Saturday, May 23, 2020

SOTA Logging Headache Is Gone!

Updated: I've been using Hamlog on my iPhone since I started doing SOTA.  At the time I was looking, options were limited.  I've had to force hamlog to work for my needs, one of them being that I like importing my logs into N3FJP's Amateur Contact Log (ACL) on my PC at home.  ACL is the mothership for my logging.  It provides one button upload to LOTW for confirmation, and it's one-button download quickly shows me all of the confirmations the other direction.  I also do a quick export and then upload it to QRZ because a lot of people were asking me to confirm contacts there.  Although Hamlog supported ADIF exports, I had to use a text editor to add some fields, and fix the Notes field so it imported correctly (I was putting the Summit reference in the hamlog notes field).  ACL on the PC has user customizable fields, so I used one of them for my summit reference and another for the other operator's summit for summit-to-summit contacts.  Fixing the notes field and adding a summit reference was a bulk one-time edit.  Getting summit-to-summit (S2S) references in ACL was a manual process and it was a huge pain.  I like having that info when  talking to someone on the phone or radio, allowing me to quickly look up the last QSO with them and yak about it. 

ADIF stands for “Amateur Data Interchange Format”.  It is a data file saved in the Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF). It contains one or more log entries created by various ham radio software. ADIF files are saved in plain text and are used to exchange log information between amateur radio logging programs.

My method of bending the software to meet my needs came to a head this week.  My approach was doable for single summit days but a huge pain in the ass for multi-summit days.  Given the last 7 days I've done a minimum of two a day and sometimes three summits in a day, I was screwed.  The SOTA export from Hamlog assumes a single summit and exports the entire log with a hard-coded summit ref that you enter. I'd have to break the file appart, bulk edit, upload etc.  I somehow screwed up some logs as well with the editing process (exhaustion and wine didn't help).  In the past 7 days, I've activated 15 peaks so you can imagine the pain I started to feel when activating 3 peaks in a day.

If you run Android, vk Port-a-Log was the recommendation since it allowed you to not only enter your summit, and S2S info, it also had built in view to spots, allowing you to quickly enter chase info with the click of a button.  I really wanted something similar.  I tried ParknPeaks for IOS but it had multiple issues and I ruled it out.

Rex, KE6MT, suggested I try Outd Log.  Not only did this solve my issues, it resolved others at the same time.  Although I downloaded it before I never used it because the pain wasn't high enough to change my habits and I had a rhythm on the summit.  I tested it a couple of days ago on a double summit and after getting used to it, I'm all in. 

Chasing is made easy.  In Outd, I slide over to the recent spots, tune up and if I can hear the operator, a single press allows me to copy all of the data into a log entry.  All I need to do is make the contact, enter the sig report and press save. 

Self spot with a single click.  Once you enter your summit ref, freq and mode for a contact, you can self-spot with a single button push.

Uploading to SOTAdata made super super easy!!!  I'm now out of the text editing business.  I send the summits that I activated to my PC (you can use date if they are all on the same UTC date) and upload using the NEW sotadata ADIF upload feature.  It sounds like a small win, but remember, muti-summit days were a huge, error prone, pain in the ass for me.

I've been using ACL’s "Other" fields to hold my summit and and S2S ref. Along with other stuff. But now, if I rename those custom fields to match the Outd field names, they import perfectly. No MORE EDITING!  If I do anything, I might bulk-edit the notes.  This is a really cool feature in ACL btw.

My multi-summit log maintenance just dropped to a few minutes and edit induced errors have been eliminated.  However, there seems that nothing can be done about my fat-fingers or improper decoding of a CW contact. :)

I've used  Outd Log  on a double summit day and a triple summit day so far and I'm pretty stoked.  Now if I can make video post-production easier.  I'm way behind on my blogging and forget video editing, I have a huge backlog there, mainly when I get home from all-day SOTA, I’m too tired.  Stay tuned for some summit videos on my channel and associated blogs.  I'm taking a break today but will probably do two more fun summits before I head back to San Diego.  I'm due back to my summer place in July where I'll be doing some New Mexico summits.

I have two issues with Outd.  The first is entering numbers in call signs.  It's too slow to use the shift button and the Google keyboard long-press takes too long and hard to see in the daylight.  To solve this I've installed The Typfinity keyboard which adds the numbers to a new top row which resolved this issue.  The other thing I miss from hamlog is that the developer had a QRZ lookup feature so that I can see location info but I'm happy with it.  Also, that data would be imported into ACL.  I resolved this issues by using their ability to bulk lookup all of your records against QRZ and it tries to fill in all of the blank fields.

If you have Android, Outd Log works on that platform, but you'll need to write a comparison yourself or wait for a comparison to vk port-a-log from someone else. If you don't have anything, give them both a try.

UPDATE 12/24/2020:
I've been updating the "names db" used by Out d to fill in the name for callsigns as you log them and I've made it available to other.  For more info go HERE.

Chris Claborne
(aka christian claborne)


  1. Chris
    I use VK Portalog (yes I know only for Droid). When I'm done with the activation and I don't need to do any editing, I upload the CSV file right from my phone to the SOTA Database. You just need to have a bookmark for the website on your phone. I have even done it many time right from the summit. (one less thing to do when I get home)

    I have not found a graceful way to get the ADI file into my main log on my PC. I just email the file to my self.

    DXLabs does a good job of importing the ADI file. It even puts the correct summit reference in the right place, even for s2s. And even for multi summit days.

    Just my 2 cents!


  2. Where's the like button for this article! :)