[CQ-Contest] More on using TRlog on a WinXP machine with a thumb USB drive

kd4d at comcast.net kd4d at comcast.net
Mon Jan 31 14:09:00 EST 2005

Good day, all:

Success running TRLog in a real contest, booting from a floppy
and running TRLog from a USB stick.  This should work fine with
CT as well.  And, if you don't have a floppy available, you can
use a DOS boot CD!

Not all BIOSs will do this, but the ones that will make this easy
to do!

Thanks to Tom for using this in a real contest and N4ZR for
preliminary testing.


Mark, KD4D

----------------------  Forwarded Message:  ---------------------
From:    "Tom Whiteside" <tomw at ecpi.com>
To:      <Trlog at contesting.com>
Subject: [Trlog] More on using TRlog on a WinXP machine with a thumb USB drive
Date:    Mon, 31 Jan 2005 19:03:17 +0000

Sunday I posted success in an actual contest using TRlog on an XP machine using 
a boot diskette and a USB Flash (thumb) drive.    I have done a bunch of running 
TR using the debug simulator but nothing like a real contest to fully engage 

Mark, KD4D suggested I write a bit more so folks can see just how simple this 
process was.    He also suggested posting this on the Contest reflector - I'm 
not a subcriber so perhaps someone can forward if you think this is helpful.

OVERVIEW:  The concept is very simple - TR and XP are basically incompatible and 
the NTFS file system that new XP computers are built on are also incompatible 
with DOS.    One solution is adding an appropriate disk partition and using a 
dual boot arrangement as KD4D has thoroughly documented.    This is probably the 
best approach but my goal was to do this on a stock computer without changing 

Here is all I have to do:   Boot the computer under XP and plug in the thumb 
drive which has TR and my contest stuff on it.   Insert a DOS floppy and do a 
restart boot with the right autoexec, etc and voila - I am running TR on the 
Thumb drive.   Some computers support booting from the USB device but mine does 
not allow that.   KD4D has documented an approach for booting from a CD but my 
machine has a floppy and I just boot off of that.   What could be more simple?

Here are more details on what I did:

Setting up the thumb drive:
    Simple - these already use a FAT file format for compatibility - just 
created a TR directory and put my TR data in there.    This drive is seen as the 
"C" drive on boot.  Mine is a 512MB drive - this process probably won't work on 
one bigger than 2GB.

Setting up the floppy diskette:
    I used a Win98 machine to format a diskette by right clicking the A: drive 
and choosing to format the diskette with system files - you need that to allow 
it to boot.
Next, I copied the following DOS commands from the Win98 system to the diskette:


There may be other DOS commands you find you need and you can copy them onto the 
floppy as needed.   I located them using the Windows Explorer file search 

The AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files needed are very vanilla.   The 

lh smartdrv.exe  C+ 16384 2048 
cd tr
smartdrv.exe /c

A couple of comments - the USB thumb drives are painfully slow without using 
SMARTDRV.   Notice that I made the disk cache huge by DOS standards but no sweat 
for a modern computer.   The SMARTDRV.EXE /c last line is to insure that any 
latent cache writebacks get handled when the autoexec completes.   You could use 
a RAM disk to minimize writes to the drive but that seems like a good way to 
lose a contest to me....

Here is the CONFIG.SYS file:

device=emm386.exe noems

Nothing exciting here.

I had to do absolutely nothing unusual in the TR cfg file - all works just like 
normal.  I'm keying a DX Doubler with a parallel port and have a Ten Tec Orion 
on one of the native serial ports.    My Dell XPS computer has two serial ports 
and I can use the second one as a multiport or to feed packet spots from another 
computer using DXTelnet.    W5TA was doing a single op this weekend so packet 
was not being used but my testing has been with packet and TR simulator in debug 

What allows this to work in a modern computer is that the thumb drives are 
recognized and managed at the BIOS level.   I don't know why I have to run XP to 
get the drive going rather than a cold boot to DOS but I do.    

The bottom line is that this is EASY and it seems to work flawlessly here.   
Give it a try!   (Thanks to N4ZR for his NCJ blurb on doing this and to KD4D for 
his coaching in forgotten DOS lore and other encouragement.)

Tom Whiteside N5TW
Trlog mailing list
Trlog at contesting.com

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