If you wish to make the most of today’s digital software packages that support a variety of digital modes, I would suggest starting with this bundle.
The reason that I am suggesting that you use them is that they work together very smoothly and allow you to control your radio as well as log contacts, look up ham station info automatically, and send eQSL cards.
To be able to look up ham information on line you will need to join http://www.QRZ.com. There are different subscription plans available. Likewise if you wish to send eQSL cards you will need to join http://www.eQSL.cc You can do so for free, though you can purchase subscription plans there as well.
N3FJP Amateur Contact Log (also called ACLog)
The total package costs about US$50 but not only do you get an easy to use logging program, it also comes with templates for contesting that allow you to upload properly formatted contest results directly to the sponsoring organization.
(You can purchase the logging program alone for a reduced price, but buying the individual templates one by one can become expensive.)
You can also connect the software directly to QRZ.com so that information about a ham station (name, address, country etc) is automatically filled into the log.
You can also set up multiple log files for logging bands, modes, or special functions like NETS.
The program also provides a number of functions such as statistical analysis of your log data, as well as being able to edit or filter information very easily.
The program connects easily to the following digital mode software packages so that information about a QSO can be automatically logged once the QSO is finished.
The program also allows you to send your log information to either the EQSL site, or ARRL’s LoTW database.
This is an excellent digital program, and is the one that allows you to send and receive morse code. It also does pactor for ARES messaging. It is free. This program automatically sends logging data to Amateur Contact Log when the QSO is over.
WSJT-X and WSJT-Z support FT8/FT4/WSPR modes are the most popular digital modes today. They allow you to make long distant contacts using low power (25 watts.) This program also automatically sends logging information to the Amateur Contact Log.
An additional benefit of WSJT-Z is that you can put it into automated mode. It will automatically find stations to have a QSO with, do the QSO, and then log the QSO. A good way to see how it works.
This is an application that works with Amateur Contact Log and WSJT-Z. It scans the log book and the stations that are being displayed in WSJT-Z. It looks for new stations or stations from a particular state, country, region etc. It will also tell you if you have worked the station before.
This is a variant on FT8. Instead of short sentences as used in FT8 you can send messages. The advantage is that it works well with low power and poor band conditions. It works with Amateur Contact Logs.
This program is used with Amateur Contact Log to upload logging in formation to the ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTW.) You use this service to earn awards such as Worked All States, Worked All Continents, etc. You need to register (free) to get a password to log into the service.
If you want to use FLDigi to send morse code you will need an interface. FLDigi supports a product called WinKeyer that plugs into a USB port. So when you type characters on your keyboard they will be sent to the radio as the appropriate dots and dashes.
This program is part of a larger project where information from WSJT-Z and JS8Call is collected as it happens and then displayed as graphic information on a map. QSOs between stations are shown as connected lines. Providing this in formation is voluntary.
In order for digital modes such as FT8/FT4/WSPR and JS8Call to work properly your computer needs to be synchronized to an atomic clock. There are several ways to do this but this free software package is seen as being the most accurate. One of the reasons for this is that you can use an inexpensive GPS dongle that plugs into your computer where you have your digital software and that is used to calculate the minute (but critical) time difference between your computer and the atomic clock.
The GPS dongle is:
HiLetgo VK172 G-Mouse USB GPS/GLONASS USB GPS Receiver for Windows 10/8/7/VISTA/XP
You can order it from Amazon
In my next article I will outline the workflow that you can do using the above software in order to use it effectively.
I will outline all of the procedures needed, from the correct order of starting the software to using it to make QSOs, then how to collect the information into the logging program.
From there the logged information can be used to send eQSLs or even print out mailing labels for sending paper QSL cards.
I will also discuss how to use these programs for contesting and gaining awards.