SHACKLOG & DX Cluster

 

The DX Cluster network provides an outstanding resource for DXers. You can access the DX Cluster via a TNC and packet radio, or via a Telnet session over the Internet. The power of SHACKLOG enhances the value of this important resource in a number of important ways:

 

Hot key transfer of DX spot information directly into your log, with immediate QSY of your radio to the DX spot frequency

Extremely comprehensive set of configurable visual and audible alarms, enabling you to fine tune SHACKLOG to meet your needs as a DXer - be alerted to the ones you really need!
Unique SNOOP MODE allowing SWLs and transmitting amateurs with poor connectivity to the network to take advantage of DX spots, Announces and WWV messages.
Hot key short cuts for DX Cluster functions, such as SH/DX, DIR/N and SH/WWV.

TNCs

To use SHACKLOG with the DX Cluster network via packet radio, you will need a Terminal Node Controller connected to your PC via one of the COM ports COM1 through COM4. SHACKLOG works with all standard TNCs that accept conventional ASCII commands. However, SHACKLOG is not compatible with more specialist TNCs such as Baycom.

Telnet

To use SHACKLOG with the DX Cluster network via the internet, you will need to download some additional free software onto your PC. See these installation instructions for more information.

SNOOP MODE

In SNOOP mode, SHACKLOG doesn't connect to the DX Cluster network. Instead, SHACKLOG monitors DX Cluster messages going to other stations, and picks out DX spots, Announce messages and WWV messages for display in the SHACKLOG packet window. Naturally, you need to be able to hear messages going to at least one connected user! If you are receiving messages going to multiple users, SHACKLOG will detect this and display each individual message once only.

At my own QTH, I can often hear messages sent by three, and sometimes four, network nodes. Using SNOOP mode, I can monitor all of these, which is a significant advantage when there is a break in the network.

Of course, SHACKLOG can also connect to the DX Cluster network in the normal way.

A hot key is provided to turn SNOOP mode on and off from any SHACKLOG screen.

ALARMS

SHACKLOG has a comprehensive set of alarms that can be configured so that you get only the alarms that you want. When a DX spot arrives, SHACKLOG checks your log, and matches any needs against the alarms that are configured. If there is a match, an alarm is sounded.

Alarms may be visual (display of the DX spot in inverse video), and/or audible (Morse). The Morse message will be up to four characters, optionally followed by the call sign of the station that has been spotted.

A hot key is provided to turn audible alarms on and off from any SHACKLOG screen.

The following alarms can be triggered:

Every spot

New prefix

Unconfirmed country

New band

New mode

New band/mode

New IOTA (needs SAM-I installed)

Custom

Most of these are self explanatory. 

The Custom alarm triggers whenever a DX spot arrives that matches an entry in a list that you specify. The list can specify complete call signs, prefixes, etc, including wild cards. Thus, if you wish to be alerted to every operation from the Chinese 9 call area, you can do this just by specifying B*9. The list can have multiple entries, and can specify calls or prefixes by band and or mode.

This is a powerful facility that helps to track some of those elusive stations, such as a BI9 on a rare IOTA, when the spot does not contain an IOTA reference, or an operation from a new IOTA before the IOTA reference has been issued. This is a powerful tool for the DXer.

Here is the screen for configuring the alarms:

Alarms can be configured for specific bands and modes.

FILTERS

SHACKLOG can filter spots so that only those of interest are displayed. The DX Cluster network also provides user-specific filters, and these should be used in preference to those that SHACKLOG provides. However, the SHACKLOG filters come into their own when temporary changes to filtering are required, or when operating in SNOOP mode.

SHACKLOG provides three independent sets of filters. Spots may routed simultaneously to the screen, a text file and the printer. Separate filters can apply to each. Thus, for example, you can configure the screen filters to display only the  spots you are really interested in, the text file to log all spots for subsequent review, and the printer to print no spots (useful when printing mail messages).

PACKET SCREEN

Here is a screen fragment showing SHACKLOG in action with PACKET MODE enabled

You will see two highlighted spots - i.e. alarms have been triggered - for 8J1RL and BV2RS. Also note that the 8J1RL spot has triggered the display of the details of AN-015, and the status of AN-015. See IOTA for more details.

The narrow window at the bottom of the screen is used for entering packet commands. The size of this window can be increased if required.