Loading...
 

1.9.3 Tom's N1MM Logger Tips and Tricks

This chapter gives some tips and tricks on using the program. All tips are from Tom, N1MM unless otherwise mentioned. The tips are examples how you could use the program, not how you should use it. That is up to you!

1. Bandmaps, Entry Windows and the Mysteries Thereof...

Two Entry Windows

Here is what you should be able to do:

  • Change keyboard focus with backslash \
  • Change keyboard and transmit focus with Ctrl+left/right arrow or toggle with the <Pause> key.


With one vfo on one band, and another on the same or second band, you should be able to jump from spot-to-spot using Ctrl+up/down arrow on the main vfo. With Ctrl+Shift+Up/Down arrow , you should be able to jump from spot to spot on the secondary vfo. If your radio has dual receive (Orion, FT-1000 series), you should be able to listen to both VFOs at once. Alt+F12 swaps MAIN and SUB receiver.

With the Orion and FT-1000 series, the way I envision this being used in S&P: You would find a station on the main vfo, and wait for it. In dual receive, you would used Ctrl+Shift Up/Down arrow to find another station that is ready to be worked. You would call whichever station is ready first. This could be done on two bands (SOA), or on a single band (MM). If one has spotted a number of calls locally (QSYing wipes the call & spots QSO in bandmap), one could use it on one or more bands in SO.

Bandmaps - Clicking on a spot on either bandmap will set that vfo to keyboard & transmit focus, and put the call in the callframe. Double-clicking will put the call in the callsign field.

Please print and read the keyboard assignments help. You will be rewarded with greater enjoyment of the program. Trust me.

2. Bandmaps and the Available Window, What are They Good For...

The ONLY time they are to be used is for Search & Pounce AND the only thing they are good for is to do a quick match up of a partial call you hear on the radio with what you are seeing go by in the band map so you can keep moving instead of stopping to listen. That being said, the size of the band map can be kept small and well zoomed so it only shows a narrow part of the band...

Now why you might ask?? I want to see multipliers that just got spotted at the bottom of the band when I'm CQ-ing up at the top of the band, or I want to see multipliers on another band. THAT is what the Available window is for! Learn to use it and it will serve you well in finding multipliers on other bands. So shrink the band maps and enlarge the Available window and
be more efficient at both scanning the band yourself and grabbing spots. Now wait, what about if I want to tune up the band to the next multiplier, shouldn't I have more band map shown so I can click on the next one up the band??? NO, that is what Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow/Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow are for, if you want to click on mults use the Available window list instead... sort it by frequency
if you must, but I prefer to go after the freshest spots first since they are most likely to still be there. 73, Dave K1TTT

3. N1MM Logger Contest Technique

I can't emphasize this enough. All the pretty bandmap stuff is not there to look nice. It's there to help you make Q's. Here is how to do it...

When there are lots of spots in the bandmap, you can work lots of stations with S&P. Start anywhere in the band. Press Ctrl+Up. Listen. Is he CLOSE to ready to be called? If yes, call him. If not, press Ctrl+Up again. Repeat this until you work through all the available Q's. This way you don't waste time listening to endless repeats when one station is working a weak one. I have made a 90/hr rate doing this.

More tips: If a spot is dead, or not in a legal part of the band, use Alt+D to delete it. You won't have to stop at it next time.

If you don't want to see spots for the wrong mode, right-click Allow spots for this contest's mode(s) only in the packet window. Be careful using this one on 80 & 40.

Print the Key Assignments for how to jump between mults.

Variation: You are CQ'ing, but the rate is slow. Use the S&P technique to jump between spots. Then quickly return to your CQ frequency with Alt+Q.

Unassisted S&P: DO NOT TURN OFF "Show non-workable spots". The only exception is for Sprint contests, such as the NA Sprint, EU Sprint and AP Sprint, where stations change their frequency after every QSO. Here is my recommendation. Tune up or down the band, listening and watching the entry window for band edges, but also for calls that you have heard before or worked before in the callframe. If the call is unworkable, speed up your tuning, and find the next station. When you come to a station who is working someone else, type in his callsign. Work him if it is quick. If not, tune on, and the guy's call will be spotted. Tune up for a short time, then return to his freq with Ctrl+Up or Ctrl+Down. If he is ready, work him, if not repeat the process of trying to find another station.

The bandmaps are not supposed to be nice & clean. They are supposed to show you where stations can be worked. The bandmaps can be zoomed with the numeric +/- keys or by right-clicking on the bandmap. It is important to know if a frequency is in use to save time listening to a dupe or non-workable station.

The final, dirty little secret... What do you call a spot where there is no station? Your new CQ frequency...

Rate is everything...

4. Start of the Contest Season

Approaching CQWW SSB means the start of the main part of the contest season. Enhancements to the program will be curtailed during this part of the year to focus on eliminating any bugs or performance problems.

4.1. Testing

Please start testing with your favorite fall/ winter contest in the autumn. Make a copy of ham.mdb (or whatever you have called it), and use last year's contest as a test platform. Why?
Some problems only appear with larger logs. Find out performance issues. I rely on the users to let me know about them.
See Before the Contest for suggestions on how to test. Be sure to test anything that is unusual in your station set-up, in caase a gremlin has crept in that other testers haven't discovered. Report what you find on the reflector.

4.2. Key Assignments

Now is also a good time to review the Key Assignments. That is a good place to start to pique your interest in what the program can do. The Key Assignments Shortlist is great to print and hang beside the radio.

4.3. Enter Sends Messages (ESM) Mode

If you are planning to operate CW or RTTY, you MUST learn about ESM (Enter Sends Messages). It reduces fatigue and errors by sending the right message each time just by pressing Enter. It may take you a while to understand and set up ESM, so don't leave this to the last minute. Believe me, those that learn to use ESM, love it.

4.4. Dual Entry Windows

It would be a good idea to try those out, so you don't get frustrated during the contest. For your reference:

\ backslash switches keyboard focus, Ctrl+left/right arrow and <Pause>change keyboard & transmit focus.

Also, Ctrl+Fn, and Ctrl+Enter send on the radio that does NOT have focus.

4.5. Configurer Options

Finally, make sure you understand what settings you want for the following Configurer options:

  • SO2V/SO2R
  • Send corrected call
  • Send partial calls
  • Stop sending CQ when callsign changed
  • ESM only sends your call once in S&P, then ready to copy received exchange
  • Config/QSYing wipes the call & spots QSO in bandmap


5. Log Editing

You should rarely/never have to use the edit window during a contest. To get back to your last QSO, press Ctrl+Q. To go back another QSO, use Ctrl+Q again. And again. To go forward, use Ctrl+A. These keys ignore QSOs made by other stations when in Multi-User mode. It is also much better, because you are using the same Entry window to edit that your fingers have gotten used to. To abandon edit of a QSO, press Escape. The background color of the text panes changes while in "QuickEdit" mode.

6. Force to Log Whatever Heard

Ctrl+Alt+Enter will force the program to log whatever it doesn't recognize in the exchange field. The receive frequency is being reset to the transmit frequency.

6.1. Country Not Found When Logging Contact (no mulitplier credit)

1. The preferred way to handle this is to load the latest wl_cty.dat file prior to the contest

2. A second way to handle it is to force a particular call to a country with >Tools >Add Call to Country

    • Note that this addition will be wiped out on the next reload of the country file

3. A third way to handle it is to add a note (Alt+N) to the QSO, and fix it later. >View > Notes will help you find those QSOs with notes

7. Having F1 NOT Always Send CQ

Pressing F1 will send the F1 message. Typically, F1 is defined as the CQ-key in the Function keys tab in Configurer. Pressing the CQ-key (i.e. F1 will place the program in Run mode. If you do not want to go to automatically switch to Run mode when you press the CQ-key, use the {S&P} macro in the F1 S&P key (13 th row).

8. Silence the Function Keys

If you want to 'silence' the function keys so they do not send anything and do not PTT the radio, just put a single blank space in the Fkey contents of the button you want to silence. A space is a real character, but not one that is transmitted, and the program knows not to switch the PTT in that case.

9. How I Recommend to S&P on a New Band

  1. Look at the Available window. Are there any Mults to be had? (You should already know this, since you just chose this band.)
  2. If there are mults to be worked, use Ctrl+Alt+Up/Down to jump to them on the Bandmap. Look at the Call-Frame for the callsign. Use your ears to decide if that's the station and that they are near ready to work you
  3. Jump through all the mults until you have worked those that you can in a reasonable time. You may need to repeat the search several times to get them all. Note that you don't want to spend a lot of time waiting for them. Just keep going up and down the band and clean 'em out
  4. Repeat the process with Q's that are available (Ctrl+up/down). When you find a dead frequency, try a short CQ. Maybe you can get a run going. Otherwise, clean out the available QSOs
  5. Once you have worked all the spotted stations (assuming assisted), start manual S&P. Turn on "QSYing wipes the call..." option. If a station is hard to work, just keep going. The call will be spotted on your computer(s) only. You can use the technique in steps 1-4 to work him
  6. Spot non-workable stations if you are a good typist. It's nice to know where they are so you don't waste time on them during the next sweep.

10. Setting Contest Goals

How do you get better at contesting? One way is to set goals for yourself.

The info window supports this by allowing you to set how many QSOs per hour you want to try to accomplish. As you are contesting, the four rate panes will let you know if you are at less than 50% of goal (red), between 50-100% of goal (yellow), or ahead of goal (green).

Note whatever goals you set for an hour will continue until the hour for the next goal is reached.

What if you want to beat last year's score?

The program supports that as well. Just open LAST year's log, and click the Import Goals button. Choose the day (1 or 2) and press enter. You goals are now set to your hourly totals from last year. Don't forget to start a new log for this year!

The goals will be kept until you reset them explicitly or until you LOAD A NEW DATABASE. If you forget this, the goals won't make any sense, because they will not be the ones from last year's version of your current contest.

You don't want to have a different database for each (small) contest. This is a common misconception.

11. Problems During a Contest

What do you do if you have problems during a contest?

  1. Make sure you have a previous version of the logging program around that you have used successfully in the past.
  2. Make sure you have tested the program ahead of time using the modes you plan to use during the contest. Log a few sample QSOs. Check all the windows you plan to use. Connect to packet or telnet if that is your plan. You might want to run through a test plan.
  3. If you find problems before the contest, please send the bugs in to be fixed as much before the contest as possible
  4. Check the update page on the N1MM website. We frequently fix problems during the contest. The problems that we try to fix are either fatal ones, or low-risk ones. Nonessential functions that present some risk to fix, are left until after the contest.

12. Using Up/Down Arrows to Tune

The Up and Down arrow keys can be used to tune your radio. If you are in S&P, then just use them to tune in the station you are trying to work. This is particularly good for packet spots.

If you are Running, you might try this technique. Set your radio up for split, and use the up/down arrows as RIT.

The amount to be tuned up/down with each keypress is set in the Configurer >Other tab.

13. CW Tips

13.1. CW Macro Tip

Some calls have letter combinations where it's hard for to copy correctly. For example, 6Y2A is often copied as BY2A. To help make your call easier to copy, Go to >Config >Change Packet/CW/SSB/Digital Message Buttons >Change CW Buttons, and try changing the default F1 and/or F4 message where * is used for your call. In this example, 6Y2A changes F4 from * to >6<~Y2A.

Result: the 6 is sent 2 WPM slower compared to the rest of the call, and an additional half space is added between the 6 and Y. Try other combinations of <, >, or ~ to make your call easier to copy.

13.2. Contest Spacing for CW

Select >Config >Ports, Mode Control, Audio, Other >Function Keys >Use Contest Spacing for CW. The box is default ON. This setting changes the spacing between words in your CW, where "N1MM 599 5" is 3 words. Default is 6 bits for "contest spacing". When this box is not checked, 7 bits between words is used, which is "normal spacing".

14. Working Dupes

The default is to work them if you are the CQing station, but not to call them if you are S&Ping. The theory behind working dupes while running is that it's faster to work them than it is to argue, and you might really not be in their log. If that is the case, and they submit a log, you'll lose points by not working them.

The "work dupes" option in the Configurer is for ESM and running mode. All it does is determine what is sent when a dupe calls you AND YOU PRESS ENTER.
When using Enter Send Message (ESM) mode the behavior is as follows:

  • In S&P using ESM, if you press Enter with a dupe call in the Entry window nothing will happen (intentional), but you can always work him by pressing F4 instead.
  • In Run, using ESM, with "Work Dupes" checked, when you press Enter you will send his call sign and the exchange whether he is a dupe or not. If you want to send "QSO B4" you can just press F6 instead.
  • If you don't have "Work Dupes" checked, then to work a dupe in Run mode you will have to press F5 and then F2 to send his call sign and the exchange; pressing Enter will send the F6 message.


All that being said, you can work dupes in either situation (Run and S&P) by pressing the F-keys.

A goal of the program is to promote good operating. Working dupes while running is good operating. That's why work dupes is the DEFAULT. It is an option because an argument was made that in a long exchange contest like SS, you might not want to automatically work dupes.

What I suspect happened is that someone turned work dupes off while playing with the program. This is a complicated program. Changing options that you don't know the meaning of can lead to a lot of confusion. My advice is:

  1. Get the program working with your equipment
  2. Save the ini file
  3. Play with the options
  4. Discard that ini file and revert to the one from step 2
  5. Change any options you feel you truly understand and want changed
  6. If an option doesn't seem to "do anything" — watch out! You might want to set it back to the original setting

15. What Setting Should I Use for Packet Spot Timeout?

For general DX-ing, 30 minutes is not too long.

For a contest, you might want to crank it down to 20 minutes, since there is more movement of stations. Also, a lower timeout will mean fewer spots are managed by the program. This may help performance for those with marginally performing machines.

For testing packet spot behavior when there are few spots, or for testing performance, a timeout setting of 1000 minutes might be right.

16. How Should I Really Use this Program if I am Single Operator Assisted (SOA)?

Try these techniques:

  • Connect to a Telnet node. Do a sh/dx/100 to fill up the Bandmap initially.
  • Pick the band with the most mults as shown in the Available window.
  • Go to that band and use Ctrl+Alt+Up arrow and Ctrl+Alt+Down arrow to work all the mults on the band. Don't waste too much time on each one.
  • Go back through the band and use Ctrl+Up arrow and Ctrl+Down arrow to work all other stations on the band. If you find that a frequency is dead, do you know what you call that? You call it your new RUN frequency! Call CQ and get a run going.
  • When the run is over, go pick up any more mults or QSOs on this band.
  • Now, either move to another band and repeat, or try these techniques. Turn on "QSYing wipes the call & spots QSO in bandmap" Tune up or down through the band, looking for stations you haven't worked. Enter all or part of their calls, then tune off. The call will be "spotted" in the bandmap. You can use Ctrl+Up/Down arrow to work them later. Again, what do we call a dead frequency? That's right, it's a RUN frequency. ;-) (As you are doing this, if you can work the station without waiting, of course you should work it.)
  • If you don't want to type a call, and you know you don't want to work the station, you can mark the frequency busy with the Mark button (Alt+M).
  • As you are tuning, watch the Bandmap. It will give you big hints as to whether you should waste time listening to a station. If you start hearing "grumble grumble" 2 kHz away from the frequency marked with Joe down the street's call, you know to speed right by.

17. How to Find a Worked Station in the Log?

There are three possibilities to find a worked call in the log. The results are shown in the bottom pane of the Log window.

  • When entering the beginning of a callsign in the Entry window, after 3 characters a worked station starting with these three characters will be shown automatically in the bottom pane of the Log window.
  • You can use the <?> wild-card character - for example entering N?M this is also enough to show N1MM and every other station that ends with N?M.
  • When you only have 1MM and missed the first part of the prefix you can place a * in front of the characters you have. *1MM will show N1MM and every other station that starts with 1MM in the callsign.

Combinations are also possible:

  • *1?M will show N1MM but also K1MR, J41YM etc.
  • *3? or *3* will show all worked callsign with a 3 in the callsign
  • *3*Z will show every station with a 3 followed by a Z somewhere in the callsign like K3ZO, VA3UZ etc.

Using a * is called a "like" search in SQL. The problem is that a "like" search is very slow so on slow computers this will take some time.
In VHF contests use Alt+= (equal) and the program will search everything which matches the content of the callsign and the gridsquare fields.

18. Databases versus Contests

There is a lot of confusion about how contests are stored in the logging program.
To clear this up, let's start with a couple of definitions:

Database - an SQLite format database file with a file extension of .s3db. Any number of contests may be stored in a database.

Contest - a set of QSOs within the database. They are stored in rows in a table called DXLOG. Each contest row has a ContestNr which ties it to a ContestInstance entry.

Much of the confusion comes from people thinking that they need to have only one contest in a /database. This is not the case. I have only one database that I log "official" QSOs in. (Of course I have many test & backup databases.) Why? because the performance of the program is not very sensitive to database size. I currently have about 14,000 QSOs in my database.
Now if you plan to go on a DXpedition and log 25,000 QSOs, I would recommend a separate database for that. For most users, no.

The most important thing to remember about databases is to BACK THEM UP. Periodically copy your database to a backup device, or zip it up and copy to a floppy. Even e-mailing it to work would do! It is your entire record for all of your QSOs using the program. Don't lose it. Also, if you are going to import data, or delete data, that is a good time to back up your database. If you don't have the data any more, no one can help you!

19. How to Upgrade the Database to a Newer Version? Move It to Another Machine?

The best way upgrade the database to the current version by opening it with a current version of the program on the first machine. Then you can open it with the same version on the second machine, and no database upgrades will need to be done.

Please do a backup first!

What is meant by a "database upgrade"? From time to time, columns, indexes, data etc. are added to the database. For each of those changes, the program queries the database to see if the change has already been made. If not, the program automatically makes the change. To the user of the program, this is automatic. All the user will notice is that program startup takes some additional time.

This works very well. Haven't had any complaints. Nevertheless, a database that is a year or two since the last time it was opened will have quite a bit of updating to be done. Why not do it on a known, working machine?

19.1. Deleting QSOs (especially important for Multi-User)

This topic affects all users, but multi-user contesters the most.

As part of the multi-user support, a DELETEDQS contest was implemented. When a contact is "deleted" with Alt+D or the Delete key, it is not really deleted. It is moved to the DELETEDQS contest. Yes, you could go to DELETEDQS, and remove it, but that would not be wise. Why?
Because there is no reason to delete it, and there are good reasons not to. With it in DELETEDQS, you can recover it by exporting it to an ADIF file, changing the ADIF file and importing it into the original contest. That, however is not the overriding reason not to touch DELETEDQS. The main reason is a Multi-User reason.

In multi-user, DELETEDQS is how I determine to "delete" a contact in the logs of other stations. Since no contact is ever really deleted, I need only gather all the QSOs and DELETEDQS logged by a station and add or update them in the other station's logs. This lets me avoid the danger of deleting rows in a database. Therefore, DON'T MESS WITH DELETEDQS during the contest. Make a backup after the contest of all the stations' logs. Then you can do anything you want, and I can help you recover, since you have a backup. If you don't follow this advice, you will not be happy. :-(

Oh, but if it is a dupe, that's different, right? NO! Log dupes. Cabrillo doesn't care, the contest sponsor doesn't care, and it doesn't hurt your score. It CAN help your score. Log those dupes, and DON'T delete them.

20. QSYing Wipes the Call & Spots QSO in Bandmap

Have you ever noticed that the logging program will "spot" dupes in the bandmaps. That is, if you type in the call of a dupe then tune away from it, the entry fields will be cleared (wiped) and the call placed in the bandmap.

That feature is always active. There is a similar feature that you must turn on to use. It is called "QSYing wipes the call & spots QSO in bandmap". It does the same thing as the dupe spotting, but for other calls you enter. You must be in S&P mode for this to work.

This option is good for combing a band for stations to work during a contest. If a station you hear is not finishing a qso, you can move on to find another. The program will spot the call in bold, and you can use Ctrl+Up/Down to go back through and work the ones you skipped.

21. Exchange Abbreviations

What are exchange abbreviations?
Some contests require sections, counties or other entities for the exchange. These must be LOGGED with standard abbreviations. The menu item >Config >Change Exchange Abbreviations allows you to edit them.

What if you don't like for example the standard ARRL abbreviations? Well, you can enter your own. Let's say you'd like to enter CONN for CT. You can ADD CONN CT in the exchange abbreviation list and if you enter CONN or CT, the program will LOG CT. Don't replace the abbreviations that are already there. It's best to just add the ones you like. (I use the presence of certain abbreviations to determine whether to reload some of the lists.)

22. Too Many Calls on the Bandmap!

What do you do if the calls are crowded together on the bandmap? You need to zoom in or out...

There are two ways to do it. On a traditional keyboard, using the numeric pad plus (+) and minus (-) keys will zoom the current bandmap. If you want to do it with the mouse, hold the cursor over the bandmap you want to zoom, then right click. Choose zoom in or zoom out.

It is also possible not to show "non workable contacts". This means that only the stations are shown in the bandmaps which are valid QSOs in the contest and not have been worked before (all normally gray contacts will disappear from the bandmaps).

23. Gray Line Openings

Watch for gray line openings when your sunrise or sunset match the other station's sunrise or sunset. You must have entered your lat/long accurately (watch the +/-) in the Station dialog. Your sunrise & sunset times can be found in Help/About.

Sunrise & sunset for a prefix or call can be found by typing it in the entry window, and looking at the Info window. Note that the sunset & sunset times are for whatever central point in that country is specified in the loaded country file (wl_cty.dat or cty.dat).

24. QSO Confirmation

Some contest rules state that the received exchange must be acknowledged for the QSO to count.
If a contest sponsor wants you to acknowledge (i.e. confirm) the exchange, they mean for you to send "QSL", "TU", or "R" to indicate receipt.
This does not mean a resend from the report back to the station. A resend would provide verification, not acknowledgment. Only under rare circumstances would you ever repeat the other stations exchange.

25. Packet/telnet Button Setup

Here are the buttons I currently use for AR-Cluster nodes: I don't think these are necessarily optimal, but they give you an idea of what is possible.
NE only means (near) New England only. (W1 & W2). The first column is the command, the second column is the button label. & in the button label makes it an Alt hotkey.
Anyone want to post a similar list for other cluster software? (Please test them first.) Also, what about screening out cw or ssb spots when in a single mode contest?
Note that the menu item >Tools >Clear All Spots will remove all spots from the bandmap. You might decide that there was too many unreadable stations in the bandmap. You would set a filter (below), then clear all spots. You could then use sh/dx/100 to refill the bandmap.

Button text Command
BYE BYE
CONN C K1TTT
DI/N DI/N
SH/DX SH/DX/30
USERS SH/U
WWV SH/WWV
Clear NE set/filters dxorigstate/off
Yes DX set/filters dxorigcty/off
NE only set/filters dxorigstate/pass ny,nj,ct,ri,ma,nh,vt,me
No DX set/filters dxorigcty/pass k,ve, xe
No VHF set/filters vhf/reject
K1TTT {MYCALL}

26. Move RX Frequency from the Keyboard

At a local club meeting last night we watched the FO0AAA video. I've seen a number of other DXpedition videos before and they all show the operator reaching over after each couple or so QSOs and moving the RX frequency. Given this is standard practice for DXpeditions, both SSB and CW, I thought it would be a useful feature to have that function built into the logging program.

There are already two ways to do this in N1MM Logger.

1) If you are in Run mode, and turn on RIT on your radio, then the Up/Down arrow keys change the receive frequency without changing the transmit frequency.

2) If one sets the radio on SPLIT and TXs on the second VFO, pressing either UP/DOWN ARROW moves the RX frequency up or down by the amount set in the Config/Configure Ports/Other screen. It also works well for regular contesting. Put the radio on SPLIT SIMPLEX (A=B) and use the UP/DWN arrows instead of the RIT for those off frequency callers when you're RUNNING. (thanks, Gerry, VE6LB/VA6XDX)



Last Modification: 19 November 2016 11:18:17 EST by VE3KI.