|This "virtual ham radio"
system has to be seen to be believed. Created by Canadian software
developer Doug, VE3EFC, this
is a highly realistic simulation of HF communications. The user
interface presented on downloading the software is of an attractive
HF transceiver complete with knobs, display and switches as shown
above. All controls work from the mouse or keyboard: the rotary
controls spin, the PTT activates, the analogue meter flicks on speech
and on received signals. There are 6 simulated HF bands available
and more may be added later. This is a much better interface than,
for example, Echolink.
To make QSOs you can call CQ on
the calling "frequency" which is a simulation of 14.2MHz.
Then one QSYs to a clear frequency as shown on the panoramic spectrum
analyser display. Tuning involves spinning the tuning knob to readh
the desired final frequency. On the way you will hear white noise
and pass over other stations already occupying frequencies (shown
as a spike on the bottom of the "LCD"). Not only can you
hold voice QSOs but also CW (in the right parts of each band) and
even PSK31 digital modes! When working a station its callsign and
main details appear on screen. If required a click on the callsign
will bring up any QRZ.com details about the station being worked.
Certain frequencies are being used
for nets e.g. 3.685MHz on Thursdays at 7pm GMT for an ISWL net.
On the simulated 29MHz band there are a number of gateways operational
allowing access to real RF stations, for example live repeaters.
It is hard to remember that this
isn't HF radio at all but an internet TCP connected system using
no radio at all unless via a gateway occasionally
or if you use a 2.4GHz WiFi link for your PC!
It works brilliantly and is useful if you want to talk to someone
reliably and not via the ionosphere. It is also a friendly and effective
way for hams unable to erect antennas to keep in touch.
Access to the system is limited
to licenced radio amateurs and proof of licence is a requirement
before the software can be downloaded. Free access is available
for a 3 months trial period after which the service is available
for $32 per year, about the same as the old UK ham licence which
is now free.
This is NOT something that will
appeal to all and many will say it is just another internet chat
room: it is not ham radio, but is the nearest you will find without
buying or making an HF or VHF rig! It is a pretty brilliant piece
a very good website at http://qsonet.com/index.html
which provides more information, software download and discussion
groups related to the QSONET system.
For more details, download the complete CQ100 Manual.
|Features and Specs
(from the QSONET website)
- Just works right "out of the box" with no need to configure router ports.
This means it can be used from hotel rooms, airports, public libraries,
internet cafes, etc.
- Covers 5 HF radio bands - 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands.
- Computer microphone provides voice modulation.
- Includes built in CW keyer. Simply type on the keyboard to send perfect CW.
- Spectrum graph shows radio activity within a settable sweep range of 50,
100, 200 and 500 kHz.
- Call sign, handle, QTH, etc are automatically displayed for current
- Keyboard "Hot Keys" provide a simple interface for vision impaired
- "Round-Table" QSO's are possible because any frequency may have a large
number of listeners.
CQ100 requires Windows 2000 or XP with sound card, microphone and
speakers (or headset).
A reliable internet connection is required with a
speed of at least 33.6k dialup.
The CQ100 transceiver is free to all licensed stations who register
A $32 USD annual subsription to QsoNet is required after a 90 day