“DX Cluster” app for Droid – updated & improved

Stations whose pefixes are configured for alerts are highlighted in green.

After upgrading to a new Droid-based smartphone a few days ago I started looking for an app that would monitor DX spots and alert me when the target of interest appeared. As far as I can tell there are two apps available that will monitor DX spots – NKCCluster and DX Cluster.

Of those, only DX Cluster has an alert feature.

I bought ($2.49), downloaded and installed the app, fired it up and connected with the cluster via AI9T, one of several choices. Then I configured it to show spots only made by W and VE hams in the CW portion of 10-80 meters.

So far, so good – the screen filled up with appropriate spots.

And now my reason for downloading this app…which, Murphy-like, is exactly where it initially failed to perform:

What I wanted from the app was to be alerted when specific stations were spotted. For the moment, I’m talking about ZL9HR which I need(ed) for an All Time New One.

After configuring the app to audio alert on a ZL9 prefix I sat back and waited. I didn’t have to wait long.

The alerting tone sounded. And sounded. And kept sounding as I looked for the button to tap to cancel the tone. I would have like the tone to have played briefly and then stop on its own.

Filter configuration screen

As it turns out, there was no way to end the tone other than turning off the phone and restarting it! Even ending the app didn’t end the tone.

I emailed Wolfgang W8DA, the app’s designer, who quickly determined that this problem was unique to specific smartphones – mine is a Samsung Galaxy S III. Two hours later, W8DA emailed me that he had uploaded a new version of the app that I could now try out.

I’m happy to report that the app does everything I want it to do and works exactly as described, so consider this posting a tip ‘o the hat to both the app and to the fine support it receives from W8DA.

As much as I love adding to my band-country total, I’m not the type of DXer to while away the hours in front of the rig listening for a New One. Nor will I position myself near the computer watching for a relevant spot on the cluster.

But I will – and have – programmed my new app to alert me when ZL9 appears on a specific band. And I’ll do the same for future New Ones. This allows me to travel far & wide…watch TV, work in the yard – whatever…I now have an umbilical cord with the range of Verizon’s coverage area, which is huge.

In fact, I just snagged ZL9HR on 10 meters after being alerted with this app.

What’s that? Why, yes – I do have a short wish list for the next revision of DX Cluster. In order of most to least important:

  • Let me determine what freqs constitute the CW sub-bands. As is, the 10m CW band is pre-programmed as being 28.000-28.300 MHz. If I’m a CW DXer, I’d like to be able to limit that range to something more appropriate.
  • I’d like to be able to choose several speicific bands for simultaneous monitoring. As is, I can opt for 10-80 or a single specific band. For example, I need 5T0SP on 15, 30 and 80 meters and would like to be able to monitor for that station on those (and only those) bands.
  • It would be nice if the “set alarm tone” screen let me navigate to another folder on my phone – one into which I’ve placed my own custom tones.

Wolfgang, thanks for the quick fix! The app is well worth the $2.49 and I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth – heck, I already have!



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