Setup – Document Settings

This section is updated for WriteLog 12.x

The largest one-time work that needs to be done for ham radio contesting in WriteLog is in the “Setup” section of the toolbar. In addition to your one-time work here, you will want to visit this section as specific contests will use or not use specific options within WriteLog. And, if you change equipment, such as buying a new radio, you will need to revisit this section to set up the new equipment.

The Setup Dialog Box in WriteLog

Upon clicking on Setup, you presented with the following, multi-section Dialog box where we will first examine the Document Settings:

Setup | Document Settings

As you can see, there are five options here of which I’ll cover four.

Display Format

Clicking Display Format yields the following dialog box:

As you can see, there are multiple tabs in this dialog box. Clicking on Display Format brings you to this tab: Display Columns.

Essentially, what do you want displayed on the Log Entry window?

In my case, I’ve never seen the need for more fields to display, so I click on ‘Make Default’ and move on.

CW/SSB/RTTY messages

This is an important section as it sets up your standard messages based on the mode you are using in the contest, or outside of a contest for that matter. Note: no need to change the defaults here until you are going to operate a specific contest. These instructions below are duplicated in Contest Checklist|Setup.

Here’s the screen:

Let’s take a bit of time here and explain what is going on.

First, WriteLog allows you to create standard messages – which vary a bit based on the type of contest and the exchange in that contest (Like zone, serial number, state, etc.). You can see from the Dialog box that you can create CW, SSB, and RTTY messages.

You can see on the left side that you can create 10 messages, with F1 and F11 being interchangeable. The reason for the F1 and F11 keys being interchangeable is because F1 is the traditional ‘Help’ function key across all applications. F11 then became the default ‘first’ key. F1 //F11 is traditionally the ‘call CQ’ key.

In the initial state of contesting programs, though, a DOS program called ‘CT’ used the F1 key for calling CQ because Windows and the Windows Help function key didn’t yet exist. When Windows came along, you had to either use the ‘call CQ’ key to F11 or find a way to change the F1 function key from Windows Help to calling CQ in WriteLog.

As a contester who used the F1 key in that DOS program to call CQ thousands and thousands of time, moving away from calling CQ with the F1 key would have been tough So, at the time, this required a change in the ‘WriteLog.ini’ file to force ‘CT Compatibility’ on the F1 key. Which worked great, but that WriteLog.ini file no longer exists as the options are now built into dialog boxes (like the one we’re showing here).

The keys are interchangeable now because many contesters strictly used the F1 key for calling CQ (including me), but some contesters used the F11 key.

Second, notice the ‘Shifted XX’ for CW/RTTY/SSB on the right side of the dialog box. Not only do you get 10 messages you can send, but you can also set up 10-more using Shift-F1, etc.

I have a hard time remembering 10 messages, much less 20. Typically, I don’t even use 10 messages in the first place. But, you can create messages however you like. Perhaps all your normal messages are your standard messages but you set up your Shifted messages to be the same, but sent twice. Like a regular message on, say, F3 is ‘UR 599’ but the same Shifted message on Shift-F3 is ‘UR 599 599’. It’s in the same function key, just repeated.

Third, SSB messages are created and stored as .WAV files. These files are stored in a default location in \Documents\WriteLog\WaveFiles. They are in the standard format of MSGx.wav where the x is a number – normally the number of the function key it is associated with. So, for example, MSG1.wav would normally be your CQ message and is played with you press F1 – but only if you put that file name as noted below in the F10/F1 message spot.

CW and RTTY messages are the same format accessed from this dialog box, only the SSB wav files require recording and storing in Wave File folder.

Finally, you’ll note that the messages have variables. Like a capital C is the Call and it is whatever is in the Call field in the Log Entry window. This takes some time to figure out to get the sequences just right for a particular contest. Rather than send you over to the Help file, I’m just going to copy and paste the options in here:

The CW (and RTTY) memories for the messages on function keys F2 through F11 are programmed using the above dialog box. Hint: you will normally want to add a space character as the last character in the memory so that if you type message keys in succession, a space is sent between them.


There are twenty memories you may program to send transmissions for each mode, CW, RTTY, and Phone. They are labeled “Normal” and “Shifted” because WriteLog’s default keyboard shortcut settings put the first ten on F2 through F11, and the second ten on Shift+F2 through Shift+F11. (Why not start with F1? its a long story going back to Windows 3.0 where F1 was designated as a Help key. Current versions of WriteLog put the same message on F1 as F11, and you are free to remove this redundancy using Setup Keyboard Shortcuts.)


The key column shows what keyboard key is currently mapped (using Setup/Keyboard-Shortcuts) to the message, and the MessageNN column shows the message number (which you cannot change.)


The focus column indicates which of the memories has a leading %X character sequence (see below.)


WriteLog reads the mode from the rig (or from your manually entered mode setting, if you do not have a rig on a COM port) to decide which of the 3 sets of memories it will use, CW, Phone, or RTTY.


If you have a .WL file saved from some other contest, you can read the CW memories from it by clicking on the Browse button.


The memories have the following special properties if there is a “%” character followed by a:


digit n (in the range 1 through 5)
the current QSO number is substituted for the % when that message is sent. The number sent will be preceded by enough zero characters in Morse (or “0” digits in RTTY) to ensure that at least n characters are transmitted.  For example, if the sequence number is one, and there is a “%3” in the F3 field, then pressing F3 will send “TT1”. This is for contests that require a “three digit serial number”.


the letter “A”
This marks the beginning of an atomic string that is flagged from being interrupted by an external plugin like the dual run mode dll that uses the automation call AbortOrShortenCwCQ. The atomic string begin with the space or a dot-length space (“^”) that must follow the %A, and ends at the next space or dot-length space, or the end of the message.


the letter “B”
The characters in the memory between a %B and a following %B are ignored (and not sent) unless the current Entry window has at least one character in its CALL field and that call sign is a duplicate on the Entry window’s current band. Under these conditions, the characters between the %B’s are sent, and any characters following the final %B are ignored. If there is a %C before the %B in the memory, then when the “Special case” for %C described above is in effect, the dupe check is also held until you tab or space out of the CALL field. In this special case, only one pair of %B characters will be correctly processed, and they must appear after the %C.


the letter “C”
the contents of the “CALL” field in the entry window are sent. If the CALL field is blank, then the CALL from the previous QSO is sent.

Special case: If, when you press the function key corresponding to a memory with %C in it, you also have the cursor in the CALL field of the Entry window, then WriteLog switches to live CW transmission from the Entry window. Each key you type not only is recorded in the CALL field but is also transmitted as CW at the appropriate time. WriteLog shows you it has entered this mode by drawing a red rectangle around the CALL box. Typing BACKSPACE attempts to not send the last character. (Some CW keyer options (PK-232 and W5XD keyer) do not support this option.) Any characters following the %C in the memory are held until you tab or space out of the CALL field, or until the message being sent catches up to your typing, or if you stop typing for more than 1 second.


the letter “D”
Like “C”, the contents of the “CALL” field in the entry window are sent, but the special handling when the cursor is in the CALL field does not happen, and, if the CALL field is blank, it does not send the previously logged call.


the letter “E”
an end-of-transmission character is added to the transmit buffer to switch back to receive mode (only useful for RTTY).


the letter “F” followed by a digit n
the exchange field number n from the entry window is sent. The numbering of exchange fields is left to right starting with one. If the name of field n is “SNT”, then “599” is sent as “5NN”.


the letters “GA” followed by digits
The rig command number indicated by the digits is sent to radio number 1.


the letters “GB” followed by digits
The rig command number indicated by the digits is sent to radio number 2.


the letters “GC” followed by digits
The rig command number indicated by the digits is sent to radio number 3.


the letters “GD” followed by digits
The rig command number indicated by the digits is sent to radio number 4.


the letters “GK” followed by digits
The rig command number indicated by the digits is sent to the radio with the keyboard focus. (Except a leading %X will cause the entire message, including this command, to the transmit-focused rig instead.)


the letters “GP”
WriteLog polls the rig through its COM port driver to detect the end PTT. WriteLog invokes this polling only if the message is otherwise empty, that is, sends no CW, RTTY or SSB WAV messages. Therefore make sure there are no blank spaces in the message. Note that programming %GK to invoke an external (non-WriteLog) DVK does otherwise leave the message blank, and is processed along with the %GP in the order they appear. So %GKnn followed by %GP enables WriteLog to use an external DVK as if it were a supported one as long as the %GK has the effect of getting the rig’s PTT set to on. WriteLog ignores %GP if the rig driver does not support PTT polling. Only certain WriteLog rig drivers support this feature. Currently, only the Elecraft K3 rig driver is supported.


the letter “H”
The callsign in the Entry window is looked up in “Friend.ini”. If it is found then the text corresponding to the call is sent. So if, for example, Friend.ini contains the entry “W5XD=HI WAYNE”, then, if W5XD is the call in the Entry window, then “HI WAYNE” is sent instead of the “%H”. By default, the section in Friend.ini that is used is “[HI]”, but the “HI_SECTION” entry in the “[Configuration] section of WriteLog.ini can be edited such that WriteLog will lookup some other section in “Friend.ini”. The file friend.ini is looked up first in the default data files folder, normally My Programs\WriteLog\contest (the folder specified in [configuration]datafiles). If its not found there, then it looks in WriteLog’s installation directory for the file.


the letter “I”
A type-in box pops up and any characters typed into the box are inserted in the message in place of the “%I”. Clicking the Cancel button on the type-in box cancels the entire message.


the letter “L”
The QSO in the Entry Window is logged.


the letter “M” followed by digit(s) n
the entire contents of the memory Fn are inserted into this message. For example, %M2 inserts the message for F2. Add 20 for shifted memories, so %M22 inserts the message for SHIFT+F2.


the letter “N” optionally followed by a digit n
the serial number is sent, padded with leading zeros if necessary to get to n digits. If the mode is CW, all the digits in the serial number are translated to letters.


the letter “O”
The RIT is cleared on the connected radio (if its radio interface supports this function).


the letter “P” followed by a digit n
the exchange field number n from the previous QSO is sent. The numbering of exchange fields is left to right starting with one. If the digit n is zero, then the previously logged serial number is sent. If networking is enabled, then the “previous QSO” is the one on the same radio as the message.


the letter “R”
a newline character is sent (only useful for RTTY).


the letter “T”
the time of day in four digits is sent.


the letter “W”
The Entry Window is cleared.


the letter “X”
In two-radio operation, sending a f-key message normally switches the transmit focus to match the keyboard focus. The leading %X instead retains the current transmit focus. The %X sequence is ignored if it appears anywhere other than the very beginning of the message, and it is ignored if the transmit focus and keyboard focus are already the same. This command interacts with the Auto-Resume CQ function. Placing a %X at the beginning of a message for any mode gives this retain-transmit-focus behavior for all modes. (Why? Because in a multi-mode contest it is possible to run SO2R on two different modes and it makes no sense for one mode to do what the other does not.)


the letter “Z” followed (optionally) by a letter A-Z and (optionally) the decimal point (“.” character) and (optionally) a digit n

If there is a letter, the networked station of that letter and its radio specified by the number n is sent. If there is no letter between Z and the digit, then the frequency for the radio in Entry window number n is sent. If there is a decimal point, the frequency is sent in 100Hz resolution. If n is 1, it is the top window, if n is 2 its the next one down, and so on. If there is no digit, then the corresponding Entry window is the below the currently active one, or the top one if currently active window is the bottom one.


any other character
the current QSO number using the minimum number of digits is sent.


The programming of the memories can get a little complex. Here is an example for the Sweepstakes exchange:


“%C %BQSO B4%BNR % B W5XD 71 STX”


This means: send the other station’s call followed by a space. Then do a dupe check on the call in the current Entry window. If the station is a dupe, then send “QSO B4”, otherwise send NR, compute the next sequence number and send it, followed by “B W5XD 71 STX”. There is no way to override the dupe check. If you want to send the exchange to someone that is a dupe in your log, then you must program an additional function key without the %B characters.


Sound Board Voice keying only

Use the SSB button (or Shifted SSB button) to edit the memories WriteLog uses when the mode is a voice mode. You may use the “<” and “>” characters to include the name of a WAV file to be transmitted instead of sounding out letters. For example:


sounds out the callsign, transmits MSG2.wav, sounds out the current serial number, and transmits MSG3.wav.

CW Only

The CW keyer can also be programmed to temporarily change the CW speed during the transmission of a CW memory message. A “<” character in the message causes the speed to step up one step and a “>” character causes the speed to step down one. These characters should be matched in the message (i.e. every “<” should have a matching “>”) although the speed will revert back to the normal speed within 5 seconds after the transmission of a CW message with unmatched speed steps.

Morse prosigns are entered in the memories using ASCII characters that don’t appear in the Morse alphabet:

SK [
AR @ (also TAB on the CW keyboard)
AS ]
AA +
BT -
KN #
dot-length space (also called half space, but its a dot-length) The caret is upper case 6 on U.S. keyboards.


Programmed RTTY messages are processed the same as CW messages. Earlier versions of WriteLog used the same programs for both CW and RTTY. When you use WriteLog to open a .wl file created by such an older version, the CW/RTTY messages in the .wl file are duplicated into the RTTY-only messages.

QSO Sort Order

Clicking this option will bring up the following dialog box:

This panel is used for how you use serial numbers and sorting. For single operators, you’ll mostly use serial numbers as ‘Total of all bands’. Some contests want the serial numbers sent by band. I’ve never used the ‘Separate by Radio’, but it wouldn’t be in there unless it was used.

Page Heading

This isn’t used for contest setup, but for printing reports. I won’t cover that here.

Log which radio logs the QSO

Clicking this option will create a check mark next to the option. This option is used in 2-radio or multi-radio stations and just shows which radio logged the contact. This isn’t needed for single operators.

The most important option in this section is the automated messages. There is a lot to learn here and the contester needs to check this section for every contest as the contest exchange usually changes every time.