Connecting to Spot Sources

SpotCollector Online Help Contents

 

Connecting to DXClusters

SpotCollector allows you to connect with up to 4 of the many DXClusters accessible via the Internet using the Telnet protocol. 

Installing SpotCollector preconfigures its four DXCluster windows with host addresses, ports, username, and window captions for the DX Spots, EI7MRE, W1NR, and JH2ZYY DXClusters respectively, but none are enabled.

Start  by connecting to DX Spots. Open the Config window and select the Spot Sources tab.  In the Telnet pane, place a check the auto box; this will configure SpotCollector to automatically connect to DX Spots on startup, or if disconnected. Then place a check in the enable box  and find the DX Spots window -- assuming this DXCluster is operational, you should see the DX Spots welcome message.

Once a connection to DX Spots has been established, SpotCollector will automatically capture DX spots and add them to the Spot Database -- so you can minimize the DX Spots window by clicking on the Minimize button (the one labeled _ ) in the upper right-hand corner. Do not click the Close button (the one labeled with an X) unless you want to disconnect from DX Spots and close its associated Window. Alternatively, you can leave the DX Spots window on-screen and interact with it directly as you would any standard DXCluster.

If you'd like to monitor spots from the EI7MRE, W1NR, and JH2ZYY DXClusters,  enable them and repeat the above steps. Like DX Spots, none of these DXClusters require a password, so you can leave their Password textboxes blank; specifying a password when none is required may cause the login to fail. Note the Cmd connection parameter; where connecting to the DXCluster involves navigating a sub-network, this parameter enables you to specify the appropriate post-login connection command.

You'll need to chose one enabled DXCluster to handle your outgoing spots; click the Spot radio button for this DXCluster.

If you wish to use DXClusters other than DX Spots, EI7MRE, W1NR, and JH2ZYY, this web page provides a list of such DXClusters and their connection parameters: http://www.dxcluster.info/telnet/index.php

If you are already connected to a particular DX Cluster from another instance of SpotCollector running on another PC, make your username for that DX Cluster unique from each instance by appending a hyphen and a single digit to your username, for example AA6YQ-2.

If you need less than four DXCluster connections, uncheck the Enable boxes of those DXCluster Windows you don't need, or just close those DXCluster windows using the Close button in the window's upper right corner. 

SpotCollector automatically remembers the connection parameters and positions of all DXCluster windows from one SpotCollector session to another.

SpotCollector's Main window provides a Spot source status panel containing six LED-like indicators to show the status of your spot sources, where red means "disconnected", yellow means "connecting", and green means "connected"; the first four of these indicators correspond to the four possible DXCluster connections. Clicking one of these indicators activates its associated source's window. Double-clicking the panel's caption displays the Config window's Spot Sources tab.

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 LED-like status indicator from advancing from yellow to green. To correct this, enter the following command:

    unset/Prompt

DXClusters that utilize DX Spider or CC Cluster software can be configured to append the spotting station's Maidenhead Gridsquare to each spot. DXKeeper can properly decode spots with appended gridsquares, and will record such gridsquares in the DXCC Database's OriginGrid field. To enable a cluster running DX Spider to append spotting station gridsquares, enter the following command:

set/dxgrid

Note that 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 - ad infinitum.  Thus after configuring SpotCollector to connect to a new DXCluster, monitor the messages in its 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 expects to run continuously; via the Power Options section of the Windows Control Panel, configure Windows to never put your computer in hibernation, sleep, or standby mode. In order to maintain connections with DXClusters via the internet, configure the Network section of the Windows Control Panel to never power down the wired or wireless adapter by which your computer is connected to the internet. 

Connecting to a PacketCluster

SpotCollector supports connection to a local PacketCluster through a Terminal Node Controller. Before connecting to a PacketCluster, you must establish a link between SpotCollector and your TNC by clicking the Config button on SpotCollector's Spot Database Window and selecting the Packet TNC tab. This tab enables you to configure your serial port and select a specific TNC model from among those for which SpotCollector includes command files in its TNCs subfolder.  If a command file for your TNC is not present, you can construct your own with any text editor. Note that some of the TNC command files included with SpotCollector require the user's callsign. These are currently set to AA6YQ; please change them to your callsign before use.

To connect to a PacketCluster,  Click the Config button on SpotCollector's Spot Database Window and select the Spot Sources tab. In the PacketCluster panel, enter the callsign of the node hosting the PacketCluster to which you wish to connect. Check the enable box, and a PacketCluster will appear; click the Connect button in this window, and SpotCollector will connect to the specified Packet Cluster. SpotCollector will automatically capture DX spots and add them to the Spot Database -- so you can minimize the PacketCluster Window by clicking on the Minimize button (the one labeled _ ) in the upper right-hand corner. Do not click the Close button (the one labeled with an X) unless you want to disconnect from the PacketCluster and close its associated Window. Alternatively, you can leave the PacketCluster window on-screen and interact with it directly as you would any standard PacketCluster.

SpotCollector's Main window provides a Spot source status panel containing six LED-like indicators to show the status of your spot sources, where red means "disconnected", yellow means "connecting", and green means "connected"; the fifth of these indicators correspond to your PacketCluster connection. Clicking one of these indicators activates its associated source's window. Double-clicking the panel's caption displays the Config window's Spot Sources tab.

PacketClusters that utilize DX Spider software can be configured to append the spotting station's Maidenhead Gridsquare to each spot. DXKeeper can properly decode spots with appended gridsquares, and will record such gridsquares in the DXCC Database's OriginGrid field. To enable a cluster running DX Spider to append spotting station gridsquares, enter the following command:

set/dxgrid

Connecting DX Summit via the CQDX IRC channel

SpotCollector supports connection to the  CQDX Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel for two reasons:

Installing SpotCollector pre-configures its IRC connection parameters for the CQDX channel via the IRC host  US.WorldIRC.Org . SpotCollector uses your Operator Callsign as both the UserName and First Name with which you connect to CQDX; you can change these by editing the appropriate textboxes in the IRC panel.

Open the Configuration window and select the Spot Sources tab.  In the IRC pane, check the Auto box; this will configure SpotCollector to automatically connect to CQDX on startup, or if disconnected. Then check the Enable box  and locate the CQDX window that appears on-screen;  you'll see the welcome text, followed by messages from individual DXers that may be conversing at the moment. Like DXCluster windows, DX spots are automatically captured and entered into the Spot Database; unlike DXCluster windows, DX Spots do not appear in the CQDX window, as they would otherwise make it hard to follow any conversation. If you are not interested in participating in the conversation, you you can minimize the CQDX window by clicking on the Minimize button (the one labeled _ ) in the upper right-hand corner, or you can click the Close button (the one labeled with an X) in the upper right-hand corner to hide the CQDX window but maintain the connection. To disconnect from CQDX and close its associated window, click the Disconnect button. Alternatively, you can leave the CQDX window on-screen and interact with it directly.

Make sure your firewall and anti-malware applications do not block TCP port 6667.

Managing Spot Source Windows

If you minimize a DXCluster, PacketCluster, or IRC window, it will no longer consume screen space, but will occupy a slot on the Windows task bar. If you instead close a connected DXCluster, PacketCluster, or IRC window, it will remain connected but consume neither screen space nor a slot on the Windows task bar; this state is referred to as hidden. You can directly hide or un-hide a DXCluster, PacketCluster, or IRC window via its Hide checkbox on the Configuration window's Spot Sources tab.

SpotCollector's Main window provides a Spot source status panel containing six LED-like indicators to show the status of your spot sources, where red means "disconnected", yellow means "connecting", and green means "connected"; the sixth of these indicators correspond to your CQDX connection. Clicking one of these indicators makes its un-hide its associated spot source window. Double-clicking the panel's caption displays the Config window's Spot Sources tab.

If a spot source is hidden when SpotCollector terminates, then it will be hidden when SpotCollector is next started. However, its window will remain onscreen until a connection has been established, at which point the window disappears from both the screen and Windows task bar.

Macros

Each DXCluster, PacketCluster, and CQDX window provides access to two banks of eight macros, each of which allow you to transmit information with a single mouse click or keystroke. To invoke a macro in the first bank, click on its button, or strike its associated function key. To invoke a macro in the second bank, depress and hold the ALT key to display the second bank, and then click the appropriate macro button, or strike its associated function key. Checking the ALT checkbox, located between the 4th and 5th macro buttons, displays the second bank of macros until you uncheck it. You can specify the commands issued when you invoke a macro.