Contest loggers are a little like clothes. Some like a particular style, some don't.
DXLog has a classic look and feel and builds on a long tradition when it comes to
keyboard shortcuts and other UI elements. It is keyboard-centric and designed so you
should very rarely have to take your hands off the keyboard.
Contrary to e.g. N1MM Logger+, DXLog's default setting is to use a main window, a "desktop".
There are many benefits with this, for instance the fact that you can rapidly switch between
the logger and another application, such as a web browser, with
DXLog follows the tradition of many other loggers and have one or two entry lines and the nine
most recent log entries in fixed locations in the main window. The entry lines are either on
top or beside each other and, unless you are using dual keyboards, you move between them using the arrow keys.
DXLog shares many characteristics with other loggers but for those used to N1MM Logger+,
there are two noteworthy differences.
- The log and the entry lines are connected. Using the arrow keys, moving up past the top
- entry line will take you into the log.
- You can modify a logged QSO but not delete it. In the spirit of old school contest logging,
- you can only mark it invalid. This is done by navigating to the QSO and pressing
Creating a log file
To create your first log file you use the menu
File|New which opens the contest configuration window.
There are many text boxes to fill and not all are used by all contests, but it is a good idea to
fill as many of them as possible since it will save you typing every time you create a new log.
Should DXLog miss information from you when you click the OK button, you will get a helpful popup
window and the cursor will be placed in the field with missing or invalid information.
After having clicked OK you will get a browser window that allows you to decide the name and location
of your new log file. It is good practice to use a separate folder for each contest since you will have
other files related to the contest, call history files, export files like Cabrillo, ADIF, SUM, etc.
The very first time you create a log file for a particular contest, the standard messages will be
set to the default messages for that contest. The default color and location of a number of windows
will also be used. From this point on, every time you create a new log, the color settings, the active
windows and their location will be inherited from the most recently opened log. This means that if you
for instance run a weekly test in which you want a particular layout or color scheme, it is a good idea
to open the previous' weeks log before creating a new one.
You will find much more information in the contest configuration section.
Controlling the radio
The next step is to set up the communication with the radio. You reach the radio interface by either clicking
Options|Configure interfaces or by typing the text command SETUP and pressing
[Enter] on the entry line.
There are numerous settings and alternatives in how to set up your radio. On some models special features like
diversity, or the built in voice keyer, is supported. In this panel you can also configure the control of
peripherals such as SO2R controllers. You can find more information in the Configure interfaces section.
Setting up DXLog for digital operation involves many settings.
John G4IRN has prepared an excellent tutorial on this topic which can be viewed here.
The next step is to make sure two important data bases are up to date; the country data base CTY.DAT
and the callsign database MASTER.SCP.
Options|Data files|Country files opens a window that allows you to update the three
alternative country databases. Chose one at the time and click Download. Normally the most detailed,
CTY_WT_MOD.DAT is the recommended one to use.
The callsign database is updated with the menu
Options|Data files|Super check partials|Update.
To make all updates come into effect, close and restart DXLog.
The next step is to chose your operating method, Technique in DXLog terminology.
Each technique supports two "states"; Run and Search & Pounce or S&P.
Run means you call CQ. S&P means you call other stations. Each state has a set of unique
predefined messages (see below) and ESM behavior (also see below). The keyboard shortcut to
switch between the states is
In the sub menu
Operating|Technique you can chose between SO1R, SO2R, Advanced SO2R and SO2V.
SO1R is the most basic and it is also the method you typically use in a multioperator/multi-station setting.
In this, you have a single band map showing the band map for the currently active VFO. In the top of
the bandmap the frequencies of VFO A and VFO B are shown in boxes. The boxes are clickable and you can
also switch between the VFO using
[Keypad *]. If you want to make a rapid excursion to work
e.g. a multiplier, you can always jump back to your run frequency with
In SO2R and Advanced SO2R you use two radios and run them in parallel. (Although you never transmit with
more than one at any time.) In Advanced SO2R you can define up to eight different "scenarios" for different
situations such as hunting for multipliers, alternating CQ, or managing a large pile-up. This feature is
particularly appreciated by advanced contesters.
At first sight, SO2V looks similar to SO2R but uses only a single radio. This method is the most efficient
with a radio having two receivers (such as Elecraft K3S, ICOM-7851, ICOM 7610, Yaesu FTDX101D, or Kenwood TS-990).
Like in SO2R, mastering one receiver in each ear will maximize your efficiency. You switch focus between the
two VFO the same way as in SO2R, with the arrow keys or
[Keypad *]. On selected radios, VFO knob
focus control and on/off switching of the sub VFO is supported. (More information in the supported radios section.)
It is also possible to use SO2V with a single-receiver radio. There is a benefit in having separate band
map for each VFO and rapid switching between the two VFO is supported on many radios.
More information about the four possible techniques can be found in the technique section.
One of the most fundamental features of a contest logger for CW or digital modes is the ability
to send predefined messages containing e.g. a correct serial number.
DXLog has two sets of standard messages; one for RUN and one for Search & Pounce.
You reach the set up panel for the messages with
Options|CW/Digi|Modify standard messages
or the text command MSGS.
Each message is associated to a function key;
The messages are composed by regular letters and numbers, special characters, and macros.
Macros always start with a dollar sign, e.g. $RST, $LOGGEDCALL, or $CORRECT.
Special characters are mainly used to control the CW keying, e.g. ^ means a half word space
and & removes the character space to allow the creation of prosigns.
Since the exchange, CQ etc. varies between contests, every contest has its unique set of default messages.
These default messages are however only used the first time a log is created for the particular contest.
To allow customization, all following logs created for a particular contest use the messages from the
last time a log was saved for this contest. This means that you never have to repeat customizations
such as adding $CLEARRIT to your CQ macro, etc. There is a very large repertoire of macros available.
You can even call own scripts in the message using the $!scriptname syntax.
A complete list of macros and special characters can be found in the message macros section.
Since this is just a quick-start guide, only the most commonly used or misunderstood settings will be covered here.
Operating|Bandmap|QSY Opposite radio instead of 2nd VFO
- Makes operations normally affecting the other VFO instead affect the other radio.
- For instance, in SO2R and SO2V this option should be enabled to allow jumping between
- spots on the other radio with
Options|Load contest at startup
- Guarantees that the right log file is opened after e.g. a power outage or a reboot.
- Very important to enable in a multistation setting.
- Opening the wrong log file while networked with other stations may cause unwanted effects.
Options|Interface specific options|Use SPLIT command in SO2V technique
- A very important setting for SO2V. Should be enabled for dual receiver radios and
- disabled for single receiver radios.
- Shall always be enabled. Not working dupes in a contest is a legacy practice and belongs with paper logs.
- DX-peditions may however decide differently.
Options|CW/Digi|Add spacing when stacking messages
- Should be enabled. Adds a word space when standard messages are stacked.
- Please notice that
[Enter]does not stack but restarts.
Options|Log|Show border on TX
- Shows a colored frame around the entry line of the currently transmitting radio. Very helpful.
Options|Log|Show previous/current messages
- Shows the current and previous messages sent on the screen.
- Very convenient e.g. when running SO2R with low or no sidetone.
Options|Log|Show cursor in entry line without focus
- Very conveniently shows a shadow cursor in the unselected entry line.
Tools|Data entry|Enable ESM mode
[Enter]send relevant messages in both Run and S&P.
- Also toggles with
Tools|Data entry|Enable Run/S&P switching
- Allows switching between Run and S&P. Shall always be enabled, except perhaps in a DX-pedition.
Tools|Data entry|Enable automatic Run/S&P selection
- Very conveniently makes DXLog automatically switch to S&P when you move the VFO knob or grab a spot.
Tools|Data entry|Exchange guessing|Automatic
- Gives immediate feedback if e.g. the station is a dupe or multiplier when you type a call or grab a spot.
- The default is to not do this until you hit
Tools|Data entry|F1 returns to Run always
- Makes the
[F1]key always switch to Run, mark the CQ frequency and send CQ. Very practical.
With ESM, or Enter Sends Message, which the acronym stands for, there are different schools.
DXLog has a very straightforward and predictable ESM. It is stateless which means that it
does not try to guess the intentions of the operator based on past actions.
The message sent by
[Enter] only depends on three factors: Operating state (Run or S&P),
the location of the cursor and whether the field is filled or not. This makes DXLog's ESM
very predictable and easy to learn.
The function is as follows:
- With the cursor in an empty callsign field,
[Enter]sends Run F1, typically CQ
- With the cursor in a partially or correctly filled callsign field,
[Enter]sends the RUN INSERT message
- With the cursor in the exchange field,
[Enter]sends the Run PLUS message which (typically) concludes the QSO and logs.
When the party station has received the exchange correctly, focus is shifted to the exchange
field by pressing
For a big gun station, where correct reception of the exchange is (almost) guaranteed, you can
automatically shift focus to the exchange field after having sent the exchange by enabling the
Tools|Data entry|ESM mode change focus on $LOGGEDCALL macro.
- With the cursor in the callsign field,
[Enter]sends S&P F1, typically your own callsign
- With the cursor in an empty exchange field,
[Enter]sends S&P F6, which is typically a request to repeat the exchange.
- With the cursor in a filled exchange field,
[Enter]sends S&P INSERT, which is typically a confirmation and semi-CQ, and logs.
For a big gun station, where correct reception of the exchange is (almost) guaranteed, you can
automatically shift focus to the exchange field after having called the station by adding the $SPACE
macro to the S&P F1 message.
You can find more information on ESM in the Data entry menu section.
The bandmap and other windows
Beside the entry lines, the bandmap is one of the most central functions in a contest logger.
The two bandmaps are enabled with
Windows|Radio 1 and
(Note that only one is available in SO1R.)
With an internet connection to the DX Cluster you will see the spots spread out over an intuitive,
thermometer-like representation of a part of the current frequency band or as a color-coded listing.
The bandmap can be set up to contain a massive amount of useful information such as if a spot represents
a new multiplier, if it has been worked before, the required antenna direction, the sun's position at the
station's location etc. You can quickly jump between spots by holding down
[Ctrl] while pressing
the up and down arrow keys. (There are many more keyboard shortcuts associated with the band map, for more
details, see the keyboard functions section.)
The bandmap can be zoomed in and out using the scroll-wheel on the mouse. The settings are available by right-clicking
the bandmap and selecting
Properties. Further information about the bandmap can be found in the bandmap section.
Besides the bandmap there are many useful windows available. Check Partials and Check N+1 helps
you guess callsigns you are unsure of. Check Multipliers gives information on which bands you have
worked a certain multiplier.
Finally Clock is a very helpful little bar showing essential information like exact time, operating
state, logged in operator etc.
You may find the menu system of DXLog somewhat idiosynchratic. The development team has a long term
ambition to improve its structure and user friendliness.
After the contest
After the contest you typically want to create a Cabrillo file for submission and
perhaps an ADIF file to upload to LoTW or import in a bulk logger.
Cabrillo files are exported using
File|Export|Cabrillo and ADIF files
File|Export|ADIF. ADIF exports offers you the option to also include
X-QSO, which you normally do not want to do.
If your contest uses a prefill database, and you trust your log, you can update the database using
Options|Data files|Update database. It is possible to update data files of any supported type.
Be however aware that your updates will be lost the next time an updated database is included
in a new DXLog release that you install. If you really want to preserve your updates, make
a copy of DXLog's database in the same folder as the log file. More on how to manage prefill
databases can be found in the prefill database settings section.
Tips and tricks
On most radios
[Shift][Down] as RIT in Run
and frequency adjustment in S&P.
[Ctrl][Down] jumps between spots in the
bandmap and grabs them onto the focused entry line.
[Ctrl][Alt][Down] jumps between spots
in the other VFO or radio, depending on the setting mentioned above.
[Shift][Ctrl][Down] jumps to the next
spot that is a multiplier.
Double-clicking a spot or pressing
[Ctrl][Space] grabs a spot from the bandmap.
[Ctrl][Enter] creates a spot using an entered callsign and the focused radio's frequency.
[Alt][K] opens a little window that is used to send CW or e.g. RTTY directly
from the keyboard. It is closed by pressing
[Shift][Ctrl][F1] shifts focus to radio 1, switches to Run, and sends CQ in SO2R and SO2V.
Depending on your operating preferences you may want to redefine
[F1] to always execute this key.
[Alt][Q] activates "intelligent quick QSL" which is a very nice function for
DX-peditions and large contest stations. It uses rate statistics to send a short confirmation
at the end of each QSO but still regularly send the full callsign.
The text commands RELOAD and RELOADNOW reloads the current log. The latter skips the confirmation
popup. (Please note that this command also refreshes script definitions but not contest definitions.)
[Ctrl][Alt][R] resets all hardware interfaces.
In the presence of EMC or RFI issues, this can be very helpful.