Happy Holidays!

From the entire GridTracker team, we wish all the world’s radio amateurs the best during this holiday season. And with that we present the December release of GridTracker v1.21.1217 now available on our Downloads page.

In this release, the biggest change (and it was really big) is not one that is most visible to the end user. But to anyone that has looked at the code for the Call Roster, you’ll notice that code looks quite a bit different now. We grouped together the code blocks for filtering, hunting and rendering the roster into their own files in a process called “refactoring”. We also split rendering into code specific for the normal Call Roster and the compact-mode Call Roster so that we can more easily make changes to either. With this change we did break a ton of stuff and had to go in and fix the stuff we broke. Which is what took up the bulk of the past three months since the September release. Going forward changes should be much easier and less likely to break everything which will allow us to squash any bugs that are found (and all those pending in our Issue tracker) much quicker.

We also added CQ Zone and ITU Zone ignores that works just like CQ, DXCC and Call ignore. This was a long ago requested feature that was started and never finished.

We also fixed the filtering of decode messages into the Call Roster so that only those that containing valid looking callsigns that GridTracker can guess on a DXCC entity for are passed along. This means “WORKED B4” still shows up as possibly being from China but “MERRY XMAS” and “HEY JOE” are silently dropped and not shown.

Speaking of valid callsigns and DXCCs …. Yes we knew that /MM stations do not count for ARRL DXCC credit and we fixed GridTracker so that it now acknowledges that. If you see a /MM station on the air, they will now show up in the roster with a DXCC entity of “NONE” which has special rules where those contacts don’t add to your DXCC tally.

Additional enhancements include the requested feature to have a shorter max age for the call roster. So we made the minimum max age only 5s instead of 15s so that you can now set the max age low enough to display only 1 decode cycle of the very fast FT4 mode. The other requested change was to always highlight CQ in the call roster. Previously we un-highlighted CQ when “Only CQ” was checked thinking that since the calling column is only going to be “CQ” messages but that was a simple 10s change once we had the Call Roster refactor done.

We answer a question quite often about how we figure what county a station is in. Tag wrote a script that runs weekly to pull the latest ULS database from the FCC, decompresses it, parses it and creates a smaller GridTracker version of the database that is downloaded from our servers if you have “United States ULS” enabled in the Lookups tab. In that file we know every US callsign’s State and Zip Code. With that data we populate the state column and then using a lookup table within GridTracker we see what county the Zip Code falls in and display that. But some Zip Codes fall across the county line in 2 or more counties. When that occurs we were displaying the tilde “~” character to the sides of the county name and a click on the county name would make GridTracker do a lookup and retrieve the county from your selected lookup service if available. We changed the “~” to “?” marks and improved the tool tip if you hover the mouse over such an indicated county.

What’s next?

So now that we have the Call Roster refactor done, what is next? As of this writing there are currently 46 open issues in our issue tracker at GitLab that we’re processing through. We’ve organized many of them into categories of “Call Roster” and “Logging” as most fall into those categories, so that we can potentially work on related issues together and prioritize them based on what will have the most impact on the most users and if any depend on others to be fixed first or have potential conflicts.

The other big addition that is ongoing is translating GridTracker into various languages. Now with the biggest code change that we have anticipated this year behind us, we are adding the necessary code to allow GridTracker to be translated. We want to thank a couple of individuals that have already offered their services to translate GridTracker into Spanish (Santiago HI8O and Sebastian KI2D) and Chinese (Lv BD3OOX). If you have the talent for languages and would like to contribute, we ask that you join us in our Discord server using the link to the side and shout out at us.