When I began using a computer with my ham shack, I used the only computer I had, an Apple Macbook, to drive everything. That began in roughly 2008 or 2009 when I used primarily MacLoggerDX but also RUMLog as well as RUMped and Skookum Logger for contests.
Then in early 2013 I moved to a Windows computer in order to first use N1MM and then to move into much more serious RTTY contesting. This included building an FSK interface, with two serial ports, for the Elecraft K3 running SO2V with the second receiver. That effort has now run its course and I’m back to Mac.
For quite some time I’ve been using MacLoggerDX, on my office computer, as the go to database for compiling all my QSOs from various Windows programs including N1MM+, WSJT, as well as satellite QSOs jotted down on paper and entered manually into eQSL. It’s also where I keep track of Logbook of the World and QSL card confirmations.
With my first satellite forays, I began using SatPC32, which is the primary software package for tracking satellites and compensating for Doppler shift in real-time during your QSOs. It works great, but in my contest logging I’ve become so used to keying in the call sign and hitting enter – then the logging program takes care of time, frequency, etc.
While there’s some possibilities to connect both SatPC32 and a Windows logging program simultaneously to the IC-910H satellite rig, it certainly isn’t seamless and runs into far too many snags for my taste.
As our MacBook Air became available for the ham shack, I started to look seriously at MacDoppler and moving everything back to the Apple OS environment. We run Macs everywhere else in our home and in my business. So, why not?
After quite a bit of investigation, and running the demo program, I purchased MacDoppler through AMSAT which offers a nice discount. I’ve now had it running for the last several days, making a few linear and FM satellite contacts. I can report that it works fantastic.
You can get a glimpse of my shack computer screen nearby. It shows both MacDoppler and MacLoggerDX running side-by-side. MacDoppler takes care of all the satellite tracking and interfaces nicely with my IC-910H.
I must say that everything is so well thought out and it has a superb user interface. For example, want to hear the beacon on FO29? Press the beacon button and you’re on frequency. In addition, the latest Keplerian elements are downloaded every time you turn it on or at midnight if you leave it on all the time. This is a manual function on SatPC32, pressing just a few buttons, but you’ve got to remember to do it.
Plus, something that used to catch me frequently on SatPC32 was manually setting CAT control to 10x from its default of 1x every time I turned it on. MacDoppler is preset for just the right timing for adjusting the Doppler shift right from the time you turn it on.
MacLoggerDX teamed with MacDoppler
But my favorite feature, so far, is that you can open a separate window in MacDoppler for logging QSOs. Type in the call sign, hit enter or the “look up” button, and all the information from QRZ.com is filled in. Plus, MacLoggerDX simultaneously shows that same information including whether it’s a new QSO or, if you’ve worked the station before, it can provide a list of the previous QSOs.
Once you’ve completed the QSO, hit the “log it” button and everything shows up in MacLoggerDX. And I do mean everything. This includes QSO time, date, frequency, satellite, state, grid, email address, street address, as well as satellite elevation and azimuth settings.
The word in my book for this incredible combo is “seamless.” It’s got you covered and that’s no small effort.
I’m sure there are many more features that I’m going to discover over time. I can report with full confidence that this is a very nice package.
If you’re running a Mac and working satellites, you’ve got to add this to your ham radio adventures.