III. Using CQ100
CQ100 can also be very useful to amateur radio operators who are blind or vision-impaired. It was written by Douglas McCormack, VE3EFC, to connect to QsoNet, a system of Internet servers that simulate the ham bands. No peer to peer connections (directly between computers) are used, so it is not necessary to make any changes in your router to use this software.
Figure 3 is a screen capture of the CQ100 "virtual transceiver," shown at 75% of actual size. The readout includes a bandscope and personal information chosen by the transmitting ham. The bandscope shows that each frequency setting is actually the name of a channel. No RF is involved. For example, the band from 14.000 MHz to 14.350 MHz is a group of 351 separate channels. There is no cross-channel interference because each signal is digitally encoded separately from the others.
Figure 3. The CQ100 Virtual Transceiver. (Screen capture used with
the permission of M0SAL.) Click for a detailed description.
The CQ100 User Experience
The transceiver can be operated using a mouse, but it's often easier to use the built-in keyboard shortcuts listed in the Help Manual (download from the website). For example, [Ctrl] + [Left Arrow] starts the "seek mode" moving the frequency down the band to locate and monitor the next signal automatically. If speech output is on, CQ100 announces the new frequency and any other changes in settings. In PTT mode the space bar is the push-to-talk button. The Up/Down Arrows control the volume. When the simulated squelch is off, white noise indicates tuning in progress. Both CW and phone modes are supported.
You can tune across the (simulated) bands, listen in or join conversations, and call CQ. If you want to make the operation as easy as possible, you can stay on the same channel at all times. This works well because the bandscope displays your signal for others to find, even while you call CQ.
Reviews of CQ100 on the eham web site (Thread 1 and Thread 2) are generally positive. It is not unusual to find hams who sometimes work the HF bands and other times use QsoNet. The hams on the network are friendly and helpful.
Cost: Free for 90 days, then $39 per with proof of license.
Pros: Simulated bands allow listening and calling CQ. Bandscope.
Cons: Small number of users at times.
Computer requirements and conclusions are on page 5.