Steve Ford's Review of MixW Software from August Issue of QST
Is it possible to discuss a multifaceted piece of software in a single QST page? MixW Windows is essentially one-stop shopping for Amateur Radio digital operating. It's difficult to do justice to the "Swiss Army Knife" of digital software in less than 800 words.
What Can't It Do?
Assuming you own a sound-card-equipped Windows PC and an appropriate sound-card interface, MixW gives you the ability to send and receive RTTY, CW, PSK31, Hellschreiber, MFSK16, FSK31, PSK63, Throb, MT63, SSTV, packet (HF and VHF) and AMTOR. You can also receive PACTOR-I and fax with MixW.
MixW will "talk" to your transceiver if it is CAT compatible, which many are these days. This means you can manipulate your rig from within MixW With software such as PCAnywhere, you can even do this remotely. MixW can also interface with your antenna rotator.
MixW incorporates a sophisticated logging program that includes a "contest mode" with configurations for a number of popular digital contests. When you click on a call sign in the receive window, MixW enters the call into the log and displays the country information according to the prefix. MixW will export to ADIF and Cabrillo formats. And, yes, it prints QSLs and QSL labels.
As they say in the TV commercials, "Wait! There's more!" Mix W will function as a "voice keyer" for contest operating. It can grab spots from your local DXcluster via packet radio or the Internet. MixW will even monitor and decode the NCDXF/ IARU CW propagation beacons (your PC needs to have a very accurate clock for this function to work properly).
On the Air with MixW
After two months, I am still exploring the features of MixW, but what I've seen so far is impressive. With the selectable waterfall, spectrum and tuning displays, MixW is quite easy to op erate, regardless of mode. Even digital modes as notoriously difficult to tune as HF packet and MFSK16 yielded quickly to MixW.
Speaking of MFSK16, one of the new aspects of this mode is the ability to send images at any time during a QSO. The practice is controversial among US amateurs because, depending on how you interpret Part 97, transmissions with image content may be illegal within the so-called CW/digital subbands (which is why traditional analog SSTV QSOs are conducted in the phone portions of the bands). I have already seen a number of these image-added MFSK16 QSOs taking place. MixW automates the process in a clever way. If you are copying text and the operator suddenly begins sending an image, MixW automatically opens a tiny window, displays the picture (see Figure 1) and then returns to the text mode.
PSK31 operation with MixW was a joy. You can "bookmark" stations in the tuning display and even scan for signals throughout the passband. The tuning indicator analyzes signal characteristics and provides RST reports on the fly (a handy feature).
MixW did a fine job copying RTTY. Its performance might fall a little short of the highly praised MMTTY software, but it is close. Visual modes such as SSTV and Hellschreiber worked very well. Hellschreiber was particularly fun with MixW. See Figure 2. As with all amateur software, I found that performance in the CW mode is most reliable with perfect fists and strong signals.
To experience MixW with minimal investment, download and test-drive the fully functional 15-day version. You can download it from Jim Jaffe, WA2VOS, at http://mysite.verizon.net/jaffejim/ or from the MixW site at www.mixw.net. The registered version will set you back $50, which is not bad at all for such a highly capable application.
System requirements: Pentium 166 or faster PC running Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000 or XP with a 16-bit SoundBlaster compatible sound card.
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