Gladstone Signal Spotting Challenge Rules for 2023 and 2024
Please bookmark this page and join the HamSCI eclipse mailing list for future announcements related to the GSSC.
Version 1.24 (removed 2023 Google entry form, added FT4/8 Note)
7 Jan 2024
The Gladstone Signal Spotting Challenge is named for Philip Gladstone, N1DQ, the creator and maintainer of the PSKReporter.info website, also known as the Digimode Automatic Propagation Reporter. Philip has made a tremendous contribution to Amateur Radio operating, citizen-science and ionospheric research through the data ('spots') which are collected and stored on PSKReporter.info. This Wikipedia entry tells the story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSK_Reporter
The first contest results for the GSSC have been tabulated and published: GSSC 2023 Results
FT4/8 operators: The 2024 GSSC scoring will not include FT4 or FT8 receptions or transmissions. Operators who enjoy those modes are encouraged to enter the Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP).
The following are the complete, detailed rules for the GSSC. For a quick introduction to the GSSC, please visit the GSSC FAQ page. The GSSC is one event within the HamSCI Festivals of Eclipse Ionospheric Science.
I) Dates and Times
14 Oct 2023 1200 – 2200 UTC (Partial eclipse began ~1500 UTC in Oregon ended ~1840 UTC in Texas) Event complete - Results available
8 Apr 2024 1400-2400 UTC (Partial eclipse begins ~1710 UTC in Texas and ends ~2040 UTC in Maine)
Participants are encouraged to operate before, during and after the eclipse passes over the continental US. Doing so will create baseline data (pre- and post-eclipse), and eclipse influenced data (during annullarity or totality) for the research team.
To generate observations of propagation by WSPRNet, PSKReporter and the Reverse Beacon Network, along with participants' event logs before, during, and after the eclipse on the amateur bands for the purpose of ionospheric sounding.
III) Station Requirements - Receiving WSPR, FST4W, PSK or CW
Reception reports for all of these modes will be useful to the scientific community in their propagation research efforts.
- Bands of interest are 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, and 6 meters, reception of CW and all digital modes included.
- A typical entrant will operate one CW Skimmer or PSK or WSPR or FST4W receiving node in a particular grid square.
- Entrants may operate multiple nodes in a given grid square, each on different band/mode combinations (e.g., 40m WSPR & 20m WSPR & 15m WSPR all in grid EN91gm).
- An entrant may choose to set up nodes in multiple grid squares. If setting up multiple receiving nodes on a specific band/mode combination, those nodes must be separated by at least 100km in order to be useful to the science community (e.g., you may operate a 20m CW Skimmer site in grid EN91gn and another 20m CW skimmer site in grid EN90ha).
- Be sure the receive node data is properly configured (especially Reporter, 6-character Reporter Grid) when sending reports to the RBN/PSK/WSPR/FST4W reception report aggregation sites and in your event log.
- WSPR nodes should monitor standard WSPR which uses 2 minute cycles (also known as 'WSPR-2' on wpsrnet.org).
- Please register your node(s) and configure them for automatic uploads to the appropriate network: Reverse Beacon Network (RBN – http://www.reversebeacon.net/), PSKReporter (https://pskreporter.info/), WSPRNet (http://www.wsprnet.org). This is the most effective way to pass GSSC reception information on to the HamSCI Data Processing team, and also, the best way to earn points and recognition for your efforts.
- If you cannot register your receiving node(s) as suggested above, contact the GSSC Committee via the HamSCI mailing list prior to the event so we can discuss alternate arrangements for collecting your data.
- Ionospheric science is advancing at a rapid rate. New modes, such as FST4W-120, are gaining popularity and recognition for their ability to provide additional opportunities for research. If you have access to a Kiwi software defined radio (SDR) and you can run WsprDaemon software, please consider setting the configuration for receiving FST4W-120 signals on the HF bands. A bonus multiplier will be awarded for reception of FST4W-120 signals - see Bonus Multipliers below.
- There are no provisions for mobile or rover operations. Receivers should remain fixed in one location for the duration of the GSSC.
IV) Station Requirements - Transmitting WSPR, FST4W
WSPR transmissions are a well established method for generating propagation related data, useful to the science community.
- WSPR and FST4W transmissions are encouraged on 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, and 6 meters. Operation on multiple bands is encouraged - the more data generated, the better. Transmissions of FST4W-120 are also encouraged on these bands. A bonus multiplier will be awarded for transmitting FST4W-120 signals - see Bonus Multipliers below.
- Use standard, legal WSPR and FST4W frequencies with a callsign which does not include a forward slash ( / ).
- Whenever possible, configure your WSPR transmitter as follows: Transmit (Tx) frequency to be either above or below 1500Hz, Type 1 messages, transmit percentage (Tx %) to 100%, 2 minute WSPR cycles. (While usual WSPR etiquette is not to transmit at 100%, the GSSC is a time-limited event, designed for observing transient phenomena of scientific interest, thus 'the more, the better'.). The GSSC will be most successful if participants choose random frequencies. One method for picking a random frequency is to visit a random number generator site for frequency selection.
- Most users will want to transmit WSPR and/or FST4W using the latest stable release of WSJT-X, see K1JT's WSJT-X Page). Stand-alone WSPR gear (such as hardware from Zach Tech, TAPR and others) will work as well.
- WSPR reception reports will be automatically logged on WSPRNet (wsprnet.org). The HamSCI Data Processing Team will download relevant WSPRNet data after the contest, so it is not necessary to submit reception reports from WSPRNet.org or any other WSPR aggregator to prove that your WSPR transmitter was 'on the air'.
V) Post-Event Entry Process
At the conclusion of the GSSC event, use the Google form at the bottom of this web page (available on 8 April 2024) to enter callsign/identifier, contact information, bonus point requests and comments.
The HamSCI Research Team greatly appreciates all who contribute to the Gladstone Signal Spotting Challenge. The Team would like to recognize all participants via postings on the HamSCI website and in other media. Further, we may have questions for the participants as we work through the data analysis process. Note: We will not share contact information with anyone outside the HamSCI Data Processing and Research teams. We highly encourage all GSSC participants to complete the post-event entry process and receive a score and ranking once the results are tabulated.
Note: if you choose to upload files to Zenodo (see Bonus Point Multipliers, below) do that first, note your DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and include that in the Comments section of the post-event Google form.
VI) Scoring and Post-Event Recognition
Scoring each participant's contribution in a highly technical and widely diverse event such as the GSSC is a challenge for the party organizers. The HamSCI team has decided to list the relevant details about each submission, in the format shown below, as a way to recognize and thank those who contributed to the GSSC, and, ultimately, to the Festivals of Eclipse Ionospheric Science.
GSSC entries for transmit sites will be reported by three attributes: Call, Reporter Grid, Frequency Band
- 'Call' must be be an amateur radio callsign (e.g. WR8ABC)
- 'Grid' must be the 6-character grid square where the transmitter is located
- 'Frequency Band' will be one of 160m, 80m, 40m, etc.
GSSC entries for receive sites will be reported by three attributes: Reporter, Reporter Grid, Frequency Band
- 'Reporter' may be be an amateur radio callsign (e.g. WR8ABC) or another textual identifier (e.g. OHSWLEN91)
- 'Reporter Grid' must be the 6-character grid square where the receiver is located
- 'Frequency Band' will be one of 160m, 80m, 40m, etc.
XI) Bonus Multipliers
All bonus multipliers will be verified by the HamSCI Data Processing Team, after the Gladstone Signal Spotting Challenge, as part of the final score calculation process.
- Upload PDF file(s) of antenna and station design characteristics (1.10 multiplier).
- Antennas: Type, location, orientation, E and H plane patterns, height above ground
- Station: Block diagram, including equipment information (manufacturer/model, transmitter power), software names and version numbers
- Photograph(s) of station equipment and/or of the operating site (1.05 multiplier for the first photograph, more photos will not result in more multipliers)
- Receiving or transmitting FST4W-120 signals (1.25 multiplier specifically for FST4W-120 reports )
- Email the above files to email@example.com
- Upload any other files you believe would be useful to research for purposes to the public HamSCI zenodo.org community. You will be provided a DOI (digital object identifier) which you can then include on your post-event GSSC Google form to associate your GSSC entry with your bonus files.
- Bonus multipliers should be claimed on the GSSC post-event report form.
Zenodo files will be uploaded under Zenodo's 'open access' policy. Data files and entry forms will likely be transferred to Zenodo in the future - under the same 'open access' policy.
Station design characteristics and photographs may be used by the HamSCI Research Team to further their understanding of how and why signals propagated across the US before, during and after the eclipse.