Counting Magic Beans

I’m a member of the Straight Key Century Club (3383T) and as such, have volunteered for the position of bean counter. That is to say, collecting awards and working toward an elevated status, which is at least half the fun of being in the club, requires a great deal of bookkeeping in the form of station logs and the curation of properly formatted electronic files for submission.

It’s not nearly as onerous a task as I’m making it out to be, if you’re a Windows user. If, on the other hand you’re as silly as me, and prefer another operating system, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

My main logging program is MacLoggerDX and a finer, more powerful electronic ham radio management tool has not been created. It does everything an operator could ask of it, and a lot more. But working inside the confines of certain specialty club rules is asking a lot from any application not crafted specifically for it.

On the other hand, there are several logging applications that have been built from the ground up to support the various awards and activities of the SKCC — all native Windows applications. Sure, there are ways to run Windows applications on a Mac, but this only minimizes the hardware required.

So over the holiday weekend, I spent time installing SKCC Logger on a Windows laptop that a client left in my possession over a year ago. It’s a beast of a machine. A 17-inch HP Envy with a non-lighted keyboard and Windows 8.1. It sports a fast, i7 processor and boatloads of memory, still, I’m perplexed why anyone would want to abuse themselves with such a combination (did I mention that the laptop was given to me for free?).

For the record, SKCC Logger is a brilliant application that handles SKCC tasks with ease. Connecting the laptop to my IC-7100 transceiver was a breeze and I can see how this will come in especially handy during the next Weekend Sprintathon.

But here’s where it gets a lot less enjoyable.

I first coaxed hundreds of valid SKCC contacts out of MLDX and into ADI format. This was no easy task as I had only noted that a contact was “SKCC” in the comment section of the log, and I didn’t consistently name them as such. Also, since I achieved the Centurion and Tribune levels last year, I thought I had to remove these from the pile, as well as the contacts made during the annual K3Y operation.

As it turned out, those were bad assumptions and I expended a lot of effort for nothing.

Once I had a base file created, I let SKCC Logger process the log and determine what, if any, new awards I might have become eligible for since achieving the Tribune level. Turns out, it wasn’t much. I qualified for the CX2 status which means I had 200 unique member contacts hiding in my log. I also discovered that I’m only a handful of contacts away from qualifying for Tx2 level – requiring another unique 100 confirmed contacts with select members – another step on the long road to ‘Senator‘.

I’ve no doubt that many valid Q’s were lost in the parsing and conversion. But i think I’m done with trying to go back and square the log. This has become like trying to balance a checkbook that just won’t be balanced and I’m tired and just want to move forward from this point and see where it goes.

By the way, if it all seems rather confusing, it is. I chuckle when I read this line at the bottom of the SKCC rules pages for differing levels: “Lets make it FUN and keep it SIMPLE!!”

It’s anything but simple – but it is fun and I do enjoy it very much. Except now I have two computers on my desk and I have to decide when sitting down whether tonight is going to be an ‘SKCC’ evening, or a ‘regular’ evening. And I still have to export the SKCC files back into main log on occasion.

Who was that idiot who said personal computers were going to make our lives easier and more enjoyable?


Filed under: Ham Radio, Syndicate Tagged: logging, mldx, skcc
Jeff Davis, KE9V, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Indiana, USA.

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