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Cool PDA tips for ham radio

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When I first acquired my first Windows-CE PDA to use in my work, I looked at it and pondered the ham radio possibilities. OK - so I could catch up on emails and better manage my schedule now that I had this shiny new PDA (originally a iPAQ 3630 PocketPC), but surely there had to be some way to put it to good use in my ham radio hobby. After all, everyone from doctors to musicians to sports trivia buffs were suddenly using these slick computers to enhance their work and hobbies - "why shouldn't ham radio operators be able to put PocketPC PDAs to good use as well?" I wondered. 

The PocketPC PDA platform has improved from generation to generation. Removable Compact Flash or SD cards, improved CPUs, long battery life (very low power) - all seem to make the PocketPC an ideal companion for backpacking or portable ham radio operations.

After some searching, I discovered several apps had been created for the PalmOS product lines, but few apps were available for ham radio use in the PocketPC PDA world. That was 2001; shortly after that, I created MobileLog, PPCMorse and several ham radio themes for PocketPC.

Not long after that, I noticed that when I'd talk to hams at ham radio club meetings or hamfests, they'd usually comment that the PocketPC concept was nice, but it couldn't really do that much in the ham radio hobby... could it?  Guys would ask "Pat, it's definitely a cute/fun toy, but how do you really use it for ham radio?"

That's when I began to compile this list... my "Cool PocketPC PDA tips for ham radio" list. I'm sure this list will continue to grow over time and it's certainly not meant to be all-inclusive, but this is just a virtual notepad/brainstorming list of things that I've tried (or are on my to-do list for PocketPC ham radio). 

If you have ideas for this list - please let me know. Enjoy the list, and be sure to click through the links to further information on these ideas!

  1. MobileLog
    Log your contacts on your PDA, check your DXCC status, get beam headings, and more! 

  2. PPCMorse
    Learn Morse Code or improve your ability to copy CW on your PocketPC PDA.

  3. PocketPC Ham Radio Themes 
    Show some pride in your ham radio hobby, download a theme.

    (note, it's my list - so I might be a tad bit biased in making these the top three)

  4. PocketDigi
    With PocketDigi you can work some of the digital modes using your PocketPC/Windows Mobile PDA! PocketDigi supports two way PSK31, RTTY and decodes CW. Your next digital mode ham radio QRP dxpedition could be as simple as packing up your PocketPC, a QRP rig and a simple antenna. Just don't forget to log your QSOs with MobileLog!

  5. DX spots & Propagation updates (packet not required)
    Want to know what the latest dx spots were or propagation index data as you leave the office for the commute home? Check this out.

  6. Contesting /M
    Ever been out mobile or portable on a weekend and hear a contest on the air - but don't know what it is (rules, exchange, etc.). Here's a solution using your PocketPC PDA.

  7. APRS - CE
    APRS has grown in popularity in recent years - perhaps in part to PDAs. APRS-CE is a utility to enable ham radio operators to participate in APRS without the need for a full PC.

  8. Record your QSOs
    Ever have a QSO with a new one (DX) and then wish you had a recording of it? Kinda hard to do on the road - but why not consider using your PocketPC PDA to record your ham radio rare ones?

  9. Remote Station Control using VNC
    How would you like to operate your rig from the other side of your house? Maybe in your recliner, in front of the TV? Nah, me either. But it is cool to know that I can do it if I decide that's what I wanna do.

  10. Satellite Tracking
    Satellite buffs certainly need an application like this. Keep track of the position of key ham radio satellites using your PocketPC PDA.

  11. Send CW using the PocketPC PDA as a Morse Code Keyer
    Already using your PDA for logging contacts and want to also send CW from your PDA? You might consider this setup.



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