The PacketCluster software written in the mid-80s by Dick Newell, AK1A, has served us well. Dick has moved on though and has not supported the software with updates etc. for the last 10 years. Numerous PacketCluster "clones" have come and gone over the years, however there is one, called DX Spider, which provides a very similar user interface to that of AK1A, allows internet connections of users and node-to-node links, is actively supported by the author, and best of all is freeware. FRC has started to convert several nodes to Spider.
One of the strengths of DX Spider is its very powerful and flexible DX spot filtering routines. These filters are totally different from anything we learned how to do with PacketCluster, and along with their power and flexibility comes somewhat of a learning curve. Hence the need for this primer.
In the following sections, you will learn that you can filter DX spots by:
Frequency of the spot Mode of the spot Callsign of the spot (by state, country, zone, or specific callsign) Callsign of the spotter (by state, country, zone, or specific callsign) Callsign of the source node of the spot (by state, country, zone, or specific callsign)
With a few keystrokes, you can set up a filter for the CQ WW SSB contest, for example, that says that you only want to see SSB spots on the contesting bands. In the ARRL contest, it is simple to exclude spots for Ws and VEs. For example, the best all around one-line filter for users in the CQ WW SSB contest would be:
accept/spots on contesthf/ssb
This simply reads, "I want to get spots on the hf contesting bands on SSB only."
Jim Samuels, W3BG, has put together this primer which not only provides complete details on the format for all the available filter commands, but also provides useful examples that can be simply typed in, without the need to learn the specifics.
I would be remiss in not thanking Charlie Carroll, K1XX, who gave a lot of encouragement and mentoring, and provided some of the material in this primer.
As always, your local sysop is available to help you out, if need be. Don't hesitate to contact him for assistance.
73 - Dave N3RD