As a Linux user I’ve never used or understood the advantages of JTAlert. Attempts to explore this have also failed due to JTAlert not playing well in WINE. However, I recently saw comments online suggesting GridTracker is JTAlert for Linux, followed by some heated discussion bouncing between “GridTracker lacks basic functionality” and “GridTracker offers additional functionality”. Curious, I thought I’d check it out.
The feature list of both JTAlert and GridTracker look similar. However, from what I can see, JTAlert is text only whereas GridTracker plots stations and paths visually. Both offer alerts, tracking award status, automatic logging etc.
After downloading I extracted the tar and ran the executable. It was as simple as that, at least under Fedora. My complete software stack can be seen below:-
A closer look at the GridTracker window itself shows the map, current stations, PSK-Reporter band activity, current activity (station calling/being called), general status, QSO live view controls and a number of icons to toggle various display modes.
I can’t run JTAlert to compare the two packages but I must say, first impressions of GridRunner are fantastic. The custom alerts are already proving useful, the automatic logging a huge benefit plus the extra information provided is superb. The only thing I was looking forward to which is currently not working, is the text-to-speech alerts. However this is listed as a known issue in the documentation; Hopefully a future release will make use of the Linux TTS system.
Finally, I thought I’d test the messaging functionality. I chose a call at random and Russ M0DEP was quick to respond. This could have potentially led to a QSO if it wasn’t for conditions (or more likely my antenna) being less than ideal:-
In summary, I can only compare the two packages on paper, and at least on paper I don’t see any significant differences in claimed functionality. However GridTracker has already proven it’s usefulness and will now be in regular use at the OH3SPN shack. I don’t know if JTAlert provides the same range of information (band activity etc) or if it can plot points visually on a map but at least for me, GridTracker fills a gap I didn’t even realise I had.
Shortly after finishing this post, Russ M0DEP and I managed to work each other on 20m FT4. I’d already configured an alert in GridTracker and this demonstrated the functionality perfectly:-
Many thanks to Stephen N0TTL for the GridTracker package and Russ M0DEP for both responding to my message request and having the patience to work a QRP station from OH-land.
A closing comment from Russ M0DEP, regarding GridTracker:-
MØDEP Sat 01 Feb 2020 09:47:57 UTC
Yes I love the programme. I have been using it for a longtime now. Its very feature rich if that’s your thing but it does everything I need. I do not use JT alert since using GT but I never really used JT much anyway. So I cannot compare. However I really love the GT GUI and the big maps etc etc.. So when I have visitors to the shack, being able to show people what I do is invaluable.
I’d be interested to hear from other users of both JTAlert and GridTracker; What are your thoughts?