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Author Topic: Logging + rig interface software  (Read 11610 times)
WX2S
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« on: July 08, 2012, 10:23:36 AM »

Hi, all,

I'm going to put a toe in the water by naming some features that I'd like in logging software:

  • Receiver interface, so that it can capture freq and mode.
  • Support for DXing.
  • Support for contesting.
  • Support for awards.
  • Support for electronic QSOs.
  • Setup and installation that doesn't require a Ph.D. in computer scence. (I have one, but I use it on the job all day and it's tired when I come home.)  Grin

Any helpful advice appreciated!

Thanks,
- WX2S (ex-KF2IO)

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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
AA6YQ
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2012, 01:00:49 AM »

Hi, all,

I'm going to put a toe in the water by naming some features that I'd like in logging software:

  • Receiver interface, so that it can capture freq and mode.
  • Support for DXing.
  • Support for contesting.
  • Support for awards.
  • Support for electronic QSOs.
  • Setup and installation that doesn't require a Ph.D. in computer scence. (I have one, but I use it on the job all day and it's tired when I come home.)  Grin

Any helpful advice appreciated!


The free-ware DXLab Suite satisfies 5 of your 6 requirements: its contesting support is limited to what's needed for DXers to participate in contests (exchanges, Cabrillo generation), and so omits realtime scoring. For more information, see

What Makes DXLab Different? and Getting Started with DXLab

    73,

         Dave, AA6YQ

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K8AC
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 11:36:34 AM »

While some logging programs offer support for both everyday logging (that means DXing for me) and contest logging, I find that a separate contest logging program is more suited to that task.  Lucky for us all, the best of both are free and well supported.  I'm talking about N1MM Logger for contesting and the DXLab Suite for everything else.  Contest logs can be easily exported from N1MM after a contest and imported into DXLab.  From an awards standpoint, I've found DXLab to be the best at tracking DXCC and WAZ.  Some other popular logging programs use a constantly changing DXCC database (maintained by an outside party) that resulted in my DXCC totals changing slightly each time the database was updated.  I think that's a wrong-headed approach - the logging program should NEVER change your logged information and certainly shouldn't do it without your knowledge or permission. 

Both N1MM and DXLab are on the complex side, but the simpler programs just don't get the job done.  I'd go back to using paper before I'd use some of the other popular programs (which I've used at length and rejected).  I've rarely, if ever, had any problems resulting from updating the DXLab suite.  I've often had problems with N1MM after a major update and not having used the product for some time.  Now, I always test the new N1MM version a week before a contest so I can get all my problems (and often they're just MY problems) resolved before the contest. 

73, Floyd - K8AC
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WX2S
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 01:09:04 AM »

Thanks, Floyd and Dave! I think I'll try DXlab first, learn it, and when I've got that down, take up N1MM. For the next couple of days, though, I'm stuck by a cheezy USB to serial adapter that won't stay on my rig.  Angry

73, -Steve (WX2S.)
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73, - Steve WX2S.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 10:24:52 AM »

While some logging programs offer support for both everyday logging (that means DXing for me) and contest logging, I find that a separate contest logging program is more suited to that task.  Lucky for us all, the best of both are free and well supported.  I'm talking about N1MM Logger for contesting and the DXLab Suite for everything else.  Contest logs can be easily exported from N1MM after a contest and imported into DXLab.  From an awards standpoint, I've found DXLab to be the best at tracking DXCC and WAZ.  Some other popular logging programs use a constantly changing DXCC database (maintained by an outside party) that resulted in my DXCC totals changing slightly each time the database was updated.  I think that's a wrong-headed approach - the logging program should NEVER change your logged information and certainly shouldn't do it without your knowledge or permission. 

Both N1MM and DXLab are on the complex side, but the simpler programs just don't get the job done.  I'd go back to using paper before I'd use some of the other popular programs (which I've used at length and rejected).  I've rarely, if ever, had any problems resulting from updating the DXLab suite.  I've often had problems with N1MM after a major update and not having used the product for some time.  Now, I always test the new N1MM version a week before a contest so I can get all my problems (and often they're just MY problems) resolved before the contest. 

73, Floyd - K8AC

Floyd,

Take a look at the N1MM to DXLab DXKeeper bridge software (available from the DXLab website). It allows real-time data transport from N1MM to DXKeeper DURING the contest so post-contest transfer is not required. I use this feature and believe me, it is a real gem not to have to manually do the process. Once the contest is over, I simply click on the 'QSL' tab on DXkeeper, select 'LOTW' as the method to QSL and click 'Add Requested' to the QSL queue. After the software collects up all the requested QSO's to QSL (i.e. the contest entries) click the 'UPLOAD' button and off they go to Newington and the LOTW server. No muss, no fuss, no errors, no problems. Easy as falling down and fast too. From the contest's last QSO to all QSO uploaded to LOTW server, usually under 2 minutes which includes upload time.

N1MM and DXLab Suite .... a winning combination!!

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K9IUQ
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012, 11:08:15 AM »

Any helpful advice appreciated!

Different strokes for different folks. Every ham is different. Personally I dislike DX Lab but love N1MM.

I say try them all before making a decision. Most loggers have a free trial, use the trials and make your own decision on what is best for you. Hams like AA6YQ are more than a little biased.

Disclosure: I use Commcat and N1MM and I have tried every free trial logger available.

Stan K9IUQ
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W5DQ
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 11:17:39 AM »

Any helpful advice appreciated!

Different strokes for different folks. Every ham is different. Personally I dislike DX Lab but love N1MM.

I say try them all before making a decision. Most loggers have a free trial, use the trials and make your own decision on what is best for you. Hams like AA6YQ are more than a little biased.

Disclosure: I use Commcat and N1MM and I have tried every free trial logger available.

Stan K9IUQ

When you write a logging program that functions as well as DXLAB Suite does, I'm sure you'll be more than a little biased too. Dave AA6YQ has created a excellent ham station operating environment that is not only robust and powerful but also easy to use. Sure it requires the user to learn a little but nothing is free ..... except DXLAB Suite's cost!!!

Since it appears you're the 'expert Huh' here, why haven't you written up a detail analysis of EVERY logger you've tried and passed that on to the ham community. I know myself, like many here, is waiting with bated breath to read your UNBIASED collection of synopsis'.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K9IUQ
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2012, 01:09:07 PM »


When you write a logging program that functions as well as DXLAB Suite does, I'm sure you'll be more than a little biased too. Dave AA6YQ has created a excellent ham station operating environment that is not only robust and powerful but also easy to use. Sure it requires the user to learn a little but nothing is free ..... except DXLAB Suite's cost!!!

Since it appears you're the 'expert Huh' here, why haven't you written up a detail analysis of EVERY logger you've tried and passed that on to the ham community. I know myself, like many here, is waiting with bated breath to read your UNBIASED collection of synopsis'.

Gene W5DQ

Chill out Gene and take a deep breath. I never said I was an expert, I merely said I had tried all the loggers with trials. In fact over the last 5 years I have tried many of them more than once. I have written several logger reviews, go read them in the eham review section.

What part of "Different strokes for different folks. Every ham is different." do you have a problem with? Logger trials are great way of finding what logger is best for you. Much better than relying on someone else's opinion.

I agree with you the AA6YQ DX Labs programs are excellent, easy to use it is not. DX Labs is not for me. I have tried it many times over the years and wanted to like it since it is free. Alas it is definitely not for me. There are way too many programs and windows to keep track of. The steep learning curve does not help. Many hams like DX Labs. FB, I do not like it. Sorry you find that so offensive.

As far as AA6YQ's bias, it is natural. He does promote DX Labs at every opportunity here on eham and elsewhere. Since it is free I have no problem with that. I do believe he should disclose his affiliation with DX Labs whenever he promotes the program.

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 01:26:23 PM by K9IUQ » Logged
W5DQ
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 01:59:13 PM »


Chill out Gene and take a deep breath. I never said I was an expert, I merely said I had tried all the loggers with trials. In fact over the last 5 years I have tried many of them more than once. I have written several logger reviews, go read them in the eham review section.


I am chilled as I can be in 115 degree temps here in the desert. As far as your reviews, I have read a few of them.

Quote

What part of "Different strokes for different folks. Every ham is different." do you have a problem with? Logger trials are great way of finding what logger is best for you. Much better than relying on someone else's opinion.


None of it. In fact I agree with you.

Quote

I agree with you the AA6YQ DX Labs programs are excellent, easy to use it is not. DX Labs is not for me. I have tried it many times over the years and wanted to like it since it is free. Alas it is definitely not for me. There are way too many programs and windows to keep track of. The steep learning curve does not help. Many hams like DX Labs. FB, I do not like it. Sorry you find that so offensive.


Not offensive to me if you don't like it. Like you said to each his own. But in an UNBIASED review of ANYTHING, the reviewer doesn't take pot shots at the creator of the item under review like you did with your EMPHASIZED statement ".... Hams like AA6YQ are more than a little biased. ". That is basically what I was calling you on. That and your statement of having tested EVERY logger out there?Huh That's a lot of time in the reviewer's chair, testing, analyzing and recording data and results (if it is done correctly). I just was curious if you had tested them ALL, I would have thought you might be inclined to share your wealth of gained knowledge on them with the rest of us. I know I would love to see a compendium of test results of ALL the logging software available. The trove of info would almost be priceless. As far as a learning curve, anything that is beyond, 'enter a call and press return' is going to have a learning curve. The more complex and powerful the software application's user interface is, the more steep of a learning curve it will possess. I, personally, have had little to no problem in learning Dave's software. I find it very intuitive and possessing a very streamlined user interface. I too have 'played' with many of the logging s/w packages available and some of them aren't worth the time and effort it takes to install them. I won't name names as that would open a big can of worms but if you want to compare notes on testing logging apps, I'm good in QRZ.COM.

"... There are way too many programs and windows to keep track of...." Huh? You can minimize most of the windows and not even have to mess with them as they do their tricks in the background.Or not even run them if you don't want or need them.

I run them all at once on 2 monitors and usually only have DXkeeper (the log) and Spotcollector (the DX cluster) up and visible. I pop up the other windows when I need to see or use them and then minimize them out of the way. Sounds like the main problem with your dislike of DXLab Suite is the fact that you haven't really gotten in there and learned how it works properly or you would would see the folly in that statement. As to your COMMCAT program, never heard of it nor ever used it. It may well be the Holy Grail of Logging Software but I personally don't need nothing but DXLab Suite as it does everything I could ask for and I have spent several years using it and understand most (if not all) of the user interface well enough to know what to expect it to do and what it can't do. I find myself rarely ever accessing the manual or on-line help anymore.

Quote

As far as AA6YQ's bias, it is natural. He does promote DX Labs at every opportunity here on eham and elsewhere. Since it is free I have no problem with that.

Stan K9IUQ

I find discussing things with Dave to be very educational and in my opinion, he's a pleasure to talk to. Like you said  "Different strokes for different folks. Every ham is different."

We can continue this debate about software on a professional level if you'd like but I have said my peace about it and do not want to squabble about it more. And I'm sure the forum monitors would like us not to either .....

BTW I do software development and testing professionally and have for almost 30 years so I 've learned a thing or two about good software design in that time Wink And in my book, DXLab Suite is tops in its class ... said as unbiased as I can be as a satisfied user Smiley

73 and hope to work you sometime,

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K9IUQ
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 05:49:21 PM »

BTW I do software development and testing professionally and have for almost 30 years so I 've learned a thing or two about good software design in that time Wink
Gene W5DQ

I am just the average every day (ham) software customer. I have found that after using computers and software since 1978, software designers rarely know what a paying customer really wants. They program what they like and what they think the customer will buy ...

When it comes to free software, usually (but not always) it is worth what you pay for it...  Wink

Stan K9IUQ
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 06:04:36 PM »

your statement of having tested EVERY logger out there?Huh That's a lot of time in the reviewer's chair, testing, analyzing and recording data and results (if it is done correctly). I just was curious if you had tested them ALL,

 As to your COMMCAT program, never heard of it nor ever used it.

Yep. Tried all of them. I am retired with plenty of ham time. I have used/tested every logger out there with a free trial. I did this only to find the logger which is best suited for my type of operation, not to impress you or anyone else.

Never heard of Commcat? You remind me of a old proverb my Mother used to tell me about the Fly in the Mustard Jar. This Fly had lived in the Mustard Jar his whole life. He thought Mustard was great - until one day he got out and flew into the Sugar bowl. The Fly then could not understand why he had thought Mustard was so great....  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

Hams need to try different loggers. Otherwise they end up like the Fly in the Mustard Jar.

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 06:11:38 PM by K9IUQ » Logged
AA6YQ
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2012, 10:18:49 PM »


As far as AA6YQ's bias, it is natural. He does promote DX Labs at every opportunity here on eham and elsewhere. Since it is free I have no problem with that. I do believe he should disclose his affiliation with DX Labs whenever he promotes the program.


None of my "promotion" includes denigration of competitive products, claims of capabilities that don't actually exist, or promises of capabilities to yet come (aka vaporware). I simply enumerate the relevant capabilities present in publicly released components of the DXLab Suite. There is thus no reason to append "by the way, I wrote it", which to me would feel like bragging.

     73,

         Dave, AA6YQ
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2012, 10:41:32 PM »


I am just the average every day (ham) software customer. I have found that after using computers and software since 1978, software designers rarely know what a paying customer really wants. They program what they like and what they think the customer will buy ...


The development of DXLab is user-driven:

1. The architecture consists of loosely-coupled (but automatically inter-operating) applications; this permits any application to be enhanced without impact on its peers.

2. The development process is iterative, permitting new application releases to be developed, tested, and released within hours (in response to a defect report or a compelling enhancement suggestion).

3. The Launcher permits any user to download and install a newly-released DXLab application within a few minutes (with typical internet bandwidth)

4. More than 3700 DXLab users participate in the now 12-year old DXLab Yahoo group, effectively serving as Product Managers who report defects in functionality and documentation, highlight usability issues, suggest enhancements, and critique new releases.

5. Because correcting reported defects is the highest priority, the cumulative defect backlog across all DXLab applications is typically 0 or 1; as a result, the 3700+ Product Managers mostly focus on product improvement, rather than on haranguing the developer to correct long-standing defects.

There may be applications designed by developers wearing blinders, but DXLab is not one of them.


When it comes to free software, usually (but not always) it is worth what you pay for it...  Wink


So Linux, Java, Eclipse, Ruby on Rails, Git, Malwarebytes, Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, and Google Docs are worthless? Your generalization is nonsense.

You're sounding more and more like a shill, Stan.

   73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 10:43:22 PM by AA6YQ » Logged
K9IUQ
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2012, 04:36:37 AM »

You're sounding more and more like a shill, Stan.

When a (new) ham asks for advice concerning a logger, who gives the better advice? A developer promoting his product? Or an everyday ham telling the (new) ham to try them all?  Cheesy

Sorry Dave, I believe you are the shill for DX Labs, especially since you do it constantly.
DX Labs is popular, free is always attractive to cheap hams.

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 04:41:31 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
AA6YQ
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2012, 12:15:56 AM »

You're sounding more and more like a shill, Stan.

When a (new) ham asks for advice concerning a logger, who gives the better advice? A developer promoting his product? Or an everyday ham telling the (new) ham to try them all?  Cheesy

"Try them all" is fine advice. However, your claim that "When it comes to free software, usually (but not always) it is worth what you pay for it..." is blatantly false, as the list of high-quality free software posted earlier demonstrates. So much for your objectivity...

Sorry Dave, I believe you are the shill for DX Labs, especially since you do it constantly.

It's not possible to shill for a free product.

DX Labs is popular, free is always attractive to cheap hams.

Once again, your lack of objectivity is on display - along with your disdain for those who consider frugality a virtue or a necessity. DXLab is is popular because
  • - it offers lots of valuable functionality, but lets the user choose the subset he or she finds useful
  • - reported defects are typically repaired within 24 hours, and the backlog of reported but uncorrected defects across the entire Suite is usually 0
  • - it interoperates with many other popular applications, e.g. MultiPSK, DM780, MixW, FLDigi, CW Skimmer, CWGet, MMTTY, MMVARI, MMSSTV, JT65-HF, DX Atlas, SDR Radio, SpectraVue, BobCAT, NaP3, PowerSDR-IF, N1MM, etc.
  • - it frequently incorporates user-suggested enhancements

     73,

          Dave, AA6YQ
« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 12:17:30 AM by AA6YQ » Logged
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