Why do we log

For some of us the hobby of Amateur Radio is about making contacts. Contacts all around the world. And having some records and proof of these contacts is why we log. In the past keeping a log was a requirement of operating an amateur station, it was a way for the government to make sure that you were operating within their guidelines. While we don’t have to keep rigorous log books anymore, there are still reasons why you would want to.

There are two essentials types of information that every log needs: Information about your operation and information about the station you contact.

For your operation record the date, frequency, mode and power output; for the contact station record their call sign, the time the contact started and ended, their signal report, name and location (QTH).

When you enter the date and time, Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) or Zulu as it is commonly called, is highly recommended. Using UTC eliminates confusion over time zones or daylight saving time. In the past this meant keeping a clock near your station that was set to UTC instead of local time. You can purchase radio clocks that will keep time in both local and UTC, making it easy for you to get both times quickly and easily.

This is one of the advantages of the computerized logging programs. They keep UTC date and time straight automatically. Of course, you are free to use local time as long as you indicate this clearly in the log. It is unwise to mix UTC and local times and dates together in the log; use one or the other.

Non-essential information that is worth recording is your signal report and that of the contact. You might also want to note comments about the contact’s rig, antenna and quality of their CW, if pertinent. For an interesting contact, you can include notes about your conversation or a QSLing route (many DX and DXpedition stations cannot be QSLed directly but must be QSLed through a QSL bureau or manager). It is also useful to note in the log when you send a QSL and if you receive it. A month after the contact, when you can’t remember if you sent a card to that rare DXpedition that won’t happen again for 10 years, those notes alone will be worth the cost of the logbook or program.

If logging manually during a contest, it’s often impractical to record the start and end times for each station so these log areas can be used for contest-exchange information.

Paper Logs

The hard copy paper logbook is the traditional keeper of the contacts. The format of your log can be your own personal preference. By using a common composition book with bound pages, you can add information in the order that makes sense to you. Online you can find sample log sheet formats that you can view or download, or you can even buy logbooks from organizations like the ARRL, or lots of others sources online. You can buy small ones for mobile or portable use, waterproof ones for outdoor use, fancy ones for inside your shack, there are a lots of choices and it’s nice to have at least one paper log book even if you decide to use a computer based logging program, you never know when the computer or power may fail and having a paper backup is good practice.


Computerized Logging

A number of computer logging programs are also available. Computer logs are configurable and can automatically keep track of a wide range of information. Many include tools to control modern software controllable rigs. Rotor control is also available with some and many will automatically generate a great circle map from your location to any other point on the globe. Time and date functions for UTC, local and daylight savings are standard but you can also find computer loggers that will display a gray line diagram for helping to plot propagation. There are also a number of logging programs available that are designed specifically to help you during contests. Some are general contesting programs that record generic points and multipliers while keeping track of the basic information. Others are designed with specific contests in mind and aim to help you maximize your score. There are even some that are general contest loggers that have plug-ins available for those contests you are interested in. Contesters almost always use computers to log. Finally, many computer logs support an export function that makes sending your log to one of the online verification services like  Logbook of The World (LoTW) or eQSL.

Now that we have smart phones and tablets there are also tons of logging apps that you can download from the app stores.  Most of these apps also share many of the same features as the computer based logging program.

Personally I use Ham Radio Deluxe, if your not aware HRD (Ham Radio Deluxe is a suite of programs designed to all work together. These programs include;

Rig Control – which is allowing your computer to control many of the functions on your radio including changing modes, frequencies, tuning, filters. The way this works is via a CAT link from your radio to the PC, CAT stands for Computer Aided Transceiver and it’s a standard feature found on most HF radios from the 90’s and newer. It’s a feature to look for when shopping for an old HF transceiver.

Logging – is a second app within HRD that is very easy to use and has tons of features. If your logger is communicating with your radio like of information like time, frequency, mode can all be populated in the log entry automatically, all you may need to enter is the callsign and signal report.

Other programs within HRD is Digital Modes, Rotor Control, and Satellite Tracking.

Ham Radio Deluxe is available in two versions. Due to a transfer of ownership of the software there is a free version 5.2.4. This version was the last version from the previous owners and it was released in October of 2012. Many people use the free version and are quite happy with it still 6 years later.

The new developers HRD Software LLC have worked hard over the last 6 years to migrate the entire code base for Ham Radio Deluxe onto newer development tools while continuing to add features and add support for more and more newer radios. Their pricing model is either a one time $99 US purchase that comes with a lifetime of free updates, and one year of support. Or, you can purchase a single year of support for $50 dollars and get the latest version of the software and updates for one year.

Verifying Logged Contacts

So, now we’ve covered how to log and what tools are available. The next step would be for you to start logging your contacts and building up the entries in your log. Once that collection of entries starts to grow there are additional steps that you can do to confirm those contacts. Confirmation typically means your logged contact and the logged contact of the other operator that you communicated with are matched up. If both of you log a contact at the same time on the same frequency and mode, then it’s now a confirmed contact. Traditional confirmations of contacts came from the exchange of QSL cards. You sent someone your QSL card with the contact data, and then they returned to you their QSL card with the matching data from their contact with you. QSL cards were a slow process, and required that you had cards printed, and often required that postage would need to be purchased. One of the great features of using computerized logging is that the programs can export or upload your contacts in a specific format into a online database. These database services match up the contacts from all participating amateur around the world and confirm the matches for you. To of the best examples are Logbook of the World from the American Radio Relay League, and eQSL.cc a website based out of Texas.

Logbook of the World

Logbook of the World (LoTW) is an online service that enables you to electronically submit contacts (QSOs) for confirmation. You can view your submitted QSOs and resulting confirmations online. You can also view your progress toward popular awards which can help you target the contacts you need to be working on to win those awards.

As stated in LoTW's Mission and Objectives, membership in the ARRL is not a requirement. To use LoTW, download the free TQSL application and direct it to request participation. You'll be issued a unique Callsign Certificate, and provided with access to an LoTW Account via the internet.

After you're registered, you can submit QSOs to LoTW by either using TQSL to digitally sign those QSOs and convey them to LoTW via the internet, or by using one of the many logging applications that provide this capability including Ham Radio Deluxe.

If the information in a submitted QSO matches the information submitted to LoTW by the your QSO partner, the LoTW Accounts of both you and your QSO partner will show the submitted QSO as confirmed.

A Callsign Certificate authenticates the source of each submitted QSO, and no operator is permitted to see the information submitted by other operators. This combination maintains the integrity of the QSO verification process that has long been the hallmark of ARRL awards.

There is no fee for obtaining a Callsign Certificate, submitting QSOs, or using one's LoTW Account to view submitted QSOs, confirmed QSOs, or award progress. A fee is only charged when submitting confirmed QSOs for Award Credit.


eQSL.cc was the first and only global electronic QSL card exchange for amateur radio operators and short wave listeners. It was designed to be the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to exchange QSO confirmations, eliminating the cost and time that sending out regular QSL cards that was the previous method of choice for the past century. With a huge global membership eQSL.cc is THE place where everyone exchanges QSLs quickly and easily. It has also become one of the largest awards organization for amateur radio with over 127,000 eAwards issued.

Using eQSL is free but it also offers some pay to use premium services. You register and sign-up with the website, provide proof of your amateur radio license by sending in a scanned document, then you design an electronic QSL card using their built in web editor. Once your account is confirmed and your card is designed, then you can start to upload your contacts from your electronic logging software.

Basic QSL card designs are free, but if you want to get fancy or upload a digital copy of your real QSL card, then you start to get into the paid services part of eQSL.

Using eQSL is really easy and operates kind of like your online web email does.

You go to the eQSL website and log in and go to your Inbox, any confirmed QSL matches are in your Inbox and you can read and review them, the other persons eQSL card is also there for you to view or download.

Once you’ve read the new QSL’s and maybe downloaded the eQSL card you can then archive these contacts which removes them from your Inbox. The next time you come back to eQSL, more new QSL’s may be in your Inbox and you can repeat the process.

If you’re old school and like to keep a binder or photo album full of QSL cards, then you can print out the eQSL files and use them the same way. I personally grabbed a digital picture frame, and I copy my eQSL cards onto the picture frame and have them on display in my shack rotating in a digital slideshow.


So we log our contacts for a permanent record of the unique contacts that we make around the world.

We can now use paper or computerized logging software or apps.

Traditionally we exchanged QSL cards to confirm our contacts, but now we also can use online services like Logbook of the World and eQSL.

BC QSO Party

This weekend is the BC QSO Party, as always it’s being sponsored by the BC based Orca DX and Contest Club. What is a QSO party? It’s a casual, on-air event typically organized by a contesting club in a state or province to help spur on-air HF activity in that area. What is the objective of BC QSO Party? The primary objective is to encourage BC stations to get on the air in a relaxed setting to gain on-air experience or help others gain on-air experience, and at the same time offer stations outside BC a chance to connect with VE7/VA7s on various bands and modes.

The BC QSO Party 2018 will run during daytime hours from 1600 UTC on Saturday February 3rd to 2359 UTC on February 4th with time off overnight. And easier way to explain it (in local time) would be 8am – 8pm on Saturday, and 8am to 4pm on Sunday.  So there are a total of 20 hours: 12 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday.

For more information visit the Orca club website at www.orcadxcc.org