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NKCCluster version 2.1.1 has been released on Sunday, 11th October 2015.

It delivers two improvements related to callbook handling:

  • Further to feedback from users who don't use XML callbook access, it now opens a full-screen browser window neatly integrated with the rest of the application.
  • Support for QRZ.com XML access

Please note QRZ.com XML access is only available to NKCCluster donors with valid QRZ.com XML subscription.

A new NKCCluster release has been released via Google Play on Friday, 31st July.

The focus in this release was usability. Based on users' feedback the application has been de-cluttered and simplified.

Configuration Wizard

Configuration Wizard now uses a simple tabbed interface, where a swipe to the left brings the user to a previous step and a swipe to the right to a next one and thus ensures essential information gets captured with minimal inconvenience.

Screenshot_2015-07-29-12-34-38_cropped

Spots and Notifications

Spots are now more readable, with fonts that scale depending on screen size.

Notifications are now displayed in the same screen as spots, thus becoming immediately visible as soon as they are received.

Screenshot_2015-07-29-10-10-39_cropped

Filters

Filters have been moved away from main screen and now exist as a separate menu that opens by touching the icon in the upper left-hand corner or dragging the left edge of the application to the right.

In the "Filters" menu there is one simple switch that enables or disables the filters. Disabling the filters results with all received spots being shown.

Screenshot_2015-07-29-10-10-53_cropped

Better use of screen area

Instead of wasteful and unsightly large blank areas taking up half a horizontal space both in portrait and landscape, this area is now used for showing the details of a selected spot. On small screens this area can be extended or retracted by dragging it to the left or right of the screen.

Screenshot_2015-07-29-10-29-42_cropped

XML Lookups

Note: this feature applies only to hamqth.com lookups, users who use other callbooks will still get a browser window with a callbook link open.

The results of the XML lookups are now neatly presented. E-mail or Web links (if given) are also clickable, thus making it possible to email the operator without leaving NKCCluster.

 Screenshot_2015-07-29-10-13-50_cropped

New translations

Thanks to sterling efforts of EA4TV and RZ3EM, NKCCluster is now available in Spanish and Russian languages respectively.

Screenshot_2015-07-29-11-57-32_croppedScreenshot_2015-07-29-11-58-24_cropped

For normal operation NKCCluster requires the following permissions:

PRECISE LOCATION (GPS AND NETWORK-BASED)
This permission is required for GPS Locator.

APPROXIMATE LOCATION (NETWORK-BASED)
Recommended for Google Maps API v2 (used in GPS Locator) but not actively in use.

FULL NETWORK ACCESS
This one is pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? Without network access NKCCluster wouldn't be of much use.

MODIFY OR DELETE THE CONTENTS OF YOUR USB STORAGE MODIFY OR DELETE THE CONTENTS OF YOUR SD CARD
Required for Google Maps API v2 (used in GPS Locator).

READ GOOGLE SERVICE CONFIGURATION
Required for Google services (Maps and Billing).

CONTROL VIBRATION
Required for spots' notifications.

VIEW NETWORK CONNECTIONS
Cluster nodes in general don't cope well with user sessions switching from one network to another (for example WiFi to 3G or vice-versa). This permission is required to detect when a network a device is connected to changes (or becomes unavailable) and take appropriate actions.

TEST ACCESS TO PROTECTED STORAGE TEST ACCESS TO PROTECTED STORAGE
Required for Google Maps API v2 (used in GPS Locator).

I enjoy taking part in ASISS SSTV events. To receive a signal from the International Space Station no advanced azimuth-elevation rotators or low-noise preamplifiers are required, although they certainly do help those who have them.

In January 2015 I finally felt brave enough to try to receive one such broadcast for the first time ever. Frequency... checked. Recording... checked. Tracking software... checked... I can literally feel my heart starting to beat faster. White noise... Nothing... Maximum elevation, still nothing. I'm checking the RX frequency again, it should be fine. Suddenly I can hear a warbling signal. That's it, my first ham signal from space!

As it turned out, the time of maximum elevation at my QTH corresponded with the 3-minute break the ISS guys make in-between two pictures, so I managed to receive only something at the end of my pass. Still, an image from space!

Even with this modest setup (just a simple fixed dipole in the loft + FT857D) I managed to receive my first image from space. Partial decode and noisy but a signal from space nevertheless.

2015-02-01_00.25.33

And this was enough to get me hooked. I soon realised the ability to track a satellite was more important than the receiver specs. My next attempt, in February 2015, was done using just a Yaesu VX-7R handheld, while sitting in my car and enjoying my lunch break. This time I got really lucky: 2 full decodes!

iss_12_12iss_4_12

But my by far most exciting experience so far happened this April. Using a handheld 2m dipole and my FT857d this time around I managed to hear the end of one image and just as I started cursing my luck suddenly a male voice with Russian accent called other stations. I couldn't believe my ears, I was actually hearing a real astronaut! Hear for yourself (fast forward to about 4:20 minutes if it doesn't happen automatically).

In all this excitement by the time I managed to google the ISS uplink frequencies the pass was already over. But this got me even more motivated to be there for RS0ISS next time around.

 

 

I am pleased to announce the new NKCCluster beta-testing programme is now open to all interested in seeing what's coming next.

If you're interested, rest assured no previous testing experience is required, only a desire to help and willingness to accept the fact sometimes (due to the nature of beta-testing) not all new features will be fully functional. Your participation is voluntary and you can join and leave at any time.

Becoming a beta-tester is now a simple 2-step process (important note: ensure you use a Google e-mail address identical to the one you registered your device with Google Play):

  1. Join NKCCluster Testers Google group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/nkccluster-testers (this is a very low-volume e-mail group, the membership of which is mandatory owing to Google Play not supporting individual usernames as beta testers)
  2. Register for beta-testing with Google Play: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.chonky.hamradio.nkccluster (simply follow the instructions)

Once you've gone through both steps, you shall automatically get NKCCluster betas just like any other Google Play update. Any issues you may experience while testing a NKCCluster beta can be reported to the NKCCluster Testers group (users who registered with this website can do it even simpler by submitting a Support Request).

This programme supersedes all existing beta-testing programmes (which have in time become increasingly more complicated owing to enhancements in the Android security model). Effective immediately, no more beta-versions will be published anywhere other than on Google Play.

To give you a taste of the kind of things you will be among the first ones to try, the currently published beta version contains a couple of new major features:

  • Full XML integration with hamqth.com, providing easy access to a call's postal address, QSL information, e-mail, Web site etc.
  • Mapping [*] for selected spots (if someone near you can hear a DX, perhaps you can too?)

 

Figure 1: Mapping feature (spots labelled green are accurate as in hamqth.com, spots labelled red are estimated to centres of their respective DXCC countries) Figure 2: Callsign information screen now provides easy access to QSL information etc.

 

Don't wait until the full cycle of testing is finished - enrol today and enjoy the new features!

Kristijan, M0NKC

 [*] Android 2.3 or higher + up to date Google Maps and Google Play libraries required