Getting Started with Spot Collection

SpotCollector captures DX and WWV spots from up to 6 spot sources:

Collecting spots from multiple sources is useful because some spot sources report DX from some geographic areas faster than from other areas, and because individual sources can occasionally become unavailable or inaccessible. SpotCollector combines DX Spots for the same station/frequency/mode and stores them in a Database of Active DX Stations on your PC that can be monitored, sorted, and filtered in realtime. By using spots to track active DX stations, one can observe propagation patterns over time, or discover a needed DX station's operating habits. If you are using DXKeeper to log QSOs and track progress against DXing awards, SpotCollector will automatically color each spotted station to indicate whether its DXCC entity is unworked or unconfirmed on the spotted band and mode, and whether that band or mode matches your DXing objectives; when you work or confirm a needed DX station, SpotCollector automatically updates the information it displays. You can configure SpotCollector to audibly announce arriving DX spots that meet specified criteria, and to alert you via email.

Information from WWV spots -- the Solar Flux Index (SFI), the Boulder A-index, and the Boulder K-index -- is captured and presented in a graphical view over the most recent 31 days. Given the sun's 27-day rotation period, this view can be helpful in predicting future HF propagation.

On installation, SpotCollector comes preconfigured with connection information for several spot sources, but you must specify a username and password before a spot source can be enabled to supply spots. Start by connecting to the cluster known as DX Spots:

  1. click the Config button to open SpotCollector's Configuration window and select the Spot Sources tab.

  2. in the Telnet DXClusters panel, you'll find connection information for the DX Spots cluster in the top-most sub-panel.

    1. check the Auto box; this will configure SpotCollector to automatically connect to the DX Spots cluster on startup

    2. leave the Hide box unchecked

    3. type your callsign into the Username textbox

    4. if you have previously used the DX Spots cluster and have established a password, type this password into the Password textbox; otherwise, leave the Password textbox empty

    5. click the Spot button; this directs SpotCollector to route outgoing spots via the DX Spots cluster

    6. check the Enable box; a new window entitled DX Spots will appear on screen, and this window's large Received Data pane should show SpotCollector connecting to the DX Spots cluster on your behalf

      1. to verify the connection, type SH/DX into the text box immediately below the Received Data pane, and then strike the Enter key

      2. the Received Data pane should then display the ten most recent DX spots
    7. close the DX Spots window by clicking the X button in its upper right corner

DX Spots

The Spot Database Display in SpotCollector's main window is a scrollable grid with entries for each DX station operating near a particular frequency in a particular mode. Each Spot Database Entry includes

Spot Database Entries are automatically constructed and updated as incoming DX spots arrive at from spot sources like DX Central. Unless the bands are dead, you should already see a few entries.

You can sort Spot Database Entries, and you can filter the Spot Database Display to show only entries matching a particular callsign, DXCC entity, band, mode, continent, origin (location of the stations that spotted the DX) or combinations thereof.

If you are using DXKeeper to log your QSOs, then Spot Database entries will be colored to indicate the impact of a QSO with the spotted station with respect to your DXing objectives :

There are several ways to determine why a Spot Database Entry is needed.

Double-clicking a Spot Database Entry will convey the entry's callsign, frequency, mode, and grid square to Commander, DXKeeper, DXView, PropView, and/or Pathfinder, enabling them to QSY your transceiver to the appropriate frequency and mode, rotate your antenna, display DX information, prepare to log a QSO, prepare to predict propagation, and/or prepare to seek QSL information. If WinWarbler is running,

WWV Spots

Information from most recent WWV spot is displayed in the Main window's WWV panel. To see a graphical view of propagation parameters over the most recent 31 days, click the WWV panel's History button to display the Solary & Geogmagnetic Parameters window.

Managing Spot Sources

Whenever you start SpotCollector, it will automatically connect to the spot sources specified on the Configuration window's Spot Sources tab; you may find it convenient to check the Hide button for each spot source to keep their individual Spot Source windows hidden.

Some DXClusters are parts of a sub-network that permits only a single connection. For example, if DXClusters A and B are part of the same sub-network and you are connected to A, connecting to B will cause the connection with A to silently drop. If SpotCollector is configured to automatically reconnect dropped connections, then when SpotCollector reconnects with A, the connection with B will silently drop. When SpotCollector reconnects with B, the connection with A will silently drop - ad infinitum. Thus after configuring SpotCollector to connect to a new DXCluster, monitor the messages in its Spot Source window for a few minutes; if you see a spontaneous reconnection, the new DXCluster may be part of a sub-network to which you are already connected, in which case you should choose a different DXCluster.

SpotCollector's Main window provides a Spot source status panel containing six LED-like indicators to show the status of your spot sources, where

Clicking one of these indicators displays its associated spot source's window; double-clicking the Spot source status panel's caption displays the Configuration window's Spot Sources tab, from which you can specify and select spot sources.

If a spot sources's status indicator remains yellow, it means that SpotCollector has not received a message from the source of the form

YourCallsign de ClusterCallsign

where YourCallsign is the Username specified for the cluster on the Configuration window's Spot Sources tab. Some clusters permit you to specify a non-standard prompt. To correct this, send the cluster this command via SpotCollector's Spot Source window for that cluster:

unset/prompt

DXClusters that utilize DX Spider can be configured to disable the "prompt sequence" that enables SpotCollector to confirm that you've logged in, preventing the cluster's tatus indicator from advancing from yellow to green. To correct this, send the cluster this command via SpotCollector's Spot Source window for that cluster:

set/prompt

Automatically Updating the Spot Database and WWV History on Startup

  1. click the Config button to open SpotCollector's Configuration window and select the Spot Sources tab.

  2. in the Initial Cluster command panel,

    1. paste this command into the Command box: SH/WWV/36<13><10>SH/DX/100<13><10>set/dxgrid

    2. check the Enable box

Now when SpotCollector starts up, it will direct each cluster to report the most recent 100 DX spots and the most recent WWV spots

Additional Functionality

Improving Performance

Troubleshooting


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Getting Started with DXLab

CollectingSpots (last edited 2014-09-16 20:42:04 by AA6YQ)