[CQ-Contest] Bad Format Logs

Bob Naumann W5OV at W5OV.COM
Thu Jul 26 04:31:00 PDT 2012

ZL2TZE asked:

Is there a problem within the Logging Software used to produce these logs or is it the hand written logs causing problems or the wrong templates ? 

Generally, no. The major contest software packages have the Cabrillo format correct. There are some exceptions (mostly in less popular software packages - & primarily from non-English speaking EU) but all the major, well-known contest loggers get it right.

What is the biggest single poke you in the eye issue...

The biggest problem is errors that have nothing to do with proper formatting (as mentioned, wrong contest, wrong callsign, etc.) followed by those who try to create their own Cabrillo format file without strictly following the requirements or edit the one correctly made by their software and mess it up (when one looks at these files, they 'look' like a Cabrillo file - but they're not), and lastly those who don't have a clue what they're doing and they submit Word, Excel, Dbase, CT Bin files, Adif files, other proprietary logging software database files, and other text files that in no way resemble the required (and truly simple) Cabrillo format. 

We've had people from rare DX locations who while on a business trip at the last minute were able to activate a rare country and had no logging software with them - so they used Excel. When we get a log like this with literally thousands of QSOs, we want to get it into the database and this takes work - and work that the entrant cannot do - for one reason or another. It would be great if we could push back and tell the entrant to fix it, but that is not always an available option.

The most frustrating ones are those that are created by logging software that does Cabrillo correctly, but the entrant can't figure out how to get to the Cabrillo file so they send an ADIF file, or the actual database that their software uses (e.g. an .MDB file, .BIN, etc.).

So, the bottom line is that the majority of problems are human errors that cannot be corrected by the logging software. Again, the logging software makes the correct format file - the users end up goofing it up somehow.

The wrong callsign thing is a tough one as we often don't know until the first pass of the log checking process that a file has been submitted with the wrong callsign in the file - and this is detected because the file shows 100% NIL (Not In Log). Often, the person submitting the file for a multi-op station will have his callsign as the default in his copy of the logging program. He sends the log, it's formatted perfectly, all the qsos are on the correct dates and times, and the log is accepted. We have no way of knowing that this mistake has occurred when it's submitted. 

I wish there was an easy way to stop all of these errors from happening, but they come in all shapes and sizes so I doubt that there's an easy solution.


Bob W5OV

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