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Author Topic: What contest logging sw should I run?  (Read 2853 times)
KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« on: October 29, 2017, 03:17:18 PM »

Hi;
I have never participated in a contest myself; although I have been to a couple of Field Day operations. But I have never needed to do the logging for the station.
So now, I have just set up my new station, and made a handful of contacts (both local and DX) in the CQWW SSB contest this weekend.
I have been using DXLabs "DXKeeper" to log my contacts. I like the sw because it automatically looks up a call in the selected database, and fills in the station info for me. The sw can read from my radio (Yaesu FT-450D) to automatically insert the working frequency, but I don't have CAT hooked up yet.

I don't know if DXKeeper is really a "contesting" software, but it will export Cabrillo files, so I guess it will work.
I have read that a lot of contesters use N1MM software, but I was kind of intimidated by its complexity and 800+ page manual on pdf.
For this contest, I'm not going to worry about it. I can submit the cabrillo file regardless. But maybe for the next one (if I decide to participate in a more serious manner), I might get more from a different software, and once I have CAT connected and working, I would want to use that feature as well.
And one final note: I want free software. While I know there are some that are not, and may shine brightly over those that are free, this is not one of the items in my ham radio budget.

On a final note if I do submit my log for CQWW: Considering that I have logged only a handful of contacts, I would not want to be scored, but would submit for cross-checking only. Is this something I tick off when submitting the cabrillo file, or is this something that needs to be included in the log's header before I upload it?

Thanks for your help.

Frank
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KC0W
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Posts: 273




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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2017, 03:52:02 PM »

 You have stated emphatically that you want a free program.

 N1MM+ is not all that difficult to learn. The vast majority of the 850 page manual probably won't apply to your situation. SO2R, CAT info for dozens of different radios, multi computer networking, rotor control, etc. etc. Just the "Supported Contests" section alone is 100+ pages. All of this the fluff is irrelevant for simple contest logging. Don't be intimidated by the 30 or so pages you kinda need to know about. Dive in & do it................If you want easy N3FJP would be a good choice but it's not free.

        
                                                                           Tom      
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KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2017, 04:13:09 PM »

You have stated emphatically that you want a free program.

 N1MM+ is not all that difficult to learn. The vast majority of the 850 page manual probably won't apply to your situation. SO2R, CAT info for dozens of different radios, multi computer networking, rotor control, etc. etc. Just the "Supported Contests" section alone is 100+ pages. All of this the fluff is irrelevant for simple contest logging. Don't be intimidated by the 30 or so pages you kinda need to know about. Dive in & do it................If you want easy N3FJP would be a good choice but it's not free.

        
                                                                           Tom      
I wasn't able to get N1MM to fill in station/operator info when I entered a call, as I was able to do with the DXKeeper. I like that feature not only for filling in the data, but for checking the call. Sometimes when I hear a station in the contest, I am not immediately able to copy the call, so I insert what I think it is into DXKeeper's log and click the Lookup button. If it doesn't come up with anything, I might listen a bit longer, or check the QRZ database manually. Not all of the DX calls I was hearing during the contest were in the free database I was using with DXKeeper.

I guess that, considering all the positive reviews of N1MM, I will continue working with it. I have plenty of time until the next contest in which I plan to seriously participate: Field Day 2018.
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KC0W
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Posts: 273




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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 04:48:15 PM »

 If you are comfortable with DXKeeper I would just keep on using it. Don't mess with success. It sounds as if you are a very casual contester so the horsepower of N1MM+ might be a waste of time learning if the next time you will using a contesting program is Field Day 2018.

 I absolutely would recommend getting the CAT control to your FT-450 up & running. It makes things sooooooo much easier. You will either have to build or purchase a computer to rig control cable in order for CAT to operate as you probably already know.


                                                                 Tom KC0W           
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KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2017, 05:05:27 PM »

Yes. I will buy a null-modem cable. I guess it would be to my advantage to buy a good cable - one with good shielding. Belkin comes to mind.
I could build my own, but I lack the 9D connectors I need. It would be so much less of a hassle to buy the cable and spend my time with my antenna.

On a slightly different subject; Since I logged only a handful of contacts during the CQWW SSB contest this weekend, is it really worth submitting my log; even for cross-checking purposes?
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N3QE
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Posts: 4885




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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2017, 07:09:24 PM »

I wasn't able to get N1MM to fill in station/operator info when I entered a call, as I was able to do with the DXKeeper.

Huh If the operator name (for example) is part of the exchange then you type that in as part of the exchange. If it's not part of the on-air exchange why do you want it in the log?

Having the logging program fill in fields that are not exchanged over the air - that sounds just weird. That doesn't sound like a log at all. If you're clicking the mouse at any point during the logging process you're wasting time.

Quote
I like that feature not only for filling in the data, but for checking the call. Sometimes when I hear a station in the contest, I am not immediately able to copy the call, so I insert what I think it is into DXKeeper's log and click the Lookup button.

Three words: Super Check Partial. Part of N1MM and most other contest loggers. Click the lookup button? If you're clicking any mouse buttons while contesting you're wasting time and effort. All the contest programs do Super Check Partial in real time as you're typing the call. Do enough contesting and you'll become super familiar with all the DX call prefixes and many many common calls.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 07:12:45 PM by N3QE » Logged
NK7Z
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2017, 07:39:09 PM »

Hi;
And one final note: I want free software. While I know there are some that are not, and may shine brightly over those that are free, this is not one of the items in my ham radio budget.
Frank,
I would recommend that you rethink this, look at N3FJP's software, then try it in a contest.  You may change your mind.
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
KE4KY
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 05:47:06 AM »

N1MM+ is a sure way to go if you think you are going to participate in contests frequently.

Not all that hard to learn. They have a yahoo group, so that would be the place to look for answers to issues you can't initially figure out.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 06:05:30 AM by KE4KY » Logged

Glenn KE4KY - Ham since 1975
NI0C
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Posts: 2935




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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2017, 07:04:26 AM »


Since I logged only a handful of contacts during the CQWW SSB contest this weekend, is it really worth submitting my log; even for cross-checking purposes?
Good question-- answer is yes, the contest sponsors want to be able to check every QSO for accuracy. Your call sign will be listed in final results-- with whatever score you earned, or with no score if you indicate that your submission is for checking purposes only. Read the contest rules carefully to see how to mark your log as a "check log" only.
 
With regard to logging contest QSO's, I use DXKeeper in contest mode for contests e.g., State QSO parties, that I don't have time to compete in, but use N1MM+ for more serious efforts.  It is very easy to export your QSO's from N1MM+ to DXKeeper.
73,
Chuck  NI0C 
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KC4ZGP
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Posts: 1637




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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2017, 07:21:51 AM »


Just before school begins, Wal-Mart and Target run their '$1.00 per spiral notebook' specials.
And if you don't have dogs, you don't have to worry about the dog eating your homework.

Kraus
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KE2KB
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Posts: 633




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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2017, 08:34:55 AM »


Just before school begins, Wal-Mart and Target run their '$1.00 per spiral notebook' specials.
And if you don't have dogs, you don't have to worry about the dog eating your homework.

Kraus
I assume you're talking about logging the old-fashioned way...
But I do have a dog! He's no longer a puppy though, so wouldn't bother my log book.
I used to use ARRL log books. I have transferred them into an Access db and tossed the actual log books.
I suppose I will be using one of the windows based logging programs.
I need to spend some time evaluating the different ones - both free and paid - and see which one I like best.
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KE2KB
Member

Posts: 633




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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2017, 08:39:20 AM »

Hi;
And one final note: I want free software. While I know there are some that are not, and may shine brightly over those that are free, this is not one of the items in my ham radio budget.
Frank,
I would recommend that you rethink this, look at N3FJP's software, then try it in a contest.  You may change your mind.
Yes, I will have a look at it. Funny that I say I don't want to pay for a logging program, yet I am almost willing to spend $99 on EZNEC software. Does that make sense? Probably not. After all, how many antennas am I going to build; and why can't I just use 4NEC2?
Or, perhaps I will get very ambitions someday and code my own logger. I'm still trying to learn C++, but maybe Python or another would be a better choice for that. That said, I am sure I am better off spending my time on more productive ham-related activities than trying to code my own logger when there are some really good ones already out there...
Yes, I am contradicting myself... that is what I do. I have an open mind, but sometimes it takes a bit of a push to get me over my "potential barrier". What I need is some forward bias!
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AE5GT
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Posts: 46




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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2017, 08:57:47 AM »

I would suggest that you turn in . Since you dont appear to be in the database of know calls . In other words your call may get flagged as unique, and points may be subtracted from their logs .. it just depends on how contest committee grades it .

DXKEEPER , a good general logging program
N1MM , one of the best contest loggers ,free or otherwise.

if you call CQ , you may find DXKEEPER to be cumbersome .
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N3QE
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Posts: 4885




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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2017, 09:40:51 AM »

Just before school begins, Wal-Mart and Target run their '$1.00 per spiral notebook' specials.

40,000 contest QSO's per year.

40 QSO's per page.

1000 pages.

Let's see, $20-$30 for enough spiral notebooks, or a free computer program. I choose the free computer program :-).

I regularly visit the homes of several area hams where they did keep all their contest logs (prior to computers) on paper (for example, stacks and stacks of the good old ARRL logbooks) and they still have the logs today. Filling entire cupboards. It's neat to see.

At same time all the quarter million QSO's I've made in the past 8 years, they're accessible right on my cellphone.
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KE2KB
Member

Posts: 633




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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2017, 10:50:08 AM »

Just before school begins, Wal-Mart and Target run their '$1.00 per spiral notebook' specials.

40,000 contest QSO's per year.

40 QSO's per page.

1000 pages.

Let's see, $20-$30 for enough spiral notebooks, or a free computer program. I choose the free computer program :-).

I regularly visit the homes of several area hams where they did keep all their contest logs (prior to computers) on paper (for example, stacks and stacks of the good old ARRL logbooks) and they still have the logs today. Filling entire cupboards. It's neat to see.

At same time all the quarter million QSO's I've made in the past 8 years, they're accessible right on my cellphone.

I guess it's a nostalgia thing. I've never been into that.
I have found that N1MM is much easier to use than I had originally thought. I submitted my log of a total of 6 contest contacts using the online ADIF to Cabrillo converter. It found errors - I had not entered the frequency correctly. I guess everything needs to be entered in Khz. Some of the contacts I made were on freqs like 7167.3Khz, so I had to truncate to just 7167.
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