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I’ve created this unofficial user guide for ARRL’s Logbook of The World to supplement the help available from the LoTW site. It is a work-in-progress that in places refers to Logger32 simply because that’s the logging software I use. Feedback and additional content is very welcome.


Quick links

  1. LoTW New User Guide New!  Sept 2020
  2. Using LoTW - some Hinson tips
  3. Download your whole log from LoTW in an emergency
  4. Update your log to show countries credited (granted) for DXCC
  5. Generate an online DXCC application - identify the QSL cards to submit for checking
  6. A wishlist for LoTW enhancements


LoTW New User Guide New!  Sept 2020

Click to download the guide

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Using LoTW - some Hinson tips

  • Make time to read the official help , online on the LoTW website plus offline in TQSL and your logging programs. A lot of effort goes into writing and proofreading it. Most queries are answered somewhere in the help.  Learn how to search for stuff.
     
  • Upload new QSOs to LoTW as often as you can , ideally at least once a month. If you are very active, upload new QSOs more often and check your LoTW confirmations at the same time. Uploading QSOs to LoTW is, in effect, an off-site log backup but only for the essential QSO details (date, time, call, mode, frequency/band).  Other QSO info (such as name, QTH, reports, notes etc.) is callously discarded by the LoTW import routine.
     
  • Via N2AMG’s L32 Log Synch utility, Logger32 can automatically sign and upload individual QSOs to LoTW as soon as they are logged provided you don’t mind the slight delay as the focus skips between various windows during the process: I prefer to wait for a suitable opportunity to trigger manual uploads when it suits me.
     
  • Keep an eye on the QSO and confirmation counts (top right of most LoTW screens). As LoTW usage spreads, the proportion of QSOs that are confirmed via LoTW is gradually increasing. About half of my QSOs are confirmed via LoTW.
     
  • If you alter QSOs in your log (for example correcting broken callsigns when QSL cards arrive), you need to re-upload the changed QSO records to LoTW . While you might be able to extract the changed QSOs and just upload them, an easier way is periodically to re-upload your entire log.  LoTW automatically ignores exact duplicate QSOs. However, please don’t do this too often (no more than, say, once a year) as it wastes computer power and slows the LoTW systems down a bit. Be nice. When it asks, you’ll need to tell TQSL to sign and upload the duplicate QSOs.
     
  • Use the award status table to check on your progress towards DXCC, WAS, VUCC, CQ WPX or CQ WAZ awards.  Use the quick QSL report to check for new ones, recently confirmed.
     
  • Make lots of digimode QSOs .  Unlike back in the 70’s when I got my ticket and Creeds were holding well-appointed shack desks firmly to the floor, almost all digmoders today are using computers to send and receive the digital modes.  Digimoders are mostly logging on computer and a good proportion of them use online logging and award systems, such as LoTW.
     
  • Take part in lots of contests !  Contest stations are more likely to upload their logs to LoTW.
     
  •  

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Download your whole log from LoTW

If you need to download your entire log from LoTW, I recommend the neat online LoTW log download utility by K1MU.  Simply click the Submit button without entering any specific QSO criteria or selections, and wait patiently for the extract and download to complete.  Downloading took about 1 minute per 10k QSOs last time I tried it.

This is a last resort though: LoTW only stores the basic, minimal QSO details. Trust me, it is much better to make your own regular off-line and off-site log backups.  Even if you only do a backup once a year, that at least gives you a fighting chance of retrieving your detailed log to a point within the past year, recovering minimal QSO details from then until now.

Have you backed up your log lately?   Do it NOW!

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Applying for awards via LoTW

The LoTW system can automatically track your progress towards ARRL’s DXCC, VUCC and WAS awards, plus CQ Magazine’s WPX and WAZ awards, but first you need to configure it by setting up your award accounts in LoTW.

The DXCC rules allow you to accumulate QSLs from more than one personal callsign (for example if you use a personal contest or vanity call but not a shared/club call), provided all the QSOs are made from the same DXCC country. Under WAS rules, all QSOs must be made from within 50 miles of the same location: if you move more than 50 miles away, you have to re-start your WAS claims from the new QTH. Configuring LoTW therefore involves telling the system where you operate from.

When LoTW’s reports indicate that you have enough QSLs for an award, you can prepare and submit your application through LoTW. Here are the steps for DXCC:

  1. Login to LoTW as usual.
  2. Open the Awards tab.
  3. Select the DXCC account and open the familiar DXCC summary report showing the credits already granted, any claims in progress, and any confirmations not yet claimed.
  4. Click Application on the left menu.
  5. Click Check All if you want credit for all the new LoTW confirmations, then Continue.
  6. Complete the rest of the application, providing your credit card number to pay for the certificates/endorsements, and submit it for processing.
  7. Wait a day or three for an email to say the application has been processed.
  8. Wait a week or three for an envelope from ARRL HQ containing your certificates and endorsement stickers.
  9. Proudly display them in your shack and show off to your DX pals. You deserve to gloat!

Aside from LoTW confirmations, you can apply for DXCC credits using QSL cards.

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Update your Logger32 log to show DXCC credits (granted)

The QSOs that have been confirmed and credited to your DXCC record can be downloaded from LoTW to update Logger32, using the program “ARRL scraper.exe” provided with Logger32.  Look in C:\Logger32 for the program.

The scraper asks for your LoTW username and password, then logs in to LoTW. It generates working lists of the QSOs already credited to various DXCC awards (e.g. DXCC Mixed, DXCC CW etc.), then one-by-one, it downloads the relevant QSO info from LoTW, saving the QSO details as an ADIF file.

ARRL scraper in action

It is a slow process, taking about a second or so per QSO. My 2600 DXCC credits took about 2 hours. The utility churns away in the background, the little blue progress bar steadily advancing to the right, whereas I would have gone nuts trying to do what it is doing by hand!

L32 DXCC credits updating

The utility does some integrity checking.  If it can’t find QSOs in your log corresponding to the DXCC credits, it will display errors (such as the 8J1ANT one above) and generate an error file listing 30 QSOs in my case:

L32 credit fails

HS0ZEA, for example, is the call credited in my DXCC records but in fact he was mobile, and I logged him as HS0ZEA/M, the callsign he used on air. I always try to log callsigns as sent. Either he or LoTW stripped off the /M suffix, giving a match in LoTW when it checks the QSO but a mismatch with the QSO in my log when it exports the matched QSO info. It is easy to fix the errors in Logger32: manually locate the QSOs in question and update them to show they have been credited for DXCC.

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Online DXCC application (for QSL cards)

Logger32 can generate an ADIF file for an online DXCC application, identifying QSOs that you have confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW:

  1. Logger32 can identify QSOs that have been confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW using the “QSLs only” selector at the bottom of the DXCC report: 

    L32 QSLs only
  2. L32 submit for DXCCFor a clean start, unset any “Submit for DXCC” flags currently in your log by running the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file function, selecting the option to delete the flags.


  3. On Logger32’s QSL-only DXCC report, click an orange “C” blob to identify the corresponding QSO or QSOs that have been confirmed on paper.

    Now from one of those dusty shoeboxes or postcard albums, dig out a suitable, readable, original and unmodified QSL card for one of the QSOs.

    Right click the corresponding QSO in the log, then click “Submit for DXCC” to flag the QSO.  -->



    Note: topband cards can only be checked by ARRL HQ or by card-checkers who have been authorized to check 160m cards.









     
  4. Move on to the next orange “C” blob, and repeat steps 3 & 4 until done.
  5. Run  the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file function again to generate the ADIF file you need. If you are certain you will complete the process, select the options to delete the flags and mark the QSOs as submitted for DXCC. Otherwise wait until after you have actually completed and sent the submission - simply run the Export DXCC file again with the options set that time.
  6. Upload the ADIF file to the online DXCC application and, before finalising and submitting your application, double-check that you have the correct QSL cards  for every QSO you are claiming, in the same sequence as shown on the form. The cards must match the claimed QSO details on the form for callsign, date, band or frequency and mode. For DXCC countries with ambiguous prefixes (e.g. North and South Cooks both use E5), the card should explicitly state the location.
  7. If everything is in order, complete and submit the online application and print out the form to send with your QSL cards to be checked. Sign the paperwork and send or take it plus the QSL cards either to ARRL HQ or to your friendly local DXCC card-checker.
  8. Wait patiently for news about the status of your application.

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LoTW wishlist

Here are two changes to LoTW I’d quite like ARRL to make:

  1. Add more awards such as IOTA and contests such as CQ WW. ARRL would do us all a service by opening up the system and so encouraging even more hams to use LoTW.  A relatively simple but extensible option would be for LoTW to verify, sign and return ADIF logs submitted by authorized users (e.g. contest adjudicators and award admins) , identifying which of the QSOs have been matched. Making use of ARRL’s investment in the PKI , LoTW could digitally sign its reports, allowing others to confirm that they have not been tampered with or fabricated. The reports could then be used for all manner of awards and contests without ARRL having to cater for each one individually.   Meanwhile, ARRL have at least facilitated some integration of LoTW with other sites, such as Club Log, and the CQ WAZ award.
     
  2. Provide a bands and modes x countries grid similar to Club Log’s. [That excellent suggestion comes from WB5EIN - tnx Larry, good idea!  The LoTW Awards reports are functional but not pretty ... like me.]

Please contact me if there are other ideas you would like to add to the list, or to comment on my suggestions.

Notwithstanding my little wish-list, I’d like to thank ARRL and the DXCC Desk for making this facility freely available to hams worldwide. Thanks!

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