As we come to the end of the first full year of operation for LiveATC.net, I'd like to reflect a little on progress thus far and some of the things to look forward to.
LiveATC.net started out almost by accident. I originally put a few feeds up in the Boston area to assist VATSIM (www.vatsim.net
) students at the Virtual Boston ARTCC (www.bostonartcc.net
) with learning ATC phraseology and local procedures. I remember the few feeds I *could* find on the 'net - many of them were either always maxed out on listeners or weren't up very often. Frustrating. Then as I learned how to build scalable MP3 streaming (thanks to the great software from the Icecast folks - www.icecast.org
) it occured to me that there might be a larger audience out there.
Being a pilot myself, I knew that part of this audience would be the students who are studying to be pilots, especially those who are pursuing their Instrument and Commercial ratings. We haven't even begun to reach many of those students, though we have made progress with a blurb in the AOPA ePilot electronic newsletter recently.
I never anticipated that LiveACT.net would ever grow as it has. The listeners and volunteer feed sites are to thank for that since they help fuel the growth. A sincere thanks to all of you!
This year we have seen the average number of simultaneous listeners grow from under a hundred to 200-300 listeners at a time. The system can handle more - we've seen a peak level of around 400 when the AOPA ePilot blurb came out. Listeners continue to access the archives as well, especially those behind firewalls. Many listeners ask why we can't put the service on port 80 (the standard HTTP port) - the reason we can't is that many of the slave servers run on machines that already run a web server. Anyway, the only listeners who have trouble are those behind very restrictive firewalls, the type that block outbound connections to all but the web. Surely those users have trouble doing much of anything other than visiting a basic web site.
Feeds! We've added several dozen feeds and the offers for feeds continue to pour in. We've had feeds from every continent except Africa, though there is a rumor that a feed may be coming in from Johannesburg, South Africa soon. Many others are coming soon, including Shanwick VHF and Shannon Centre in Ireland. Stay tuned.
Sometimes people write in to ask when a particular feed is coming back online. One thing you have to realize is that the feeds are provided on a volunteer basis. Nobody is compensated for doing this and sometimes people are using their sole computer to do it. So the reasons are many and varied as to why a feed may not be up at any given time. If a feed is going to be down for an extended period of time we do our best to indicate that.
Another development is that I am starting to develop relationships with the vendors who produce flight tracking software - hopefully we will have a demo at some point of a combined audio/radar display for some of our feeds.
I also want to thank those who have made donations of money, equipment, time, posting to the forums, and personal time this year. This is a community effort. Every dime that comes in via advertising and donations (which isn't a lot) goes right back into the operation, development, and expansion of this site.
2005 should be an even bigger year...I hope we can continue at the same pace as we have. The best thing you can do is spread the word about this great resource and donate whatever you can.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all,