Proposal for an Automatic Beacon Monitor


To create a group of automatic beacon monitoring stations to collect reception data from the 18 NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Project beacons and post the data in graphical form to the web.


General Description

The software will control the receiver to monitor the 18 beacons on 5 bands once every 15 minutes. The waterfall plots from each block will be pasted together to create 24 hour reception strips for each station for each band. The strips will be uploaded to a web server for display by station, by band, etc. Summary graphics could display thumbnail information in smaller graphic files.

Suggested Features


A reception point plot for one station on one band would consist of a 10 second waterfall plot at one sample per second. 4 samples per hour would create a plot 4 x 10 x 24 pixels wide, or 960 pixels. A vertical height of 80 pixels for a coverage of 400 Hz at 5 Hz resolution would result in strips of 80x960 pixels per band. A 5 band scan for a single beacon would be 960x400 pixels plus legend information.

With a one second plot, it would be best to sample at least twice per second to accurately capture the 1 second power dashes. Sampling 4 or more times per second with averaging would increase the signal to noise level of the display. This would also help to use the beacon signals for accurate synchronization. If the clock were externally synchronized to better than .1 seconds, 1 sample would suffice.

Alpha Software

A first draft of the software by VE3SUN is available for download. It is only a first version, so there are incomplete parts and undoubtedly bugs, but it will run for 24 hours and record the beacons in various formats. Beacon Observer Program.

Mailing List

A Yahoo Group has been set up for discussion of this project. Send a message to to join the group and participate in the discussion. The archive of the discussions can be read on the abeacon Group Page.

VE3NEA Faro Program

VE3NEA's Faro program is the best tool available at present for automatically monitoring the beacons. A number of amateurs have created web pages showing the observations and we strongly encourage other individuals and groups to do the same.

Please let us know so we can add your site to the growing list of active monitoring stations.

Comments on this page may be directed to the webmaster.