A DX Cluster is a packet node where DX chasers on any band or mode can post rare or interesting stations that they have worked or heard. Of course other people are doing the same thing too, so you can find new DX as well as telling others about the stations you have worked. Clusters tend to be linked to each other so that the amount of people using them is increased, thereby increasing the amount of posted DX. Other information can be found on clusters such as on-line call books, mail etc. You can talk to other stations connected to the cluster network too, in real time, whether at the node you are logged into or on another node connected to the network. You can also use converse mode, where several stations can talk to each other in the same way. Of course, the DX is still posted to you all the while!
PacketCluster nodes have been around since roughly 1985. The original PacketCluster idea came from Dick Newell, AK1A, and ran under DOS. In about 1992 Dick stopped the development of the PacketCluster software for amateur radio. Many systems are still using this relatively old DOS software today.
There are several new compatible cluster programs around now, including DXSpider. DXSpider is a clone of PacketCluster software that runs under several operating systems including Linux and Windows. Linux is fast becoming the choice for amateur radio stations because of it's flexibility, reliability and the lack of the memory limitations of DOS. Linux supports multitasking and is also multiuser. It has support for AX25, ROSE, NetROM and TCPIP built in, making it the ideal choice for amateur radio. It is also totally free!
DXSpider was conceived and begun in 1998 by Dirk Koopman, G1TLH as an exercise in perl programming. It has developed rapidly and today is a very powerful cluster program. It was designed to be totally compatible with the AK1A program, although several commands have been extended to improve functionality.
This manual is designed to help you become familiar with the commands that DXSpider supports and to help you get the best from the program so you can enjoy working that rare DX! As DXSpider is being improved all the time, commands will be added as time goes by, so make sure you have the most upto date version of this manual. The latest version will always be included with the cluster program so if you are unsure, simply ask your sysop. The manual will also be available on the wesite.