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Reviews For: CommCat

Category: Ham Logging Software

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Review Summary For : CommCat
Reviews: 34MSRP: 49.95 d/l Demo d/l free
Description:
DX/Logging program
Product is in production
More Info: http://www.commcat.com
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
00345
KF4HR Rating: 2007-02-25
My shack's focal point! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I found myself getting interested in chasing DX again, after several years of enjoying other aspects of the hobby. Unfortunately my shack was behind the technical curve a bit, so upgrades where in order. A SteppIR yagi went up. New state-of-the-art transceivers replaced older gear. A new rotator with computer control. NCS Radio switching boxes made quick work of microphone and speaker distribution between the rigs. Best of all, many components had the ability to be controlled by my PC (numerous serial ports were required - thank you Byterunner). Also a dial-up internet service made way for a high speed cable connection.

But something was missing. I needed a software package that could tie everything together. I downloaded demo's of various do-it-all programs and purchased a few hoping to find that magic combination I was looking for, but nothing seemed to click for me. Worse yet, after sales support questions either went unanswered, or their responses assumed I already owned an older version of the program. Then I ran across a Commcat ad and downloaded the demo. Everything instantly started falling in place and it didn't take long before I knew this was the program I had been searching for. I ordered it. Looking back, it was one of the best amateur purchase decisions I've ever made (and a steal at the price!).

There are many features of this program, too numerous for this review, but I'll touch on a few.

First, assuming you have your equipment properly interfaced to your PC, setting up Commcat to link to your radios (up to 4) and rotators (up to 3), is very easy. DX Spots are clearly displayed and constantly updated. A World Map points to the DX station and shows the general trend of where band openings are occurring in the world. Graphical interfaces show your radio's frequency range and lists the DX, right on the graphical dial. See a DX station you want to work? Click on it, and your radio instantly changes to the proper frequency and all the necessary data is displayed; azimuth, reverse azimuth, CQ Zone, Local time, etc. Another click and your rotator points your antenna to the DX station. This assumes your gear is interfaced properly of course, but Commcat takes full advantage of current equipment automation availability.

Commcat also lets you quickly determine where you stand with your DX count, along with your standing on various Awards; WAS, 5BWAS, DXCC, 5BDXCC, WAC, along with all the various endorsements for these awards. Being able to instantly determine if you need a particular state or country, on a particular band, is great! All these aspects of this program are very well thought out.

But this program takes DX'ing many steps further than simply identifying DX spots. For example; identify a DX Spot and click on "Web" and Commcat links you to a wealth of information about the DX station and his/her country; personal information about the DX station, their local weather, country information, maps of the DX location, etc. Commcat will let you know just about anything you need to know; country background, geography details, population data, government data, economy data, and on and on! Ever work a new DX station and wonder exactly where it is or other aspects of the country? Well, wonder no more!

The logging features of Commcat are very automatic. When properly interfaced to your equipment, numerous pieces of data are automatically written into the log (time, date, frequency), with only a single click of the mouse. And the "lookup" feature fills in even more data (full name, qsl mgr info, etc).

Like with all software there's a learning curve, but Commcat is so well documented and designed, I found that I took to the program quickly. The next thing I knew DX'ing was fun again, but even more so than before. It's obvious the author took great efforts to ensure this program has every feature needed to ensure DX'ing success.

Perhaps the best aspect of Commcat is its product support. Howard stands behind his product and is quick to respond to user questions. I can't say enough about Howard's support. It's fantastic.

As I stated above, my review doesn't begin to touch on the many features of this program. The more you use it, the more interesting and fun it becomes. Commcat is not designed as contesting program, but if you are considering a DX'ing and logging software package, download the Commcat demo and give it a try. In short order you'll want this software in your shack!
WO5I Rating: 2006-01-10
Best I've Ever Used! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Howard Nurse, creator, author, and demi-god of database construction who produced the product known as CommCat, should be enshrined in the Ham Radio Hall of Fame! Let me explain...

In 2002, after a brief hiatus from ham radio, I purchased a Yaesu FT-100D, put up my old Butternut vertical, and re-entered the greatest hobby since sex (or are they both "services"?)

Before my hiatus in 1994, ham radio and computers weren't really doing much together except for packet, with some RTTY / AMTOR etc. for flavor. I had a Macintosh then, and had toyed with writing my own simple database program for logging. In the end, my program worked, but my limited experience with trying to speak computer-ese didn't serve me well enough to keep using it.

Back to 2002, several very good logging programs were available, and others were popping up every week, or so it seemed. I tried Logger (which has now morphed into Logger32), and several others -- some free, some cheap, some pricy. Then I came upon an ad for Comm Cat. I checked out the website and, while intrigued, saw that the program did not (yet) support my Yaesu FT-100D.

I sent a note asking Howard if anything was in the works to put the -100D on the program. His response was an example in generosity and cooperation that should be known far and wide: he said that if I'd send him a copy of the Yaesu CAT codes (from the manual), he'd work on the rig control and give me a fully-functional BETA to play with. True to his word, I received the program with all the modifications needed to make it run my Yaesu. After a couple of weeks of tinkering, with some feedback his guinea pig (me!), he was able to offer a fully functional version to support the -100D. As an added bonus, he let me keep the Comm Cat copy I had as a gift for helping him test a newer, better version.

Between that incident and early 2005, I had used Comm Cat, and occasionally tried competators software just so see if I was missing anything. In short, CommCat is still 1) easiest to use, 2) most DX-er friendly, and 3) best supported logging / rig control / cluster / award tracking software I've run across yet.

As I became engrossed in chasing new DXCC "band-countries" for the DXCC Challenge award, I began looking for easier ways to QSL. I had never really taken advantage of CommCat's ability to produce QSL cards (and still don't understand how it works, so I will abstain from any review of that feature). However, I had just come into posession of a Dymo LabelWriter 330 label printer. I wrote posted a note on the CommCat email discussion board asking if anyone knew how to make the Dymo printer work with CommCat. Howard, again just to prove he is Superman (show-off) went out and bought one of these printers at an office supply store, wrote a module to make it work, and VOILA! CommCat now supports Dymo label printers for printing QSL labels. Just like that.

Plenty of reviews have been written on how good the program is...and it certainly is a great program. It lives up to the billing it gets on this board. However, I just can't say enough about the man who stands behind this product! If you want a logging program, many will suffice. But if you want a fully satisfying experience with the program and the man who will bend over backward to help you, go with CommCat. For that reason alone, it's a bargain at 10 times the price.
K9RX Rating: 2005-12-22
A pleasure to use... Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have been out of radio for almost 9 years. I am now getting back into it. After having designed my own logging programs in the early 80's I knew some of the things I wanted. I did lots of research on the available programs... the most popular ones with 20+ responses and ratings greater than a 4.4 or so. Downloaded many demos. MOST were buggy... all seemed - well not intuitive and rather difficult to get from here to there. This includes the "big boys" but does not include purely contesting software (which I have yet to work on). They range in price from free to well into the hundreds. None of them suited me due to lacking features and/or just poor UI design.

Then I happened upon CommCAT. Only 16 reviews but all great. So I downloaded its demo. WOW! This is very well done! Very well thoughtout. A pleasure to use and for the most part easy to set up. Response from the company were quick (to VERY quick - instant), polite and helpful. The features are truely well thought out.

It is stated to be a DX-ers logging program and for the most part this is true - but even if your only a casual DXer this is the one for you.

My hunt is FINALLY over (and the frustration!).

g.
W6WYB Rating: 2005-11-29
For the DXer, it is simply the best! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
After 40 plus years as a ham, having written simple duping programs for an Atari 800 computer back in the mid 70's and having chased DX almost continously since I was 14 years old I think my qualifications to review a DX related product are in order. I have been using CommCat for close to a year and am now ready to give you my impressions. I have, with virtually no exceptions, thoroughly enjoyed this program. Any minor glitches that operating disclosed were quickly, but more importantly, enthusiastically addressed and corrected by Howard. I have exchanged numerous emails with him and I assure you he really wants to make his customers happy and make CommCat the best DX program on the market. I have no reservations endorsing this program.
KB3FJL Rating: 2003-07-27
you won't find a better program Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
As you all may of done, I looked over all the logging programs here on eham and others I could find. Prices ranged from freeware to over 100.00 . I found the 1 program that could do all I wanted and had a learning curve such that after 1 night (about 4 hours), I was very comfortable with all aspects of it... Commcat!! I can't stress the ease of use enough ... AS for functionality ... well imagine what you would want and it's here ... I really luv the DX tracker ... It scans previously selected targets and if you're rig feeds S-meter readings, you can set alarms as well. From basic logging to spectrum analyzers it's here for you . I can't recommend this product enough ...
GI4VIV Rating: 2003-04-30
CommCat , The cultured approach to DX Logging Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have used CommCat for nearly a year now,and find it to be Excellent in every way.

I run 3 Rigs all are linked to the Programme.
FT100/IC746/FT1000mp mk5 all are used on different Bands 70cm/2m/HF it is so easy just to change Rigs for logging at the touch of a button.

I also Run weekly net for our Local Club and find it excellent as a Net logging Programme, something very rare these days

However dont think for one minute I am suggesting that CommCat is only a Net Logging Programme not at all, for DX working and especially split frequency working it is outstanding, its ability to recognise split Freq/DX and if submitted properly by the originator on the DX Cluster, at the click of a mouse your on the split freq and working the station "Its really very smooth and so impressive to anyone in the shack".

Here in the UK we have been allocated frequencies in the 60M (5Mhz) band on a limited basis to experiment with NVIS antennas, and with 5Mhz not being part of the BandPlan in fact any bandplan I thought that it would render the programme unusable from that point of view, I could not have been more wrong, I mentioned it to Howard by Email and by return he asked me for the band edges and within 48 hours the programme had been modified and I was able to obtain an update and Log QSOs on 60m USB.

I really have only submitted my impressions on a very small part of CommCat, a programme that in my view is outstanding.

I have used many logging programmes and in each one have found something outstanding but individual that programme.

Howard in my view has taken all the outstanding features from the various other Logging programmes and incorporated them into CommCat
well done Howard a great contribution to Amateur Radio.


AA7JC Rating: 2003-04-27
Great program Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I am not much of a DX hound and I have not compared these types of programs before, but the 30 day trial version of the program impressed me enough (connected with my Elecraft K2) to lay out the bucks on the very first day.

One of its coolest tricks is a twist inside the Spectrum Analyzer .. If you click on a "blip", it will *zero* beat the K2 to the blip.. Kinda fun with CW!

It uses DX cluster integration and will automatically tune in all the DX "spots" as they are reported. It also integrates with the "DX Atlas" program (www.dxatlas.com) to show the path in beat with the info from the DX cluster. Ya gotta see it to believe it!

Wow!
RV3APM Rating: 2003-04-24
Excellent Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
It is great and very useful software. I can look all DX on my screen. Great work with my TT Pegasus and TS-2000.
K1GUY Rating: 2003-03-22
FUN FUN FUN Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I looked into all the computer operating programs out there that are advertised. Many of the so called free (freeware) ones also. I learned quickly, dont waste your time, you get what you pay for. Then I chose CommCat as I have read other reviews and went to the CommCat web site to see the demo. I liked the demo downloads and the movie on the web site, so I jumped in for the complete package.
The disk came after about 4 days from Howard Nurse, the CommCat developer. He was great with any questions I had. Responses were almost immediate!! The program is very intuitive. So if you are afraid of linking your rig to your computer, dont be, as this program makes it seamless. Go to the web site and see what it does. I was "astounded" My yaesu 1000MP is now getting service and my old Icom back up rig doesnt have the level converter in it to operate the Computer interface. Needless to say, I am in cold turkey. I have not been using my rig at all. Awaiting for the Yaesu ft1000MP to return so I can use CommCat. Ham radio is not the same, actually, alot less fun without it. I can rate CommCat a 5. Does it have it all, no, only my wife does. Get CommCat and you will have a blast. Great for Dxing and logging too.
WA7TT Rating: 2002-11-19
Brilliant Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I am a bit of a techie when it comes to logging software. There is not a comprehensive logging package I haven't tried thoroughly. Howard Nurse has taken logging software to the next level when he developed Commcat. Howard looked at how the computer based ham operator really works and wrote the program from that paradigm. All the others, Logic, Dx4win, DXBase, Swisslog, and LogWindows are all virtually identical computer adaptations of the old fashioned paper logbook.
Let me be clear. This software is intended for the operator who has a high bandwidth internet connection fulltime. (DSL or better) It is built around the premise that you rely on a DX net as your starting point. Click on a spot and literally everything happens from there. It does it seamlessly, robustly and elegantly. The internet callsign lookup process is surprisingly prompt and everything there is to log gets logged including the operator's email address, the URL of his website, you name it. The interface with DXAtlas is rapid and cleverly displays the callsign of the station on the map. There are some DX tracking features and other innovative methods of graphically displaying the spots These features are unique only to this software. Other unique features include an immediate internet search of the real-time weather report of region of the DX station you are logging.
Most notable, in the short time I have worked with this program Howard Nurse has responded to email requests I have made with prompt rewrites and revisions of the program and emailing me these software revisions within hours or days As a computer geek myself I must say he is a truly creative code crunching guru and a "programming machine".
Every deficiency I have experienced in all the other Biggies have been met and surpassed with this software package. Simply incredible! And from what I see it is a work-in-progress. Enjoy the ride.