The Contest selection from the toolbar is where you set up your particular Parameters for the specific ham radio contest entry (like setting your state to enable proper scoring in a ham radio contest) and modifying the Exchange Format Setup.

Parameter Setup

The Parameter Setup box determines how WriteLog scores your log. It varies with every ham radio contest, sometimes with lots of entries and sometimes with none. But you need to check on this dialog box every time you set up a ham radio contest in order to insure your score is correct as you are looking at it during the contest and submitting your logs after the ham radio contest. You get to the dialog box this way:

Note: if you change anything in the parameter box during the ham radio contest or after, make your changes to the ‘Parameter Setup’ and then click on ‘Recalculate Score’ just above it. This will cause WriteLog to run your log again and score it correctly based upon the new parameters.

This is especially important if you travel for a ham radio contest (as in a contest DXpedition) and then return home with the log file. You need to have the ‘Parameter Setup’ box correct for the contest and the location you were at for the contest so that the program scores correctly. For example, I used to live in CQ Zone 3, but traveled often to M/S contest at K4JA’s place in Zone 5. Coming home to my home computer with the contest disk from zone 5, I need to make sure the parameter setup reflects that I was in Zone 5 for the contest when checking the log so WriteLog scores the ham radio contest correctly.

As I mentioned, the ‘Parameter Setup’ dialog box changes with every ham radio contest. Here is the dialog box presented for the ARRL Sweepstakes contest:

Contest Parameter Sweepstakes

Here it is for ARRL if I was in Virginia and not in Washington:

Contest Parameter ARRL VA

So for whatever your contest, fill in the needed information and click on OK.

Exchange Format Setup

Every contest module has a default setup for the Entry Window (where you put in the call and exchange). This default setup varies by ham radio contest matching the fields needed for the exchange. This is where the user can modify the behavior of the cursor in the Entry window from the default. There are usually two items worth looking at here for each contest. First, the ability of the cursor to automatically (or not) move to the next field, such as the default RST field. Second, make sure all the fields you want to be required to be entered in the log are, in fact, required before you can get to the next contact.

Cursor movement

To check to make sure you have the Entry Window doing what you want, run a call or two through the window as if you were in the ham radio contest (either in a test program or without hitting Enter to place the call in the log). If the default works for you with the contest, no need to make changes. If the default isn’t working for you (for example, I like to Tab or Space Bar through all the fields during the contest), then click ‘Contest’ on the toolbar and select ‘Exchange Format Setup.’ This will produce the following dialog box:

Contest Exchange Field Dialog Box

Note, on the left, that each of the fields in the Log and Entry windows are shown. RS is the RST field (in this case for CQ WW SSB). Check the Help file for the specifics on what each of the fields mean. For the contest, there are usually only one or two things that I will check or uncheck, and that relates to how the cursor behaves at the end of a field – does it automatically move when filled or do I have to hit the space bar or tab key to make the cursor move.

In this example, if I want to have the cursor move out of the RST field automatically when it is full (as shown), I need do nothing. If I want the cursor to move out of the field only if I hit the space bar or the tab key, I would need to check the ‘Tab Only’ box.

Required Fields

See the ‘Required: Field is required for entry in the log’ above? You should look at this for each field you want completed in the Entry window before committing the contact to the log. In the example above, the RST field, according to WriteLog, is NOT required to be filled in to be entered in the log. If the contest rules require an RST to be provided and you accidentally erase the RST field for the contact, WriteLog will record the contact without it and you will be dinged by the contest committee. Based upon WriteLog Reflector traffic, make sure at least the call and exchange information is, in fact, required.

Please note that I am NOT a fan of adding fields or changing much on the default contest setup beyond how I want the cursor to move and the required fields needed before logging. There are usually reasons why the exchange is defaulted the way it is, so be cautious. Exception: the general DX logging ‘contest’ option should vary depending upon needs.