SKCC Skimmer 4.3
1 Introduction
2 Features
3 Download
3.1 Version History
4 How to use SKCC Skimmer
4.1 Using the K3Y Goal
4.1.1 User Considerations
4.1.2 Operator Considerations
4.2 Command Line Options
4.2.1 adi
4.2.2 bands
4.2.3 brag-months
4.2.4 callsign
4.2.5 goals
4.2.6 interactive
4.2.7 logfile
4.2.8 maidenhead
4.2.9 radius
4.2.10 targets
4.2.11 verbose
5 Configuration
5.1 MY_CALLSIGN
5.2 ADI_FILE
5.3 MY_GRIDSQUARE
5.4 SPOTTER_RADIUS
5.5 GOALS
5.6 TARGETS
5.7 BANDS
5.8 BRAG_MONTHS
5.9 SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES
5.10 EXCLUSIONS
5.11 FRIENDS
5.12 PROGRESS_DOTS
5.13 SKED
5.14 LOG_FILE
5.15 HIGH_WPM
5.16 OFF_FREQUENCY
5.17 NOTIFICATION
5.18 VERBOSE
6 Awards Chart
7 Important Notes
7.1 CQ'ing
7.2 Changing the Window Font Size
7.3 Reverse Beacon Network
7.4 Known Issues
7.5 Dependencies
8 Standard MIT License
9 Contact

1 Introduction

SKCC Skimmer is a program that helps find stations you have not yet worked in order to achieve various SKCC award levels (called GOALs) as well as stations that need you in order to achieve theirs (called TARGETs).
It runs on your local computer and uses data from five sources:
  • Real-time spots from the Reverse Beacon Network.
  • Your master ADI logfile of all SKCC contacts.
  • Member data from the skccgroup.com website.
  • The K3UK Sked Page.
  • The K7MJG RBN Retail Servers.

You supply your master SKCC log file and SKCC Skimmer will show you stations that match your goals and targets that are sending CQ -- right now. In addition, it will show you operators that are currently logged into the K3UK Sked page that match your goals and targets so that you can arrange for an on-air exchange.
Example: I'm currently an SKCC Senator (SX1) and want to advance to an SX2. I'm also a TX9 and would like to advance to a TX10 and a CX5 that would like to advance to a CX6. So I run SKCC Skimmer from the command line and specify my master SKCC log file, MasterLog.adi, as well as my goals (explained later) of CXn, TXn and SXn. I run SKCC Skimmer and it will display RBN spots as they come in.
This snippet is an example run. The output is explained after the snippet.
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SKCC Skimmer Version 4.3
Retrieving SKCC award dates...
Retrieving SKCC award info from centurionlist.txt...
Retrieving SKCC award info from tribunelist.txt...
FYI: Brand new Tribune, K6JEB, will be effective 0000Z 28 Mar 2015
Retrieving SKCC award info from senator.txt...
Retrieving SKCC WAS roster...
Retrieving SKCC WAS-C roster...
Retrieving SKCC PFX roster...
Reading Contacts from MasterLog.adi...
 
GOALS: C, CXN, T, TXN, S, SXN, WAS, WAS-C, P
TARGETS: TXN, SXN, C, T, S
BANDS: 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10
 
Total worked towards C: 598, only need 2 more for Cx6.
Total worked towards T: 452, only need 48 more for Tx10.
Total worked towards S: 206, only need 194 more for Sx2.
Total worked towards P: 1,864,927, only need 135,073 more for Px4.
Total worked towards WAS: 50, none needed.
Total worked towards WAS-C: 50, none needed.
 
FYI: You qualify for WAS-C but have not yet applied for it.
FYI: You qualify for Px3 but have not yet applied for it.
 
Finding Online RBN Spotters within 1000 miles of 'DM33xh'...
Using these spotters:
NO1D(88mi), KO7SS(100mi), WA7LNW(276mi), N6NC(305mi), N6EV(366mi), NC7J(535mi),
N6TV(612mi), N7TR(621mi), KB6VSE(799mi), WA3OPY(835mi), W5MEL(843mi),
NU6O(843mi)
 
Running...
===== SKCC Sked Page =================
0008Z K6JEB ( 6009 T Jack CA), YOU need them for Sx2, STATUS: T starting @0000
0013Z KN2A (10879 T Joe NY), YOU need them for Cx6,Tx10,Sx2, THEY need you for Tx2
0014Z NV4U ( 9744 Tx3 Ron GA), YOU need them for Cx6,Tx10,Sx2,Px4(new +9744), THEY need you for Cx2,Tx4
======================================
 
CONNECTED to K7MJG (skimmer.k7mjg.com:60002)...
.......
0011Z KA8ONW (12457 T Mark MI) on 7061.0 by WA7LNW(276mi, 14 dB), YOU need them for Tx9,Sx2
..
0012Z N3WT ( 4965 T John MD) on 14023.1 by WA7LNW(276mi, 19 dB), YOU need them for Cx6,Tx10,Sx2, THEY need you for Tx2
0012Z KC8UR ( 1772 Tx2 Tony OH) on 7057.1 by N7TR(621mi, 20dB), YOU need them for Tx10,Sx2, THEY need you for Tx3
0012Z WB6OJB ( 1328 T Doc CA) on 14050.0 by W5MEL(843mi, 23dB), YOU need them for Sx2
0012Z KE9V ( 3383 Tx3 Jeff IN) on 7108.0 by KO7SS(100mi, 25dB), YOU need them for Sx2
0013Z AC4BT ( 9395 Jerry VA) on 10107.1 by NO1D(88mi, 16dB), YOU need them for Cx6, THEY need you for C
0021Z K7EKY (12119 Dale WA) on 14060.0 by N6EV(366mi, 10dB), YOU need them for Cx6,Px4(+592), THEY need you for C
 
  • Lines 3-11: Informational progress lines as the tool collects necessary data. Note that operators that have achieved new levels are reported here with an FYI in advance of them becoming effective -- so you can get ready to nab them as soon as they are official.
  • Line 13: An indicator of what goals the SKCC Skimmer is using for this run.
  • Line 14: An indicator of the targets you've chosen for this run.
  • Line 15: An announcement about which bands to look for spots.
  • Lines 17-22: Information about the progress towards your specified goals.
  • Lines 24-25: Informational messages about awards for which you qualify but have yet to apply.
  • Lines 27-31: Information about which spotters are online and fall within your specified radius.
  • Lines 35-37: Operators that are logged in to the K3UK Sked page that match your goals and/or targets. (There may be more operators logged in, but these are the ones that match.) There is a lot of useful information on those lines, but particularly useful are the phrases "YOU need them for... and THEY need YOU for...".
  • Line 37: Note that NV4U has a prefix that you've never worked before, so you'll see the prefix goal indicator, in this case Px4, as well as how many additional points you'll get for working them. The word 'new' tells you that you've never worked that prefix before.
  • Line 40: Status message indicating that SKCC Skimmer has connected to one of K7MJG's RBN Retail Servers.
  • Lines 41 & 43: Progress dots so that you know that SKCC Skimmer is working even during long periods where no goal or target stations are spotted.
  • Lines 42 & 44-49: Stations spotted by the Reverse Beacon Network that either you need to work or those that need to work you. Note all the good things that happen by working N3WT.
  • Line 49: This is an example of a prefix hit where you've actually already worked a K7 station before, but K7EKY is newer by 592 points.

2 Features

  • Portable - Has been tested on:
    • Windows (ActiveState Python versions 2.7.8 and 3.4.1).
    • Mac (preinstalled Python version 2.7.6).
    • Raspberry Pi (preinstalled Python versions 2.7.3 and 3.2.3).
  • Finds stations that you need to work (GOALs) as well as stations that need to work you (TARGETs).
    • Displays stations spotted near your QTH.
    • Shows you stations that you have not yet worked based on your master SKCC ADI file.
    • Automatically Updates - While SKCC Skimmer is running, and as you work new stations and save them in your ADI logfile, SKCC Skimmer program detects that the logfile has changed and re-reads it so that you don't have to restart SKCC Skimmer after each contact.
    • Interactive mode allows you to lookup stations that you hear on the air and determine if you need to work them or they need to work you.
    • Able to exclude a list of specified stations. (W1AW, for example.)
    • Able to include a list of special 'friend' stations. (K3Y/0, for example.)
    • Displays the member number, name and SPC of each SKED Login and RBN spot.
    • Able to include or exclude specified bands.
    • Has a verbose option to display all unfiltered RBN spots.
    • Interactive mode allows you to lookup a call sign or member number. Useful if you hear someone on the air that is not calling CQ and they are also not on the SKED page.
  • Open Source - The source code is included under the MIT license. Feel free to modify it, especially for anything that will promote continued and expanded use of CW or the Reverse Beacon Network.

3 Download

SKCC Rules of Etiquette:
  • Be polite. Not all operators that happen to have SKCC numbers are active SKCC operators. If they are spotted outside the range of the SKCC frequencies or it is obvious that they are not using a straight key, do not answer their CQ. (Unless of course they are calling 'CQ SKCC'.)
  • After tuning to a spotted frequency, always listen and confirm that the spotted station is actually calling CQ. Not all RBN spots are actual CQs -- it will often report the callsign of both parties during a QSO, not just the station that initially called CQ.
  • Do not inform someone of their SKCC number then ask them to pass it back to you.
  • Do not ask for someone's SKCC number if they have not freely provided it in response to yours.
Download version 4.3 for Windows here.
Download version 4.3 for all other platforms here.

3.1 Version History

  • 2017-08-29 - Version 4.3
    • Better recovery from unexpected errors.
  • 2017-04-01 - Version 4.0.1
    • No longer attempt to retrieve data from the K3UK sked page.
  • 2017-03-04 - Version 4.0
    • Added K3Y goal.
    • Use new SKCC Sked Page for status.
  • 2016-11-04 - Version 3.6
    • Changed the URL from which SKCC data is retrieved from the skccgroup.com website. Requested by Ron, AC2C.
    • Supports display of active users of the K7MJG Sked Page (http://sked.k7mjg.com.)
  • 2016-02-07 - Version 3.5.12
    • Fixed bug in BRAG processing that would incorrectly count a QSO if the operator obtained their SKCC number during the month but after the QSO.
    • Added 'friends' to audible notification list. Previously only 'goals' and/or 'targets could generate an audible notification. (See NOTIFICATION configuration item.)
  • 2016-02-02 - Version 3.5.11
    • Added tracking for new WAS-T and WAS-S awards. Add WAS-T and/or WAS-S to your GOALS configuration item.
      Contributed by Nick, KC0MYW.
  • 2016-01-01 - Version 3.5.10
    • The RBN website added 'cm' and 'kHz' band designators which caused parsing errors. With this release, 'cm' and 'kHz' band designations are simply ignored.
  • 2015-08-16 - Version 3.5.9
    • Mark, NX1K, found and contributed a fix for a problem with BRAG tracking where the current month's report is the same as the previous month's report.
    • Added attribution for code and bug fix contributions by Jim, NM1W, and Mark, NX1K.
  • 2015-08-01 - Version 3.5.8
    • Remove extra characters found in callsigns. This can happen on the SKCC page if users aren't careful when they create their SKED page account.
    • Fixed a problem with BRAG tracking where the current month isn't tracked properly.
  • 2015-07-28 - Version 3.5.7
    • Contributed by Jim, NM1W.
      Added a BRAG_MONTHS configuration item to skcc_skimmer.cfg to tell SKCC Skimmer to display a history of past brag months at program startup.
      Added the --brag-months option to allow you to specify the number of months to report from the command line. Overrides the BRAG_MONTHS setting in skcc_skimmer.cfg, if one was specified.
  • 2015-07-16 - Version 3.5.6
    • Changed IP address of K7MJG's SKCC Skimmer Servers to skimmer.k7mjg.com instead of a hard-coded IP address.
  • 2015-07-14 - Version 3.5.5
    • K7MJG's Internet Service Provider changed the server's IP address. This version uses the new IP address.
      Important Note: If you continue to use the old IP address, then SKCC Skimmer will connect directly to the RBN servers which is discouraged because of the extra load it puts on their servers and it increases their bandwidth costs.
  • 2015-06-05 - Version 3.5.4
    • Fixed a problem where an ADI file that does not specify a frequency for a QSO would cause the skimmer to crash on start up.
    • Suppressed startup output for award levels that you have not yet achieved.
  • 2015-05-26 - Version 3.5.3
    • Added a SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES configuration item to allow you to specify how long a "last spotted on" message lingers in the SKED Page Login list. (See the Configuration section.)
  • 2015-05-17 - Version 3.5.2
    • Wide release of the UTF-8 decoding fix (see previous release).
    • For the BRAG goal, which previously did not count any contacts made during Sprints, now allows them on the WARC bands.
    • Individual reports on a line are now separated by semicolons instead of commas.
    • Fixed a problem where an RBN spotter would come online after a long absence, causing a key error.
    • Although SKCC Skimmer is shipped with source code (in addition to a Windows executable), it is now also published on GITHUB.
      https://github.com/k7mjg/skcc_skimmer
      Feel free to fork the repository for your own needs. If they are generally useful changes, consider making a pull request.
  • 2015-05-12 - Version 3.5.1
    • Emergency bug fix related to non-utf8 characters being used in the status messages of SKED PAGE logins. Changed the decode of the side-bar to ignore illegal utf-8 sequences during decoding of the page content.
  • 2015-05-05 - Version 3.5
    • (beta) Added monthly brag tracking goal. Shows you spots and Sked page logins that you have not yet worked this month towards your monthly brag activity. Does not count QSOs worked during any Sprint and will not show you brag RBN spots during any Sprint.
    • Will now show you all spotters that have been online in the last 24 hours. In prior releases, SKCC Skimmer would only show you spotters that were currently online. This could cause you to see fewer spots as you run SKCC Skimmer for a long time because some spotters that were found at program startup could go offline as the program runs. Likewise, spotters that come online since you started the program would not be in the spotter list, so you would not see spots from that newly-online spotter. This change solves these issues.
  • 2015-04-22 - Version 3.0.1
    • Fixed a problem where an operator who has achieved their TX8 would be misidentified as TX8 before their effective date.
    • Now indicates the spotter radius value when searching for online RBN spotters.
  • 2015-04-22 - Version 3.0
    • Better Spotting. Nearby online spotters are now automatically determined based on your QTH, giving you better spots and less noise.
    • Notifications. All new spots and SKED logins can optionally generate a 'beep' so you can keep your SKCC Skimmer window in the background if you like.
    • Readability. A new display format will make spots easier to read.
    • Sked. Shows you the last spotted frequency for a SKED login.
    • Added 6m and 60m support.
    • More loggers. ADI file parsing algorithm has been rewritten, supporting output from more loggers.
    • Various bug fixes.
    • Removed SPOTTER_PREFIXES and SPOTTERS_NEARBY configuration items.
    • Added MY_GRIDSQUARE and SPOTTER_RADIUS configuration items.
    • Added a "bands" command line option.
    • Added a "maidenhead" command line option to specify QTH grid square.
    • Added a "radius" command line option to specify the spotter radius.
    • Added NOTIFICATION configuration item.
    • Added a "notification" command line option to turn beeping on or off.
    • Added a "logfile" command line option to allow overriding the corresponding setting in skcc_skimmer.cfg.
    • Got rid of the --lookup option. Use interactive mode instead.
  • 2015-04-10 - Version 2.0.5
    • Fixed a problem where ADI records were being ignored if the <EOR> indictor did not appear at the beginning of the line.
  • 2015-04-10 - Version 2.0.4
    • No longer requires you to install Python on Windows!
      Steps to run on Windows:
      1. Unzip skcc_skimmer4.3_Windows.zip.
      2. Using Windows explorer, navigate to the directory that you unzipped the files into.
      3. Click the edit configuration shortcut, customize (at least MY_CALLSIGN and ADI_FILE), then save.
      4. Click the run skcc_skimmer shortcut.
      To run on other platforms, use the source code release and run from the command line:
      skcc_skimmer4.3_SourceCode.zip.
  • 2015-04-09 - Version 2.0.3
    • Changed shortcut name from skcc_skimmer.lnk to run skcc_skimmer.lnk.
    • Added shortcut called run skcc_skimmer interactive.lnk.
    • Long call signs from RBN were getting truncated.
  • 2015-04-09 - Version 2.0.2
    • Fixed an issue that would cause a crash if a contact in the ADI file had two slashes in it.
    • Fixed an issue that would cause the tool to over report for a goal of S.
    • Added a shortcut called edit configuration to allow you to launch the Windows Notepad application to edit the skcc_skimmer.cfg in one click.
  • 2015-04-09 - Version 2.0.1
    • Fixed an issue that would cause QSOs that end in lower case <eor> to be ignored.
    • Fixed a couple of eligibility date issues.
    • Added a shortcut called skcc_skimmer to allow you to start skcc_skimmer.py with one click.
  • 2015-04-07 - Version 2.0
    • Major release that helps you reach your goals quicker with less configuration.
    • Now GOAL-oriented. Simply specify your goal(s), such as 'C', 'T', 'S', 'CXN', 'TXN', 'SXN', 'WAS', 'WAS-C' and 'P' and SKCC Skimmer will find stations that you need automatically.
    • Introducing TARGETS. Lets you find stations that NEED YOU to achieve their goals.
    • Added a verbose option to display all unfiltered RBN spots.
    • Added a lookup option to see if you need an operator or they need you. Useful if they are not on the Sked page or calling CQ (which would be picked up by RBN).
    • Now connects to and uses RBN spots from the K7MJG-hosted RBN Retail Servers.
    • Displays a WPM alert if the operator is sending faster than a configurable threshold. (Likely using keyer.)
    • Added an interactive mode so that you can check if you need stations that you hear on the air. (Ones that are not calling CQ or are logged into the SKED Page.)
  • 2015-02-15 - Version 1.2
    • Can now optionally specify callsign (MY_CALLSIGN) in skcc_skimmer.cfg instead of on the command line.
    • Some modifications to work with Python 3.2.3 on Raspberry Pi.
  • 2015-02-14 - Version 1.1
    • Fixed issue with reading certain ADI file formats.
    • Fixed issue with bad parsing of long spotter callsigns from RBN.
  • 2015-02-13 - Version 1.0
    • Initial Release.

4 How to use SKCC Skimmer

SKCC Skimmer is provided in two forms: a simple to use Windows version that is intended to be as easy to use as possible, and a source code version for use by more advanced users or on other platforms like Linux and Mac OS.
To use the Windows version, follow these steps:
  1. Unzip skcc_skimmer4.3_Windows.zip.
  2. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory that you unzipped the files into.
    You will see these files:
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    dist
    edit configuration.lnk
    run skcc_skimmer interactive.lnk
    run skcc_skimmer.lnk
    skcc_skimmer.cfg
     
    Distribution Files
    Note that dist is a vital directory that should not be deleted or renamed.
  3. Click the 'edit configuration' shortcut which opens the Windows standard Notepad application to allow you to edit the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file.
    You should change these values, then save:
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    MY_CALLSIGN = '' # Specify your callsign here. Can be overridden with command line option.
    MY_GRIDSQUARE = '' # GridSquare of your QTH. 4 or 6 characters. See QRZ.com.
    SPOTTER_RADIUS = 750 # Use spotters no more than this distance from MY_GRIDSQUARE. In miles.
     
    ADI_FILE = r'' # Specify your ADI file here. Can be overridden with command line option.
    # The 'r' prefix allows you to specify a full path with backslashes, if desired.
     
    Major Configuration Items
  4. Click the 'run skcc_skimmer' shortcut.
    You should see something like this:
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    SKCC Skimmer Version 4.3
    Retrieving SKCC award dates...
    Retrieving SKCC award info from centurionlist.txt...
    Retrieving SKCC award info from tribunelist.txt...
    Retrieving SKCC award info from senator.txt...
    Retrieving SKCC WAS roster...
    Retrieving SKCC WAS-C roster...
    Retrieving SKCC PFX roster...
    Reading QSOs from MasterLog.adi...
     
    GOALS: C, CXN, T, TXN, S, SXN, WAS, WAS-C, P
    TARGETS: C, CXN, T, TXN, S, SXN
    BANDS: 160, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6
     
    Total worked towards C: 600, only need 100 more for Cx7.
    Total worked towards T: 453, only need 47 more for Tx10.
    Total worked towards S: 211, only need 189 more for Sx2.
    Total worked towards P: 1,867,385, only need 132,615 more for Px4.
    Total worked towards WAS: 50, none needed.
    Total worked towards WAS-C: 50, none needed.
     
    FYI: You qualify for Cx6 but have only applied for Cx5.
    FYI: You qualify for WAS-C but have not yet applied for it.
    FYI: You qualify for Px3 but have not yet applied for it.
     
    Finding Online RBN Spotters within 1000 miles of 'DM33xh'...
    Using these spotters:
    NO1D(88mi), KO7SS(100mi), WA7LNW(276mi), N6NC(305mi), N6EV(366mi), W7IV(513mi),
    NC7J(535mi), N6TV(612mi), N7TR(621mi), KB6VSE(799mi), W5MEL(843mi), NU6O(843mi)
     
    Running...
     
    ===== SKCC Sked Page =================
    0209Z KA2FIR ( 3377 T Mike NJ), YOU need them for Sx2, STATUS: 17 Meters
    0209Z KB9RLW (13775 Kevin IN), YOU need them for Cx7,Px4(+9090), THEY need you for C
    0209Z N2OB (13512 S Steve NJ), THEY need you for Sx2
    0209Z NM1W (13718 Jim NH), YOU need them for Cx7,Px4(new +13718), THEY need you for C
    0209Z W0GTL (13850 Chris SD), YOU need them for Cx7,Px4(+340), THEY need you for C
    ======================================
     
    CONNECTED to K7MJG (skimmer.k7mjg.com:60002)...
    ...........
     
    Running skcc_skimmer.py

4.1 Using the K3Y Goal

The K3Y goal allows you to maximize your station and band yield during the annual K3Y special event held during the month of January.
To enable the K3Y goal, simply add K3Y to your GOAL list in the skcc_skimmer.cfg file.
There are special considerations for both the user and the operator during the K3Y event that provides necessary information to skcc_skimmer.

4.1.1 User Considerations

When logging a K3Y contact, log the callsign of the actual operator and then include in the comment field the K3Y station designator, one of:
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K3Y/0
K3Y/1
K3Y/2
K3Y/3
K3Y/4
K3Y/5
K3Y/6
K3Y/7
K3Y/8
K3Y/9
K3Y/KH6
K3Y/KL7
K3Y/KP4
K3Y-AF
K3Y-AS
K3Y-EU
K3Y-NA
K3Y-OC
K3Y-SA
K3Y Station Designators
You can use either a '/' or a '-' as the separator for all of them. Other text may also be in the status.

4.1.2 Operator Considerations

As a K3Y operator, in order to be "seen" by skcc_skimmer from both the K3UK and K7MJG sked pages, you'll want to use the following pattern somewhere in your status. Examples:
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K3Y/9 7.055.5
K3Y/9 7.055
K3Y/9 7055
K3Y/EU 14050
K3Y/7 AZ 7055
K3Y/0 7.055 QRV
K3Y Status Examples
What is important is that the station designator occur first and the frequency occur second somewhere in the status. If the frequency is not one of the above forms, skcc_skimmer will not be able to determine the band the station is currently working.
Ideally, the operator will supply only the station designator followed by the current operating frequency.

4.2 Command Line Options

Use these options from the command line.

4.2.1 adi

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--adi <your-logfile>
 
or
 
-a <your-logfile>
 
'adi' command line option
Specifies a log file that contains all the SKCC contacts you've ever made since becoming a member.
This option, when specified, overrides the setting in the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file.

4.2.2 bands

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--bands <comma-separated-bands>
 
or
 
-b <comma-separated-bands>
 
'bands' command line option
Overrides your skcc_skimmer.cfg BANDS configuration item.
Example:
Maybe you have one SKCC Skimmer running on all bands with notifications off (the -n off option) that you are actively watching. Then you run another SKCC Skimmer window with the -b 10,6 option to watch for 10m and 6m spots with notifications on (the -n on option) where the window is either minimized or behind other windows. This way, you didn't have to change your master skcc_skimmer.cfg.

4.2.3 brag-months

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--brag-months <number-of-months-back>
 
'brag-months' command line option
Allows you to obtain a history of previous brag months. The history will be displayed at program startup.

4.2.4 callsign

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--callsign <your-callsign>
 
or
 
-c <your-callsign>
 
'callsign' command line option
Your callsign. It is important that this is your call sign because it is used to determine who you need to work (GOALs) and who needs to work you (TARGETs).
This option, when specified, overrides the setting in the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file.
Case insensitive.

4.2.5 goals

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--goals <your-goals>
 
or
 
-g <your-goals>
 
'goals' command line option
Allows you to specify a comma separated list of GOALs that you are trying to achieve. See the GOALS configuration item on this page for a description of GOAL specifiers.
This option, when specified, overrides the setting in the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file.
Case insensitive.

4.2.6 interactive

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--interactive
 
or
 
-i
 
'interactive' command line option
This option brings up SKCC Skimmer and presents you with a prompt. You can enter one or more member call signs or member numbers at the prompt and SKCC Skimmer will show you detail about each operator based on your GOALS and TARGETS settings.
You may find it useful to have two windows open as you operate. One running SKCC Skimmer in normal mode, filtering RBN spot and SKCC Sked logins, and another in interactive mode to look up folks that you hear on the air.
Example:
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Interactive mode. Enter one or more comma or space separated callsigns.
 
(Enter 'q' to quit, 'r' to refresh)
 
> n2ob,k6hp,kc9afn,ka2fir,3377
 
N2OB - [13512Tx8, Steve, NJ], THEY need you for S
K6HP - [5772T, Ed, CA], YOU need them for Sx2
KC9AFN - [337, Bill, IL], YOU need them for Cx6, THEY need you for C
KA2FIR - [3377T, Mike, NJ], YOU need them for Sx2
KA2FIR - [3377T, Mike, NJ], YOU need them for Sx2
 
>
 
Interactive Mode Example

4.2.7 logfile

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--logfile <filename>
 
or
 
-l <filename>
 
'logfile' command line option
Allows you to log spots to a file different from that specified in your skcc_skimmer.cfg file.

4.2.8 maidenhead

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--maidenhead
 
or
 
-m
 
'maidenhead' command line option
Allows you to override the MY_GRIDSQUARE skcc_skimmer.cfg entry. Note that the grid square is a maidenhead locator. (See the Maidenhead Locator System article on Wikipedia.)
We use the option -m instead of -g because the letter g is an existing option to override your GOALS.

4.2.9 radius

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--radius <distance-in-miles>
 
or
 
-r <distance-in-miles>
 
'radius' command line option
The spotter radius limits the number of spotters selected near your QTH (Grid Square). Units are in miles.

4.2.10 targets

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--targets <your-targets>
 
or
 
-t <your-targets>
 
'targets' command line option
Allows you to specify a comma separated list of TARGETs. Using target specifiers, SKCC Skimmer will tell you which stations NEED YOU in order to achieve their goals.
See the TARGETS configuration item on this page for a description of TARGET specifiers.
This option, when specified, overrides the setting in the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file.
Case insensitive.

4.2.11 verbose

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--verbose
 
or
 
-v
 
'verbose' command line option
Allows you to override the VERBOSE setting in the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file. Verbose mode tells SKCC Skimmer to display the raw data received from the Reverse Beacon Network in addition to the filtered reports about your goals and targets.
When VERBOSE is enabled, PROGRESS_DOTS are automatically disabled.

5 Configuration

By editing the skcc_skimmer.cfg configuration file, you can customize how SKCC Skimmer filters RBN spots and Sked Page logins. The configurable items are described below.

5.1 MY_CALLSIGN

Set this to your callsign. Once you set it here, you won't need to specify it on the command line.
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MY_CALLSIGN = 'X6XXX'
 
MY_CALLSIGN Example

5.2 ADI_FILE

This specifies the ADI file that contains a log of all SKCC stations that you've every worked. This file is only read by SKCC Skimmer, never written. It is intended to be your live, active ADI file. SKCC Skimmer will automatically re-read the contents of your ADI file when it changes. In other words, when you make a new contact and your logging program writes to it. Use any name you like. You can even use a full path including backslashes (\) in Windows pathnames. Note that the small 'r' before the string is important. Do not remove it.
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ADI_FILE = r'MasterLog.adi'
 
ADI_FILE Example

5.3 MY_GRIDSQUARE

This should be set to the 6 character Grid Square of your QTH (or wherever you are operating from). You can find your Grid Square by going to the QRZ.com website and looking up your callsign. Go the Detail tab and look for "Grid Square". Enter this value in the MY_GRIDSQUARE configuration item (inside the quotation marks).
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MY_GRIDSQUARE = 'DM33xh'
 
MY_GRIDSQUARE Example

5.4 SPOTTER_RADIUS

SKCC Skimmer will only report spots close to your QTH. This item specifies how close the spotter must be in order to be considered nearby.
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SPOTTER_RADIUS = 800
 
SPOTTER_RADIUS Example
The perfect radius value will depend on your QTH and the density of surrounding spotters. For example, in Phoenix, there are not many nearby spotters, so a radius of about 800 miles will include only about 10 spotters. Whereas on the east coast, the same radius value yields more than 20 spotters. The spotters selected are displayed at startup so that you can see the effect of your radius value. You'll have to play with this value to strike the right balance for your QTH.

5.5 GOALS

SKCC Skimmer filters spots based on goals.
Goals tell SKCC Skimmer which SKCC award levels you're are trying to achieve so that it can display RBN spots for stations that YOU NEED in order to achieve those awards.
Targets tell SKCC Skimmer which SKCC award levels you are trying to help others achieve. SKCC Skimmer will show you RBN spots for stations that NEED YOU.
Valid GOAL designations:
  • K3Y - This goal helps you maximize your station and band yield during the K3Y special event held each January. (See details here.)
  • C - You are attempting to achieve Centurion status. If you are already a Centurion, this goal will have no effect.
  • T - You are attempting to achieve Tribune status. If you are already a Tribune, this goal will have no effect.
  • S - You are attempting to achieve Senator status. If you are already a Senator, this goal will have no effect.
  • CXN - You are attempting to achieve an advanced C award level. That is, Cx2, Cx3, etc., all the way up to Cx10.
  • TXN - You are attempting to achieve an advanced T award level. That is, Tx2, Tx3, etc., all the way up to Tx10.
  • SXN - You are attempting to achieve an advanced S award level. That is, Sx2, Sx3, etc., all the way up to Sx10.
  • P - The prefix award promotes contacting new members — the newer the better. For example. Let's say you've worked a member with prefix AA4 whose member number is 5000, so you now have 5000 prefix points. Then, let's say you later work another AA4 station whose member number is 12000. The higher member number now replaces the older station in your total prefix point count, so now you have 12000 total prefix points. SKCC Skimmer will show you stations that will advance your prefix point count; either because it's a brand new prefix for you, or because that station has a higher member number than any member with that prefix that you've worked in the past.
    Examples of spots that include prefix hits:
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    CONNECTED to K7MJG (skimmer.k7mjg.com:60001)...
     
    ===== SKCC Sked Page =================
    0353Z OK1UKV (10671 Jara CZE), YOU need them for Px4(new +10671), STATUS: 7.120
    ======================================
     
    0354Z W7LXN (13049 Myron AZ) on 10115.0 by WZ7I(122mi, 17dB), YOU need them for Px4(+2192)
     
    Prefix spot examples
    Note the prefix notation Px4(new +10671) on line 5. SKCC Skimmer will tell you that you need a station in order to advance your prefix point count. SKCC Skimmer will also tell you whether this is a new prefix for you by displaying the word new. If it's not new, then you have worked a station with that prefix before but working this particular station will increase your point count by the indicated amount.
  • WAS - You are attempting to achieve the SKCC Worked All States award. SKCC Skimmer will show you spotted stations in states that you need to work towards that goal.
  • WAS-C - You are attempting to achieve the SKCC Centurion Worked All States award. SKCC Skimmer will show you spotted stations in states that you need to work towards that goal.
  • BRAG - Shows you spots and Sked page logins that you have not yet worked this month towards your monthly brag activity. Does not count QSOs worked during any Sprint and will not show you brag RBN spots during any Sprint.
  • ALL - Enables all of the above.
  • NONE - Turns off all goals.
Multiple goals are specified comma separated.

5.6 TARGETS

SKCC Skimmer filters spots based on targets.
Goals tell SKCC Skimmer which SKCC award levels you're are trying to achieve so that it can display RBN spots for stations that YOU NEED in order to achieve those awards.
Targets tell SKCC Skimmer which SKCC award levels you are trying to help others achieve. SKCC Skimmer will show you RBN spots for stations that NEED YOU.
Valid TARGET designations:
  • C - You are wanting to help others achieve their Centurion status.
  • T - You are wanting to help others achieve their Tribune status.
  • S - You are wanting to help others achieve their Senator status.
  • CXN - You are wanting to help others achieve an advanced C award level. That is, Cx2, Cx3, etc., all the way up to Cx10.
  • TXN - You are wanting to help others achieve an advanced T award level. That is, Tx2, Tx3, etc., all the way up to Tx10.
  • SXN - You are wanting to help others achieve an advanced S award level. That is, Sx2, Sx3, etc., all the way up to Sx10.
  • ALL - Enables all of the above.
  • NONE - Turns off all targets.

5.7 BANDS

Specifies which bands to monitor. Possible values are: 160, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 and 6. There is a commented out template line below the actual configuration line to assist and remind you of all bands. Spaces are okay in your configuration in order for it to line up with the template.
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BANDS = ' 40 20 10 '
# '160 80 60 40 30 20 17 15 12 10 6' (Template)
 
BANDS Example

5.8 BRAG_MONTHS

Optional. Commands SKCC Skimmer to display a history of brag results at program startup. An arbitrary number of months can be specified. Can be overridden from the command line with the --brag-months option.
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BRAG_MONTHS = 36
 
BRAG_MONTHS Example

5.9 SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES

When an operator is logged in to the SKCC Sked Page and then also issues a CQ that is spotted nearby, SKCC Skimmer will display a "last spotted" message indicating on what frequency the operator was last spotted and how long ago. SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES indicates how long that "last spotted" message persists before being removed.
If SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES is not specified in the configuration file, the default is 15 minutes.
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SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES = 10
 
SPOT_PERSISTENCE_MINUTES Example

5.10 EXCLUSIONS

A space separated list of callsigns to ignore. Good for specifying beacons, for example.
EXCLUSIONS overrides FRIENDS.
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EXCLUSIONS = 'W1AW'
 
EXCLUSIONS Example

5.11 FRIENDS

A space separated list of callsigns that are "friends" that have some special significance. If the spotted callsign is in this list of friends, then the spot will be displayed.
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FRIENDS = 'K3Y/0'
 
FRIENDS Example
One member, a Senator, reports that they use the FRIENDS configuration to list all existing Senators so that they can work the unofficial "Worked All Senators" award.

5.12 PROGRESS_DOTS

If your criteria are very selective or you have worked a lot of stations, you may have long periods of time with no output. By enabling this option, you can specify how many progress dots are displayed. If the option is disabled, then no progress dots will be displayed.
  • ENABLED - True if you want to see progress dots, False if you don't.
  • DISPLAY_SECONDS - The number of seconds of silence before a progress dot is generated.
  • DOTS_PER_LINE - Rather than having dots wrap around at the edge of the screen, you can control how many dots are displayed on a line before a new line is generated.
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PROGRESS_DOTS = {
'ENABLED' : True,
'DISPLAY_SECONDS': 5,
'DOTS_PER_LINE': 75,
}
 
PROGRESS_DOTS Example

5.13 SKED

When enabled, SKCC Skimmer will read the sidebar of the SKCC Sked web page and display members that are logged in that match your GOALS or TARGETS.
  • ENABLED - True if you want to enable reading the sidebar, False otherwise.
  • CHECK_SECONDS - How many seconds to wait before reading the sidebar again.
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SKED = {
'ENABLED': True,
'CHECK_SECONDS': 60,
}
 
SKED Example
If a member that matches your goals or targets logs into the Sked page, SKCC Skimmer will display a plus sign (+) before their call sign.

5.14 LOG_FILE

Specifies whether you want each matching spot to be written to a log file. Because this file can accumulate over many sessions and multiple days, the date is also included on each line.
  • ENABLED - True to create a logfile, otherwise False.
  • FILE_NAME - The name of the log file.
  • DELETE_ON_STARTUP - True if you want the log file to be created fresh for each run. Otherwise set it to False.
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LOG_FILE = {
'ENABLED' : False,
'FILE_NAME' : 'skcc_skimmer.log',
'DELETE_ON_STARTUP' : False,
}
 
LOG_FILE Example

5.15 HIGH_WPM

This item allows you to decide whether you see spots regarding stations that are likely not on a straight key or are otherwise sending faster than you know you can copy.
  • ACTION - What action to take when a spot has a WPM value above THRESHOLD.
    • suppress - Do not display the spot if it is HIGH_WPM.
    • warn - Display a warning if the WPM is at or above THRESHOLD.
    • always-display - Display the spot including the WPM value.
  • THRESHOLD - A spot is considered HIGH_WPM if it has a WPM at or above this value.
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HIGH_WPM = {
'ACTION': 'suppress', # Valid values: 'suppress', 'warn', 'always-display'
'THRESHOLD': 20, # in WPM
}
 
HIGH_WPM Example

5.16 OFF_FREQUENCY

This indicates what to do when a member spot is not on an SKCC frequency.
  • ACTION - What action to take when a spot is outside an SKCC frequency range but is otherwise a good member spot.
    • suppress - Do not display the spot if it is outside of an SKCC frequency range.
    • warn - Display a warning if the spot is off frequency.
  • TOLERANCE - Specifies how many kHz above or below an SKCC frequency midpoint is considered off frequency.
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OFF_FREQUENCY = {
'ACTION': 'suppress', # Valid values: 'suppress', 'warn'
'TOLERANCE': 10, # +/- kHz
}
 
OFF_FREQUENCY Example

5.17 NOTIFICATION

This section controls audible notification of new spots.
  • ENABLED - True to enable audible notifications, False otherwise.
  • CONDITION - When to beep. Valid values:
    • 'goals' - Beep if a spot matches one or more of your goals.
    • 'targets' - Beep if a spot matches one or more of your targets.
    • 'friends' - Beep if a spot matches a friend.
    These conditions can be combined, comma separated. E.g. 'goals,friends', which is the default.
  • RENOTIFICATION_DELAY_SECONDS - Once you are notified of a spotted callsign, you will not be notified again – for that callsign – for this amount of time. In other words, there is a timer per callsign.
Beeps will only occur when something new comes along, whether it be a new person that matches your goals or targets logging into the Sked Page, or, similarly, someone being spotted by RBN. Make sure that your Windows "default beep" is set to something other than ‘none’ and that you have your speakers unmuted and volume up. You can test your sounds by going to the Windows ‘control panel’ , ‘sounds’ tab of the ‘sound’ form.
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NOTIFICATION = {
'ENABLED': True,
'CONDITION': 'goals,friends', # Valid values: 'goals', 'targets', 'friends'. Comma separated.
'RENOTIFICATION_DELAY_SECONDS': 60,
}
 
NOTIFICATION Example

5.18 VERBOSE

When VERBOSE is set to True, SKCC Skimmer will display the raw incoming data from the Reverse Beacon Network in addition to displaying all the SKCC Skimmer filtered spots.
When VERBOSE is enabled, PROGRESS_DOTS are automatically disabled.
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CONNECTED to K7MJG (skimmer.k7mjg.com:60001)...
DX de JA4ZRK-#: 10129.1 7L1VET/1 CW 16 dB 25 WPM CQ 0221Z
DX de K2NNY-#: 14048.9 KF7WNS CW 12 dB 17 WPM CQ 0221Z
0221Z KF7WNS ( 9895 Tx8 Gary OR) on 14048.9 by K2NNY(2087mi, 12dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,WAS-C,P(new +9895), THEY need you for Cx2
DX de EI6IZ-#: 7016.4 DL3DRN CW 40 dB 27 WPM CQ 0221Z
DX de DF7GB-#: 14014.5 CX5UA CW 6 dB 27 WPM CQ 0221Z
DX de AA4VV-#: 7042.3 KC0W CW 27 dB 31 WPM CQ 0221Z
DX de AA4VV-#: 10114.4 W0GV CW 14 dB 18 WPM CQ 0221Z
0221Z W0GV ( 7889 Gerry CO) on 10114.4 by AA4VV(1806mi, 14dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,P(new +7889), THEY need you for C
DX de AA4VV-#: 3540.1 W8MMM CW 28 dB 23 WPM CQ 0221Z
DX de DL1EMY-#: 7012.2 UA9W CW 20 dB 28 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de ZL2HAM-#: 21018.3 K9NW CW 11 dB 30 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de W4KAZ-#: 14026.6 PW2D CW 35 dB 27 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de AC0C-#: 7055.0 KT4TN CW 24 dB 11 WPM CQ 0222Z
0222Z KT4TN (11943 S Randy TN) on 7055.0 by AC0C(1039mi, 24dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,WAS-C,P(new +11943), THEY need you for Cx2
DX de IK3STG-#: 14013.0 ZX150ITU CW 4 dB 37 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de IK3STG-#: 7012.2 UA9W CW 24 dB 29 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de W4KKN-#: 7004.1 PW2F CW 16 dB 27 WPM CQ 0222Z
DX de AA4VV-#: 7010.7 K3IE CW 28 dB 29 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de HA1VHF-#: 7012.2 UA9W CW 24 dB 29 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de N7TR-#: 14010.1 KW9E CW 42 dB 31 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de WZ7I-#: 7012.0 PP5UP CW 16 dB 27 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de WZ7I-#: 3522.6 9A2AJ CW 21 dB 28 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de WZ7I-#: 7058.0 W4MA/4 CW 12 dB 19 WPM CQ 0223Z
0223Z W4MA ( 1456 Bill GA) on 7058.0 by WZ7I(2082mi, 12dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,P(new +1456), THEY need you for C
DX de WZ7I-#: 3525.3 VE3ODX CW 28 dB 14 WPM CQ 0223Z
DX de WZ7I-#: 7010.6 K3IE CW 28 dB 29 WPM CQ 0223Z
 
VERBOSE set to True
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CONNECTED to K7MJG (skimmer.k7mjg.com:60001)...
0221Z KF7WNS ( 9895 Tx8 Gary OR) on 14048.9 by K2NNY(2087mi, 12dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,WAS-C,P(new +9895), THEY need you for Cx2
0221Z W0GV ( 7889 Gerry CO) on 10114.4 by AA4VV(1806mi, 14dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,P(new +7889), THEY need you for C
0222Z KT4TN (11943 S Randy TN) on 7055.0 by AC0C(1039mi, 24dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,WAS-C,P(new +11943), THEY need you for Cx2
0223Z W4MA ( 1456 Bill GA) on 7058.0 by WZ7I(2082mi, 12dB), YOU need them for C,WAS,P(new +1456), THEY need you for C
 
VERBOSE set to False

6 Awards Chart

This spreadsheet might help you understand the SKCC awards requirements in order to achieve the Senator award level:
The Path to Senator
If you'd like to print it out, here is the original spreadsheet and the PDF file.

7 Important Notes

7.1 CQ'ing

It is important to realize that this whole system only works if other members are calling CQ, so make sure to mix it up, say, 50% CQ'ing, 50% S&P (skim and pounce).
Look at it this way, if this program is widely adopted, then your CQ is less likely to go unanswered. Everybody wins.

7.2 Changing the Window Font Size

If you find the font size hard to read, this YouTube video explains how to change it. It also touches briefly on how to change your layout. That is, the width and height of your window.

7.3 Reverse Beacon Network

The folks at the Reverse Beacon Network do not intend for end users to connect to their raw data feed. Instead, they suggest that only "RBN Retail Servers" connect to the raw data feed and that end-users should connect to these Retail Servers. This lightens the load on the RBN servers considerably.
Accordingly, K7MJG has built a system of RBN Retail Servers in Python, hosted on a Digital Ocean cloud server, that can service hundreds of SKCC Skimmer users. When you run SKCC Skimmer, it attempts to connect to one of these servers. If there is a problem connecting to one of those servers, SKCC Skimmer will failover and connect directly to one of the three RBN servers (randomly selected).

7.4 Known Issues

  • "Count Discrepancies" -- The SKCC group has over 16,000 members. Over time, some operators that joined a long time ago have decided that they no longer wish to be contacted by SKCC members, so they have requested that their names be removed from the public database. The SKCC Skimmer program uses this public database. However, for the purposes of accurate award recognition, a private database is used by the official awards application programs (like AC2C's logger) that still contains these old callsigns.
    Therefore, if you’ve worked some of these now-deleted callsigns, the Skimmer will undercount the number of contacts required for a particular goal.
  • Centurion and Tribune have a second tier of awards (the Cx15, Cx20, Cx25... and Tx15, Tx20, Tx25... for example). Tracking of these award levels is not implemented. Additionally, the first tier of Centurion and Tribune award levels should stop at 10 (Cx10 and Tx10), however SKCC Skimmer will continue to show you spots for non-existent Cx11 and Tx11 awards.
    If this is annoying to you, you can simply not specify CXN or TXN as goals. Or, if you are attempting to achieve these higher level awards and SKCC Skimmer says that you need a station for your Tx11, Tx12, etc., know that you do indeed need to work them for the advanced award, it's just not displaying the information in the proper increments.

7.5 Dependencies

  • SKCC Skimmer depends on five Internet-based resources for its data:
    • The SKCC website, www.skccgroup.com.
    • The Reverse Beacon Network website, www.reversebeacon.net.
    • The Reverse Beacon Network telnet servers, telnet.reversebeacon.net, arcluster.reversebeacon.net and relay2.reversebeacon.net.
    • The K7MJG telnet servers.
    • The K3UK Sked page, www.obriensweb.com.
    If any of these resources are unavailable, SKCC Skimmer will likely hang at startup. Try again once the dependent website is back up.
    Additionally, if the format of the data provided by any of these websites ever changes, SKCC Skimmer will not be able to function and will need to be revised to recognize the new format.

8 Standard MIT License

SKCC Skimmer is free software, licensed under the standard MIT License.
The MIT License (MIT)
Copyright (c) 2015 Mark J Glenn
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

9 Contact

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments at .
Copyright © 2015  Mark J Glenn, K7MJG