Cabrillo Log Hints
Contesters are advised to read their log before submission. Do not assume that the logging software does everything correctly! I am a log checker for many contests and I see these errors.
° Make sure the log is in Cabrillo format, not the logger`s native log file. Excel and MS Word are not Cabrillo logs - and they are the worse formats for log submission!
° If you edit/save a Cabrillo log in MS Word, check the file in NotePad for Word formatting - possibly missing CRLF after each line.
° Your log should not have slashed zeros (Ø) or diacritic letters (Â Ê É) in any QSO line.
° Look for obvious typos - W6AA\ or W6AA' or K`1DS - the adjacent key was also hit. In cross-checking, the other station could get a NIL penalty for your mistake. Logging software should have these unused keys locked-out during log entry.
° Check the format of the columns of data up to the sent callsign. The format is Cabrillo specific. For example: the sent callsign is always at column 31. All data is left-justified (except the frequency column). A single space is used between all fields up to column 31. There are no TABs in Cabrillo, it is space-delimited. The modes must be what the sponsor calls out in their rules - and only these modes. Make sure you change modes in the logger when you change modes on the air, otherwise this will cause dupes and cross-checking errors.
° Do not log incomplete QSOs! I see logs with ? or - for characters not copied. This is a no-brainer - ask for a repeat. If still not copied correctly, tell the station NG and do not QSL and do not log the QSO. If you both log a QSO with a callsign error for example, you will get a `unique` penalty, and the other station could get a NIL penalty.
° Check the information to be logged before you enter the QSO into the log. For example: Callsigns without a numeral - ask for a repeat. Callsigns that are run together with the exchange - separate them.
° Edit the Cabrillo header to follow the contest rules. If the contest is a US State QSO Party, and your QTH is the US or Canada, put your ARRL section (or state) in the LOCATION: or ARRL-SECTION: field. These fields are for valid abbreviations only, not your grid square, not "MICHIGAN", not "ALLEGHENY COUNTY" !
° If the contest rules specify a `time-on` limit, the log must be in chronological order. It should be in chronological order anyway - why do some logging programs write the log in reverse order? If this is a program setting, why is that option available?
° Make sure the log has all the required fields. Missing RST and serial number fields are common - your log will score 0 points.
Before the contest:
° Verify that the logging program`s setup follows the contest rules.
° Check the UTC time - using the wrong UTC offset can cause invalid QSOs (outside the contest period) or will cause cross-checking errors that can result in NIL.
° Verify that the logging program`s time field is 4 digits in the 1234 format, not 12:34 - as this will probably get truncated to 12:3 - an invalid UTC time for sure.
° When operating portable, use a dash or underscore in place of the slash in the logger`s setup screen. However, keep in mind you cannot use macros that send <yourCall> - enter your portable callsign into an F-key memory as text instead. After writing the Cabrillo, change the OPERATOR: field as necessary. Then make sure your callsign uses the slash in the rest of the log.
° Check that your sent exchange follows the rules. If the exchange is QTH specific, verify that what you are sending is correct. Is the exchange that your logging program sends the same as what goes into the sent field of your log? If not, this can cause cross-check errors for the other station.
° Verify the callsign you are sending and what goes into your log - it should be the station`s call if multiop - not the default callsign in the logging program`s setup ini. Logging program macros must send the callsign that goes into your log. Portable station callsigns are a problem! A station signs PA0AAA/P, but PA0AAA goes into his log - cross checking, ouch!
A big problem:
° Is the serial number sent by the logger the same number that goes into the log? If not, this can cause cross-check errors for the other station. I see errors in digital mode logs where the received serial number is different by 1 from the serial number in the sending station`s log. This occurs way too frequently to be coincidental. 004 in received log and 003 in sent log for example. This may be a program macro setup problem. Or the reverse situation - 003 actually sent but 004 was the current logged QSO number. This can happen if you hit the wrong F-key - that sends <PREVNRS>. If you make it a point to only log QSOs after hearing QSL from the other station, then you can delete that F-key macro or change it to something useful.
° Many contest sponsors do not use a log submission robot that can flag errors, and return an error message to you.
° Work a dupe station again if requested. Leave dupes in your log, otherwise this can cause NIL in cross-checking.
° If your logging program scores the contest incorrectly, the claimed score does not affect your log submission - the sponsor scores your log. Just make sure your log has the correct exchange data in the correct columns.
° Do not just log what the logging software suggests from its look-up files - always enter into your log and QSL what the other station transmits. This is very evident in contests where the zone is exchanged.
° Make sure your Cabrillo has the serial numbers that you logged, not truncated numbers - 4 digit numbers truncated to 3 in the log.
° When using digital mode software, make sure that the exchange inserted into your log is what you QSL, not some decoded jibberish.
° If the exchange is four characters for example - make sure all entries are 4 characters - not 3 or 5.
° The Cabrillo log filename should be the call used in the contest (the sent callsign) - callsign.cbr or callsign.log. Change the slash / to an underscore _ or dash -. Ex`s: UA2FFX_1.cbr VE-F5LEN.log.
° Set your editor so you can see the difference between O(oh) and 0(zero). Do not use slashed zeros (Ø). Changing O/0 typos and log editing to insure correct format is allowed post contest. Use only a category listed in the contest rules. Don`t make up your own category and don`t assume the logging program `knows` your category - edit the Cabrillo header.
° If you don`t care enough to read your log and check it before submission, don`t even bother submitting it.
° If your log is incorrect, there is a good chance that the other station will be penalized as well in cross-checking.
More reading about Cabrillo submissions by I2UIY (SK) is here.