Does anyone know of software and/or techniques to effectively and efficiently to:

  1. Merge contact logging with displaying location information on a digital map; e.g. Google Earth/Map

    I would like to be able, in some fashion, record locations of contacts, and then efficiently turn this into a layered geospatial display on a map. In practice, this might be a separate layer for the type/power of the rig used to make the contact, and then compare. Ideally, this information would be exportable to a standard GIS data from; e.g. Google Map/Earth

  2. Related to the first question: Are there any best practices, software for also capturing/recording the effective transmission area in a similar manner?

    That is, if it is reasonably easy, I would like to start recording a station's effective theoretical transmission span (in principle, a circle), and then update and geospatially display effective transmission space (i.e. record deadspaace, where bouncing was effective).

The first is relatively easy, but the latter is a challenge.

If efficient, geospatial visualization would help me learn application, identify interferences, etc. Ideally, one could combine it with other key factors which lend themselves to geospatial display (e.g., recurring weather/tie patterns, etc.), but that is probably too far to reach.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Amateur Radio Stack Exchange! Please do not include “signatures” in your posts. If you'd like to display your callsign, you can set it in your name or profile info. Also, this question is pretty much a “product recommendation” question. This can be okay if there's a general answer or there's really only one answer, but we don't want there to be a bunch of answers saying “you should use <my favorite>”. I like that you've put in a “how do I do this” perspective, not just “what program does this”. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Apr 21 '16 at 14:05

Ham Radio Deluxe's logger can plot contacts on a map or a globe. Regarding the second part of your question, in ham radio when talking about effective transmission area, the term that is generally used is "propagation". Propagation varies quite a bit depending upon the band; propagation on the nighttime HF bands (160m – 40m) is quite different from propagation on the daytime HF bands, which is quite different from VHF and UHF, which is quite different from the microwave bands. There are many software tools for estimating propagation, including free online tools. Most of the time, for most bands, there are so many variables (the antennas on both ends, the ionosphere, solar weather, the state of the earth's magnetic field, etc.) that a computerized simulation of current propagation conditions is no more than a rough guess. So I would say that there is generally no good way of recording the effective transmission area. But take a look at this site, which shows recent HF contacts on a map; that gives a picture of contacts other people are making now.

It sounds to me that you're going for a graphical way of seeing propagation as a way to gain an initial understanding. Computer simulations are good for that, just know that they are only estimates. Real understanding will require book learning and real-world experience also.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for pointing me to the dxmaps site - a step toward what I am itching for. As I mentioned above, I need to get some experience, and an Elmer. Also, it looks like HRD features will also serve to learn what notes to take and what data to focus on: e.g., power level transmitted, etc. Can't wait to finally get on the air. $\endgroup$ – S. Mike Bruce KM4JLX Apr 22 '16 at 0:55

Ham Radio Deluxe is a popular package for doing what you want to do as for the first part of the question. Actually, QRZ.com can do that too via its web site features -- although I have found that at times it contains errors in the geo-location features.

I don't use Ham Radio Deluxe but I have made use of QRZ.com web site via their call sign lookup features. There are two pieces of information available. First, their street address if it is provided (sometimes, it is not provided as a PO Box is used instead). But, a street address plus city plus state can be used in a Geocoded lookup using features from Google Maps JavaScript support software for locating on a map. Also, sometimes the Longitude/Latitude is available from QRZ and this can also be used with Google Maps via their JavaScript interface.

I have written my own Java software (long time ago) to make use of QRZ.com. This meant requesting their XML result which used to require an elevated registration that costs a small annual fee. Not sure if that is still true.

But, using Java, I would initiate the web URL request, and then parse the results which is not hard to do with Java (XML parse). Then, I would use the Java and also JavaScript interface to Google Maps. Java was used to initiate the web request as a client and then parse results for custom display. Learning how to do this is easy as there are a number of books available to describe the Google Maps software interfaces (via JavaScript). I would give you the title of the one I used but I gave it away several years ago at my last big book give-away prior to retirement.

On the second question, you are asking about propagation information and doing something automatically is a bigger task. There are some resources available though. For example, the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) information available at http://www.spacew.com/www/realtime.php can be helpful although not totally definitive.

Or, the software that the MUF display is based upon is available, Proplab-PRO, but albeit it cost some $$. You can find more info at http://www.spacew.com/www/skycom.html.

I know that I am offering up mainly solutions that require some software effort on your own to make use of in a way that fits your needs but I think these are not bad solutions. I myself have not used the Proplab software so I cannot say too much about whether it is easy or complex to use.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I looked it all up, and HRD will fit make sure that I don't limit myself and have to start over learning a new system. I am fascinated about the space weather, but will surely need to get some experience under me first - bookmarked and entered for review as a goal to allocate time in 2017-2018 (yes, literally) $\endgroup$ – S. Mike Bruce KM4JLX Apr 22 '16 at 0:52

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