[na-user] NA problem solved -- check MASTER.DTA

The Tolberts The Tolberts" <jtolbert@gremlan.org
Sat, 27 Jan 2001 11:07:03 -0500

There are 2 programs on the CT web site used in the creation of .dta files.,
mas_tool.exe and mas_k2mm.exe. I've never used them but I beleive both have
read me files in the archive.

73 Jamie WW3S

----- Original Message -----
From: "k8cc" <k8cc@mediaone.net>
To: <G3SQX@email.com>; <na-user@contesting.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2001 10:48 AM
Subject: Re: [na-user] NA problem solved -- check MASTER.DTA

> Ed,
> Let me clarify some things concerning MASTER.DTA files.  I'm copying this
> to the reflector because others might be interested in this information.
> The MASTER.DTA format was invented by K1EA for use with the CT logging
> program.  Eventually NA, TRLog and perhaps others implemented the "Super
> Check Partial" feature similar to CT and adopted the MASTER.DTA format.
> The MASTER.DTA file has a very unusual format, so I am curious whether the
> MASTER.DTA you modifed is really in CT format, or something simpler that
> intended for another program?  For example, I think there is a file
> maintained by some VHFers which might be called MASTER.DTA but includes
> other information such as grid square.  This file is *NOT* a K1EA-format
> file and is not usable with CT, NA or TRLog.  If you can read MASTER.DTA
> with a text editor, it is NOT a K1EA-format file.
> MASTER.DTA starts with a set of pointers to "streams" of callsigns within
> the file which contain a particular two-letter fragment.  The pointers are
> calculated using the ASCII values of the characters in the fragment, and
> the only valid characters are 0-9, A-Z (uppercase only) and the slash
> bar.  Anything else (including spaces) will probably send NA into the
> weeds.  (Because of the speed at which the MASTER.DTA file must be
> NA does not include a lot of error-checking.)
> Perhaps this is better explained by example.  Suppose I enter "N0" in the
> callsign field of NA and auto-check kicks in.  NA calculates the pointer
> the beginning of the stream of callsigns which include "N0".  It also
> calculates the pointer to the beginning of the "next" stream of callsigns
> (i.e., those which include "N1") and backs up one byte to determine where
> the "N0" stream ends in the file.  NA simply starts at one end of the
> stream and pulls out callsigns (which are separated by nuls) until the
> window is full or the end of the stream is reached.  (There is more to it,
> such as dupe-checking the call, or if the partial is longer than two
> but this is the basic process.)
> Addressing your points:
> >After some correspondence with K8CC, I've discovered that I've
> >unwittingly been using a bad DTA file.  I decided that I'd enter the
> >names of all my friends in the DTA file as (for example) K8CC/DAVE, so
> >that I was reminded in the middle of a contest and could at least say
> >hello.  I also had entered some calls that genuinely had slashes, such
> >as F/ON8KO.  Anyway, the DTA rules are that just letters and numbers are
> >allowed.  Furthermore, the database should be in alphabetical order to
> >operate correctly.
> Slashes are OK, but as described above anything other than 0-9, A-Z or a
> slash is not.  The calls doe not have to be in alphabetical order in
> MASTER.DTA, but if they're not they won't show up in alphabetical order in
> the NA F8 window. (Sorting these on the fly would require tremendous
> amounts of memory and would slow the program to a crawl.)  Also, keep in
> mind if you add things like a name to a call (i.e., K8CC/DAVE) that the
> columns in the F8 window are defined by the longest entry in that column,
> so with longer entries you'll see fewer calls in the window.
> >I haven't been able to find any rules published as to what is the
> >correct DTA format, and would appreciate knowing what these are.  I have
> >been in the habit of creating my own DTA files from past entries in the
> >IOTA contest and some others, and would like to make sure these are in
> >the correct format.
> To the best of my knowledge, there is no published specification for the
> MASTER.DTA file.  I "reverse engineered" the file to make NA work with
> it.  Generating a MASTER.DTA requires specially-designed software - its
> something you can create with a database like MS-Access.
> K1EA invented MASTER.DTA, and Jim, AD1C has been publishing MASTER.DTA
> files associated with CT for years.  Jim has been kind enough to share the
> .DTAs he generates with the providers of NA, TRLog and perhaps others.  My
> experience has been problematic with others who have published .DTA files,
> usually because the calls are not sorted alphabetically, or callsigns
> appear multiple times in a single callsign stream.
> Late last year, AD1C announced he would like to get out of the MASTER.DTA
> business.  I and my contesting cohort (and NA user) Tim, K9TM volunteered
> to take over the task.  An exact timetable has not been set, but sometime
> in the near future the torch will be passed.  Nothing will change from the
> standpoint of the user - you'll still be able to find recent versions of
> MASTER.DTA in all the places you currently find them.
> I hope this explanation is useful and not just a waste of bandwidth.
> Dave Pruett, K8CC
> DATOM Engineering
> datom@contesting.com
> http://datom.contesting.com
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