CommCat Screen Shots
Click Image to see Zoom View

DX Spot Manager


The DX Spot Manager is the main CommCat window for monitoring and analyzing DX Spots. The spots can originate from a VHF/UHF Packet Cluster, Web Cluster, an Internet Telnet site, or those you create from within CommCat.

DX Spots provide a way to monitor DX activity and band openings. It is also possible to track the operation of specific DX stations. By analyzing their operating habits over time, it is often possible to second guess when and where they will appear next.

The spot list shown to the left lists incoming spots in the order they were received. CommCat provides many options in addition to order received for listing spots. The information for each spot includes the DX call, frequency, call of the reporting station, time, priority, date and day of the week, and any short notes the reporting station has added.

The DX Spot Manager window is divided into several panes. The right pane contains a spreadsheet that reports detailed information for each spot. The left pane contains spot folders arranged in a tree that can be used to organize and view incoming spots. Incoming spots arrive in the Inbox folder where they can be redirected to other folders similar to mail processing in Microsoft Outlook Express.

Rules can be specified to test and take action on incoming spots. Each rule contains one or more conditions and one or more actions. CommCat provides an extensive set of conditions and actions that provide a great deal of flexibility in how spots can be manipulated, redirected, and used to notify you. Here are a few examples:

Sound a tone every time a spot reporting 3Y0C is received.
Send spots that contain "psk" in their note to a "PSK" folder.
Delete spots for 160 Meters.
Shade spots that are more than 30 minutes old.
Send a message to your pager when P51AB appears on 20 CW.

Band Spotter

The Band Tracker window show spots within an adjustable bandwidth of your current frequency. The spots are shown with a background color resulting from any rules you have created in the DX Spot Manager.

Circle Map

The CommCat Great Circle Map provides a view of the world making it easy to determine the bearing and distance to any point. The map is centered on your location as determined by the longitude and latitude you enter in the File, Settings, Station window.

Land areas are shown on the map in green, while water is blue. Your country is shown in red. A bearing key encircles the map, and as you move the mouse pointer, the bearing and distance from your home to the mouse pointer are shown in the status bar at the bottom of the window.

DX Tracker

The DX Tracker serves multiple functions. In the view to the left, 20- and 40-Meter CW DX spots from the DX Spot Manger have been transferred into the DX Tracker using a rule that has been set up to provide this operation. The spots are shown in the upper panel while the corresponding signal levels for each spot are shown in the bottom panel. The signal levels are updated when you tune to a spot.

Entity Status Grid

The Entity Status Grid window displays a list of all entities. The numbers of stations worked, QSL's pending, and contacts confirmed are shown in the three columns. By clicking one of the three cells associated with any entity you can open a list showing all callsigns that apply to the Worked, Pending or Confirmed column. Click a call to open the Advanced Log window displaying all contacts for that call. Choose All to display all contacts for the entity in the Advanced Log window.

DXCC Summary

View the current status for any DXCC award with the DXCC Summary window.

The window reports that there are 334 active entities available. This number can changes as active entities are added to the list and deleted entities are removed. Choose the award you wish to check from the Award drop down list.

Click the All Logs button to show the results for all logs instead of the current log. This option allows you to maintain the status of special logs, such as QRP, or one used for portable operation.

The equivalent status for deleted entities is displayed by clicking the Delete button. Click the Show button to refresh the status when you make a change in the options.


The Tuner window provides a way to control the frequency of the radio through an analog dial display. Three window formats are provided--a General Coverage Main tuning window (shown above) which displays the entire spectrum between 100 KHz and 30 MHz; a Bandspread tuning window which displays individual radio amateur bands and US operating privileges from 160 through 10 meters; and a status window that displays VFO frequencies and signal strength. With the two windows that display frequency dials, the radio is tuned to the frequency specified by a mouse click.

An analog signal strength meter is included in the full and status windows. This meter responds to signal strength data sent from the radio for any radio that provides such data.

Advanced Log

The CommCat Log window provides a way for you to keep track of contacts you have made with other stations. There are no limits to the number of contacts or logs you may maintain. Logs can be designed to suit your specific needs, showing the data fields you have selected in any order you wish. Logs can be kept for different operators, various bands, or contests in which you participate.

The log window shows all contacts for a specified station. For example, if you have worked W1AW on 4 occasions and have entered the contact details in a single log, four entires will appear in that log. If you entered the W1AW contacts in several logs, you may view contacts from all logs. If you wish, you can also view all contacts, or all contacts in all logs.

The Log window contains the call of the station you have worked, his/her named and location, and the log grid for contact details. The Comment field at the bottom of the window provides a place to keep track of other details about the station or the contact.

Station Settings

When you install CommCat, your name and callsign are entered automatically in the Station and Code Settings. These are the only required settings for the program. There are several more settings that are important to set the first time you run Commcat, normally through Express Setup:

Longitude and Latitude in the File, Settings, Station window, required to calibrate direction headings, distances and the center of the Great Ciorcle Map (in the US, CommCat can derive these settings from your ZIP code).
Rig settings in the File, Settings, Station, Radio/Ant window (required to set the necessary control parameters so CommCat can "talk" to your rig).
Most other settings are entered as default values which you can change later as you learn more about the program.

Radio and Antenna Settings

CommCat can control up to 3 rigs, switching from one to the other with a mouse click. These setups are designated Radio A, Radio B, and Radio C. When you have defined more than one radio, you can switch using the Rig option menu items on the File menu, or use the Rig toolbar.

Instant Web Page Weather Report

The Instant Web Page displays a customized web page from the perspective of the current DX callsign. CommCat obtains information for the web page from a number of sources, organizes the data into folders, and displays the results in the Instant Web Page window.

Once the page is built, the information can be displayed by clicking the Personal, Local Weather, Country Info, Maps or Links folder tabs. The Web Page header includes the current DX Callsign, the location of the current DX station, and the country flag for the associated country. The table below summarizes the data in the Instant Web Page folders.