xCluster: A Mac DXCluster Map App

xCluster for the Mac

Overview:

xCluster is a visual display of dx cluster activity. DX spots are received via telnet or web services and displayed in a tabular form and plotted on a map of the world. You can filter the spots by call sign or band. You may also configure it to only show FT4/FT8 spots. 

xCluster Map

Spots are created using the latitude and longitude of the dx station and spotter. The program has a call parsing component to determine the country for each call but can use QRZ.com for more accurate location data. Lookup priority is QRZ.com with the the call parser as a backup.

Note: You must have a QRZ.com XML subscription to use that feature.

I wrote this program as a programming exercise and also because I use VE3SUN DX Monitor on Windows and wanted to fully migrate to the Mac. It does not currently have a lot of functionality other than spot display and call and band filtering but I will slowly add to it as time goes by. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments on w6op.com or email me at support@w6op.com and I’ll add things as I go along.

I will not not be adding any rig control code in the near future and if I do it will only be for the Flex Radio 6xxx series.

Requirements:

Mac OS 12.0 or higher (Monterey) – works best on large displays. Some of the features I am using are only available on Monterey or greater.

Installation:

Download and then double click on the xCluster.dmg file and drag the app to your applications folder.

DMG Screenshot

Configuration:

The Settings button will launch a form to input your call sign and personal information. You can also enter your QRZ.com credentials if you have an XML subscription for call and location lookup. You must fill out the top portion to connect to telnet clusters even if you don’t have a QRZ subscription.

Settings Button
Settings Dialog
Settings Dialog

Operation:

The Open Viewer button will launch the list display. The DX station is listed in the first column while the spotter is in the third column.  

Open Viewer Button
Viewer

There is a status window at the bottom of the viewer. I’ll probably move this later to a tab so it is not always visible.   

Status Window
Status Window

The button sliders on the top bar filter the display of spots by band. By default they are all on and you turn them off to filter out that band. If you want to show only one band just turn off the “All” slider and turn on the one band you wish to monitor. The list of spots will always show all spots received however.

If you click on a spot on the map it will popup an information box with the call sign, country and frequency of the station.

Annotation

The “QRZ Logon” button does just what it indicates and will turn green when you logon successfully.

QRZ Button

The Select Cluster dropdown presents a list of clusters to connect to in order to receive spots. Most are telnet while DXSummit is web based. If you have a favorite you want added just add a comment on w6op.com or email me at support@w6op.com

Note: The FT8 RBN and CW/RTTY RBN will only use the internal call parser as the volume of incoming spots is so high.  

Select Cluster

The “Show” button allows you to vary the number of spots displayed on the map and in the viewer list.

To filter spots by call sign fill out the “Call Filter with a the DX call you want to filter by. You can put in a partial cal such as EA6 and all calls that start with EA6 will show. Check the “Exact” checkbox if you want an exact match. You must hit the “Enter” key after inputting the call sign or clearing the checkbox. 

Call Filter Blank
Call Filter Filled

The FT4/FT8 checkbox will filter the display so only spots that fall within the FT4/FT8 frequencies will show on the map. Because it is filtered by frequency range there could be non digi spots occasionally. It mostly covers IARU region 2 so if I am missing anything from other regions please let me know to add them. There may not be coverage for dxpedition frequency choices. 

Bottom Bar Right

The “Last 20 – 50” buttons will request the last 20 or 50 spots of the cluster you are connected to. The “Clear” button will clear the map and spot listing.Notes:

Notes:

  1. Sometimes a cluster will disconnect on its own or because of a timeout. The app will attempt to reconnect after a small delay.
  2. QRZ.com logon has an expiration duration. If your logon session expires the application will automatically log you on again.
  3. You can download the file from the sidebar or go to my GitHub page and also download the source code.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: xCluster Update – W6OP Amateur Radio

  2. Pingback: xCluster Update 2.1.6 – W6OP Amateur Radio

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