Using a Mac in the Shack
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
A couple of years ago, I decided to switch to the Mac for business use. (Iam a freelance website developer.) I haven't regretted it for a second. Thething just seems to work better.Last October, I decided to switch to a Mac in the shack and purchased aused, iBook G4 Mac laptop. Unfortunately, I can't say that I've neverregretted this move. The reason I sometimes regret this choice is thatthere just aren't as many ham radio programs available for the Mac as thereare for the PC, and those that are available are either more expensive thantheir PC counterparts or don't work as well. For example, let's take a look at logging programs. When I first startedlooking, I found one that was kind of expensive (MacLoggerDX -www.dogparksoftware.com/MacLoggerDX.html); one that was free, but didn'twant to work so well (RUMLog - http://www.dl2rum.de/rumsoft/RUMLog.html);and one that worked OK and cost somewhere in between the first two (Aether- www.aetherlog.com/). Considering that there are at least a dozen loggingprograms that run on a PC, this was slim pickings.I ended up purchasing Aether, but was never very happy with it. For onething, it took forever to do any kind of sort or look up previous QSOs.Another pain was that it carried over none of the information from theprevious contact, so you had to enter all of the information from scratch,even if you didn’t change frequencies or bands. It also had an odd way ofdoing notes about a contact, and I was disappointed to find out that itdidn't import the notes from the ADIF file I created from the N3FJP loggingprogram I used previously. For PSK, It's CocoaModemI had much the same experience when looking for a PSK31 program. Instead ofa the wide variety of PC PSK programs, I only found a couple of Macprograms that decode PSK. Fortunately, I am much happier with my choicehere (cocoaModem - homepage.mac.com/chen/index.html). It's a great program,with a polished user interface, and it's free, to boot.The only problem with cocoaModem is that it doesn't support the wide rangeof digital modes that some of the PC programs do. One I'm interested in isSSTV. Unfortunately, cocoaModem doesn't do SSTV.A Happy EndingWell, a couple of weeks ago, I'd had enough of Aether and decided to startsearching for logging software again. Since RUMLog was still free, Idecided to give the new version (v 3.0, March 15, 2008) a go. I'm happy toreport that this version likes my computer a lot better, and I like usingit a lot! One of the coolest things is that it did import the notes from my N3FJPADIF file properly. So, now, when I type in a callsign, the programsearches the database, finds all the previous contacts I've had with thatstation, and then displays them in spreadsheet style WITH the notes. IfI've taken notes about a previous conversation, I can pick up right where Ileft off. Very cool.It also has a very nice way of showing you what countries you've worked, onwhat bands you've worked them, and whether or not you've QSLed that countryor not. Not only that, it shows what type of QSL you have, either a paperQSL or a Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL. And, after you supply your userID and password, it will download your LOTW QSLs and update the appropriateQSO records. Very cool!Still unresolved is what to use for contesting. None of the programs I'veseen so far are useful for contesting, and I think that what I will end updoing is using my old PC laptop running N3FJP or N1MM software. I'm not abig contester, so I think I can live with that.One thing is for sure--I'm not going back to the PC aside from some nicheapplications like contesting. The Mac's ease of use and ease of setup haswon me over. For information on even more ham radio software for the Mac,go to www.machamradio.com.---When not trying to convince his friends and family to convert to the Mac,Dan works a lot of CW and PSK, and even a little SSB, on 20, 30, and 40m.You can read more about his adventures in amateur radio by pointing yourWeb browser to www.kb6nu.com.