It has been about ten years since the advent of so-called computer controlled radios or "PC radios" as they are sometimes called. Most likely, if you are reading this document you are aware of how good control software, combined with a sensitive PC radio (e.g. the Ten-Tec RX-320), greatly enhances your ability to listen to shortwave broadcasts. WorldStation 3.11 is a multi-tasking software "toolkit" for the shortwave listener with with a wealth of powerful but easy to use features.
Most programs center around a traditional GUI, short for Graphical User Interface. While WS 3.11 has a GUI for control purposes of course, its powerful "ground up" design breaks new ground for the shortwave listener. In particular, WS 3.11 has several breakthrough features previously unavailable to the shortwave listener: "Real-time" ILG Radio database integration, HyperscanTM and Clustering. HyperScanTM gives you the ability to monitor several bands at once, much like a trader would monitor several markets at once. Clustering gives you the capability of "ganging" two or more RX-320's to provide background scanning. Adding more radios automatically increases the scanning speed of your cluster. Adding even one more RX-320 for a total of two radios in your scanning cluster provides a dramatic improvement in scanning speed because there is no need to stop and re-start scanning. We added a special feature for Cluster users - the TURBO feature -that allows you to temporarily add your primary radio to the scanning cluster for an additional boost in scanning speed.
Installation, Supported Operating Systems
a networked client server application. No end user
configuration is required to run the application on a stand-alone PC.
The software makes use of the built-in TCP/IP loopback network
interface built into the PC's operating system to communicate
between the client and the server. If you have a personal firewall
running on your PC, you MAY have to modify the firewall's default
settings to allow connections FROM your PC to your PC (i.e.
The software is optimized for Windows XP, since the vast majority of customers now utilize that OS. Windows NT and 2000 are also supported. Windows ME is supported, but not recommended, due to well-known stability problems with that OS. There is no Linux port of WorldStationTM at this time, although it is under consideration for a future date. Windows 98 is NOT supported due to problems in its network support libraries. Note: Microsoft has RETIRED Windows 98 effective December 2003. It is no longer an actively suported product.
The WorldStationTM client can connect to the WS server remotely over a TCP/IP LAN connection by opening a DOS window any typing the client program name followed by the IP address of the server . Netmeeting or similar H323 conferencing programs (like openphone) can be used for a real-time audio feed.
WorldStationTM is shipped as an email attachement zip file with all required files and run time libraries. There are no external "run time" modules (such as Java) that need to be downloaded and installed. Included license "key" files must be placed intot the WS directory for the software to operate.. Other than that, no end-user configuration EXCEPT the serial port of the radio may need to be configured. The default serial port is COM1 - this can be easily changed by editing the global "dxconfig.txt" configuration file.
The WS server opens a DOS console window that prints out various start up and connection messages. When the client GUI is shut down (by clicking the Power button), the server can be left running waiting for new connections. In this mode (no client connected) it uses practically no computer resources. You can easily debug server connection problems by opening a DOS console window FIRST and then typing in the full name of the server. Any error messages will display in the console window. Just double-clicking the server executable will also open a console window but not stay open if an error occurs.
|| Many tuning modes are supported including direct
keyboard entry. All tables are "point and click" to set frequency and
mode. There are upper and lower MAIN tuning buttons on the GUI.
Also included are FINE TUNING buttons and a fine tuning slider. Fine
Tuing automatically adjusts the step size below the main tuning step
size. Integrated band slider allows for quick drag tuning within a
band. Each Scan Panel supports point and click tuning and has
Multiple tuning rates are supported in the "Tuning Rates" control including 9 kHz for European AM broadcasting.
|| Bandwidth selection is automatically linked tothe
selected mode. All bandwidth defaults settings are
user configurable via the global text config file. All bandwdiths
for every radio are supported. The Orion driver supports 900 bandwidths
in a step size of 10Hz.
|GUI Controls|| Customized GUI (Graphical User Interface)
controls were created for each supported radio. The Orion driver adds
sophisticated linked controls between the MAIN and SUB receiver drivers
and GUI's. This makes possible (for example) support for
"one-button" SPLIT operation.
|| Drivers are currently shipping for the Ten-Tec
RX-320D, RX-340, RX-350D, Orion ham transceiver, Drake R8A , R8B and
the Japan Radio 535D
| Frequency Offsets For SYNC Mode
|| The RX-320D driver supports four (4) sets of frequency
offsets for: USB, LSB, SYNC-U, and SYNC-L respectively. The
Frequency Offset algorithm takes 3 user generated offset points
and computes a linear regression equation to adjust the offset
frequency for any iintermediate frequency withing the supported
frequency range of the radio. This method produces a very
accurate offset - close to 1 Hz. This makes synthetic SYNC mode
effective. The RX-320D has no factory built-in support for SYNC
reception such as you will find in the RX-340 and RX-350D. The SYNC
modes have a wider bandwidth than pure LSB or USB. (See Bandwidth). All
frequency offset points are in Hz.
|| Mode refers to the demodulation modes supported by a
given radio. Examples are AM, USB LSB etc. The RX-340 supports
specialized modes such as ISB and DRM and they are supported. All
demodulation modes for every radio are supported (see the respective
user guides). The RX-320D driver adds synthetic upper and lower SYNC
modes. (See Frequency Offset). Syntheitc SYNC allows for the automatic
tuning of the sidebands of an AM signal for greater clarity and
resistence to fading. (See Frequency Offset)
|Band Table|| Every copy of WorldStationTM ships with an integrated
Band Table. Common shortwave, utility and ham bands within the HF
Spectrum are included. CLicking on a Band Table row sets up the mode,
tuning step size, upper and lower band frequenciies and bandwith (See
Bandwidth). There is a
Scan button on the Band Table for one-button automatic scanning of a
selected band. The Band Table is editable with any text editor
such as Notepad. Multiple band scans simultaneoulsy are
supported. (See Scanning)
| Memory Table
|| Every copy of WorldStationTM ships with an integrated
memory table. This table contains about 1,000 commonly used utility
frequencies for NASA, FEMA, maritime, and the US military. Full form
entry of new frequencies is supported. Table Scanning is fully supported.
The end user can create a synthetic band by selecting
INDIVIDUAL rows of the table or GROUPS of rows. Row slection is
done by the standard Windows SHIFT select or CTRL select key board
commands. Once a group of rows is selected, clicking on the SCAN button
on the top of the table will start a scan. The seelcted rows are
automatically re-sorted from low frequency to high frequency and
a synthetic band is created. Pointing and clicking on a channel in the
table willl automatically set the frequencty, mode etc. for that
channel. Multiple table scans simultaneously are supported. (See
| Scheduler Table
|| Every copy of WorldStationTM ships with an integrated
scheduler table. This table allows the user to easily set up a
programmed listening schedule. A wide range of program intervals are
supported including daily, weekday, weekend, day of the week, and
specific calendar day. Full form entry of new schedule items is
supported, including a calendar pop-up to enter a specifi date in the
future. There is a one-button Acitvate / Deactivate scheduler at
the top of the table. Individual Start and End times in UTC are
supported for each entry in the table.
|ILG Shortwave Database|| The ILG shortwave database is a free download from
ilgradio.com. ILG is noted for providing highly accurate shortwave
schedules. WorldStationTM greatly enhances the ILG database by indexing
it by every minute of the day and by frequency. The resultant "What's
On" table is updated automatically every minute in background. If
you are busy clicking the "What''s On" table, the software will detect
this and not update the table "from under you". It will wait for at
least one minute where no clicking activity has taken place before
To select a station, the end user just clicks on a row of the table. Likewise you can tune to a shortwave frequency and the "Frequency Lookup" table will list all the station "playing" on that frequency - without ffiltering. Extensive ILG filtering is supported via the global text configuration files. You can filter by language or exclude (using free form text) any station in any field that matches your exclusion text.
Typical conversion time for the ILG to Dxtra indexed format is under 2 minutes for a typical Pentium 4 system, proportionally longer for slower systems. Conversion is only done once each time a new database is downloaded - usually quarterly. Under "Tools" the user would select "Create ILG Tables". The software will open a file selection panel with a file mask of ".dbf". The user should have already downloaded this file from ILG into a known directory.
The user can set his or her latitude and longitude in the configuration file. An additioanl column will be computed using the ILG data for "distance". This is the Great Circle Distance in miles between the users defined location and the ILG defined lat and long for the station in quesiton. (See Configuration file)
|Scanning|| WorldStationTM supports powerful integrated Band and
Table scanning. HF signals are notoriously "jumpy" and WS
therefore uses signal averaging to smooth out these random noise
spikes. WS scanning is optimized for the HF bands, which unlike VHF and
UHF scanning always have a "signal" present - even if the signal is
just noise. Band Table (see Band Table) and Memory Table
(see Memory Table) scanning are supported. Scanning proceeds from
left to right across a band or list of channels. The step-size of the
scan is defined in the defined in the Band Table.
A "Scan Panel" is created that draws a signal bar for each returned signal strength. The height and color of that scan bar is proportional to the signal strength. If a scan bar is clicked the scanning will stop and the radio will be set to that frequency or channel. Multiple simultaneous Scan Panels can be run at one time (See HyperScanTM).
A user can select multiple bands to scan at once from the Band Table by using SHIFT or CTRL mouse select and then by clicking the Scan button. The software will then open the multiple selected bands for scanning.
Each Scan Panel sports mini-controls that ease use of the scan facility. There are tuning controls for example that allows up/down tuning without having to move the mouse to the main GUI.
|| A unique feature of the software is the ability stack
mutiple band scans at once. The sophisticated messaging system
built-into the software keeps track of data flowing from the server and
assigns each signal strength packet to the appropriate Scan
For advanced users a Clustering scanning capability is also available
at addtional charge that permits background scanning. (See Clustering)
|| Multiple RX-320's (ithe typical configuration)
can be set up as a "scan bank" to scan in background. One radio (.i.e
the primary radio) is set up for listening. Clicking into a Scan Panel
will tune the primary radio instantly while allowing scanning to
continue non-stop in the background. A "work load" manager built-into
the software ensures that each radio gets parceled out an even amount
of work. The more radios that are added to a scaning cluster the
faster the scanning will be, since the cluster operates in true
In the case where all the radios in the scanning cluster (including the primary of course) are RX-320's, a special "Turbo" mode is provided whereby the main or listening radio can be temporarily added to the scanning cluster for increased scanning perfomance. Clicking the Turbo button in any Scan Panel can turn this feature on and off. In a small cluster of two radios (the minimum configuration), this feature can significantly boost performance.
Adding more radios to a scanning cluster gives a linear (on for one) scale-up of scanning performance (2X, 3X, 4X etc.) Each radio requires a unique serial port. There is a section in the global configuration file which shows example lines in setting up a cluster. As shipped, the cluster section is commented out.
If the end-user has a Cluster license and the cluster is not being used, the software will note this and print a message in the server console window.
|Motifs|| WorkdStationTM ships with five (5)
interchangable "brushed metal" styled front-panels that are user
selectable from the main control panel.
|Clocks|| The standard WorkdStationTM GUI (Graphical User
Interface) front-panel has two clocks, one for Local time and one for
UTC time. UTC time is commonly used for shortwave schedules.
|Logging|| Dxtra provides a web based logging service available
24/7 on our web site at www.dxtra.com. WS 3.5 will feature a real-time
download capability into a WS table for point and clcik access to the
latest user contributed logs.
|Configuration File|| The text configuration file that ship with the
software has the following user customization features: default
bandwidths for each mode for each supported radio, ILG languages
and text filtering, RX-320 frequency offsets for USB. LSB, SYNC-U
and SYNC-U, serial port for main radio, cluster radio serial ports and
drivers, user latitude and longitude (see ILG).
|Serial Ports|| The software supports any legal serial port name under
Windows and will work perfectly with USB serial port adapters. The
software as shipped defaults to the "COM1" serial port, since most PC's
come with at least this port enabled.
| General Use of
|| The standard use of the software revolves around the
use of the Band Table. The user should open this table and click
on individual bands of interest. The Band Table also limits the
chunks of the spectrum that the radio can scan through for one
band. The PC screen can only accomdatate a limited (but useful)
number of scan "channels" at once. In addition to frequeny
limits, the Band Table automatically sets Mode, Step size and also
Our recommended upgrade path for current owners of the RX-320 is to consider purchasing another RX-320D (now enabled with DRM) with the Cluster option to support two radios. As noted above, this step-up will give you unattended background scanning on the bands of your choice. With this solution it is easily possible to monitor six or seven major shortwave bands continuously. You will not only see active stations, but will also see MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) as well. And all of this capability is integrated with the rest of the program. For example if you click on a signal in a Scan Panel – the ILG real-time lookup will show you the stations "playing" on that channel.
As an alternative upgrade path consider upgrading to WS 3.1 by itself. Using your existing RX-320 with WS 3.1 gives you a much improved scanning capability (i.e. HyperScanTM) and real-time ILG database support. A host of additional features are slao provided like Memory table scanning and a scheduler.
The WS 3.1 software was designed to be multitasking. Hence you will obtain the maximum benefit from the software by using it in its Cluster mode of operation. To avoid any confusion, all of the features of WS 3.1 except the TURBO mode and background scanning (clustering) function perfectly with only one RX-320.
If you are using the Cluster edition you will need one serial port for each RX-320 in the Cluster. Windows PC usually support up to 4 serial ports with no problem. If you have a notebook you can use USB to serial port adapters. We use the adapters from www.usbgear.com and they work well.
You will also need an antenna coupler, which takes one antenna and spreads it over multiple radios. We use and recommend the active couplers from stridsberg.com. The MCA104 (4 ports) or the MCA108 (8 ports) are the most useful for the Clustering application, and provide front-end protection and amplification as well.
Built into your copy of WS 3.1, under the Tools menu, is the ability to connect to Dxtra's Cluster over the Internet. This will allow you to experience for yourself the benefits of Clustering in real-time. The scanning will be off-loaded to our remote cluster and it will free up your primary radio for listening. This will work with a slow dial-up connection to the Internet.
We have invested in a tool which allows us to capture live product demos and replay them back in the Macromedia "Flash" format. Most browsers have Flash support built-in nowadays. These demos are annotated and show in a realistic way, the use of the program. Click here to see this powerful Clustering feature in operation.
If you are not familiar with DRM already – it is has been declared to be a new "non-proprietary" (according to the DRM web site) ITU standard for the transmission of digital shortwave broadcasts.
By simply connecting the DRM output signal from the RX-320 to the "microphone" or "line-in" jack of your PC sound card. By using the DRM software, your PC can decode the DRM transmissions. The DRM decoding software is available at the following for purchase at http://www.drmrx.org/. The current price for the software as of March 2003 is about 60 Euro's. The audio decoding of the software is automatic and has nothing to do with WorldStationTM 3.1 to avoid any confusion.
DRM, www.drm.org is one of several competing ITU standards for the digital transmission of radio signals in the AM, shortwave and FM bands. The other major ITU standard is the American "HD Radio" consortium. There web site is at www.ibiquity.com. Ibquity seems ,however, to be more interested in the upgrade market for car AM and FM radios in the US than in the relatively small shortwave market. This leaves DRM as the primary driving force behind international digital shortwave broadcasting.
There is an "open source" implementation of the DRM software available at sourceforge.net. There are no binaries (run time) programs posted due to licensing issues (according to the web site), but you can compile the source code for Linux or Windows.
Your checklist should include checking that your radio is powered on. If you are not sure what serial ports your PC has, check under "My Computer--->Control Panel--->System-->Device Manager--->Ports"
WorldStation 3.1 can be installed in under 2 minutes, but here are some common problems and how to avoid them:
Make sure you are using the correct serial port! The system defaults to COM1 - you can change this COM port in the dxconfig.txt file. JUST DOUBLE CLICK ON THE "dxconfig.txt" file to open it with Notepad. If you aren't sure about your serial ports, just click on "My Computer" and check your hardware properties.
When you unzip your main WS 3.1 zip archive file, make sure you unzip it's contents into an EMPTY WorldStation file folder you created. DO NOT UNZIP THE ZIP ARCHIVE INTO A SUB-FOLDER UNDER YOUR WORLDSTATION FOLDER (AS SOME CUSTOMERS ARE DOING) - THE SOFTWARE WILL NOT RUN!! In other words, your new WorldStationTM directory should NOT have any sub-folders under it - JUST the Dxtra file and license key files. Please pay attention to the FILE PATH you are using when you EXTRACT the contents of Dxtra's zip file archive. The zip program easily lets you mouse-click and change this path before extraction.
If you are piping the RX-320 audio into your sound card - MAKE SURE YOUR WINDOWS MIXER IS SET PROPERLY TO ENGAGE LINE-IN OR MIC-IN AND THAT THE VOLUME IS TURNED UP. Click on the speaker icon in Windows to bring up the mixer. IF YOU ARE GETTING A SIGNAL STRENGTH THEN THE SOFTWARE IS RUNNING PROPERLY. If you can't figure out the Windows mixer, just hook up an external speaker.
Click here for a flash demo of this feature.
Dxtra's support for the ILG shortwave database (see www.ilgradio.com for details), exceeds the specs of any program on the market. It took a considerable programming effort to achieve this goal. Most programs simply read the ILG text file and display data. WS 3.1 reads the raw ILGSDATA.DBF file, normalizes the data, and indexes it for fast retrieval.
Two special database files are created, one indexed by FREQUENCY and one indexed by TIME, specifically every minute of the day! The “What's On” table will automatically refresh itself every minute. This happens in background while scanning is taking place. You also have a frequency look up table that refreshes as you tune the radio.
Extensive filtering is supported. All filter use simple comma delimited text (see the dxconfig.txt file for examples). You can filter on Language – the default is English which filters the “What's On” table. The frequency lookup table is never filtered as this is used to ID a station. You can also filter out records. Filter text is compared against EVERY field of the database as it is read in for great filtering flexibility. Again, check the config file for details.
As an enhancment to ILG, when you convert the file, the distance and azimuth are re-computed for your location for every record in the file. You should change your latitude and longitude in the dxconfig.txt file before starting the conversion process.
Special attention was payed to conversion performance – on a Pentium 4 system, the total elapsed time from converting the raw “DBF” file to working with the tables is less than one minute.
In "shortwave 101" we learn that any AM broadcast signal can be listened to on its sidebands. The advantage of this mode is its ability to eliminate adjacent channel interference. WS 3.1 provides a frequency correction scheme to make this possible without re-tuning for each station.
WS 3.1 provides four sets of offsets (for SYNC-U, SYNC-L,USB and LSB) for frequency correction in the dxconfig.txt file. Simply tune to an active shortwave station, click on SYNC-U and slowly tune until the station is audible in SSB mode. Note the offset in HZ. Try this for at least three widely separated bands. Sample offsets are noted in the config file.
Under the "Tables" menu open the Memory Table. The table comes pre-populated with about 1000 common HF utility frequencies, mainly but not exclusively US government agencies like FEMA, US NAvy, Air Force etc. Click on the column headings to sort the table in the order you wish. Use CRTL and SHIFT right click with your mouse to select groups of rows, or individual rows for scanning. When you have selected your list, simply click the "Scan" button. There are only so many stations you can scan at one time, if you exceed this limit, WS 3.1 will promt you with a warning message. Just break your scan up into smaller chunks. When the Scan button is clicked, WS 3.1 will assemble the selected rows into a synthetic band table, sory the rows by frequency and begin scanning.
You also have the ability to add new scan rows by populating a pop-up panel. Imprtant parameters will already be filled in fot you.
This discussion assumes you have the Cluster Edition of WorldStationTM 3.1. Clustering allows you to dedicate one or more RX-320 or RX320D to the task of background scanning. The advantage of this is that your primary radio is always available for listening. Scanning is non-stop. Clicking on a scan panel automatically tunes your primary radio. Adding more radios to the scanning cluster will automatically increase your scanning speed.
Each radio in your cluster is defined by a line-item entry in the dxconfig.txt file. Your primary radio (the one you will listen to) defaults to COM1. If you are using a different serial port you need to change the config file to the appropriate serial port.i If you have a 2 radio cluster, just de-comment the second radio entry line and chanhe ONLY the COM port entry to what evwer COM port you are using.: CLUSTER=SERIAL_PORT2,COM6,rx320
Each additional RX-320 cluster radio has its own line in the config file - which are commented out. You will need to uncomment the appropriate lines, and change the serial port for those radios. Save your changes and start "dxtraserver.exe". That's it. The software will automatically read in your cluster radio startup ports, load the drivers, start the cluster manager and distribute your scanning workload.>/p>
If you have 2 or more radios of the same type (eg 2 RX-320's), you can click the TURBO button to temporarily add your primary radio to the scanning cluster! De-selecting the TURBO button will return it to its primary listening role
You can remotely access your radio using a standard LAN or Internet connection. Install WS 3.1 on your server, making sure to test the configuration by starting up the client first. Note the IP address of your server. On the server, shit down your client, but leave the server software running.
Now install WS 3.1 on your remote client PC. DO NOT START THE SERVER. Open up a command line window in Windows,
change to your WS 3.1 directory and type in "dxclient.exe