Droid apps for hams

Christmas has come early this year in the form of a Motorola Defy smart phone. Tinkering with it, comparing apps with co-workers and reading about it online has me amazed, and I don’t think of myself as being easily impressed.

Going to this phone from my old one has been the equivalent of going from my FT840 to the K3. I’ve tried and then uninstalled several apps that sounded like they may be useful but turned out to be too gimmicky.

Here are a few that pass muster in terms of either usefulness or of being too interesting not to keep – and that may appeal to other hams as well:

The most interesting by far is Tricorder (pictured left). The Solar tab displays a graphical representation of the last 57 days’ of solar activity as well as the instantaneous values of solar flux, UV index and other values. I consider trend data more valuable than the “right now” indications available from those widgets we see on many websites. Trends are gauges, whereas widgets are idiot lights.

On Tricorder’s EMS tab are signal strength info on all the WiFi RF sources within your range. I currently see 4 wireless networks from here in the shack, their corresponding signal strengths and their RF freq. Equivelent info is displayed on the cellular signal being received, in more fleshed-out detail than the “2 bars” type we normally see.

Read about all the other data from this app here. You’re gonna want it.

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Solaris is a pictorial app that shows the sun’s surface activity and the resultant effect on Earth’s ionosphere in terms of intensity and scope.

Data comes from NASA and NOAA and the app can be set to alert you in any of several pre-set (by you) parameters exceed a certain level.

It’ll be interesting to see how useful this app is over time.

A keeper for now…

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HamSatDroid is an accurate, fast and uncluttered way to see when (and for how long, how high and where) a ham satellite or the International Space Station will pass over your location.

Keplarian data is updated at the touch of a “button” and the calculated accuracy of the passes agrees perfectly with that calculated by other sources.

And a map can display the satellite’s current location over the Earth. User’s location is derived from either GPS, cellular network or manual input of Lat/Long.

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Call Log is a simple logging program that is perfect for field use on those outdoor QRP excursions I use to love so much (and plan/hope to partake in again soon).

In short, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t for casual operating. It also has a callsign look-up field that, unfortunately, only works for US callsigns.

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If you just want to look up a call (rather than logging a QSO), CallSignDB may be the way to go. Again, only US callsigns are included so the better choice might be to forgo an app altogether and just log on to QRZ.com for DX call info.

If there’s and app for both US and DX calls, I haven’t been able to find it.

  2 comments for “Droid apps for hams

  1. December 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Good morning John, very cool app’s I have the Iphone and tried looking up the Tricorder but did not seem it was out for Iphone just the Droid. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year John.

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