Very early on there was a net on 28.885 MHz which alerted folks to openings around the country. In 1989 it alerted me to an opening for KG6DX on Guam. That opening lasted less than 90 seconds for me but gave me a New Country. Sometime in the late 1990's, I joined with several of my 6-M DX'ing friends all over the country, and created a telephone alerting network to let others know when an opening was happening. I kept and distributed a list of calls, names, phone numbers, XYL's name (in case she answered the phone), and a listing of the prefixes that person Did NOT Need. Below is a snippet of a later copy of this list (click on any image to see it larger):
One tool I also used was to put a "Baby Monitor" at the radio, let the radio scan the lower part of the band, and take the monitor with me when I was out of the shack. In later years I set up Logger32 to send a text message to my phone when Telnet posted a spot for a New One for me.
Most recently I have been using JTAlert to announce NEW COUNTRY or NEW GRID over the computer speakers when my station copied a New One. This has been very helpful and alerted me to the fact that I was copying China while I was on the back porch grilling burgers!
But if I depend on only being alerted when my station actually copies a New One, I may not make it to the radio in time to score a QSO because the openings are so short. Over the years I have missed many New Ones because I did not have the radio turned on, I was at the store or otherwise unaware of an opening, or multiple other reasons. In reality you can not sit at the radio all day waiting for the propagation gods to favor your location. But, as we know, (per K4OM) the way to succeed on 6-M (or most bands) takes your "Butt in the Chair!"
The trick is an "Early Warning" system. Something that would tell me that a country I need is being heard or spotted "somewhere near me." Call it my 6-M DEW Line. I think I may have found that! It is HamAlert which is a is system that allows you to get notifications when a desired station appears on
the DX cluster, the Reverse Beacon Network,
SOTAwatch, POTA, or PSK Reporter. You only need to sign up for a HamAlert account (free), load the HamAlert app on your phone, and enter "Triggers" to tell the system when you want to receive an alert. AWESOME! As you can see below, HamAlert processed over 13 MILLION spots and sent over 218 THOUSAND Alerts just TODAY!
The first time I did this I was getting a lot of spots from VK's for VK and ZL stations which I need. But, that was just Too Much Information (TMI) that I could not use. This was because HamAlert was processing spots from everywhere to generate my alerts. So, I set a condition where the CQ Zone of the "Spotter of the DX" had to be in the U.S. or Canada (Zone 3, 4, and 5) - see above image. That stopped the spots completely. But would it still work the way I wanted? Since I could see on the Cluster that U.S. stations were working Brazil, I edited the DXCC list so that it showed I needed Brazil. The alerts started coming in (only from U.S. hams) so I knew I had it working. Editing the DXCC list to remove Brazil from my "needs" and the PY alerts stopped.
Then, a spot for ZP, Paraguay, appeared! That was one I need! But, after rushing to the radio, I did not have propagation. Still it alerted me to the "possibility" of a ZP in the future. Below is a screenshot of what appeared on my cell phone. I received an alert sound in CW and the alert information appeared on my phone's Notification Screen just like other news or weather apps.
As "Sources" I chose spots from the "Cluster" and spots received by "PSKReporter." That way, if a station copies a country I need but they do not post it to the Cluster, and if they have WSJT-X or JTDX set to send their reception information to PSKReporter - I'll see that spot! No need to just depend on ONLY stations who choose to spot a station on the Cluster.
The second night after setting this up my phone started receiving alerts from hams on the West Coast spotting VK and ZL stations. BINGO! Just what I wanted. No alerts "from" VK or ZL hams. ONLY alerts from those in the U.S.