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VarAC V8.6.2 is here!

Updated: Mar 29

Howdy, VarACiers! 

This VarAC version has been in development for some time. Two significant reasons contributed to the delay. Firstly, we were extensively occupied with rewriting the VarAC UI to accommodate multiple languages. Additionally, we collaborated closely with the VARA author to integrate new modem-side features for VarAC's enhancement. The outcome is remarkable, making the wait worthwhile. 


Now, as always, let's delve into the latest and most remarkable features of VarAC V8.6.2


📢 Introducing: Adaptive Broadcast Speed

 

VARA and VarAC now offers three Speed Levels (SL) for broadcasts:

SL1 (18bps): the lowest speed capable of reliable decoding even at -21dB.

SL2 (41bps): can be decoded at -18dB.

SL4 (88bps): can be decoded at -14dB.

 

The previously available SL5 level has been deprecated as it was not effective for our needs.

To ensure a seamless experience, VARA speed will now be selected based on the message length. In essence, shorter messages that can fit into one or two VARA packets will be sent at the lowest possible speed.

 

The removal of VARA SL5 has taken the maximum broadcast length from 91 to 81. However, this restriction now only applies to the calling frequency. If you initiate a roundtable chat with your friends outside the calling frequency, the broadcast size limit extends to 150 characters.

 

This feature marks a significant improvement in our ability to conduct round-table discussions using broadcasts. Broadcasts can now be well decoded, even at -21dB , a notable improvement from the typical limit of -12dB using SL5.


Adaptive broadcast speed


 📢 Introducing: Multilingual UI

 

VarAC has supported all languages since its inception, but its user interface was previously only available in English. This limitation hindered the expansion of the VarAC user base in countries where English is not commonly spoken.

 

To address this, the VarAC engine was rewritten, allowing all texts in the VarAC UI to be customized via an external .ini file called VarAC_UI_languages.ini.

 

Many VarAC users volunteered to translate the VarAC UI into various languages. While this effort is ongoing, the current version offers UI support for some of the main VarAC elements in English, German, Chinese, Hebrew, Slovak, Japanese and Dutch.

 

Serbian & Italian translations are currently in progress and will be included in the next version.

 

You can select your preferred language from both the "Appearance & sounds" and "My information" settings.

 

Let's give a round of applause to our VarAC translation team for making this possible!

 

  • Serbian: YU1NKA/DM1NKA - Andreja Kostić

  • German: OE3CRD - Christian Steger

  • Chinese: BH6ABO - Xiangtao Tao

  • Japanese: JA1VBN - Tetsuro Hanazawa

  • Slovak: OM8GRS - Marek Polak

  • Greek: SV1UY - Dimitrios Valaris

  • Dutch: PE0CD - Chris Dekker

  • Italian: IZ3XNJ - Stefano Comelli

 

If you'd like to join the effort and translate into your language, please get in touch with us.


Multilingual UI


 📢 Introducing: Special CQ types + Locator

 

The revolution in VARA broadcasts now enables VarAC to utilize the new VARA un-proto packets for enhanced functionalities.

In addition to the standard CQ, users can now initiate a special CQ, comprising two additional elements:

 

  • CQ type (selectable from a dropdown list or enter your own)

  • Grid Locator

 

This new CQ is transmitted in SL2, which is nearly as efficient as SL1, the speed of standard CQ transmissions.

 

The CQ wizard has been updated to accommodate these new CQ options.

 

Please note that the additional Type & Locator fields will only appear if you have received at least one special type of CQ.

 

CQ types




📢 Introducing: New VMail Relay indicator

 

The relay notification mechanism has been enhanced. In addition to the RELAY alerts displayed at the bottom strip, they will now also be highlighted in a more prominent manner within the Beacons sections. If you notice a small envelope icon, it indicates that this station has a VMail waiting for you.

 

New VMail relay notification indicator


📢 Introducing: Brand new settings screen

 

Bid farewell to the cluttered, overcrowded settings screen.

Welcome the new tab-based layout for the settings screen:

 

New settings screen



📢 Improved Pathfinder & relay notifications

 

Both Pathfinders and relay notifications now utilize the New VARA un-proto packets, benefiting from super slow speed (SL1/2) transmission.

 

Consequently, these transmissions can now be effortlessly decoded even at signal levels ranging from -18 to -21dB.

But hold on, there's more! Here's an extensive list of all the thrilling new features and enhancements in VarAC V8.6:

 

New features

  • Interface localization - multilingual UI support using a new configuration file (VarAC_UI_languages.ini) that comes with predefined languages while allowing personalization. Changing UI language under Settings --> Appearance and sounds.

  • New settings form - divided to tabs for best orientation.

  • Brand new broadcasts mechanism - sending broadcasts on lower VARA speed levels for optimal decoding at challanging SNR levels.

  • Special CQ! calling CQ POTA/QRP/NA/DX... and even your own custom CQ call. (Requires ;atest VARA modem version)

  • Including Locator in special CQs

  • Showing vmail relay notification in the beacons list

 

Enhancements/Changes

  • Removing the "datastream" & "broadcat" gray labels. Changing the table column names to reflect their content.

  • New VarAC.ini (only) parameter: BeaconGraceTimeSeconds : Wait time from when you switch frequency until the beacon is fired (default 10)

  • Show only pathfinders of myself (ignore all others) - new settings.

  • Supporting "Enter" command in Text based CAT commands using the string "[ENT]". Example : PTTOn=TX[ENT]

  • Alert center is now resizable

  • Suppressing VARA "encryption disabled" messages for better readability.

  • Random wait time after the busy indicators turned off. Reduce the likelyhood for broadcasts and beacons collisions.

  • QSY popup remains always on-top until dismissed by the user. It is also more visible now.

  • QSY invitations are prioritized and placed on the top of the message queue.

  • When disconnecting and there is still AWAY/AWQ messages being transmitted, they will not be returned to the message queue to avoid duplicate tag transmission upon next connection.

  • Accessibility feature : ESC button takes to the datastream (for the visual impaired users.)

  • Automatically unchecking the "I'm away" when calling CQ.

 

To upgrade from an existing VarAC version:

  • Download the VarAC Installer and run it.

  • Select the current folder where your VarAC resides.

  • The installer will keep your existing settings and history.

 

If you prefer the traditional method, we've got you covered as always with a ZIP package (see link below the download button)


Don't forget - we are always there for you on our Forum, our Facebook group, and also on our Telegram group.

 

As is our tradition, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our Beta team for dedicating their valuable time to thoroughly test the new version.

 

73,

Irad 4Z1AC & the VarAC team.


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Bug fixes

  • Missing prefixes starting with "M" in the callsign to country name tooltip.

  • In VarAC statistics, the "Sent 73s" was always 0.

  • In alert settings - in alert 7 when clearing the alert text it does not hide the checkboxes

  • Fixing typos all around the software

  • Right click on Vmail to check PSK-reporter, used the TO and not the FROM callsign

  • When performing Chat reply in VARA slow speed it can crash the link on the other side.

  • Resetting the "double QSY invitation" counter after disconnection.

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