmit machine-generated messages that can be decoded even when signal strengths are very weak. SARL says three beacons are planned for initial installation and notes that, while it is providing funding for the first one, crowd-funding will be needed to cover the costs of building additional nodes.