[FAQ-1155] Status page - 'Senders' report on feed site / scanner performance
Page Type: REFERENCE
The status page for a hub includes a detailed report on the performance of scanners and other audio sources. This document provides information describing the information presented in this report.
Key information is written in bold, and information rarely significant is written in gray.
The senders page itself lists information for all Rangecast feed site senders connected to the hub. For more compact information about a single sender, the Overview page rectangle representing each sender links to a version of this page showing only information about a single sender.
RANGECAST SENDERS LIST
The first section of the Senders status page is the "Senders List", which summarizes the operation of each Rangecast sender within the hub. Here is a description of each field in this table:
- The Rangecast sender ID, which is a unique ID assigned to each audio source (scanner, VOX input, etc) and corresponds to a single instance of the Rangecast feed site software running on a PC and capturing audio. To illustrate the format of a sender ID, consider the example "testsite-01-A".
- The first field "testsite" identifies the hub (where audio is submitted)
- The second field "01" identifies the "cluster", which is one or more senders collaboratively submitting content from the same sources (e.g. broadcast channels)
- The third field "A" identifies the particular sender within this cluster.
The sender ID is a link to a list of the most recent transmissions recorded by that sender, including access to the audio file (.ogg format) of each transmission, so it is possible to check audio quality and performance.
- This is a text description of the feed site location or PC, to help identify the facility where the equipment is located, or identify the particular PC (if the facility hosts multiple Rangecast PCs). Also, the location name may help identify the reception area or market supported by the scanners at the facility.
- Min (Minutes)
- When Rangecast sender software is running on a PC, it checks in with our server every 10 minutes, to report on its health and receive updates (e.g. new scanner programming). This is is an outbound HTTPS transaction from the feed site PC, and has become known as a "ping" (although HTTPS to port 443, not a true network ping). This column shows how many minutes have elapsed since the last such "ping" exchange. (Note that in rare circumstances if the scanner is busy, the ping may be delayed up to 10 additional minutes. The sender is not officially considered offline until the gap has lengthened to 30 minutes, at that point the line turns red, and an alert is raised.)
- The version of the Rangecast feed site software. The numerical portion is a date code, YYMMDD.
- Identifies the data (COM) and audio (A) ports used by the feed site software.
- COM#: Data port used for communications with the scanner (standard ID, matches list in Device Manager COM ports)
- A#: Audio port (sound card input) used to receive audio from the scanner (sequential ID starting with A1)
- sys: Alternate to A# -- using the Windows selection for default sound input (same device as one of the A# ports), usually because automatic port selection could not identify a sound input connected to the scanner
- vox: Alternate to COM# -- sender configured to operate without data connectivity, start/end of transmissions identified by audio levels
- sen: Alternate to COM# -- sender configured in "Sentinel" mode providing network/health services, but not engaged in scanner/audio operations
A count of the number of transmissions recorded from this source (usually out of the last 6,000 transmissions recorded by the hub). Useful when comparing the quantity of reception from different scanners. The link takes you to a list of the most recently received transmissions.
- M (Multisync)
- Identifies the state of Multisync operation (system for co-ordinating reception among multiple scanners)
- Blank (normal): The PC hosting this sender is the automatically designated master for Multisync co-ordination of all senders in the cluster
- S: The PC hosting this sender is a Multisync slave to another PC which was automatically designated as the master for all senders in the cluster
- X: The sender has been configured to not use the Multisync service
- M*: This sender is manually configured to act as if this PC is the Multisync master (deprecated)
- S*: This sender is manually configured to act as the slave to a PC operating at another LAN address (deprecated)
- C*: This sender has been manually configured as a Multisync master, but conflicts with another PC attempting to act as the master for the cluster
- P (Programming)
- Reports on the state of the scanner's programming
- Blank (normal): The scanner has been programmed with information specified in the current RCHAN file
- *: The scanner is awaiting reprogramming. It was programmed with information from an older or different RCHAN file.
- X: The scanner was programmed from an RCHAN file, but encountered programming errors in the process, which was not completed with 100% success for all channels.
- U: The scanner has been initialized for Rangecast use, but has not been programmed from an RCHAN file.
- E: There is a communications error resulting in the software not being in communication with the scanner.
- H: The information is not from the scanner, but from a local file on the PC, based on the scanner's reported ESN (serial number.)
- L: The scanner has been programmed with a local RCHAN file (manually applied from the local PC, not the hub's standard RCHAN source.)
- F: The scanner has been programmed with a filtered portion of an RCHAN file (for use when placing a small number of key channels on one scanner.)
- N: There is no information on scanner programming. The sender may not have been in contact with a scanner, or it may not have been assigned a Rangecast ID.
- V: The sender is configured in VOX mode (audio monitoring only, no data connectivity to a scanner). If this is a scanner, programming state is unknown.
- Q: Equivalent to "N", deprecated code, but still reported by older versions of the feed site software.
- C (Configuration)
- Reports on variations to the standard operating configuration for Rangecast feed site software. The primary function of this code is to report whether the automatic settings have been adjusted at this location; if there have been no adjustments, certain exotic causes of possible problems may be eliminated. Only one code is reported, so if the code is something other than the two normal cases of BLANK and C (which takes priority), be aware that special settings may have been entered from multiple locations.
- Blank (normal): The sender is launched with automatic (software default) settings
- C: Special settings have been entered in the Rangecast feed site "Configuration" screen
- F: Special settings have been recorded into an INI file (saved via the Setup page for configuration a single sender).
- B: Special settings have been entered from a "Batch" command (may be executed during operation, by remote or local command)
- I: Special settings have been entered from the "override.txt" configuration file.
- T: Special settings have been entered from the "controls.txt" configuration file.
- Z: Special settings have been entered from the "commands.txt" configuration file.
- U: Invalid information, no specific details available
- X: Automatic (software default) settings, but the file expected to contain possible settings from the configuration screen was missing
- Err (Errors)
- A list of error conditions reported by the Rangecast sender software (each error is identified by a numeric code.) A text description of each active error is provided in the next table. An error in this list may not mean that there is a current problem. In many cases, a transient error condition will be reported for up to 24 hours, so intermittent issues may be recognized and corrected.
- Last Access
- The clock time of the most recent "ping" from the sender (expected every 10 minutes). Note that if a sender goes offline, that event is usually a few minutes after the reported "last access" in this column, since this is only based on the periodic ping transactions.
- Launch Time
- The clock time when the sender was most recently launched.
- IP Address
- The WAN and LAN IP addresses of the PC hosting the Rangecast feed site.
- The WAN address is the public IP address from which communications appear to originate. For many customers, each physical facility will have a different WAN address. For hubs operating behind a corporate firewall, it is common for some or all facilities to show with the same WAN address.
- The LAN address identifies the specific PC inside the local network. This information makes it possible to determine which senders are operating on the same PC (they will have the same WAN/LAN values.)
- If the LAN shows as a link, one of the senders on this PC has sent location-specific information to the server (e.g. brand and model of PC, number of COM/audio ports available, list of special settings entered on the Configuration screen). This may be viewed through the link (the information will appear at the end of the current table.)
- Model & Unit
- Information about the physical scanner unit
- The first field is the color of the scanner's display for reference when working with equipment in the field. No color is shown for
scanners without color control (BCT15X), VOX senders, and when a sender is first launched (first report is without this data.) The color codes:
- W: White
- R: Red
- Y: Yellow
- G: Green
- C: Cyan
- B: Blue
- M: Magenta
- O: Of
- The second field is the Uniden scanner model. Supported models include:
Alternatively, this may show "vox" (audio source with no data connection), "x" (no information), or "Sentinel" (not a scanner).
- The third field is a serial code assigned by Rangecast when the scanner is first initialized (not the manufacturer's ESN), to assist in understanding configuration changes when scanners are reassigned to a new Rangecast sender ID.
RANGECAST SENDER ALERTS
The second section of the Senders status page is "Sender Alerts", which lists each error currently being reported by a Rangecast feed site.An error in this list may not mean that there is a current problem. In many cases, a transient error condition will be reported for up to 24 hours, so intermittent issues may be recognized and corrected. This section is omitted if there are no errors. For each error, three pieces of information are provided:
- Rangecast sender ID
- Error code (numeric code, or X if the site is offline)
- Text description of the error
RANGECAST SENDER METRICS
The third section of the Senders status page is "Sender Metrics", which provides data about the performance of each scanner or audio source. The default presentation is sorted by time and reports information from all senders over the past two hours. An alternate format sorts by sender ID and allows for direct comparison of data from the same sender in different hours.
At the end of the page, there is a link to a "full sender report" that expands this table to show data over the past several days.
- Sender:The Rangecast sender ID, which is a unique ID assigned to each audio source (same as the first table).
- Cluster:The ID of the cluster of which this scanner is a member. This is usually the first two portions of the Rangecast sender ID (e.g. testsite-01). However, if the sender is not configured to use Multisync, the full sender ID is used instead (e.g. testsite-01-A) because this individual sender is not operating co-operatively with other scanners in a cluster.
- Sample End Time:Performance metrics are recorded over a block of time, usually 60 minutes, so meaningful statistics may be generated regarding the number and quality of transmissions. This time is the end of the measurement interval, the time when the performance metrics were reported to the server.
- Min (Minutes):
The period of time during which the performance metrics were recorded (usually 60 minutes). Start and end times are usually at the hour, or as close as practical between transmissions. In some cases (usually right after the Rangecast software was launched), a shorter interval may be used. Therefore, when comparing certain information in this table (such as number of transmissions), care should be taken if the measurement intervals were of different lengths.
- Xmit (Transmissions): The number of transmissions recorded by this Rangecast sender during the measurement interval.
- Lease: The percentage of time when the Rangecast sender was under lease to a specific broadcast channel (prevented from receiving other content.) This is under the control of the Multisync scanner collaboration system.
- Signal: The percentage of time when the Rangecast sender was actively receiving a signal. Note that the lease percentage will be higher, and lease is a better indication than signal of how available the scanner is to receive additional channels.
- PC: This is a test of PC performance indicating the percentage of time when the Rangecast sender did not have sufficient resources to operate its core functions, usually because a higher priority operation was consuming system resources.
- COM: The COM port used by the Rangecast sender software at this time.
- Input: The audio port used by the Rangecast sender software at this time.
- Audio: The average audio level while the sender was making recordings (e.g. during transmissions). Values below about 5 are too quiet, while values above about 50 are too loud (these numbers are approximate). If an audio source is extremely noisy, such as intermod artifacts or other circumstances where the radio is stuck in an unsquelched condition, the number may rise to values above 100. This is usually an indication of a reception problem, not literally a problem with the audio input or its volume setting.
- BG: A measurement of the background audio level while the Rangecast sender is not recording (possible sources include brief sections of transmissions that are screened by Multisync and not recorded by this scanner, and DC offset levels in the sound card itself).
- AF: A statistical measurement of confidence in the determination of the audio port. This value is the ratio between the observed audio levels during transmissions and between transmissions. If the ratio is small, it is possible that the automatic selection of an audio input was in error. The automatic selection process has become more reliable over time, so this field can usually be ignored. If the value is blank, the ratio is over 100, indicating virtual certainty in the results.
- MSX: The number of anomalies in Multisync operation (lost leases), where the sender and Multisync server were not aligned to common operations. These events may result in a transmission being recorded by two scanners (once in its entirety, and by a second scanner partially) with both recordings submitted into the Rangecast audio library.
- Fail: The number of audio recordings where the attempt to upload audio content to the cloud failed during the measurement interval. (This may be greater than shown in the "Xmit" column, if some of the failed uploads were recorded during a prior measurement interval.)
- Quiet: The number of audio recordings that were discarded because the average audio level was very low (below 3), so the system presumes there is no real content - basically a recording of silence.
- Loud: The number of audio recordings where the average audio level was very high (above 60), so the system suspets there may be no real content - possibly a birdie, data signal, or other noise
- Brief: The number of audio recordings that were discarded because the transmission (from scanner's detection to EOT) was very brief (under 1/3 sec)
RANGECAST CLUSTER METRICS
The fourth section of the Senders status page is "Cluster Metrics", which uses the information from the previous table (performance metrics) to calculate overall performance of each group of scanners operating co-operatively through Multisync.
- Cluster: The identity of the group of scanners operating co-operatively through Multisync. Each individual scanner will have a separate identity within the cluster (e.g. testsite-01-A is a particular scanner within the cluster testsite-01.)
- Senders: A list of individual scanners within the cluster (a total count, and the ID letters of each active sender.)
- Reference Time: Each Rangecast sender provides hourly performance metrics which start/end at approximately the top of the hour (:00 minutes). However, the times are not perfectly aligned. At the hour, some scanners may be busy recording content. Some Rangecast senders may have launched within the hour, and not had a full 60 minutes of data collected. Therefore, statistical information about overall cluster performance is approximated by combining the performance metrics for each member scanner that include a specific reference time. This time is shown, but in general, the data should be considererd representative of the hour.
- Balance: The statistical analysis in this table assumes that all participating scanners are working correctly, and able to receive all channels. If this is not the case, and (for example) one scanner was not receiving any transmissions, the mathematics may incorrectly take the lack of reception as an indication that no content was being missed by the cluster (since there was always an available scanner to catch any other content.) In a normal situation, transmissions will be evenly distributed among the scanners. If there is a lack of balance, that may indicate that the scanners varied in performance, and caution should be used in interpreting the following columns. The number shown is the ratio between the activity level of the most and least busy scanners in the cluster, expressed as a percentage. In an optimal situation, this will be 100%. Low values are a cause for concern if this is consistent across many hours. The field is blank in hours when there were too few transmissions for meaningful statistics.
- Receivers Full %: This is not a direct measurement, but a statistical estimate of the percentage of time when all scanners were under lease to specific channels, and therefore no scanner would be available to receive an additional transmission on another channel.
- Upload Fail %: The percentage of audio files that failed to upload to the cloud. This is usually 0%. This table reports cluster performance over several hours on adjacent lines, making it possible to characterize network problems that result in lost content (seeing the fraction of traffic lost, the time of day when the effect is seen, and the duration of each incident.) Since an audio transmission (near the end of an hour) may be recorded in one hour, but only be marked as a failed upload in the following hour, it is possible for this value to exceed 100%.
- Capture %: An estimate of the percentage of all actual broadcast transmissions, on channels received by this cluster, that are successfully recorded and uploaded to the Rangecast audio library, taking into account loss due to insufficient number of scanners (Receivers Full) and network problems (Upload Fail). Since this report shows information across several hours, it is possible to see how overall performance varies by time of day.
RANGECAST SENDER SESSIONS
The fifth section of the Senders status page is usually suppressed, but is visible if pressing the "full sender report" link. This is a table showing when Rangecast feed site senders were launched and when they were last active, in effect documenting the extent of each application session. This table is useful for observing when a sender has been active, when it has launched, and when it has been offline.
- Sender ID: This is not the normal sender ID, but an older format that pre-dates the genesis of separately named Rangecast senders. This can
usually be ignored.
- Site: This is the normal Rangecast feed site sender ID.
- +: Indicates whether the session is still active (Y = Yes, X = No). Active sessions are also highlighted in green. In addition, the code L
is shown for the most recent login (of any sender), and that is highlighted in yellow. The L-code line is supplementary and represents an instantaneous
session before authentication,, the session will also be listed on its own line.
- IP Address: IP address (WAN) of the feed site PC.
- Version: The version of the Rangecast feed site software, followed by the [COM/Audio] ports, and the Multisync status code.
- Last Access: The last time when the session communicated with a ping (expected every 10 minutes).
- Start Time: When the sender session first communicated with the server, to authenticate and register the session.
INFORMATION ABOUT FEED SITE PC
In the first table (Rangecast sender list), the LAN address may be a link to a report about the configuration and environment of the feed site PC. If clicked, this information is shown between the first and second tables, in a special section titled "File View from Feed Site PC" (and identifying the PC by WAN/LAN internet address.) The report is broken into four sections:
- Rangecast Configuration
- ports: Lists the COM ports detected when the Configuration page was most recently executed (normally at software launch). At this time, Rangecast software should be disconnected from all COM ports, allowing the recording of a comprehensive list. However, if other software (e.g. ArcXT) is active and connected to data ports, some real ports may be omitted from the list. In addition, the audio ports are listed; these are recorded a few minutes later, when the report is delivererd to the server.
- note: The "note" entered into the Rangecast Configuration screen, usually a description of the feed site location or facility, and/or individual
PC if the facility has multiple Rangecast PCs.
- settings: The "special settings" entered into the Rangecast Configuration screen, which are custom adjustments to the operation of the
Rangecast software. This may be helpful for diagnosing behavior, or recognizing the cause of unusual situations.
- launch: List of the Rangecast feed site sender instances that were commanded to launch on this PC by the Configuraton screen.
- ini: List of Rangecast feed site sender instances with an INI (configuration) file overriding automatic defaults
- unlinked: List of Rangecast feed site sender instances that are launched, but not associated with a physical scanner (at launch time)
- vacant com: List of the COM ports detected by the Configuration screen where no Rangecast-configured scanner was detected.
- awsd: The version of the separate Rangecast application used to upload audio to the cloud (rc-awsd.exe).
- bat: The version of the file rc-manager.bat that manages the launch process and serves as a watchdog during operations
- Path to folder with the sender software
- clock: Approximate offset (in seconds) between PC clock and server's time reference (no network latency correction, about 5 second accuracy)
- OMS Data shows information gathered by the Configuration screen, and passed to each sender instance when it is launched. If field #9 (scanner programming) starts with "H" then this is not from the scanner, but loaded from the PC based on the scanner's ESN. The fields:
- 1) COM port ID
- 2) COM port data speed (baud)
- 3) Audio port associated with scanner (usually '?' because this step is skipped in automatic launches)
- 4) Model of Uniden scanner
- 5) OMS (artifact - remainder of line relays the scanner's "Opening Message Screen" where configuration information is stored by Rangecast.)
- 6) Rangecast-assigned serial ID representing this physical device
- 7) Rangecast scanner ID (associated with the physical hardware, so it will be recognized if moved to a new PC, and custom adjustments to software defaults are kept connected to the same device even if COM ports are switched.)
- 8) Location note
- 9) Scanner programming (including the version of RCHAN presently applied, and the success of the most recent programming)
- Operating System and PC Hardware
- 1) Name of the PC
- 2) Name of the Windows operating system
- 3) Version of the Windows operating system
- 4) When the operating system was installed on this PC
- 5) When this PC was most recently booted
- 6) The time zone of the PC clock (this is sometimes not what the customer expects)
- 7) Name of the PC manufacturer, and specific model of PC
The fourth section is a log of PC operational history and lists recent events in the operation of the Rangecast watchdog process. All clock times are reported in the PCs local time zone while status page reports are in Eastern Time, so be aware of the possible time zone difference. These entries do not relate to specific scanners, but the PC as an element in Rangecast. Each time the Rangecast software is launched, the watchdog is given a pseudorandom identifier which is shown on these lines, so it is possible to identify when the software was restarted. Line types include:
- Config lines show when the autolaunch configuration process was executed, the watchdog ID, and a code shows how the configuration was triggered:
- N: Normal GUI launch (from pressing Start, or the timer counting down to zero)
- H: Hidden (instant launch of configuration screen, usually triggered by other software starting the watchdog)
- G: Graceful restart (sender instances closed, but Multisync and AWSD left operational)
- L: Relaunch (anomalous software restart that increments the watchdog counter)
- R: Reset (precautionary software restart with watchdog counter reset to zero)
- S: Stopped (restart after all sender instances became unresponsive)
- Custom lines show whe the sender software is launched without going through automatic configuration (for example, a manual launch from the configuration screen, where checkboxes can enable which senders are launched)
- Launch shows when the sender software starts operation (transition from configuration to signal reception). A counter shows how many times the watchdog has launched the software, relaunches are usually due to one or more senders becoming unresponsive.
- Last WD shows the last time the watchdog conducted its poll (normally every 6 minutes) before the software exited.
- Stopped is shown when all sender instances have become unresponsive, and the watchdog attempts to close/reopen the software without a reboot.
- Freeze is recorded when the watchdog attempts to reboot the PC due to a detected problem. If rebooting is disallowed on this PC (boot=0) then the watchdog attempts to restart, and the message is shown as Recycle. Error codes:
- W: The watchdog detected that calls to the software porttest.exe would not complete, indicating a problem with either Windows, PHP, USB or the data ports, such that restaring the sender software would likely be insufficent to restore normal operation
- T: The watchdog detected that calls to the software taskkill.exe would not complete, indicating a problem with either Windows such that restaring the sender software would likely be insufficent to restore normal operation
- V: At initial launch, while verifying the environment, a problem similar to W or T was detected
- A: A sender became unresponsive while testing audio ports
- D: A sender became unresponsive while testing COM/data ports
- F: A sender became unresponsive while communicating with the watchdog
- Y: A sender became unresponsive while scanning for new COM ports
- Z: A sender became unresponsive during programming
- Q: The sender software stopped several times in quick succession, suggesting that a non-reboot relaunch may be insufficient
- C: The configuration screen became unresponsive
- S: The configuration screen became unresponsive during recovery from a Stopped condition
- E: Alongside the operation of the configuration screen, it was detected that error condition W was present
- Update reports when the Rangecast software was updated.
- Reboot reports when the Rangecast sender software requests a reboot. If the PC is not allowed to reboot, the software will be closed and re-opened, with the event shown as Recycle. The cause for a sender-initiated reboot is not always explicitly listed, but may include:
- B: Monthly automatic reboot (usually 3:10 am local time on the 2nd Sunday of the month)
- P: Manual request for a reboot via the status page
- M: Response to a scanner switching from operational to "Radio Missing" (attempt to clear Windows/USB, in case that is the cause)
- I: Internet access problem from sender (one sender being unable to access internet, while another sender is connecting successfully)
- O: Other automatic trigger (at 3:10 am maintenance window) - likely no longer an active mode (replaced by M and I)
Note that the PC may reboot at times other than "Reboot" entries. In particular, a reboot is always requested after a "Freeze" event (and immediately afterwards, a new watchdog ID should indicate launch via boot.)
- Save Changes or Save Changes / Launch are shown when changes are saved from the Configuration screen
(and the senders are optionally launched from there).
The watchdog ID (reported on config/launch lines), in the last field, record how the watchdog was launched. These codes:
- boot: the watchdog was automatically started when the PC booted up
- start: the watchdog was manually launched from the desktop icon, or automatically launched after a software update
- cycle: automatic restart on a PC where automatic rebooting is disabled
- 1800: a series of "cycle" restarts were unsuccessful, and are attempted at a lower frequency
Rangecast FAQ - ID 1155 - last updated 18 October 2017 Images shown - [block]