Getting started

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Reasons for choosing DXLog

  • Supports over 420 contests and more are being added based on user demand
  • Frequent releases with continuous improvements
  • WRTC proven and fully WRTC 2022 compliant with e.g., referee mode
  • Used by world leading contesters and super stations
  • Used by major dxpeditions
  • Keyboard centric user interface, you never need to take your hands off the keyboard
  • Active and responsive support via the email reflector
  • DXpedition targeted features such as QQSL, WSJT-X/MSHV integration etc.
  • Advanced multi-operator support such as multiplier passing, skeds, propagation estimates, and band change warnings
  • World map showing own spots
  • High quality SO2V support for dual and single receiver radios
  • High quality SO2R support with scenarios and dual keyboard support
  • Outstanding support for OTRSP and microHAM devices
  • Only logger with native support for the YCCC SO2R Mini
  • Only logger with a completely open contest definition syntax
  • Outstanding interlock support for e.g., inband operation including Winkey paddle operation
  • Optional standalone cluster client that consolidates spots from many sources, supports blacklisting etc.

User interface

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 single 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 [Alt][Tab].

It also allows other applications that have the ability to stay "on top" to do this also with DXLog.

Dxl prev2.png

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 e.g. N1MM Logger+,
there are two very important 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 [Ctrl][X].
The "old school" method of changing the callsign of the QSO to your own is also supported.

The entry line is divided into fields, most of them are read-only like QSO number, band, mode, time, etc.
Each contest has at least callsign and one exchange field. Some contests have several exchange fields.
You move between major fields by pressing [Space] and between all fields with [Tab].
RS/RST is not a major field.

The callsign is checked for validity using this regular expression:


When you have completed your entry, you typically log the QSO using either [Enter] or [+].

The location and visibility of the log and entry line column headers can be controlled with Options|Log|Headers.

NB. The Stn station type column becomes visible only when activating networking or selecting
an operating technique other than SO1R.

Creating a log file

To start using DXLog, the first step is to create a log file. Without an open log file,
DXLog will just show an empty desktop.

To create a log, select File|New. This opens the contest configuration window.

DXLog needs exclusive and unrestricted access to its log file and relies on Windows'
standard file permissions for this. This means that some types of shared or synchronized
folders, or folders in virtualized environments, may not work for log file storage.

Unlike most other loggers, DXLog is however compatible with Microsoft OneDrive.

DXL ContestConfig1.png

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 each 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.

It is also a good practice to include things like contest name, station callsign and year in the log's filename.

The first time a log is created after the installation, "factory default" colors and window locations
will 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.

Also note that messages are stored on a per-contest basis. This means that when creating a new log, the
messages from the previous, same contest will be used. If there is none, the contest's default messages will
be used. Since some contests have messages based on location or participation status, this is important
to be aware of.

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.

You can also find general recommendations about settings for particular radio models in the
supported radios 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 its siblings) and the callsign database MASTER.SCP.

The menu Options|Data files|Country files opens a window that allows you to update 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, type RELOADNOW followed by [Enter] or simply
close and restart DXLog.

Operating techniques

The next step is to chose your operating method, Technique in DXLog terminology.

Each technique supports two operating "states"; Run and Search & Pounce (or S&P for short).

Run means you call CQ. S&P means you search for and call other stations.

Each state has a separate set of predefined messages (see below) and ESM behavior (also see below).
The keyboard shortcut to switch between the states is [Ctrl][Tab].

There are also some options for forcing an automatic change, such as
Tools|Data entry|F1 returns to Run always and Tools|Enable automatic Run/S&P selection.

In the sub menu Operating|Technique you can choose between SO1R, SO2R, Advanced SO2R and SO2V.

SO1R means Single Operator, One Radio. SO2R means Single Operator, Two Radios. SO2V means Single Operator,
Two VFO but in practice this is normally Two Receiviers. In a multi-operator setting you typically use SO1R.


SO1R is the most basic and it is the method you use in a single operator setting using a single
receiver radio or in multioperator/multi-station setting.

When using this technique, you have a single entry line and one radio with one receiver.
The band map shows the band map for the currently selected 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 [Alt][F4].

SO1R only works for Radio 1 in the Options|Configure interfaces panel.


SO2R and Advanced SO2R

uses two radios which operate in parallel, each having a separate entry line. (Although you never
transmit with more than one at any time.)

In "standard" SO2R you operate by manually switching your "focus" between the two radios.
This is done using the up and down arrow keys or [Keypad *].

SO2R also supports external audio control by a large range of SO2R controllers such as all microHAM
keyers/controllers or devices such as the YCCC SO2R box or SO2R mini.

In Advanced SO2R the focus shifting is typically scripted, using up to eight different "scenarios" for different
situations such as hunting for multipliers, alternating CQ, or managing a large pile-up.

More information can be found in the Advanced SO2R section.
This feature is particularly appreciated by advanced contesters.

SO2R requires two radios (Radio 1 and Radio 2) configured in the Options|Configure interfaces panel.

NB. If running a contest where the exchange is a serial number, you must use a number server and number
reservation to secure that the transmitted and logged serial number are the same. You will find more
information about this in the using a number server section.



At a first glance, SO2V looks similar to SO2R but uses only a single radio (two "R" entry lines).
This method is primarily intended for dual receiver radios (such as Elecraft K4, ICOM IC-7610, or Yaesu FTDX101D)
but offer some usability and efficiency benefits also for single receiver radios.

Like in SO2R, mastering having one receiver in each ear will maximize your efficiency.
The logical model of SO2V is two radios with a shared transmitter.

Unlike SO2R, the two radios are typically on the same band.

Split band SO2V puts very challenging requirements on antenna and amplifier band switching speed
and requires a very careful station design. DXLog offers no protection against e.g., hot switching in such a situation.

The most common way to operate SO2V is to switch focus between the two "radios" the same way
as in "standard" SO2R; using the arrow keys or [Keypad *]. However, dual keyboards may also be used.

It is common practice to run (i.e. call CQ) on the main VFO (left ear) and do S&P on the sub VFO (right ear).
One of the reasons for this is tradition but another is that RIT is only supported on the main VFO on many radios.

More information about operating SO2V can be found in the SO2V menu item section.
On selected radios (such as more advanced ICOM radios), automatic VFO knob focus and sub receiver control
is supported. (C.f. the supported radios section.)

NB. RTTY SO2V requires the use of FSK together with a radio controller that offers two
FSK keying COM-ports for the same radio, such as the microHAM series of keyers.

It is also possible to use SO2V with single-receiver radios. There is a benefit in having separate band
map for each VFO and being able to rapidly switch between VFO A and B.

SO2V only works for Radio 1 in the Options|Configure interfaces panel.


More information about the four possible techniques can be found in the operating technique section.

Standard messages

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 such 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; [F1] to [F7], [Insert] and [+].

According to a long standing tradition in contest loggers, [Insert] is used to send the contest exchange
(and in S&P also log the QSO) and [+] is used to conclude and log the QSO.

Standard messages cw2.png

The messages are composed by regular letters and numbers, special characters, and macro commands.
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 + means an increase of the CW speed by 4WPM.

A full list can be found in the macro commands and special characters section.

Messages are remembered on a per-contest basis meaning that the next time you create a log for the
same contest, the same messages will be used.

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.

You can always return to the default messages by clicking the Defaults button. This can be particularly
convenient when switching "role" from a previous contest, such as member/non-member, IOTA station/non-IOTA station.

NB. If you run CW and want to secure good spotting by the Reverse Beacon Network, NEVER use speed changes
in your CQ message. Short calls (4 characters or less) should also typically be repeated.

A complete list of macros and special characters as well as the very powerful conditionals syntax
can be found in the message macros section.

Space characters in the beginning or end of the message are always ignored. To introduce a delay, use $DELAY.

Voice memory playback

In phone contesting having a means to transmit a pre-recorded CQ message is a great help.
Sometimes for other messages too.

DXLog has a built-in voice recorder (often referred to as a DVK - digital voice keyer) but also supports the
use of that built into many radios. (More information can be found in the Digital Voice Keyer section.)

NB. If you use the radio's built in voice keyer, make sure to check the box
"Don't set PTT when using voice keyer" on the COM port controlling your radio's
PTT to avoid a sticking PTT.

If you want to use ESM (see the ESM section) also on phone the message number convention
from CW and digital modes need to be followed.

Voice memory convention
Message #1 CQ message. E.g. "SM7IUN, contest"
Message #2 S&P exchange, when the contest allows. E.g. "Roger, you are five nine fourteen"
Message #4 Own call. E.g. "SM7IUN"
Message #6 Request repeat. "Again, again?"

Another useful message can be the one associated with logging the QSO in RUN. E.g. "Thank you and good luck, SM7IUN, contest".
For this to work, the RUN PLUS message must contain the macro commands to send a message and log. (e.g. $PBPLUS $CR).

NB. On Phone, macros only work in the INSERT and PLUS messages and are ignored in messages 1 through 7.

Since the INSERT message i RUN contains the other station's call it can not be prerecorded.
Following the conventions above, the standard INSERT message will however work for S&P.

Useful settings

Since this is just a quick-start guide, only the most commonly used or misunderstood settings will be covered here.

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 will force
a merging of the logs which normally is highly undesired.

Options|Interface specific options|Dual receiver radio (Use split in SO2V)

A very important setting for SO2V. Should be enabled for dual receiver radios and
disabled for single receiver radios.

Options|Interface specific options|Band change keys affect both VFO

Makes band changes with [Alt][F1] and [Alt][F2]
switch the band of the selected radio's both VFO. Recommended.

Options|Log|Show border on TX

Shows a colored frame around the entry line of the currently transmitting radio.

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

Shows a shadow cursor in the unselected entry line. Highly recommended.

Tools|Data entry|Enable ESM mode

Makes [Enter] send relevant messages in both Run and S&P.
Also toggles with [Ctrl][M]. For for more details, see the ESM introduction.

Tools|Data entry|Enable Run/S&P switching

Allows switching between Run and S&P. Recommended setting unless in a DX-pedition.

Tools|Data entry|Enable automatic Run/S&P selection

Makes DXLog automatically switch to S&P when you move the VFO knob or grab a spot. Recommended.

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 [Space].)

Tools|Data entry|F1 forces Run mode

Makes the [F1] key always switch to Run, mark the CQ frequency and send CQ.


With ESM, or Enter Sends Message, which the acronym stands for, there are different schools.

DXLog has a very straightforward and deterministic 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 Search & Pounce)
The location of the cursor
The content of the current field

This makes DXLog's ESM very predictable and easy to learn.

Since ESM may be undesired on Phone the option Tools|Data entry|ESM mode only for CW
allows you to use it only for CW in e.g. a mixed contest.

ESM assumes the following configuration of the standard messages:

RUN F1 - CQ message
RUN F6 - Request exchange
RUN INSERT - Send other call and exchange
RUN PLUS - Send corrected call if required, log and send semi-CQ
S&P F1 - Own call
S&P F6 - Request exchange
S&P INSERT - Send exchange and log

The function is as follows:


Pressing [Enter] in RUN will:

  • with the cursor in an empty callsign field send RUN F1, typically CQ
  • with the cursor in a partially or correctly filled callsign field send RUN INSERT
  • with the cursor in an incorrectly filled exchange field send RUN F6
  • with the cursor in a correctly filled exchange field send RUN PLUS

NB. If a number server is used, a serial number reservation will occur at the beginning of the RUN INSERT message.

When the party station has received the exchange correctly, focus is shifted to the exchange
field by pressing [Space]

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
menu option Tools|Data entry|Focus received exchange after sending exchange in Run.

Search & Pounce

Pressing [Enter] in S&P will:

  • with the cursor in the callsign field send S&P F1
  • with the cursor in an empty or incorrectly filled exchange field send S&P F6
  • with the cursor in a correctly filled exchange field send S&P INSERT

NB. If a number server is used, a serial number reservation will occur at the beginning of the S&P INSERT message.

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 Windows|Radio 2.
(Note that only one is available in SO1R.)

Bandmaptherm.png Bandmaplist.png

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.
You can either let DXLog connect directly to the DX Cluster (as described in the DX Cluster section)
or via the cluster connectivity utility, described in the section.

The bandmap can be set up to convey a large amount of useful information such as if a spot represents
a new multiplier, if it has been worked before, a suitable 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.

The bandmap is also very useful when operating without a DX cluster connection, a.k.a. unassisted.
You can add stations to the bandmap by entering the call and pressing [Ctrl][Enter].
Such manually entered stations are automatically erased when worked in Run.
Stations worked in S&P are also added to the bandmap to avoid you having to identify them again.

NB. The bandmap contains some S&P features, such as wiping the currently entered call and/or adding an
entered call to the bandmap when tuning away from it, that are active also with no bandmap window open.
You find these settings in the bandmap's Properties context menu.

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 or EDI 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 using 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 own 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.

Entering postcontest mode with Edit|Postcontest mode will allow you to edit all properties of the logged QSO using [Alt][F]
and [Ctrl][F1]/[Ctrl][F2]. It also allows entering a paper log by opening the time field for direct entry.

Tips and tricks

  • Try the world map. It will show where you are spotted on the DX cluster.
  • Try SO2V. You will have more fun and become a an even more productive operator.
  • Get acquainted with ESM. Once familiar with it, you will find it very convenient.
  • If you connect to the cluster and see no spots in your bandmap, make sure you
    are not using an unassisted contest entry.
  • On all modern radios [Shift][Up] and [Shift][Down] work as RIT in Run
    and frequency adjustment in S&P.
    [Shift][Delete] zeroes RIT regardless of operating mode.
  • [Ctrl][Up] and [Ctrl][Down] jumps between spots in the bandmap and
    grabs them onto the focused entry line.
  • [Ctrl][Alt][Up] and [Ctrl][Alt][Down] jumps between spots in the other VFO or radio,
    depending on if Operating|Bandmap|QSY Opposite radio instead of 2nd VFO is checked or not.
  • [Shift][Ctrl][Up] and [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 panel for sending CW or a conversational digital mode directly
    from the keyboard. It is closed by pressing [Alt][K] or [Enter].
  • [Ctrl][Alt][+] or [Ctrl][Alt][Keypad +] forces a QSO to be logged,
    disregarding all validity checks.
  • Pressing [Ctrl][X] with the cursors on a QSO in the log will "delete" the QSO by marking it invalid.
  • [Shift][Ctrl][F1] shifts focus to radio 1, switches to Run, and sends CQ in SO2R and SO2V.
    In SO1R and SO2R Advanced it just sends the F1 message.
    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 great convenience for
    DXpeditions 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 and rescores the current log.
    The latter skips the confirmation popup. (This command also refreshes contest definitions
    and scripts without event handlers.)
  • RESET eller [Ctrl][Alt][R] resets all hardware interfaces.
    When connecting/disconnecting equipment or in the presence of EMC or RFI issues, this can be very helpful.
  • To search for a certain callsign in your log, type the callsign in the entry field.
    The Check Callsign window will show you which bands you have worked the callsign on.
    Double-click the red checkmark to jump to the corresponding QSO in the log.
    Return to the entry line with [Ctrl][End]
  • Holding down [Ctrl] during start-up of DXLog will give you the option to not restore the
    previous layout and log file.
  • On many contests you can do a reverse look-up from a prefill data file by entering the exchange
    and pressing [Space]. This will show the candidate matches in the Check Partials window.
  • On many contests where the exchange is a grid, you can type a six-character grid in the callsign
    entry field and press [Space] to get distance and azimuth.
  • If you have problems starting DXLog, as a last resort go to the folder %appdata% using
    the [Win][R] key and rename the folder. Then try again.

DXLog system files

Log and export files can be stored anywhere on your computer but in line with
Windows' application programming standard, DXLog keeps its internal system files
in a special, normally hidden, folder.

This folder can be opened either via Windows' file explorer, using the symbolic address
%appdata%\ or using DXLog's menu item File|Open configuration folder.

NB. The only real need a regular user has to open this folder is to install urgent contest or
database updates between regular DXLog releases or emergencies.

The content of the configuration folder is the following:

  • Folder Contest
contains a working copy of all contest configuration files.
  • Folder Database
contains a working copy of all database, country, warning and regexp files.
  • Optional folder CustomForms
when exists contains custom form DLL files.
  • File DefMsgs.sdb
Default messages for all contests operated. Not editable.
  • File deftest.dxl
Default contest configuration. Not editable.
  • Optional file DXCSpotHistory.txt
Result of checking "Incoming spots logging" in DX Cluster announcement window.
  • Optional file DXCStreamHistory.txt
Result of checking "Stream logging" in the DX Cluster monitor window.
  • File
A backup copy of the most recent working
  • File configuration data
  • File DXLog-debug.txt
Crash and error logging file
  • File SERIAL-TRACE-...
Serial communications debugging log