Sunday, January 25, 2009

Up and Running on Logbook of The World

Quick recap.......
1) I had updated my VQLog program so that it now contains just over 23,000 contacts. From this, I could generate an ADIF file that Logbook of The World could use.
2) In mid January, I had tried to use to use the LoTW software but I had problems with passwords at the final step when I was trying to 'sign' the ADIF file and generate a TQ8 file for upload.
3) I looked on the LoTW website but could see no obvious answer. So, I sent the ARRL an e-mail with my private e-mail account (gofree) asking for advice.
1) After 2 weeks I had no reply to my e-mail. Someone else had also said that they had not received a mail I sent with my private e-mail account. So, I resent the mail to the ARRL on Fri 23rd Jan using my Yahoo mail account.
2) Within 2 hours, I had a reply! The advice was...
Delete any and all TQ5, TQ6 and TQ8 files in your folders.
Delete any lines with a callsign.
Request a new UNSIGNED certificate for your call EI7GL. Do not use an end date and do not use a password.
Upload the resulting TQ5 to LoTW. Disregard any messages about overlapping certificates or dates.
Stand by for your TQ6.
3) So, I deleted the TQ5 and TQ6 files that had been generated. Ran TQSL CERT again, generated a new TQ5 file (with no password this time!) and uploaded this to the LoTW website. As I had been approved already, I assumed that I would have a reply in a few days.
4) Within a few hours, I had received the TQ6 file back from the ARRL!! I ran this, unlocked my certificate and then proceeded to sign my ADIF file.
5) This time, it went past the stage where I had got stuck before with the password and it began the slow process of generating a TQ8 file from the 23,000+ qsos in the ADIF file.
6) I got a lot of errors, especially with all of the Satellite contacts that I had. It didn't seem to like the format that VQLog was using for Satellite qsos. In fact, as far as I can see, it rejected all of them. Besides the Satellite contacts, it rejected 2 other contacts.....
EA1DDU.....due to "Invalid PROP_MODE (TRD)". VQLog gives the choice of 'Tropo ducting' as a propogation mode. It seems as if LoTW doesn't accept it. It seems strange as on the FAQ on the LoTW website, it make no mention of needing propogation modes.
GD0PLT.....due to "Invalid amateur CALL (GDOPLT)". My first thought was that I had entered the letter 'O' instead of the number zero in the callsign. But no, I had it correct. I have no idea why it was rejected.
7) Eventually the process was completed and I ended up with the required TQ8 file. I logged on to the LoTW website and uploaded the TQ8 file. At first, I got a message saying that it was pending but pretty soon as I was refreshing the page, I could see that the number of qsos were increasing as well as the matches.
8) I left it for a while and after 30 minutes, I had 22,449 uploaded contacts and 1,945 matches. That is about 8.7% . Compared to the QSL rates that others are getting (15-20%), 8.7% might seem a bit low. I would assume that because my contacts are over a span of 20 years, many of the older contacts will never appear on LoTW because the person in question may have gone off the air. The oldest match was for a contact on the 3rd Oct 1986! The newest was for the 13th Jan 2009.
9) So, a quick look at the matches.
These are the number of DXCC countries that LoTW found a match for on each band. Note that this is via LoTW only. There are no physical qsl cards / previous credits in there.
Looking through the LoTW matches and comparing them to my log, I now have these extra countries confirmed....
6m......1 new country confirmed (PJ7)
10m....3 new countries confirmed (3X, A6 and ZL)
12m....7 new countries confirmed (HL, J6, KG4, KL7, PZ, ST and XZ)
15m....12 new countries confirmed (EY,FP, GI, HK, J7, KL7, PJ2, ST, VP2E, ZC4, ZD8 and ZL)
17m....10 new countries confirmed ( 3B8, 4U1ITU, C31, EA8, PZ, ST, VK9N, VP2M, XZ and ZF)
20m....1 new country confirmed (YV)
30m....6 new countries confirmed (KL7, OY, ST, TF, XZ and ZD8)
40m....3 new countries confirmed (A6, D4 and V4)
80m....1 new country confirmed (D4)
160m..6 new countries confirmed (CT3, GD, GM, GW, LY and OE)

So, in total, that makes 50 'band' countries that I do not have to get physical qsl cards for.
Out of those, I now have 5 DXCC countries which are only confirmed by LoTW on any band (PZ, ST, XZ, J7 and VK9N)...i.e. I do not have physical QSL cards for them.

After messing about with the LoTW website for a while, I eventually found the page to link the LoTW credits with my existing credits. Again, I thought I would have to wait a few days for someone to process this request but it was done within about 1 hour.

My combined record now looks like this....
I have applied for DXCC on 40m, 10m and 6m before so the overall numbers are high for these bands. For example, what the above chart is saying for let's say 10 metres is that my current DXCC credit is 113, I have another 31 credits from LoTW and when I enable them, I will have a total of 144 DXCC on that band. This of course, does not take into account any physical qsl cards that I may have here for additional countries. For bands where I do not have DXCC, like say 20 metres, LoTW brings my DXCC credit from 14 up to 83. So, if I was to apply for a 20 metres DXCC today (100 DXCC minimum required), I would only have to submit 17 extra QSL cards rather than 86.

Overall Conclusion....By using LoTW, I have got 50 new band countries confirmed and it has reduced the need for me to submit physical QSL cards for future DXCC awards. Overall, it was well worth doing and in my opinion, it really is vital that anyone who has a serious interest in the ARRL DXCC award programme should get going on Logbook of The World as soon as possible.

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