Simple Logbook Tools

Motivation

I have tried various programs for managing logbooks of Ham Radio contacts (QSOs). Many of them have an impressive set of features. They will fill in the current time, get the current frequency and mode from the radio, and even retrieve station details from the web. Some of them are integrated with Logbook of the World (LOTW) and do a great job of making that upload process painless. However, all of them seem to fall flat when it comes to manual entry of past QSOs. They typically:

  • Pre-seed the current time down to second-level precision
  • Show the QSO in a dialog rather than an editable grid
  • Have no convenient way of applying changes in bulk.
  • Support a staggering number of fields spread across multiple tabs.

For various reasons, many of my QSOs come from paper logs. Honestly, it’s a pain to keep wiping out the current time, clearing out the seconds field (I don’t write them down in that level of detail), and repeating the mode, date, and power. I would prefer a simple, editable grid.

Microsoft Excel is just that – an editable grid. I can easily drag ranges to fill in repeating information. I can skip from field to field with tab and QSO to QSO using enter. As an added bonus, it can be stored in a simple text file format (comma separated values or CSV). This can be easily read without the program and will likely still be usable 50 years in the future. This allows me to view these logs long after Excel is gone and easily repair corruption should it happen.

Converting CSV files to ADIF

Fortunately, all QSO matching services and logbook programs support a standard format called ADIF. While ADIF files are also plain-text, the format is arcane and inconvenient for manual entry. So, I produced a simple tool (csv2adif.py) that will convert CSV files to ADIF files. The following example:

csv2adif.py mylog.csv

Will convert the input file “mylog.csv” to “mylog.adif” and store it in the current working directory.

The input format is best demonstrated by example (sample). The CSV file will need to have a header row. This header should contain the ADIF field names of the fields. This allows the program to be somewhat adaptable and self-documenting. Additional fields can be added without modifying the program.

A few conversion are performed along the way. For all fields, leading and trailing spaces are stripped. The MODE and CALL fields are converted to upper case. Time fields are expected to be HHMM and will be normalized such that low-order hours will have leading zeros. Dates are expected to be in the form of DD-Mon-YY: a two digit day, two digit year, and month abbreviated as 3 English characters.

Any competent programmer can edit the script to change the expected input formats or add his/her own. I encourage you to do so.

Uploading ADIFs to LOTW

I have also provided a second tool that will sign and upload ADIF files to ARRL’s Logbook of the World service. The syntax of the command is:

lotw_upload.py mylog.adif

This will invoke tsql.exe (which must be on your path) to sign the adif file. A .tq8 file of the same name will be produced in the same directory. Upon successful signing, this tq8 file will be immediately uploaded to LOTW using their web service.

You may also specify a signing location:

lotw_upload.py mylog.adif -l mylocation

Recently, LOTW has been having significant delays (hours to days) in processing uploaded data, so please be patient.

Installation

The scripts can be downloaded from simple-log-tools-0.91. Unzip them into a directory on your machine. You must have Python 2.7 or later installed on your machine. You must also have ARRL’s TrustedQSL software installed to perform LOTW uploads. Click here for more information on setting up LOTW.

I developed these scripts under Windows, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t work under Linux, Mac, or anything else that supports tsql and Python.

Conclusion

It is not my desire to compete with fully featured logging programs. If you want country statistics, dupe checking, and the like, you should be using one of those programs. However, you may still find csv2adif.py useful for importing manually entered data into these programs.

I hope some of you will find these scripts useful.

73 de AJ4MJ

One Response to Simple Logbook Tools

  1. John Paul says:

    Thanks for this. Now I can figure a way to just use it for contesting with EXCEL.
    JP

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