[CCF] RE: Winlog
19 Sep 2001 08:07:00 +0300
Koska Writelog tuntui aiheuttavan kiinnostusta muuallakin, kopioin tänne
K9JY:lta saamani pitkän ja seikkaperäisen meilin. K9JY ylläpitää WL sivustoja
osoitteessa http://www.k9jy.com .
PS: Löytyykö joltakulta halvalla vanhoja n. 120MHz/64MB Pentiumeja :)
Thanks for the note. Yes, WriteLog is perfectly suited to Multi-op
contesting. There are about 10 multi stations using it that I know about (I
have no idea the total number). K4JA (ex: KS9K) runs a multi setup and we
have been using WriteLog since last October with great success. IQ9A for CQ
WW SSB this year (they are going to try and break the CN8WW M/M world record
this year) and one of the big Caribbean multi ops (who are going to try and
break the NA record this year) are also converting to it this year. Let me
go through some things to help answer your questions.
K4JA M/2, M/S Station
The reason I got involved with WriteLog is because K4JA no longer believed
CT was going to be a viable software program in the future. He was building
a new contest station in Virginia after retiring there from Wisconsin. Since
I did the majority of my contesting from KS9K and would now be flying out to
Virginia to contest from K4JA, I offered to become the software guru for the
station. Since Paul, K4JA, picked WriteLog, that's what I became an expert
on as a support to the station.
K4JA's station, excluding the fabulous antennas, has four radios and six
PC's including the AR Cluster PC. Five of the PC's are networked (excluding
the dedicated AR Cluster PC) to WriteLog. The fifth PC is used to 'monitor'
the contest and has six band maps open on it to see what is going on for
each band, packet spot window monitoring all packet spots, and the more
normal rate and entry windows. But the main purpose of this PC is for
station management during the contest.
The four PC's associated with the radios are set up to contest and look like
the screen shots on my web site for CQ WW SSB (although we are always
tweaking how the windows look, since we can do that!).
Packet is supported from both the AR Cluster into the network as well as
through the telnet function of WriteLog using DX Telnet. We telnet into 12
packet nodes worldwide and those spots are fed into our PC network.
We've done 7000 QSO's in one contest with no issues with WriteLog. The PC's
are straight-forward using Windows 98SE with 128MB of RAM, standard hard
drives (whatever is out of the box at that time), and run at 860 MHz or so.
He also has 19 inch monitors (which are very useful). My setup at home uses
a 233 MHz PC with only 64MB of RAM and I don't have any issues with packet,
saving files, code speed, etc., all running at the same time. So you need a
decent PC, but you don't need a 1.3 GHz screamer to do this. But you can't
use 486 PC's either.
Important points to remember in Multi setup
Since WriteLog runs on Windows, you get advantages and disadvantages. The
main advantages are:
Use of Windows networking. Networking WriteLog is a snap. If you can see the
other PC's with Windows networking, you can network WriteLog. Since it's
Ethernet, it's very fast.
Since WriteLog recovers logs (I've seen it recover 7000 QSO's in about 30
seconds!), all of your scores on all of the machines match at the end of the
contest (I never had one match with CT ever).
Moving Windows around is easy, as you would expect. In addition, compared to
CT, WriteLog combines a lot of functions in one Window compared to two. For
example, the 'Check Country' and 'Check Station' function of CT is combined
into one window in WriteLog.
And, you can have other programs open at the same time on the PC. Our low
band guys typically have a greyline program open right on the PC with
WriteLog so they can do a bit better on the bands.
The disadvantage of Windows is that, in spite of it supposed to being
standard, everyone uses different drivers for their programs which creates
conflicts. When we first started at K4JA's we had lots of problems with
WriteLog crashing. That lasted for one contest. Paul then reformatted the
hard drives and reinstalled Windows - and nothing else except WriteLog, our
clock program and Norton Utilities. He took out the email programs,
Microsoft Office, the other ham programs etc., etc. Then we ran WriteLog in
the rest of the contests and the biggest problem we have had since has been
where the program gets a page fault and we have to restart WriteLog (not
reboot the PC, just restart WriteLog) and we're back up and running in 30
seconds. This improved performance from vanilla Windows PC's is a big deal
and you will note that I make lots of commentary in my web site about
disabling all those start up programs to run WriteLog. This is why.
So my biggest advice to you to prevent problems in a multi environment is to
have very vanilla Windows PC's with WriteLog on it and not much else. If you
have to have PC's with lots of junk on them, disable as many of the Start Up
programs as you possibly can to avoid conflicts.
As you know, CT doesn't pretend to do serial numbers right. It most
certainly does not LOG what was sent, it just logs the contact and puts in
whatever number is up on the screen next. I personally don't know of any
program in a multi environment that gets serial numbers right. The
overriding advantage to WriteLog is that it will ALWAYS LOG WHAT WAS SENT.
You may have duplicate serial numbers as well as some serial number gaps in
the log, but you'll never get any QSO's taken away because the serial
numbers don't match from your end.
However, what drives people crazy is that the numbers sometimes don't go
sequentially up like CT - there are some duplicate numbers and gaps - even
though CT doesn't log what was sent and you get penalized for it! That
happens in a couple of situations, so let me summarize where WriteLog goes
up sequentially well and where it doesn't - but remember, it ALWAYS LOGS
WHAT WAS SENT. People forget that part...
Single Op - no serial number issues
SO2R with one PC - no serial number issues
Serial Numbers by Band - no serial number issues except when M/M and run and
spot are on the same band.
Serial Numbers by Radio - no serial number issues except when M/M and run
and spot are on same band.
Sequential serial numbers by all radios - when in a network, you will get
duplicate serial numbers because the 'reservation' of the serial number is
not transmitted over the network. So 20 meters and 15 meters can both
reserve the same serial number and send it to two different stations, but
note that WriteLog will correctly log the serial number sent.
In the last month, with a lot of testing, we've isolated this network
reservation issue with the developer and I suspect that there will be some
changes to the reservation system later. But right now, WriteLog is the only
software out there that actually logs what was sent and you will not get
penalized by the contest sponsors for having logged what was sent. You
should note that the serial number issue is so bad with the other software
programs that CQ WW WPX in May requested that the serial numbers should be
done by band just to minimize the problem.
WriteLog has most of them down really well for a multi environment.
Networking is a snap. The Gab function works great. 10.27G just added a
great schedule window for contest skeds that also includes passing
multipliers across the stations. WriteLog currently lacks a '10-minute'
timer and a '6-band change' function for M/S, but I can tell you that those
should be in place, depending on what needs to be there for that contest, by
CQ WW SSB. So if you are M/S in CQ WW SSB, you'll have a 10-minute timer
available for you (without the CT demand that you designate 'Run' vs. 'Mult'
station - WriteLog will figure that out for you...). There are also a few
other true 'multi' requests for feature additions to the program that aren't
on the schedule yet. But the developer puts out every-other-month releases,
so I would not be surprised if some things show up from that.
You can also run CW, SSB, RTTY, and PSK31 all from the PC's sound card. No
separate W9XT card or other DVK or other external interfaces. Simple cables
and you're done.
And, one of the most important features, you can make WriteLog 'CT
Compatible.' I came from CT as you guys are, and if you set that up in the
file as shown on my web site, you'll make your transition a LOT easier. When
we first ran WriteLog out at K4JA's, none of the operators had seen WriteLog
before that day. Whenever someone asked how to do something in WriteLog, I
asked how they did it in CT. 90% of the time, it was the same. Recording
messages, Insert key, + key, F1 for CQ message, etc. Once they got the hang
of it for about an hour, they started to see the other advantages to the
Well, Timo, a long answer to your question. I would encourage your group to
make the switch. There is, of course, always the 'afraid to change' that
goes on because you are trying to do well in the contest, but I think it's
well worth the effort. If I can be of any help, I'll gladly try.
K9JY's WriteLog User Support Site at:
CCF on WWW: http://www.qsl.net/ccf/
Administrative requests: ccf-REQUEST@contesting.com