I was listening on 14 MHz CW section on a Sunday morning around daybreak, trying to hear US SOTA activators who had been spotted on SOTAWATCH.ORG. Hearing nothing I tuned down the band to see whether there were any signals from anywhere. Propagation had been drastically affected by solar flares and magnetic storms, so the usual conditions had not been enjoyed for some weeks.
Finding some good strong signals from US callsigns handing out contest numbers I wondered what contest they were in. The CQ call was CQ CWO. The exchange appeared to be a sequence number and the operator’s name. I didn’t say “OK google” and ask a complicated question – must try that some time – but I did open up the contest calendar and look for a matching contest. Sure enough the CW Operators Club was running one of their events, the CW Open. Interesting format, three x four-hour time sessions. So I tried answering some CQs, got heard and logged a few contacts. My contacts were brief and most of the calls I made were heard.
After making a dozen contacts in the event, the rising sun was clearly closing down propagation at my end and signals from several of the east coast US operators had dropped from s8-9 earlier down to s3-4. So that was the end of the actual operating.
To submit my log for this event, I needed a log in the now standard Cabrillo format, which resembles a text file in a standardised format. As an aside, I am puzzled by the use of this format for contest log entires. An XML format would be much more flexible and would be simpler to produce from the logging software, given that most logging software also outputs an ADIF format for import into your station log. (Could also ask why ADIF is such an odd thing when XML would also have done the job much better…)
So back to the CWO website where they list a dozen or so potential software packages that will produce the necessary Cabrillo format output and also an ADIF file for my station log. I downloaded several programs and used one, GenLog, written by W3KM, to type my log using the “after contest” mode. Although the software provided for options to select date formats to match the preferences in the computer the output format seemed to get totally confused by my DD/MM/YY format and the Cabrillo file contained dates in the format YYYY/DD/MM instead of YYYY/MM/DD. My first upload attempt failed with the upload robot producing error messages about date formats. I stopped trying to tame the contest logger and simply edited the file useing Notepad++, making the dates all the right format and taking care not to leave gaps in the data lines. The next upload attempt was all OK, the robot was happy, so now I wait until the logs are processed and find out whether any other vk2 ops submitted logs.
The nice thing about those contests is the by far the majority of the operators are very competent, know how to handle QRM and mulitple callers, and are glad to have another entry in their log. The CW contesters are a good bunch of people. This was a bit of fun, taking advantage of a surprise bit of propagation to the East Coast and Central US on 14 MHz.