Getting Spotted by the RBN
How do you make sure you are spotted by the RBN?
The RBN is made up of automated receivers running the CW Skimmer Server or RTTY Skimmer and RBN Aggregator software. In order to be spotted, these pieces of sotfware must recognize your transmission as (1) calling CQ and (2) having a valid call sign.
The automated "CW Skimmer" receivers will decode any transmission beginning with CQ or other words indicating the station is soliciting QSOs. i.e. "running." CQ words include TEST or QRZ, for example. The CQ word may have one other word between the CQ word and the call sign. For example, "CQ TEST", "CQ SEQP", "TEST SEQP", "QRZ SEQP", and so forth will be detected as a CQ if they are followed by a call sign. "CQ TEST N0AX" or "CQ SEQP N0AX" will work equivalently. It is important, however, to send the entire message at the same speed and do not speed up parts of the message in order to save time.
In addition to the CQ-equivalent keyword, the Skimmer programs must be "convinced" that the callsign is really a callsign. For this purpose Skimmers use a file which determines whether a prefix pattern has been used on the air recently, and divides prefixes into 3 classes - unknown, encountered infrequently, and common. Calls with unknown prefixes - such as some of the special commemorative prefixes beloved by Europeans - can require up to 4 repetitions before they are spotted, while other common ones like N4 can require as few as two.
As a practical matter, contesters have discovered that a new prefix can lead to many fewer spots than a more common one, so people should be encouraged to avoid using exotic callsigns during SEQP. Most US 1x1 calls should by ok, as these are used frequently and their pattern should already be established. The Commemorative Canada 150 prefixes will also work fine as they have been explicitly added to the RBN pattern file in January 2017.