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2.1.3 The Contest Setup Dialog - Basics

This dialog is reached from the File menu in the Entry Window, by clicking on either New Log in Database or Open Log in Database. It is used either to set up a new contest or to modify something about a contest that you have already created.

 There Are Contests, and Then There Are Contests

As it is generally used in ham radio, the word "contest" refers to a competitive operating event of some kind. As the term is used in N1MM Logger+, it can refer either to such an event or to a specific occurrence of a particular event, for which you have set up a log. You can have an unlimited number of CQWWCW "contests" (distinct contest logs) in a single database - it might be better to call them "contest instances", but it is probably too late to find and correct every use of the term according to its meaning in context. In virtually all cases, what is meant will be obvious from context.

1. Databases versus Logs


Before starting your first contest, you should understand how N1MM Logger+ stores contests and contacts. The two key terms are Databases and Logs. As an analogy, think of your PC's hard disk as a large room containing computer stuff. Into this room, N1MM Logger+ places File Cabinets (Databases) and within those File cabinets, N1MM Logger+ adds individual Folders (Logs). For each contest that you operate, you will add a new Log to hold the contacts for that contest. Your large room with computer stuff can hold as many File Cabinets (Databases) and as many Folders (Logs) as you want - until, of course, your hard drive is full.

Continuing our File Cabinet and Folder analogy, there are many methods by which you can arrange your file cabinets (Databases). Here are three examples:

1. DATABASE PER CONTEST TYPE - Some hams prefer to create a Database for each major contest type. The Databases folder in your N1MM Logger+ user files area might contain databases (>File >New Database) named CQWW.s3db, ARRLDX.s3db, ARRL160.s3db and CQWPX.s3db. When setting up each contest, you >File >Open the Database corresponding to the contest to be operated, then >File >New Log (folder) for that particular contest. So, one of these databases could contain CW, Phone, and RTTY logs from 2014, 2015, and 2016... for that particular contest. You might want to add a database like MISCELLANEOUS.s3db for the smaller contests or contests that you only plan to operate a couple of times.

2. DATABASE PER CALENDAR YEAR - Some hams create a new Database each year. At the beginning of each year, you would >File >New Database a database named K8UT_2014.s3db, K8UT_2015.s3db or K8UT_2016.s3db. In each database would be the Logs (folders) for every contest you operate during that year. When setting up each contest, you would >File >Open Database for the correct year, then >File >New Log (folder) for that particular contest. So, this database would contain all contests (CQ WW, ARRL DX, CQ WPX...) worked during that year.

3. DATABASE PER EACH CONTEST - Some hams create a new Database each time they operate a contest. The Databases folder in your N1MM Logger+ user files area would contain lots of databases - one for each contest that you operate. When setting up each contest, you would >File >New Database, and then within that database you would >File >New Log. Although some hams may find this the easiest method to understand, managing all of those files after many years may become a problem.

4. DATABASE FOR EACH DIFFERENT CALL SIGN - If you use more than one call sign (including club call signs as well as call signs with modifier suffixes or prefixes, such as W1ABC/3 or ZL/G4ABC), then you should create a separate database for each new call sign. The call sign used over the air is stored in the Call field in the Station Information dialog, and this is what controls the sent call sign field in each line of the Cabrillo file as well as the call sign sent by the {MYCALL} and * macros.

These aren't your only Database/Log options, but perhaps one of them matches the way your brain works. How about organizing your logs by mode: CW.s3db, PHONE.s3db, DIGITAL.s3db? N1MM Logger+ can do any of these - choose the method that provides the easiest way for you to create new logs before the contest and find your old logs after the contest.

1.1. What Else is In a Database?

In addition to your QSOs, there are a number of tables in the database that contain data that may, and probably will vary from one contest to the next. These include such things as multiplier lists for particular contests, function key definitions for CW, SSB and digital modes, the contents of the last wl_cty.dat file that you loaded, and a Call History table (if one has been loaded).

Why should you care? For several reasons:

If you modify the function key definitions while operating, that modification applies only to the current database. Each database only has space for one set of function keys for each mode, one Call history file, one set of Telnet buttons, and a pointer to one master.scp file in the program directory.
When you switch to another database, those definitions (and in particular, any changes you made) are left behind. That's why the program provides for exporting function key definitions (among other things) to text files, which can then be loaded into the database as needed. You can label these text files in a contest-specific way so that it will be easy to find when you set up for the next time.
Master.scp files may change from contest to contest, too. You don't have to load them into the database, but you do have to make sure that you have pointed to the appropriate file for each contest. That is one reason for the Associated Files tab in the Contest Setup dialog - so that when you switch contests, the files you need (or pointers to them) are automatically loaded.
The same thing applies to Call History files. One common error that Call History users often make is to forget to load the appropriate file into the database. They set up a contest and find they are getting the wrong information about stations they work because the Call History table still contains data that is appropriate for a different contest.

The takeaway is this - when you change contests within a database, or change databases, your function keys, master.scp file, Call History file, and Telnet buttons will still be those from the last contest you worked using that database, UNLESS you have identified the appropriate files on the Associated Files tab while setting up the new contest.

N1MM Logger+ has transitioned to using SQLite as its database engine, and no longer uses a single database to store both contest logs and other administrative data. What this means is that in addition to the databases that contain your contest logs, there are also some other databases in the same Windows directory that the program uses for other purposes. If you don't know what a database file is used for, don't delete it. Also, do not try to open the file called "Do_Not_Use_Or_Erase.s3db". Just leave it alone, like the file name says.

2. Start a new contest log

Once you have chosen and opened the database you want to use, to start a new contest in that database select >File >New Log in Database. This will open the Contest Setup dialog.

Initially, you'll see the name of the contest last used by the program from this database.

ContestDialog NewContest TopOfDialog

Click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the current contest name (called the "handle") to drop down the list of all supported contests.

ContestDialog NewContest ContestSelector

  • You can search alphabetically by pressing the first letter of a contest's short name, and then scrolling to find the right one, or else repeatedly pressing the first letter until you get there.


A list of supported contests can be found in the Supported Contests chapter. Check the contest website for the latest rules and check the contest setup information in the Contest Setup Instructions chapter.

 Showing the Long Name of the Contest

Sometimes it is difficult to choose a contest based solely on its short contest acronym. Contests have longer display names that will show in a tool tip if you use the up/down cursor keys to scroll through the list of contests. This can make it easier to decide which contest type to select.

2.1. Start Date

The Start Date distinguishes between multiple versions or instances of a given contest in your database. It is possible to have two instances of the same contest with the same start date and time, but it can get confusing trying to figure out which one is which, so the program allows you to change the start dates and times in order to distinguish between them.

  • When you set up a new contest, the Start Date defaults to the first following date corresponding to the day of the week on which the program expects that the contest will start, and the correct start time. Year to year, dates of contests change, but the day of the week usually remains the same. In the example above, a new CQWWSSB contest was created during the week of April 14. The program defaulted the start date and time to 0000Z on the following Saturday, April 19 (which is not, of course, the correct date for the actual CQWWSSB contest).
  • to enter the correct date (and time, if necessary), single-click on the date in the Start Date box.

 Don't screw up your contest goals

In addition to distinguishing between multiple instances of a contest, the Start Date also affects calculation of on-off times and goals. If you set the Start Date to the "wrong" day of the week, then for purposes of computing time on or off the air and for displaying any goals you have set in the Info window the program will assume the contest starts at the correct time on the correct day of the week following the Start Date you entered.


To avoid confusion, it is easiest to set up the log you will actually use within a week before the start of the contest, or else to change the Start Date for that log to the correct date for the contest. If you want to practice ahead of time, you can set up a practice version of the contest with a different start date and/or time. As long as it is in the same database, you'll be able to set goals, set up your function keys and other associated files, and all of this will be remembered when you set up the "real" log. Just delete the practice log (or leave it in the database - no harm done, except for a bit of wasted space) and you're ready to go.

3. Open an Existing Contest Log

To open an existing contest log in the currently selected database. Select >File >Open Log in Database

  • In the top part of the dialog the currently available (already created) contest logs can be selected by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the textbox. Note that the textbox is captioned "Select Existing Log"
  • Contest-specific changes can be made in the Contest and Associated Files tabs. More information in the paragraphs below

ContestDialog OpenContest TopOfDialog

When you highlight a contest log in the list, the number of contacts in that log is displayed below the Contest tab below the list box, over to the right just above the box that says "State for Log Type QSOPARTY". You can use this to tell whether this is a new contest log that hasn't been used yet, or maybe a test log that you created in order to log a few dummy contacts and check out the operation and setup, versus a real contest log with a large number of contacts in it.

You may wish to delete a test log with only dummy contacts in it, or perhaps a log that you set up in anticipation of a contest and then never actually logged any contacts in. To delete a contest, click on the contest in the contest pane, as shown above, so it is selected. Then press Delete. For example, the CQWWCW contest in the screen shot above is selected and can be deleted by pressing the Delete key.

 Don't Make This Mistake!

Deleting a contest permanently removes the contest and all of its QSOs from the database; you won't be able to recover them. By contrast, if you delete individual QSOs from a contest log, they are not really deleted, just moved from the contest they were logged in to the DELETEDQS contest where you can still get at them if you need to. But if you remove an entire contest, those contest QSOs are gone, gone, gone!

4. Contest-Specific Information

Below the contest selection area is a section where you define your entry in this particular running of the contest. This is further divisible into Categories, Sent Exchange, Operators and Soapbox Comments

Of these, the first is Categories - are you single op or multi-op, high or low power, and so on. Depending on the contest you will see one of two lists of categories to be chosen. This is because some contest organizers (the ARRL and IARU in particular) have adopted the Cabrillo 3.0 format for contest entries, while the others continue to accept Cabrillo 2.0. The Cabrillo file headers are different, requiring different lists.

These lists may seem a bit daunting at first, but remember a couple of things. You can always change your selections before the contest if things don't come up as you expect them to, or after the contest if you have trouble getting the contest organizer to accept your Cabrillo entry. As a last resort, you can use a text editor on the header of the Cabrillo file.

ContestDialog ContestTab

Always check these entry categories. Some of the defaults may not be correct for your entry in the new contest you are setting up.

4.1. Contest Tab

4.1.1. Operator Category

Make a choice for your situation. Choices in Cabrillo 2.0 contests are:

    • SINGLE-OP
    • SINGLE-OP-ASSISTED
    • MULTI-ONE
      • In CQWW contests, you will be asked whether this station is a Run or a Mult station
    • MULTI-TWO
      • An identifier is needed for Station 1 and Station 2 that must be specified when setting up initially in this category. Each time the program is loaded or the contest changed, the program will ask you to specify Station 1 or 2
    • MULTI-MULTI
    • SCHOOL-CLUB
    • CHECKLOG
    • SINGLE-OP-PORTABLE
    • ROVER
      • If your entry is in this class, selecting Rover will enable some useful additional functions.
    • MULTI-UNLIMITED
    • MULTI-LIMITED
  • Choices in Cabrillo 3.0 contests are:
    • SINGLE-OP
    • MULTI-OP
    • CHECKLOG

4.1.2. Band Category

Make a choice for your situation. Choices are:

    • ALL
    • 160M
    • 80M
    • 40M
    • 20M
    • 15M
    • 10M
    • LIMITED
    • CHECKLOG
  • Choices in Cabrillo 3.0 range from ALL to LIGHT

4.1.3. Power Category

Make a choice for your situation. Choices are:

    • HIGH
    • LOW
    • QRP
    • MEDIUM

4.1.4. Mode Category

Make a choice for your situation. Choices are:

    • CW
    • SSB
    • RTTY
    • PSK
    • MIXED - both CW and SSB are allowed in this contest. The band buttons in the Entry window will show one column each for CW and SSB
    • DIGITAL = no CW & SSB, just RTTY and/or PSK (defined by the contest)
    • MIXED+DIG = CW & SSB & Digital all allowed

4.1.5. Overlay Category

Used in relatively few contests. In Cabrillo 3.0 contests, only N/A, TB-WIRES, NOVICE-TECH, OVER-50 and ROOKIE are valid. Choices are:

    • N/A (default)
    • ROOKIE
    • BAND-LIMITED
    • TB-WIRES (tri-bander and wires)
    • OVER-50
    • HQ
    • NOVICE-TECH
    • EXPERT - The EXPERT overlay category in contests where it exists must be selected for the 5 minute band change counter to be inactive for SINGLE-OP stations.



In CQ WPX CW and CQ WPX SSB, category overlay may be any combination of ROOKIE, BAND-LIMITED, or TB-WIRES. In STEW PERRY, the category overlay may be OVER-50. In IARU-HF and RSGBBERU, the category overlay may be HQ. In PACC the category overlay may be NOVICE-TECH.

The following items are required by Cabrillo 3.0

4.1.6. Station Category

Choices are:

    • FIXED
    • MOBILE
    • PORTABLE
    • ROVER
    • EXPEDITION
    • HQ
    • SCHOOL

4.1.7. Assisted Category

    • ASSISTED
    • NON-ASSISTED

4.1.8. Xmitter Category

    • ONE
    • TWO
    • LIMITED
    • UNLIMITED
    • SWL

4.1.9. Time Category

    • N/A
    • 6-HOURS
    • 12-HOURS
    • 24-HOURS

4.1.10. Assisted Category

    • Xmitter Category
    • Time Category

4.1.11. Sent Exchange

    • Sent exchanges are defined for each contest. Look in >Digging Deeper >Supported Contest Setup instructions for guidance. Usually a serial number, zone, state etc
    • Do not put 59, 599, or RS(T) information in the Exchange field

 No RST in the Exchange

Do not put a signal report in the sent exchange. It will cause incorrect Cabrillo output. Typically, the program will warn you if you make this mistake.

4.1.11.1. If the Exchange is a serial number
    • Enter either the expression 001 or the # macro in the Exchange field
4.1.11.2. Starting with a Serial Number other than Zero
    • Some contests which have more parts/sessions there is the need to start a next session with the next number given in the previous part. So how not to start with 001?
    • There are two workarounds:
      • Start second part as a separate contest and make the first QSO with number 001 and log it, then correct (Ctrl+Y) to proper sent number
      • Start second part as a separate contest, enter fake QSO, open QSO in EDIT window, change SENT number from 001 to last number you sent in the previous part of the contest, save changes, et voila, it's done. When a couple of real contacts have been entered, delete the fake QSO
4.1.11.3. Using a Serial Number Server

N1MM logger supports a single sequence of serial numbers for SO2R, MS, M2 and MM.

The serial number is reserved in S&P mode when the cursor leaves the callsign field or the Exchange key (F2 default) is sent either through spacing, tabbing, hitting Enter in ESM or pressing the Exchange Function Key. This is needed so you can enter calls to check for dupes while not reserving a serial number

The serial number is reserved and displayed in Run mode as soon as you enter a letter in the call-sign field. This is because on SSB people frequently talk before they type, and they need to see the serial number displayed earlier.

In SO2R and SO2V, typing Alt+W (wipe) after a serial number has been reserved or clearing the entry window through QSY will "un-reserve" that number.

Because of the way the serial number server works, there are a few cautions:

    • Serial numbers issued by the second radio may be out of time sequence with those issued by the main one. This occurs because certain program actions cause a serial number to be reserved for the use of a station, and if that station does not use that number until after the other station has made several QSOs, when the log is viewed in chronological order the serial number will appear to be out of order. I don't think there is anything to be done about this
    • For similar reasons, depending on operator actions at one or the other station, such as shutting down the program while a number is reserved, there may be some gaps (numbers not issued) when reviewing the final log
    • The most important aspects of serial numbering are that the serial sent to a station be correctly logged, and that there be no duplicate serial numbers sent; the intent is always to meet both these criteria
    • Sometimes it's possible a number will be skipped when given out but not used (example: QSO not made after all or deleted). Contest committees do accept this behavior!
    • The maximum sent number to give is 32767. The maximum received number is 99999

 What Do Sponsors Look For?

Most sponsors are more interested in serial number accuracy than in serial number time order. If you think about it, it is impossible to guarantee the order of serial numbers in a two radio situation. This assumes that you always log the time when the QSO is added to the log, which is the right time from a rules point of view. i.e. end of contact.



Addendum by Steve, N2IC

Let me say a few words about the way serial numbers are "reserved" in N1MM Logger. For the sake of this discussion, I'll assume that ESM is being used.

When you enter a callsign in the Entry Window, and hit the Enter or Space key, a serial number is reserved and locked-in to that QSO. If it turns out that the QSO is not completed and logged, that serial number is "lost", and will be not used for a subsequent QSO.

This gets to be especially interesting with SO2R and SO2V. Let's say you are running on Radio 1, and search-and-pouncing on Radio 2. You enter a call on Radio 2, and hit the Enter key, reserving a serial number on Radio 2. You get beaten out on Radio 2, and go back to running stations on Radio 1, advancing the serial number beyond the number reserved on Radio 2. A few minutes pass, and you finally work the station on Radio 2. Your log now appears to have non-sequential serial numbers. If you never work that station on Radio 2, the reserved serial number on Radio 2 is lost, and will not be used for any subsequent QSO.

I can't speak for all contest sponsors, but for Sweepstakes and CW/SSB WPX, this is not an issue. There is no problem for these log adjudicators if your serial numbers are out-of-sequence, or if there are missing serial numbers in your log. Your log will be correctly processed. In addition, the N1MM Logger Summary window reports the correct number of successfully completed QSO's.

In summary, stop fretting about out-of-sequence or missing serial numbers. The software is working as designed :-)

4.1.12. Operators

    • Enter here all the operators' callsigns
    • Update Ops from Log - If you have been using Ctrl+O or OPON to enter operator callsigns in the log, clicking the button 'Update Ops from Log' will transfer all operators from the contest log to the Operators field

4.1.13. Soapbox comments

    • Your comments on the contest, results, propagation etc., for inclusion in your Cabrillo submission. This text is cleared when selecting a new contest.

4.1.14. Section Lists

  • When operating a state QSO Party, select the State from the drop-down list. If in doubt, click on the Import Section List button to make sure you have the most current list of county abbreviations:

ContestDialog ContestTab SectionList

    • These selection buttons are only shown when the contest has a section list (like QSO parties)
    • In the example above the state QSO party for CA (California) has been selected
    • The Edit Section List button is used to edit the list
      • This function edits the section table in the current database. It does NOT edit the section text file. If you want to export your section file after editing, use the File export menu link in the upper left corner of the Edit Section List dialog
    • The Import Section List button is used to import a new list from a file. Section list files are stored in the SupportFiles folder in your N1MM Logger+ User files area, or in a subfolder of the SupportFiles folder
    • There may be two section lists, for in-state or in-country and for other entrants. You will be prompted to import both section lists if more than one exists
    • The appropriate section list is used to determine multipliers (States, Provinces etc.) for the contest, which will be shown in the Multiplier window
    • The name of the list is hardcoded and will be shown while importing the file
  • The Show Rules button opens an Internet browser to the contest sponsor's website where the rules can be found. QSO parties, new contests, and minor contests tend to change their website addresses and/or rules frequently. Please contact us so we can update the program when this happens
  • The Show Setup button opens the section of the N1MM Logger+ online manual that gives the setup instructions for this contest

4.2. Tab: Associated Files

ContestDialog AssociatedFilesTab

 Change fron N1MM Logger Classic

In N1MM Logger+, the Associated Files designated for a given contest - e.g, ARRL DX CW, WAE RTTY - remain the same for all instances of that contest, regardless of the database. Put another way, if you have defined Associated Files for ARRL DX SSB in one database, and you open another instance of that contest in another database, the filenames you set up will be transferred to the new Associated Files tab.



For each of the following Associated Files, the Change and Clear buttons have the same function - the Change button allows you to select or change the file to be used. The Clear button lets you clear the filename if you don't wish to load one.

Function key files are stored in the FunctionKeyMessages folder within your N1MM Logger+ User files area. You can create subfolders within this folder, but you cannot load or save function key files from the program into a folder that is outside this folder. You cannot clear the function key file entirely; if you are not using a contest-specific function key file, or for modes that are not included in the contest, just set the file to the mode-specific Default Messages.mc file (as in the example above for the SSB and Digital message files).

  • CW Function Key Filename - Select the CW function keys to use with this contest
  • SSB Function Key Filename - Select the SSB function keys to use with this contest
  • Digital Function Key Filename - Select the Digital Interface function keys to use with this contest from the Entry Window (not the extra keys that can be set up in the Digital Interface)

  • Master.scp Filename - Select the master.scp file for this contest type. Normally this will be the Default file, but some contests may use a restricted version. Use the Change button to select a different file, or the Default button to return to the default. Master.scp files are stored in the SupportFiles folder (or a subfolder of that folder) within the N1MM Logger+ User files area
  • Call History Filename - You can select a Call History file to be loaded for use with this contest. This is entirely optional. See the manual section on Call history Lookup for details. If you want to use a Call History file, don't forget to turn on Call History Lookup on the Config menu. Call History files are stored in the CallHistoryFiles folder (or a subfolder of that folder) within the N1MM Logger+ User files area
  • Goal Filename - You can select an optional Goals file to be loaded for use with this contest. The Goals file is used for the Goals area in the Info window. Goals files are stored in the GoalFiles folder (or a subfolder of that folder) within the N1MM Logger+ User files area

 Update Your WL_CTY.DAT File Before Each Contest

In addition to these files, be sure always to load the most recent WL_CTY.DAT file before entering a DX contest. This is a 2-step process. Download the most recent country file from the Internet using >Tools >Download latest country file (wl_cty.dat) (Internet). Then import it into the current database using >Tools >Import country list from downloaded file. The program will warn you if you open a database whose CTY table is less recent than the wl_cty.dat file in your N1MM Logger program directory.

Last Modification: 16 November 2017 10:08:45 EST by VE3KI.