Logging Your Contacts
If you intend to chase DX you need to keep meticulous records. Historically this meant keeping a “paper” hand-written log in a logbook. Data required included station callsign, date, time, frequency and signal report. Other notes such as the operator’s name and location were often included. Two-way contacts (QSOs) were confirmed via paper QSL cards. But with the easy availability of computers things have drastically changed!
I personally use 2 different logging programmes. I use Logger32 for my general logging and award tracking and N1MM+ for contest logging. This pair of programmes collect the basic time, frequency and mode data automatically via the computer/transceiver interface. All I need to do is enter the callsign and any other pertinent information into the logging window! However, they do not share the data and have very different needs for the data. Luckily, it is easy to import contest data collected by N1MM+ into the Logger32 database. (I do this after every contest!)
Now what do you do with all this data! Luckily several authors have added modules to Logger32 to make your life MUCH easier. For example you can print labels for individual QSOs, upload your log to the secure ARRL server known as Logbook of the World (LoTW). LoTW will automatically match QSOs with uploaded data from hams around the world. LoTW has elaborate security and QSOs matched here are looked on as just as valid as a paper QSL card. The benefit of course is there is no paper, no post office and no need to send off your precious QSL cards to ARRL HQ or an ARRL field checker for verification.
A final destination for my Logger32 data is Club Log. This database gives others the capability to check to your logbook. They can search for their QSOs in the log AND request a paper QSL card (paying the postage via PayPal). In addition, Club Log automatically checks your log to see if there are any users of the database that have confirmed QSOs with your station. Club Log can point you to some rare confirmed DX that you are unaware of. Club Log also has many widgets available to users such as the Latest QSO data as shown below!
DX Stats & Tools
My apologies fellow web surfers but this is the “brag” section. I have been an amateur radio operator since 1987. In that time I have become an avid DX chaser. To date I have worked 344 DXCC “entities” (primarily countries, designated islands and other qualifying protectorates). Countries and protectorates come and go. For example I have a confirmed contact with East Germany. However East Germany no longer exists as a country. Currently there are 340 DXCC “entities” and I have confirmed contact with 338 of them (I still need Bouvet and Glorioso Islands). The table below shows my confirmed contacts by mode and band. The Club Log table shows my last 30 QSOs and is updated as stations are logged in Logger32.
Contesting is an important part of amateur radio. It enables hams to improve their skills and it is an excellent way to gather DX contacts. WA7BNM maintains a calendar of contests available for amateur radio operators world-wide. https://www.contestcalendar.com
DX Clusters are another important tool for the DX community. They provide real-time data on what is going on on the bands. There are many excellent sites available, such as the example below from https://dxwatch.com/
Various amateur radio clubs and societies globally sponsor award programmes. One of the most popular is the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) DXCC programme. To obtain DXCC (CW, digital or mixed mode) you need 100 or more confirmed QSOs. Here are examples of the DXCC Challenge, Honor Role and 5-band DXCC (5BDXCC) award plaques.