DX Cluster Addendum

After writing my previous blog post (The Ham Radio Deluxe Newsletter for April 19, 2018 - Understanding DX Clusters), I made an observation. That is - there are cases where hams are making multiple connections to the same cluster (WA9PIE-2 in this case; but what I'm about to say applies to connecting to any DX cluster).

First of all, it's completely okay to connect to given DX cluster with more than one simultaneous connection. At any given time, I have at least three connections active to my cluster. During a contest weekend, during a time when several high-profile DXpeditions are active, or while I'm testing software, I may have several more connections open to WA9PIE-2.

So my first message is - this is perfectly fine and I encourage you to make multiple simultaneous connections when you need to. Further, you're welcome to run your Ham Radio Deluxe on more than one computer that you own.

HOWEVER... there's a correct way to do this that many people are not familiar with.

The Problem - while multiple connections are permitted, there can be only one connected station at a time using a specific callsign. This means that I cannot connect more than once using "WA9PIE" as the call I connect with.

Because of this - if a second connection is made with the same callsign, the first connection is disconnected. To make matters a bit more awkward - programs like ours (Ham Radio Deluxe) and others have a feature that will "reconnect on disconnect".

Here's what happens... WA9PIE is connected first with "session #1". Another connection is made with WA9PIE ("session #2"), and "session #1" is disconnected. At this time, "session #2" is connected and "session #1" is disconnected. Then "session #1" reconnects itself automatically... disconnection "session #2". I see this cycle repeating itself over and over in a "ping-pong" game of cluster connections.

Here is an example:


Because I see all the login/logout activity, I can see this happen in real-time. My point here isn't to "call anyone out". But if you look at this you can see where this is happening. Every time there's a "User has logged out" followed immediately by a "User has logged in", it's a clear indication that this ping-pong connection thing is happening.

In Ham Radio Deluxe, this can cause a few things to happen - either the DX clusters spots will keep refreshing every time the connection is made or spots that aren't refreshed will appear to be unsorted. Operators could also suspect network problems in their shacks or convince themselves that there's a problem with the DX cluster node they're connecting to.

SOLUTION: Not to worry, there is a solution to this problem.

The way that DX cluster software supports multiple simultaneous connections from the same ham is by using something calls "system ID" (SSID). This is very straight-forward. Each connection is made using unique -SSID combination. The connections on the cluster will look like this:


This is just a partial screenshot of some of these examples. But here, you can see WA9PIE twice, ZF1EJ twice, and ZL1AIX twice. There are many others. These connections will be steady and will not drop or ping-pong.

In Ham Radio Deluxe, here is how this is done:

In Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook, go to DX Cluster, Options, Connection tab... you'll see this:


I've drawn a red box around the SSID setting.

Here's what you need to do...

For every single connection you make to a common DX cluster, you MUST use a unique SSID value to avoid this ping-pong thing.