Getting Started with DXLab
Welcome to DXLab! The DXLab Suite is a free set of applications that support DXing activities. You can use them individually, but when multiple DXLab applications are running they detect each other's presence and interoperate automatically. One benefit of this approach is that you can learn applications individually. It doesn't matter where you begin, or what sequence you choose: start with one application that satisfies an interest or need, and get comfortable with it. Then choose the next application that suits your fancy, and repeat the process. What's important is taking your time and having fun.
Each DXLab application's primary functionality is accessible from its Main window. The Main windows of some applications are tabbed, with each tab focused on an activity; buttons that activate windows that provide secondary functionality may also be provided. Every application's Main window provides a Config button that displays a Configuration window that makes the application's settings accessible; some applications employ a tabbed Configuration window organized around functions. Letting the mouse cursor hover for a few seconds over any button or setting will produce a popup explanation of its function.
DXLab applications expect that you have Windows configured to the correct time zone and time. Use the Windows Control Panel to run the Date and Time applet in order to set the correct time zone and time within that time zone.
DXing with DXLab - a PDF presentation that illustrates DXLab's architecture and support for DXing
Video Introduction to DXLab by Fred AB1OC
- For a quick introduction, review these 8 articles:
Each DXLab application has reference documentation that describes its capabilities and options. To get comfortable with a DXLab application, start by scanning this documentation to create an inventory of the application's features that you plan to use first. It's important that you ignore all details and secondary features during this scan!; you can always return for the details when needed, and you can always return to scan for secondary features once you've mastered the most important ones. Reference documentation is available in an online (HTML) format that you can view with your web browser, and in a downloadable PDF format that is easy to search or print:
HTML Reference Documentation
PDF Reference Documentation
To search for specific information, use the appropriate application's PDF file, as it provides all information within a single file. When you install a DXLab application, a local copy of its HTML reference documentation is created in the application's Help folder; Help buttons in the application provide immediate access to this local copy without internet access delays.
After scanning an application's reference documentation, start that application, choose an interesting function, and refer to the documentation to help you configure the application to support that function. For example, if the application is Commander and the function is transceiver control, then the minimum configuration would be choosing a radio model, choosing a serial port, and setting that serial port's parameters. Then choose the next interesting function and get it going; repeat this process until the application is doing everything you need.
In contrast with the reference documentation, goal-oriented documentation describes how to accomplish an objective by taking specific actions, step-by-step; this is often referred to as how to documentation:
Each of the above articles in this Wiki provides an entry point to a goal-oriented article in a specific domain. You can also find goal-oriented articles via the FindPage tab in the upper-left corner of each Wiki page; when clicked, Title Search and Full-text Search capabilities become available; the FindPage tab also provides access to a TitleIndex and a WordIndex. Each article also provides Titles and Text search buttons in its upper-right corner.
Unlike most Windows applications, DXLab applications do not provide menu bars at the top of their windows. In applications with large amounts of functionality, such menus make it difficult to quickly locate the function you need. To configure a DXLab application, click the Main window's Config button. A Configuration window bearing settings will appear. If the text accompanying a setting is too terse to understand, place the mouse cursor over the text box, selector, radio button, checkbox, or slider in question for second or two, and an explanatory popup will appear. These popups are provided for all user interface controls in DXLab applications, not just those on Configuration windows.
DXLab Discussion Group
At any stage, don't hesitate to post a question or suggestion on the DXLab Discussion Group. Searching for answers in previously posted messages can be fruitful, but no one will ever criticize you for asking an already answered question, or for asking a question whose answer lies in the documentation. To search the DXLab group's message archives,
click the Search button at the top of the page
in the Search window that appears, type a word or phrase describing the information you seek, and then click the window's Search button; for an exact phrase match, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks, e.g. "improve propagation"
- a list of messages containing the word or phrase you specified will be displayed
If Something Isn't Working Correctly
If one of your DXLab applications seems to not be working correctly, please don't panic. In particular, do not attempt to uninstall and then re-install the application, or to delete files you believe may be responsible, or to re-upload all of your QSOs to eQSL or LotW; these actions can create larger problems than the one you're confronting.
If the Title Bar of the DXLab applications contains a see errorlog... message, see Errorlogs.
If a DXLab application is slow to start or runs slowly, see Applications that can Interfere with DXLab Applications
- a description of the incorrect behavior
- a description of the behavior you expected
- steps to reproduce the problem (if known, and not obvious from the behavioral descriptions)
- the versions of the DXLab applications you're running (these are displayed in the title bar of each application's Main window)
- the flavor of Windows you're running
- an indication of whether an errorlog.txt file is present in the application's folder
- your first name and callsign
If you haven't joined the DXLab Discussion group, you'll likely get a faster response by joining and posting a message there, but you can also send an email message containing the above information to the author at aa6yq (at) ambersoft.com.
Installing and Running DXLab on Windows
DXLab applications run on Vista, 7, 8, and 10 in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, if installed as described in the articles below. DXLab applications also run on on Windows NT, 2000, and XP; some DXLab applications can be individually run on Windows 95, 98, and 98SE.
Installing and Running DXLab on a Macintosh or on Linux
Hygiene: if you don't control your computing environment, it will control you
Windows Tricks (managing windows, overcoming installation problems, managing ports, configuring time synchronization, multiple monitors, improving performance, etc.)