|Just look at what PropFire is telling me. Why even bother to get into the shack? Such lame conditions. So time to take another close look to nGenLog, the new logging software.|
I’ve been using DX4WIN since I started on HF late 2000. Before I used a simple word processing file that I filled in while making VHF contacts. My colleague at the time, ON4BAI, advised me to look for a good logging program and start out the right way. I followed his advice and bought a DX4WIN license. The software did everything I needed back then. It was even ‘state of the art’ and I think the authors did a good job at keeping up with bug fixes and adding new features. As a novice ham, my needs were rather limited.
Over the years my needs grew and technology evolved (LotW, eQSL, GlobalQSL,new USB driven hardware, interaction with the Web etc). But it seemed DX4WIN stood still. And if there was a so called update, which in fact was often just a mere bug fixing release, you need to pay a fee again. So I decided not to spend anymore money on the software and just keep using the old 6.04 release. Along the way I also discovered that this version does not export all information to ADIF. The biggest flaw is that QSL manager info is NOT stored in the log but in a separate file. Hence the QSL manager is not added to ADIF upon export. Two years ago I wrote a small Visual Basic application that fixed this. Oh yeah, DX4WIN uses its own way of writing a file, so you just can’t access the information. I export the QSL manager database to a CSV and export the log to ADIF. Then I parse the ADIF and look for the call in the QSO. If the callsign also occurs in the QSL managers file, it reads the manager’s call and adds the call and the ADIF tag to the QSO in the ADIF file.
I am by no means a real programmer but I like to learn new things about programming and it’s fun to write small applications for myself that can be useful. Maybe all those apps already exists but it’s like home brewing an antenna versus buying one off the shelf. The self made antenna will give more satisfaction. The same holds true for those little programs I write myself. On the other hand, home brewing a complex multiband yagi is a challenge but in the end I would just buy one. Maybe I should stick to writing small apps and leave the real deal to the experts?
There are some good free loggers out there. I tried DXLab. Its users are really happy with it, and it looked like a really great program. But I encountered a steep learning curve and a complex program. Which is only normal as all those hundreds of features need to be stuffed somewhere. I did not want to spend a lot of time figuring out yet another program. Especially since am not interested in many of those features. More on that later. Ham Radio Deluxe is another free program with a lot of possibilities. But too much of those renders the program too complex for my needs.
Then I encountered nGenLog by clicking an online ad on some ham radio website. The website looked promising and so did the program’s announced features. This month’s QST has a review so I decided to download the demo and feed it with my 100k QSO. nGenLog uses the Microsoft .Net technology, of which I am a big fan (ask my students HI). Now how do I decide whether to spend money and buy a license, or just leave it be? Maybe I should list the criteria by which to evaluate if the program will fulfill my logging needs? What does nGenLog need to do for me?