In the summer of 2014, the stalwart group of medium wave and long wave operators was looking for a means of real time communications for scheduling QSO’s, sharing band condition information, and having technical dialogues. There are a variety of email reflectors that could accommodate this but sometimes there is latency, with emails not being delivered until the next day. An HF frequency might have been good but was subject to propagation and frequency availability, not to mention the fact that guys would have to tie up two radios.
Many of us had used the ON4KST lowband chat for DX pursuits on 80 and 160-meters. The low band chat had developed a nice community and camaraderie but it probably was not going to work for a group of 630-meter and lower ops to try to mesh. After a few e-mails, Alain, ON4KST, was open to the idea of setting up a “lower band” chat / logger for our use but he wanted to make sure it was going to be used before going to the trouble and expense of maintaining another group on his servers. I approached the Lowfer and 600MRG reflectors and made a plea for e-mails to be sent to Alain from prospective users and was overwhelmed with the response. Shortly thereafter we had our own place to call home – the ON4KST “kHz” chat / logger. Note: I was told that using the words “Chat room” would conjure images of children misbehaving on the internet and the new descriptive term was “logger”. I suppose it depends on your age as to what you call it. At any rate, we had a place to meet. Call it whatever you like.
The screens are configurable, but be sure to save the layout on the “MENU” screen at the top left before logging out or you will have to start over with the layout. I like to see the main chat window, a user list, and propagation conditions that are aggregated from a number of sources. I did not find the DX cluster window particularly useful so I removed it.
So where do you start? Alain has a number of loggers (or chats!) available as you can see on this page.
Select the link for “Enter into the kHz (2000-630m) chat here“. Doing so will take you here.
If you have not already registered a call sign, select the link that says “Not Registered Yet? Click HERE” and that will take you here.
There have been some questions recently about whether non-hams and SWL’s can access the logger/chat. The answer seems to be yes. Ken, an SWL located in Indiana, USA, recently registered for access to the kHz chat and was granted. Non-hams should use traditional SWL call sign convention. I believe that Ken used SWL/EN91, the latter four-characters representing his maidenhead grid. Don’t try to use non-call sign designators like “cookiemonster15”. Hams and Part-5 ops should use their call signs that are used on air. I am confident that Alain still reviews each new registration and has to approve them before an approval email is sent granting access.
Once registered and logged in, you can begin configuring your page by selecting the “Menu” button on the upper left side of the window. Windows are resized and moved by selecting the red angle at the bottom right edge of each window. Don’t forget to save your layout!
The page’s refresh rate is based on activity level. If there are low levels of activity, particularly during the day and during the summer, the page may update only every two minutes while during peak periods, the update might occur every 30-seconds. DON’T use the refresh button or you will be logged out and will have to log in again. Alain does this to control server transactions that cost money. Its OK to post stuff but constantly refreshing the screen wastes money through increased Internet traffic.
You might not see any message activity when you are logged in and this is particularly true during the day in the summer. Many of us “live” in the ON4KST chat/logger, staying constantly connected, and will billboard messages or comments, coming back hours later to check for replies… If you have the capacity to simply set up a browser tab and leave it connected, this is where you will see the most benefit in the long run.
Finally, every so often, Alain will flash a message at the top of the screen seeking donations for this project. The money “keeps the lights on” by paying for server space and Internet connectivity. Please consider following the link and sending Alain $25 via Paypal when you see this message if you find the information on the chat/logger useful. I’ve only seen the message once in a year since we have had the system running so its not like its a monthly solicitation. Every little bit helps Alain keep this service up and running.
If you need help with the functionality of the ON4KST logger/chat, send me a message on the contact page and I will see what I can do to help.