Frequently Asked Questions
(Traveller) Who can read my messages and view my position reports?
Only the people who you have assigned as bcon Contacts can receive your bcon messages,
send you messages, and view your bcon Positioning reports.
It is therefore important to update your bcon contacts list and include all people
you require contact with prior to commencing a trip.
(Traveller) How do I ask bcon to deliver my messages?
By logging in. When a Traveller log in they are effectively telling the bcon network
they are "on the air" and ready to receive messages. If there are active messages
pending when a Traveller logs in, bcon will endeavour to deliver these messages
By selecting the best channel, using a Channel Test/Beacon call, then logging in, the
bcon network knows which channel is currently the most suitable for communication with
the Traveller. bcon uses this information when determining which channels to try a message
By logging in at least twice a day, the chances of successful message delivery are
(Traveller) How do I log in to the bcon Network?
There are 2 ways for the Traveller to log in to the bcon Network. This can be achieved
by either sending a position or sending a message.
(Traveller) When are the best times to send my messages and position reports?
The bcon Network uses a range of frequencies which are chosen to provide reliable
communication both day and night. Because of the nature of HF radio, the Network,
and Travellers, particularly those in Northern Australia, may suffer interference
from overseas stations under certain circumstances. This interference is most
likely to occur on the higher frequencies during the evening.
For this reason it is often better to send messages and position reports from some
locations during daylight hours.
(Traveller) What types of HF radio will work with the bcon Network?
bcon Messaging uses the Codan Pagecall messaging format. This means that only radios
using this format (currently only Codan 9323 and NGT Series transceivers) can send
and receive bcon text messages. While other HF radios have messaging capability,
there is no compatibility between different messaging protocols and some of these
other protocols are unsuitable for computerised message delivery.
bcon Positioning requires the traveller to send their position to a bcon base
station at regular intervals for display on the bcon Website. bcon base stations
currently accept automatic position reports ie. where the HF radio has a GPS
connected, in Codan GPS Position format. Currently Codan 9323 and NGT series
transceivers with a GPS connected can send automatic position reports to bcon
The same compatibility issues that exist with different manufacturers messaging,
also exist with GPS Position protocols.
Development is proceeding with support for Barrett SB550/950 GPS Position format.
bcon base stations will accept manual position reports from HF radios which are
capable of 16 digit telephone calling (telcall). By sending a telcall to a bcon
base station but manually keying in a GPS location (eg. 38deg 24.45min S
144deg 08.50min E is sent as 3824451440850) instead of the telephone number, the
bcon base station will receive this as a manual position report.
The manual position format has been successfully tested with, but is not limited
to Barrett 550/950, Codan 8528 and Qmac HF90 HF transceivers.
(Traveller) How many messages will bcon Messaging hold in the Traveller's message queue?
bcon Messaging will only hold (queue) up to 6 messages in a Traveller's Outbox at
any time. By limiting the number to 6, bcon is trying to avoid one traveller
"hogging" network resources and slowing down the message delivery of others.
If a Traveller has 6 messages queued, bcon Messaging will advise any Contact
trying to compose a new message that their Traveller's Outbox is full, the
message cannot be sent, and they must delay their message.
The number of messages a traveller has queued pending delivery is shown on the
Messaging page of the bcon Website.
(Contact) Why is it necessary to select an area on the map when sending a bcon Message?
bcon messages are transmitted to and from the traveller using HF radio. HF radio
signals rely on reflection by the ionosphere (an ionised layer in the sky) to
achieve long distance communication, with different frequencies (channels) used
to cover different distances at different times of the day.
By indicating the approximate location of the traveller on the map, bcon Messaging
can use this information, along with the current time of day, and any recent history
of contact with the traveller to determine the two most likely frequencies on which
communication can be established, thereby improving the chances of a successful
In the future, the bcon Network will have additional HF Gateways (base stations),
strategically located around Australia to improve network coverage. Using the
location of the traveller from the map, bcon Messaging will route messages
through the appropriate base station, and select the most likely frequency
that contact could be established with that gateway.
(Contact) What happens if I select the incorrect location on the map for my Traveller?
bcon Messaging will try two channels, chosen to suit the time of day and the
approximate location of the Traveller when attempting to deliver a message.
Choice of the incorrect location, and hence the incorrect distance between
the base station and the Traveller, can result in the bcon network using
channels which are less than optimum for the Traveller's location. The most
likely outcome of incorrect selection is the failure of message delivery
on the chosen channels.
(Contact) What happens when I send a bcon Message?
After clicking Send, your message is placed in a queue with other unsent
bcon messages. Three dots in the message status field indicates the message
is queued and waiting to be sent. bcon Messaging sends messages on a first
in, first out basis but requires travellers to be logged in (see "Traveller Login")
before message delivery is attempted. If your traveller is active i.e. logged in,
bcon will attempt to send the message after any backlog in the message queue has
If 2 or more messages are queued for the same traveller, bcon will not try to
deliver the second and subsequent messages until the first message has been
Remember that bcon Base Stations can only send one message at a time.
If bcon Messaging is holding messages when a traveller makes contact, it will
attempt to deliver these outstanding messages immediately.
If a traveller has not logged in on a particular day, bcon will hold all
outgoing messages until that traveller becomes active.
When a traveller is active and bcon tries unsuccessfully to deliver a message,
the message is queued to be resent in 30 minutes. A "?" in the message status
field indicates that the message transaction is pending.
If a message fails on the second attempt it is held pending and further attemps
will be made to deliver it.
When a bcon Message has been successfully delivered, the message status field is
updated. A tick in this field shows a successful message transaction. bcon
also sends the message originator an Email, confirming the time and date of the
If, after 48 Hrs bcon cannot deliver a message, it will delete this message
from the message queue and update the message status field. A cross "X" in this
field shows an unsuccessful message transaction. bcon also sends the message
originator an Email stating that message delivery has failed and outlining the
possible reasons for this failure (see also "Why was my bcon Message not delivered?").
(Contact) Why did my bcon Message fail?
If bcon cannot deliver a message to the traveller, the message is removed from
the message queue, the message status field on the bcon Messaging website is
updated to reflect the failure, and the originating contact is notified of the
failed message transaction by Email. This Email will also contain the possible
reasons for the failure.
To deliver a message, bcon must make contact with the Traveller's radio.
If bcon cannot make contact, it is usually for one or more of the following reasons:
1 - The Traveller's radio is turned off and/or not scanning bcon channels.
2 - The Traveller has not logged in for at least the last 48 Hrs.
3 - Poor radio conditions.
The bcon Website shows the last time radio contact was made with the traveller.
If the traveller is using bcon Positioning, the time of the last position update
is also shown. If a position update has been received within the last 48 Hrs but
queued message transactions have failed, this is usually an indication that radio
conditions are poor.
Poor radio conditions are usually only of a short term nature (up to 48 Hrs) and
a failed message should be resent if the message content is still relevant.
See also - What happens when I send a bcon Message?
(Traveller) Why do I sometimes receive the same bcon Message more than once?
After bcon sends a message, it receives an acknowledgment from the Traveller's radio to confirm
a successful message transaction. If there is no acknowledgment, bcon assumes that the message
was not received and will resend it at a latter time.
Under some circumstances, the Traveller's radio will receive a bcon Message successfully but
the acknowledgment sent back to the bcon Network may be corrupted by interference. bcon thinks
the message was not received and will send it again, hence the same message being received by
the traveller more than once.
(Traveller) Why do I need to send a Beacon Call (Channel Test) more than once before an acknowledgment is received?
As with most HF radio networks, base stations in the bcon Network are scanning a number of
channels (6) looking for an incoming call (selcall, channel test (beacon), message, or gps
calls). Each time the base hears a call, it will pause the scanning cycle to check the call
destination address (selcall number) and determine the intended recipient. If the call was
intended for the bcon Network, an appropriate response will be sent.
If the base is busy sending or receiving calls or pausing to check an incoming call on a
particular channel, it is not scanning the remaining channels in the network and will not
receive or respond to call requests on these channels while it is busy. Base stations can
only handle one call at a time.
Under these circumstances, or if the incoming call is corrupted by interference, the traveller
will not receive a response to a channel test (beacon) call. It will be necessary to either send
the request again or delay the request until the base station is free.
When the bcon Network has multiple base stations, the Traveller will also have the option of
trying another base station if a response cannot be obtained.
(Traveller) Can I send the same message to more than one contact easily?
A Traveller can send a bcon message to an individual contact or send the same message to all
contacts on their contact list.
bcon messages sent by a traveller have the format "contact username#message text" eg for a
traveller sending a message to a contact with the login johnm , the message would be as follows:
johnm#Having a great time, will be home on schedule.
Only the person with the username johnm would receive this message. If the message text was
sent without the login, ie without johnm#, the message would be sent as a broadcast message
to all contacts on the travellers contact list.
(Contact) How do I know if a message received from my traveller was a "broadcast message"?
Broadcast messages received from a traveller ie. messages sent to all the Traveller's contacts, have the message
prefixed with "*broadcast*".
(Traveller) Why do my Contacts sometimes receive the same message more than once?
When a message from a traveller is received by the bcon Network, an acknowledgment to confirm receipt
of the message is sent to the Traveller's radio. If this acknowledgment is corrupted by interference,
the Traveller's radio thinks the message delivery has failed and a "message failure" indication is
generated. The Traveller may then send the message again.
If the Traveller hears an acknowledgment after a message was sent, but receives a "message failure"
indication, they may choose to assume that the message has been received correctly, even though
the radio thinks differently. Under these circumstances, it is generally not necessary to resend
(Contact) Does the Traveller know what time and date my bcon Message was sent?
No. bcon messages are not time or date stamped. The traveller will know the time a message was
received, but can assume the message is less than 48 hours old as bcon messages are active
(held by the bcon message server for delivery) for up to 48 Hrs before being deleted from
the message queue.
If a message is time or date critical, this information should be included in the message
(Contact) How does bcon know where the traveller is?
bcon Positioning requires travellers to report (send) their position to the bcon Network
at regular intervals. These position reports are stored by the bcon Server and displayed
on maps for viewing by the Traveller's contacts. The positional detail on the maps depends
on the number position reports sent by the traveller.
(Traveller) Can I have bcon request my vehicle’s position automatically (auto poll)?
No. Because of the potentially large number of Travellers using the bcon Network, the
amount of time spent sending and receiving messages/positions is critical to network
performance. If auto polling was available, the network would generate an unacceptably
large number of position requests to vehicles which were unavailable for one reason or
another. This additional traffic would have a significant impact on the Network's
In commercial networks with a controlled number of users, auto polling can be used
successfully. bcon Software Engineering is developing an enhanced version of bcon
Messaging/Positioning which is suitable for the commercial (fleet) market. "bcon Fleet"
will contain features which are impractical to implement or unsuitable for the