Contest Software Overview
The major HF contest season is upon us, and I wanted to take a few moments to do a quick review of different contest logging software available to users of OS X. Whether you are a serious contester, a casual contester, or someone who is just getting started, there is a contest logger that can meet your specific needs.
Under active development since 2009, SkookumLogger has become a full-featured contest software package suitable for the most demanding contester while still remaining accessible to the casual contester as well.
Incorporating nearly every feature available in standard contest software on other platforms, SkookumLogger’s feature list includes, but is not limited to:
- Instant duplicate checking
- Partial call sign matching against log and Super Check Partials (SCP) database
- Integrated download and update of databases via internet
- Activity tables (band maps) for each contest band
- Multiplier check sheets, including countries, prefixes, zones, locators, and more
- Real-time Time/Rate tracking
- Real-time Score window
- Full DX Cluster support
- Rig integration, including CAT control, amplifier interfaces, CW keying, and more
- Export to ADIF, CSV, Numbers, and of course Cabrillo
- Automatic LoTW submission
- Support for more than 80 contests including those from ARRL, IARU, RSGB, CQ, various national contests and state QSO parties, and even general logging.
Of note, SkookumLogger was the only Mac logger used during the 2014 World Radio Team Sport HF Championships in June 2014.
SkookumLogger is available free of charge and can be downloaded here.
RUMped is a contest and dxpedition logger from DL2RUM, the developer of RUMlog. Supporting many contests with more templates available via the RUMsoft web site, RUMped has all of the features necessary to be considered a serious contesting logger. The feature list of RUMped includes:
- Real-time scoring, including multipliers
- Partial call check during typing
- Dupe checking
- Auto CQ
- Rig control for most major rigs, including CW keying via WinKeyer or via K2/K3 internal keyer
- DX Cluster support
- DXCC, CQ/ITU zone heading and distance calculation
- Keyboard mode for CW or RTTY
- Band maps for multiple bands
- Greyline map
- Contest Maker to make user-defined contest templates
- Log export in ADIF, Cabrillo, text, or CSV format, as well as easy import to RUMlog
RUMped is free of change and is available from RUMsoft’s website here.
While the first two entries on this list are dedicated contest loggers, MacLoggerDX is a general purpose logbook. That being said, MacLoggerDX is a great choice for casual or even some serious contesters. Supporting more than 120 individual contests, all of the major contests are covered and many of the smaller, but no less exciting, contests are supported as well.
MacLoggerDX includes features found in dedicated contest software such as Super Check Partial database, dupe checking, automated exchange incrementing, DX Cluster support, and more. Export to Cabrillo format for log submission is supported through the use of an external program known as CabConverter. This program takes an ADIF file generated by MacLoggerDX and converts it to the required Cabrillo format, complete with proper header and exchange information. CabConverter is available for download from the CabConverter group on Yahoo Groups.
Although not a dedicated contest program, MacLoggerDX is indeed a serious contender as a primary logger for most casual contesters. Many dedicated contesters will likely also find everything they need in MacLoggerDX. If you use MacLoggerDX as your day-to-day logger, then using it as your contest logger is probably a no-brainer unless you need a specific feature in one of the dedicated loggers.
MacLoggerDX is available from Dog Park Software for $95, and a free trial version can be downloaded here.
Aether is another general-purpose logger with some contest support built in. Supporting approximately 90 contests including all of the major events, Aether includes basic contesting tools such as rig control, dupe checking against log, support for sent and received exchange fields, and Cabrillo exporting. While not as full-featured as a dedicated contest logger, Aether can meet the need of a casual contester who dabbles in contests from time to time and who may not need the full features of a dedicated contest logger.
Aether is available from Open Reel Software or the Mac App Store and supports OS X 10.5 or newer with a G4, G5 or Intel processor. Aether is priced at $39 and a free trial can be downloaded here.
jLog is a Java-based logbook designed to provide a common interface under any platform, OS X, Windows, Unix, Linux or any other OS capable of running Java. While jLog has a wide-ranging feature set comparable with other loggers, its support for contests is very limited and is currently experimental.
Supporting only the ARRL-DX, CQ-WPX, and SAC contests, jLog does provide built-in CW keying, rig control, and export in Cabrillo format.
While hardly a full-featured contest logger, jLog may meet the needs of those very casual contesters that participate in the supported contest and already use jLog as their daily logger.
jLog requires the installation of the appropriate Java Runtime Environment for your platform. jLog is available free of charge and the OS X version can be downloaded here.
Although more commonly known as a general digital mode software package, Fldigi does incorporate a simple yet useful set of basic contest logging features. What is little known about Fldigiis that it can be used not only from digital mode contests, but also for CW or SSB contests as well.
The contest features of Fldigi include
- Support for incremental serial number in/out
- Support for contest exchanges in and out
- CW keying (audio injected) with support for cut numbers
- Duplicate checking, configurable by band, mode, or time span
- Macro system can be set to automate exchanges and increment serial numbers
- Fantastic for digital mode contests of any kind
Fldigi can export its log in text (Cabrillo) format, but the log header may require some manual editing in order to get it in the format required by robot log submission systems used in some contests.
Fldigi is available for OS X on both PPC and Intel systems, and can be downloaded free of charge here