1.8.1 Before the Contest
This section addresses, in a brief and informal way, steps that you should take to get ready for a contest season and for each contest. It is worth reading. Where appropriate, links are included to point you to more extensive information.
1. Update Your Data Files
Make sure you have imported the latest wl_cty.dat file into the database you will be using and downloaded the latest Super Check Partial (master.scp) file prior to the contest. Menu options for doing this may be found on the Tools menu of the Entry window.
If you are using a Call History file, import that into the database also and make sure Call History Lookup is on. More information about Call History can be found in this section.
Load the function key definition file that you plan to use into the database too. If you make any changes during testing, export your function keys to make sure your changes are saved. An explanation of how to create function key definitions is found here for CW and here for phone. Click here to download Sample Function Key files for the major contests. Click here to watch videos about downloading and configuring your data files.
Today, the program supports CW, SSB and multiple digital modes, close to 300 contests, and a wide variety of radios and ancillary equipment. Contest rules change all the time, and organizers often forget to let logging software developers know. If this were a conventional software project, any sane programmer would declare it "untestable."
Since its early days, the N1MM Logger project has relied on users to do most of the testing. Rapidly releasing relatively small updates, with the option of retreating a version or two if necessary, makes this a relatively low-risk approach, so long as users test each one enough in advance of the next contest they want to get into.
If you are planning to operate in a contest a couple weeks from now, load the latest update NOW, create a contest "instance" as outlined here, sit down with your radio, computer, DX cluster connection, keyers, and whatever else you use, and simulate logging a dozen contacts as if you were running (enter a make-believe call, type and hit function keys as fast as you can). Then log a few more in S&P mode. Make sure your messages and macros work as expected, make sure you can record and playback SSB messages on the fly, make sure the multipliers you think should be counted are scored right, log some contacts that shouldn't be multipliers or points and make sure they are handled properly. If operating Assisted, grab some spots, make some spots, check the color-coding of spots against the contest rules. Make detailed notes of problems, if any.
A lot of problems are the result of a local issue - hardware settings, user options or the like. Do take the time to check the documentation first, but then don't hesitate to ask for help on the N1MM+ reflector. 4000 users and the N1MM team are there to help.
With thanks to David Robbins K1TTT, from whose input this section was adopted.