The following is just a thought about beaconing and live chats. It may or may not become a feature request in the future. Wonder what other users think about it.
When we send VarAC beacons at regular intervals, we may or may not be at the radio to chat live.
If another ham has received our beacon and double-clicks on the callsign in his VarAC beacon list to connect with our station, he may soon encounter an "AWQ", indicating that there will not be a live QSO but instead a VMail can be left (after a QSY). Vmail is good but the intention is usually to have a live chat.
What if we had an indication in the beaons list that tells us whether the distant beaconing station is available for a live chat or not? See below. We could then make an informed choice about whether to connect a station in the beacon list or not. "L" stands for "Live". You say: another form of CQ calling. Yes, and no. CQ-ing requires us to be at the station. "L" means we can be sitting near the shack desk reading a book. Happy to be interrupted for a chat. Old "L" entries would need to be detected, like auto-cancel after 30min or so. We may have forgotten about the "L" - no big problem.
I think this has some merit. Maybe I missed something. Let me know if.
Is the simple solution to remove the facility to automatically send a beacon signal? After all, the “C” in VarAC stands for chat.
Those that just want to beacon can use WSPR and leave VarAC for those of us who wish to call CQ and have a real 2 way QSO.
Sometimes there are many beacon signals and no CQ calls… very disappointing.
Why not have beacons on a dedicated slot, thus keeping the calling slot free.
From the VarAC main page:
This is information related to the discussion about the purpose of VarAC beaconing.
Thanks for all your interest in this and for valuable comments.
VarAC is a fine piece of software - a real HF digimode game-changer. Like all other man-made things it can always be made a little bit better.
This morning I looked at the VarAC beacon list and connected (callsign double-click) to 3 stations in Europe on 20m short-path. The first connect to a G-station did not work out and the 2nd (SP9) got me an AWQ. Then I connected DL4MN from the beacons list and had a nice 10-minutes chat with Marco who was there live at his shack-desk.
If we had indicators for the availability of operators (live) we could make targeted connection attempts, avoiding getting AWQ when what we want is a live chat. How often do I get Vmails saying "hope to catch you live soon" !
Well, hope is good but a systematic approach would be better.
I understand the thinking. My recommendation is to tailor the AutoAwayMinutes and BeaconIntervalMinutes timers available in the .ini file to match the beaconer's desires. E,,G. if you want to beacon to check propagation, and you aren't going to hang around for a QSO, you can set the AWAY timer for 1 minute and probably increase the beacon interval as well. If you are using beacons instead of CQ's, so that you can read a book or do other things, but would still be available to Chat if called, you might want to increase the AutoAway timer to 14 minutes, or something just under the time you have set for beaconing. The program has features that can be used to match your operating style.
I think beacons in VarAC are like calling CQ in other modes. VARA modem sends "CQ DL4DTL-9 500".
If HAMs don't want any connection or QSO, they shouldn't turn ON the beacons
If they only want to check where they are being received, they can use other systems such as RBN or WSPR.
Each OM should also check whether he activates the beacon function.
For the continued success of VarAC we should keep the CF free for CQ calls and broadcasts.
73 de Maik, DL4DTL
I think that this is an interesting idea, but I agree with Irad's comment about user frustration when a posted 'L' callsign is not actually live. I do not think you need to create an 'L' category though. Why not just send the away status with the beacon? It can be inaccurate if you are (as I am frequently) really nearby reading a book or otherwise occupied, but it is a currently managed state via the checkbox and timer. I think that would be useful to know when reviewing the beacons list for purposes of picking a potential qso partner.
73... Rick KJ7ROX
I addressed your concern in my message above:
"Old "L" entries would need to be detected, like auto-cancel after 30min or so. We may have forgotten about the "L" - no big problem."
have you had your morning coffee ?
I have been thinking about it for many months and already came to the same conclusion:
a Beacon that was "Live" 2 hours doesn't mean that is is Live now.
How would VarAC know you are Live or STILL live ? coz you just left it on a "live" state ? and if you went away who will set it back to "not live" ? I see many people leave it enabled.
Bottom line - as most beacons are unattended, and my opinion is that by adding a "Live" people will be more frustrated finding out that there is no one out there behind this "Live" indication after they connect that station. So better knowing that Beacons are 95% AWQ and be surpsised every once and then , then getting teh frustrtion over and over again to find out that that LIVE is not really LIVE what will make this features completly useless and non-trusted in a short perdiod of time.
I will be happy to hear other opinions though.