Electronic log books

In the days when computers filled the size of your front room most people used paper to log their QSO, but today electronic QSO logging has a number of advantages. I was first licensed in 2003, and I took the decision to electronically log from the start. I mainly operated digital modes, so electronic logging was the only way to add calls and so this became the usual way I log.

The choice of electronic logbooks will depend on your preference, band and operating modes. Some electronic logs are free, others are integrated with the digital modes software like HRD.

Electronic logging can be split into two parts, what do you use to record the QSO while on air and subsequently how do you save this and gain any DXCC or other awards.

So lets look at the QSO stage first.

minosMinos for VHF and UHF – The program is free and open source written by Mike G0GJV and you can read the history of its development on his site. Its the best VHF contest software, so thank you Mike for this sterling effort.




hrd2HRD – Ham Radio Deluxe is a paid suite of programs that logs and decodes digital modes.




fldigiFLDIGI – is a free and open source, the program decodes and logs digital modes. The Wiki page makes interesting reading.




pztPZT log – is a free program developed by Charlie M0PZT. You also have the option of a more advanced version PZT Pro for just a few pounds.




n1mmN1MM – is a free program designed for RTTY contesting. Developed by N1MM Thomas Wagner it has the reputation of being the most popular logging program in the world. The program can be used as a stand alone logger, but its really designed as a RTTY contesting tool.



Doing something useful with your electronic log.

Once you have logged all this data you have a choice to keep it safe on your drive, or upload so the world can see how many people you have worked. Electronic QSL cards or electronic QSO confirmation is the main benefit but keeping track of your WAS or DXCC has never been easier.

lotwARRL LOTW – Log Of The World  is the defacto standard in electronic QSO conformation. Its the only electronic confirmation system that is recognised and secure enough to allow you to claim DXCC awards. It can also track and credit you for numerous other awards. Yes its a “pain” you have to prove who you are and sign the log before uploading, but its very security is what makes it the trusted authority on electronic QSL. Its not for the paper collectors, you don’t get any pretty pictures but it does what it says on the tin. Oh the best bit is its free.



EQSL.cc –  Electronic QSL cards, with pretty pictures. Its great if you like to collect cards and wanted to save on postage, but their is little or no validation on who the uses the system and so the awards are worthless towards DXCC.





Clublog – Electronic award tracking and confirmation of QSO. Developed by Michael G7VJG.




qrzQRZ – They have jumped on the electronic QSL band wagon, sometimes less is more.




hrdHRDlog.net – Another electronic awards and QSL tracking system





I tend to upload to all of these logs, but only take any interest in the LOTW awards. The other systems help to keep the paper QSL count down, although I reply to any cards received via the RSGB bureau.


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National Hamfest 2016

Once again the National Hamfest was located at Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire. The rally once again took part on the Friday and Saturday, with im told Friday being the much busier day. I elected to go on Saturday, the flea market was once again rather small, maybe even smaller than 2015 with a selection of pre-owned equipment (junk) for your delight.


29929795422_679cc40e51_k29444838903_bd51df99ed_kHere you can see a selection of pictures taken in the flea market area. The inclusion of a white coat from one of the sellers adds an air of science.


Inside everything was in one main hall, this included your large equipment manufactures, Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu.

John G8DZH from LEFARS purchased one of the new Icom 7300 and on collecting his bonus external speaking Icom informed him he was the 50th purchased of the new radio that weekend !

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Mark M0DXR from Kenwood was on hand to offer advice and a friendly face on their stand.

Kenwood had their new handheld TH-D74E on show that does FM, DSTAR and APRS.

Walters and Stanton and Martin Lynch and Lamco made up the major retailers, all having a selection of new and used equipment for purchase.

I was really nice to catch up with the TX factor team, I spent sometime chatting to Mike G1IAR and I congratulated the team on producing some really high quality videos. Mike was telling me they had set the production and content values very high, meaning few but well made programs.

Here you can see Mike doing a bit to camera, with the assistance of Peter M0PSX from Essex Ham


The Camb- Hams team was in attendance with Flossy2, running a special call GB16NH  and Geoff G0DDX attended with his recently completed van.

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The RSGB had a number of stands, books, DF, Observation Service, Contesting, EMC and QSL service to name a few. A very enjoyable day out and a chance to catch up with people, some I had never met and only worked on the air. It also gave me a chance to wear the new LED matrix callsign badge, and this prompted a number of people to ask “Where did you get the badge from”  to which I would reply Friedrichshafen.

73 Dave M0TAZ






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CQ WW RTTY Contest

CQ WW RTTY is the perfect excuse (if you need one) to turn on the amplifier and have a play with the big boys. Its never been more popular, no longer do you need a separate room for your RTTY teletype printer just a PC and some logging software should be fine.

I have in the past completed most of the 48 Hrs as part of a team, making thousands or “QSO” but this year was a much more relaxed casual event. The plan was to grab a few hrs operating over the weekend, in between the usual tasks.

The linear would allow 400w RTTY with around 5w drive, to the doublet antenna. The doublet is 10m per leg, and fed with 30 Ohm ribbon it doesnt make a very nice match on 20m ! The alternative antenna is a 8m vertical with an auto ATU at the base. The CG5000 is a 800w PEP remote auto ATU, although I dont use the amp with this antenna and choose to run 200w barefoot from the TS990 in this configuration.

Remote ATU near the base of the antenna are hard to beat if you haven’t got a resonant  antenna, helping to reduce large mismatch in the feeder and the subsequent loss of power. One disadvantage is they need to be powered, the CG5000 requires 12v and isn’t equipped with a bias tee. This requires a separate power cable to be run to the bottom of the garden, fine in my postage stamp but maybe an issue if you own 2 acres !

After spending some time on the bands it was obvious 10m was closed, 15 was a little better but as usual the “easy band” 20m was open and provided some of the best contacts. In total I worked 132 Q in 42 DXCC, using SH5 to analyse the log. The program can be used to check and map many of the stations you work, allowing you to gain a great insight into your operating and in some cases multi operating / radio station.




Here you can see a basic list showing DXCC worked. The mast files contain information on and the location of many of the regular DX stations, and so distances and bearing information can be analysed in tabular and graphical format.




RTTY and logging was provided by the excellent N1MM software, as usual its a real credit to Thomas for a massive free contribution to amateur radio.

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Aircraft Virtual Radar

In previous articles I have discussed receiving aircraft position data Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B).
You can read about 1090 MHz antenna and ADS reception here.

As the HF bands have been so poor recently I decided to try out Virtual Radar, and open source program that can visualise aircraft locations on a Google style map. The program can be used with a number of receivers including RTL SDR, but I opted to press into service the rather old Kinetics SBS1. The SBS1 is a dedicated 1090 MHz receiver, USB powered so no external supply required.


You can often pick these up second hand for around £100 on eBay and the receiver sensitivity seems very good. The program is free to download from their website and simple to setup, I used it with Windows 10 and it was simple to setup, running in a few minutes.

I configured the program to take its location data from Kinetic SBS-1 Base station program. This does provide some basic location and trail information, but to fully appreciate the data it really needs presenting in Google maps.

Coupled with a 5/8 wave antenna in a poor UHF urban environment I was able to achieve reception ranges of 150 miles. This could be further improved with a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA), band pass filtering and better positioning of the antenna. Virtual Radar can be configured to provide local and internet access to your aircraft data, letting people from around the worlds access your data. Virtual Radar also has the option to aggregate flight data to build up a picture of your reception radius. The data can be presented based on the altitude of the aircraft.VR_Range_HQ

This option can be a little hard to locate in the software. You need to ensure you have a receiver location defined menu Tools/Options/receiver location and then you must have that location selected under Receivers, look for the box “Location”  and then select the name you gave your receiver from the previous steps.

Once this is complete a new option will be available from the aircraft browser map, click on Menu, and look for receiver range. If you don’t have this menu option, then one of the previous steps may be incorrect. You also can’t access receiver range by default from a remote connection, this has to be enabled. You will find some further guidance on the virtual radar forum.

Virtual radar will if connected to the internet display other details about selected flights, routing information and pictures of the aircraft type.

Virtual Radar Server is an open-source .NET application that runs a local web server, and full credit goes to the development team.

virtual radar map










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RSGB IOTA contest

Members of the SNB contest group came together to play some radio in the RSGB IOTA contest. Some stations make the trek to far flung Islands in exotic parts of the world, we opted for the contest site close to Kelvedon Hatch in Essex.

The SNB contest site has the added bonus of a 50m onsite mast, making an ideal platform to hang dipoles. George M1GEO and myself decided to operate our respective calls from the two radio setup, using 3.5, 14, 21 and 28 MHz. George also added his 50/70 MHz beam on the mast, and this provided some interesting contacts using MS and JT65.


Two pump up masts provided the following setup.

Scam 12m – Tri-band Beam A-3S covering 14, 21 and

28 MHz and 50/70 MHz beam.

Clark 10m – 15m 4e homebrew beam

Bunker mast – 3.5 MHz dipole at 30m




At various times we added some RF power from either the solid state expert 1.3KFA or the hal1200_atlantic amplifier. We had some interaction between the close sited antennas, and at times this dictated the operating modes / times.



Fred G3SVK joined us as our CW operator, Fred can often be found in the lower pasts of the bands chasing big DX.










It was a casual operation, allowing time for sleep, meals and frequent cups of tea. The weather was fantastic, so camping out onsite was very enjoyable.



M0TAZ added around 49 DXCC and 350 QSO over the weekend. The highlight for me was AL7KC Alaska on 14 MHz  and VP8LP Falklands on 21 MHz.

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LEFARS Field Weekend

Once again members of the LEFARS came together at the Rainbow and Dover PH near Harlow to play some radio. George M1GEO and Chris G8OCV had recently serviced a tri band beam from Cushcraft A-3S donated by Bill G0BOF to the SNB group. The event this weekend was its first field day outing, and it performed very well. The antenna worked as a 3e trapped beam on 28, 21 and 14 MHz bands.

The boom length of the antenna is just 4.17m and the longest element length is 8.45m. You can download a manual for the antenna here.

The 3e beam was supported on the 12m SCAM pump us mast, as was the 3.5MHz dipole. We also operated on 50 MHz and 70 MHz using a slim Jim and dipole.

Using 2 x Icom 7100 for HF, one connected to the Cushcraft beam, and the other on 70, 50 or 3,5 MHz. The amplifier was a solid state HAL 1200 delivering 400w to the antenna,


7 MHz was also in use giving John the chance to try out his newly acquired Icom 7300. The new Icom is proving very popular, with 3 club members recently investing in this new mode.

27904200764_4c40d3a8e2_kOver the weekend we made close on 300 QSO, and combination of CW, Phone and Data modes.

Here you can see Fred G3SVK working a few on 14 MHz CW.

You can read more about LEFARS and GB0SNB both active clubs in the Essex area






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© 2015 Dave, M0TAZ