K2DT – Amateur Radio
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Why not use LoTW?

ARRL’s Logbook of the World (LoTW) provides a secure, authenticated means to electronically QSL.  Confirmations are good for DXCC, WAS, VUCC and CQ WPX awards.   There is no cost to sign up and ARRL membership is not required.   There is a fee associated with requesting awards with LoTW credit, but it’s pretty modest, particularly when compared to postage for mailing paper cards or the inconvenience of getting cards checked by an official (or not, as required) human checker.

It’s extremely easy to get authenticated for LoTW if you’re in the US and a little more complicated if you’re outside the US (it involves mailing copies of a few documents to the ARRL).

Many logging programs allow you to integrate LoTW upload and downloads into your workflow.

So why is my confirmation rate only 50%?

I can understand that some small number of hams don’t use computer logs or don’t have internet availability.   The numbers would be even smaller for those in contests – logging hundreds of QSOs by hand would be awful, and most contests greatly prefer electronic submission of logs.  Still, the response rate is much lower than I would think.

Particularly odd are QSLs I get through eQSL.cc that are “Authenticity Guaranteed” without a corresponding LoTW entry.  These stations went through a similar authenticity process to that required by LoTW and are submitting the information electronically.  But not also to LoTW.

The ARRL can help its own program by requiring LoTW entries for logs submitted for ARRL contests.  Most contest participants are not thinking they are going to win any particular honors.  Some are in it for the fun of beating their last score or multiplier counts.  Some are in it to get QSLs for other operating awards, though, particularly ARRL’s own WAS and DXCC.

Some changes to the TQSL program could make it more convenient to send both Cabrillo and signed ADIF files for contest entries.  Perhaps in the future, TQSL could sign Cabrillo files, generate one from the other, or Cabrillo files could be replaced by ADIF files with additional tags.  Some careful software and process design could optimize the experience.  Then it would be, as we coders sometimes say, a “simple matter of programming” (SMOP).

I think this would be win-win for the ARRL.  It would encourage more participation in their contests by e-paper-chasers and increase participation in LoTW by contesters.  And yes, I have sent this suggestion to the ARRL via a member of the Contest Advisory Committee.

3 comments

  1. Hello Wayne,
    Just a few comments from the fellow that checked your QSL cards at the RST Hamfest.
    I use a logging program called Winlog32. I use it for every day logging and occasionally
    a contest.
    It has a LOTW manager that provides the necessary files to upload qso’s to LOTW
    very effectively. It also converts log data to ADIF for eQSL, Clublog and Ham Logs Online.
    I have been using LOTW since it’s inception and my return QSL rate has been running around 50%.
    73, Ron W6ZQ

  2. Thank you, Ron. I am currently using the “DX Lab Suite” which include DXKeeper for logging. I previously used the free version of Ham Radio Deluxe. I believe Log4OM and several other logging programs make it easy to use TQSL for LoTW entries. I use N1MM+ for contests, but then import into my “regular” log using ADIF format which is easily done.

  3. Just a note about my suggestion. Since I have always used ADIF files for LoTW I didn’t realize that TQSL already supports Cabrillo format files. So the files used for the contest entry could easily be signed and submitted to LoTW.

    Another thought I had is that for ARRL contests, someone at ARRL is validating the logs coming in for the contest. In this case, why could the contest logs not be put into the LoTW database, perhaps with a special notation to indicate they were unsigned in case the station was later found to be invalid, but then used to confirm QSLs directly?

    Alternatively, they could require all logs be signed with TQSL to be valid contest entries. Incentive for all participants to get certificates set up and extra assurance against invalid entries.

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