A DX Cluster is a network of connected amateur radio operators. Users connect into a cluster, which generally serves a local region and clusters are linked together to form wider areas of coverage by geographical area such as state, country and even international level. The result is a vast network of connected users sharing information pertaining to amateur radio.
Connections into a DX Clusters can be made using TNC/RF devices usually operating on VHF/UHF frequencies or Telnet using the Internet for connectivity.
Stations connecting into a cluster share amateur radio information including:
· DX Spots
· WWV Spots
· Talk, Announcements, and Mail
· Weather and Emergency Services
In addition DX Clusters offer general utilities for amateur operations such as:
· Callsign Lookup Databases
· QSL Databases
· Great Circle Heading and Sunrise Sunset calculations
AR-Cluster is a next-generation DX Cluster system based on 32-bit Windows platforms. AR-Cluster features built-in Internet connectivity for connecting to other AR-Cluster nodes. User connections are available using Telnet over the Internet or by TNC/RF devices. AR-Cluster integrates easily into existing cluster networks.
This manual is designed to help you become familiar with the AR-Cluster user commands. AR-Cluster is constantly being updated with new features and commands so make sure your manual is up-to-date. Several of the commands listed in this manual are specific to an AR-Cluster node. AR-Cluster nodes always sign with a “arc>” at the end of an ID.
Check out the AR-Cluster web site at: www.ab5k.net
On-Line help is available while connected into a DX-Cluster using the Help command. You can also use shortcuts for help such as “HE” and “?”.
AR-Cluster has “Smart Help” logic so that any partial command will fall through into the help logic and display the help for the command. User enters a mal-formed command as: "DX 14000" or "DX JA1AAA" or "DX" and the help for the DX command will be displayed.
Random help tips are available with the SHOW/TIP command.
If you use spots off the cluster network, then contribute by spotting back to the network.
Setting up and operating a DX Cluster takes and lot of time and expense on the part of the sysop. He has to maintain computers, radios, TNC’s, software, Internet connections and additionally updates to callsign databases. Expenses can add up very quickly. Let your sysop know that you support him with an occasional thanks and by kicking in some money into the cluster maintenance fund.
Terry, K8SMC publishes a great user newsletter about AR-Cluster. He currently has over 400 subscribers. Details are on his web site at http://www.k8smc.com/.