An Easy Way to Answer SWL Cards Received
By Jim Pickett K5LAD
NOTE: This page is still under construction. If Google snuck you in here, check back later for the full corrected version.
To enter SWL information and link to your ham QSO
Setting up LogPrint
Custom Label Design 1
Custom Label Design 2
Custom Label Design 3
keywords: Shortwave Listener, SWL, Short wave listener, Logger32, SWL confirmation
I have always found it to be somewhat difficult, or at least awkward, to answer confirmation cards received from SWL stations. Many hams, particularly in foreign countries, developed much of their interest in radio, by spending many hours in ShortWave Listening to hams. I don't know if it is still true, but at one time, before a person in some countries could get an amateur radio license, they must have spent a certain time period in SWLing. To enter the next licensing step they had to have a particular number of confirmation cards from hams to prove their SWL experiences. For that reason, I always wanted to find a convenient way to answer the SWL cards I received but this never seemed to be an easy procedure for me, however. When computerized logging programs came along, they never seemed to have a built-in facility to confirm these received contacts like we could with the standard ham QSOs.
Even now, particularly if you receive periodic shipments of QSL cards from your district Incoming QSL Bureaus, you will often find SWL cards mixed in with the QSL cards from foreign stations who were listening to your DX contacts and wishing they could be a part of the fun. Until Bob Furzer - K4CY added the SWL confirmation feature to Logger32, I must confess that I failed to confirm some of the SWL cards I had previously received. Fortunately, however, this SWL confirmation feature was added to Logger32 with version 3.36.0 in January of 2012. Not only was it an important addition but very convenient to use. SWL confirmations, now, are much easier to accomplish. If you follow these instructions, I'm sure the large population of avid SWLers around the globe will be much happier.
To Enter SWL information and link to your ham QSO:
With the SWL card in hand, take the information from
the card and enter the ham call referenced on the card into the Logger32 QSO Entry window. If you have the Previous QSOs child window
open, it will display the QSO or QSOs with that ham call.
Right-click on the QSO referenced on the SWL card and it will open the Quick QSL
window for that contact.
With the SWL card in hand, take the information from the card and enter the ham call referenced on the card into the Logger32 QSO Entry window. If you have the Previous QSOs child window open, it will display the QSO or QSOs with that ham call. Right-click on the QSO referenced on the SWL card and it will open the Quick QSL window for that contact.
Click on the rectangular button labeled "Reply to SWL report" and it will open an additional area on the Quick QSL window, down at the bottom. In the newly-displayed part is a rectangular entry window labeled "Enter SWL number and click Send." The SWL card will have the sender's SWL call number and it is entered in the window. You can then click on the Send button. At this point, if it is the first SWL card ever entered into your Logger32 log, it will open an ADIF file in Logger32's folder, which is called, "[your call]32_SWL_dump_file." In my case my file is named, K5LAD32_SWL_dump_file." From this point on I will use the filename [your call]32_SWL_dump_file, but you should mentally insert whatever call youll see on your own computer. If there is already a previously-created .adi file, the just entered SWL confirmation information will be appended to this file at the top. When this file is eventually used to print your SWL confirmation cards, you should either delete this [your call]32_SWL_dump_file" or store it in a different archival folder. Doing this will allow a new file to be opened when you get the next unverified SWL card and you won't continue to send SWL confirmations to your earlier group sent.
Logger32 will handle all of the necessary actions to create and add to your file used to print confirmation cards to the SWL cards you receive. Note that if you look at the regular exported ADIF file for that particular contact, you will NOT find any reference to the SWL card being received, marked, or confirmed. The only evidence that you have confirmed the SWL card receipt or confirmation in the Logger32 files, will be in that "[your call]32_SWL_dump_file." This means, if you choose to maintain a record of the ones you have confirmed, you should archive the dump files in a location of your choosing.
I use LogPrint to accomplish this task and it works quite well. LogPrint is an external, stand-alone program used to take the ADIF file created by Logger32 (or any logging program capable of exporting a correct ADIF file) and print the information in the proper places as set up by the user. LogPrint can print either various styles of stick-on labels or can print the entire card. LogPrint is available at the Logger32 website in the Utilities section. The URL is http://www.logger32.net/utilities.html#.Ug0hYtJDl8E Please note that LogPrint, like Logger32, is a FREE program. Once you have downloaded the program it is highly recommended that you spend a bit of time reading the Helpfile that is included with the program. This excellent document, written by Geoff Anderson G3NPA, will answer many of your questions, even before you think to ask them.
Since LogPrint has allowances for only three setup configurations, I like to use a separate version for my own SWL creation facility. I place copies of the LogPrint that I use for ham QSL card labels and ham QSL cards in one folder of my Logger32 bundle. This ham LogPrint folder contains a copy of the program, the Logprint.ini file with the configurations for:
(1.) single QSO labels printed on 1" x 4" label stock,
(2.) multi-QSO labels printed on 2" x 4" label stock, and
(3.) a whole QSL card with imprinted data for a single QSO printed on 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" card stock. There are also some picture files required so they also go into this folder. The shortcut icon placed on the Windows Desktop identifies it as the Ham QSL version. My current version of LogPrint is v.3.1.2 but if a later version comes available, I will obviously switch to the latest and greatest version and change the reference numbers on the shortcut.
I have a different folder for my LogPrint SWL printing program. It also contains a copy of the LogPrint program, a different Logprint.ini with 3 different configurations for:
(1.) a whole SWL confirmation card with imprinted data for a single QSO printed on 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" card stock and information to print with one setup,
(2.) single QSO labels printed on 1" x 4" label stock, and
(3.) a whole SWL confirmation card with imprinted data for a single QSO printed on 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" card stock and the information to print but with a different setup.
These various SWL card setups can be on different background pictures, different printing positions, or different type font styles and/or colors. The shortcut icon placed on the Windows Desktop identifies it as the SWL QSL version.
The picture for the background can be whatever the user wants for their card. It could be a picture of their shack, their family, or their antenna farm. It could be a map of the globe, the country, their geographical entity, or a combination of any or all of these.
Once the background picture is determined, it can be combined into a regular digital .jpg or .bmp file and saved as one picture file, keeping in mind that the final picture will cover a rectangular space measuring 3 1/2" by 5 1/2". Keep an extra, unspoiled copy of this picture file since the next step involves making some changes and the user may need to retrace their steps back to an earlier, unspoiled version.
I like to use the graphics program called "Paint" since it is easy to use, and should be available to anyone with an old or new copy of Microsoft Windows. MS Paint has been included in the Accessories section of Windows Startup Menu for many years. Open the Paint program and import a copy of your backdrop picture. It is possible to print your ADIF data across the colored face of the card but I find it more readable to clear a rectangular space in the picture and have LogPrint place the text on a white surface. A space is easily cleared by using the "Select" tool at the top, right side of the list. Click on the tool, place your left mouse pointer at the upper left corner of where you want the white box to begin, and while holding the left button, move the mouse down and to the right to create the exact sized box you wanted and let go of the mouse button. At this point you should have a dashed box outlining where you want to remove parts of the colored picture. Is it not exactly where you want it? No problem, just tap the ESC button and try again.
If the dashed box is where you want it, tap the keyboard's Delete key and the dashed box disappears along with any colors or writing within that space. Volla! Now you have a target area to place your confirmation text and it will be easily readable against a white background. Ah, but wait........... After deleting the picture area, did you decide that it should be larger, smaller, or a different shape? No problem, just press the Ctrl and Z keys together and the last thing you did in MS Paint will go back a single step. Ah, that life had a Ctrl/Z feature....... but, alas..... If, perhaps you do get further into this activity and wish to go back to the original and start again, that's why you saved an extra copy of the original file as suggested above. Just call your previous activities, a practice session.
If you want to identify something on your background picture, now is the time to do that. For instance, you might want to identify members of your family in the picture, or the pieces of equipment in your shack picture, or maybe to point out the barely "seeable" stealth antenna in the antenna farm picture. You might even want to note "My QTH" on a background map picture. Whatever you place on your background picture, currently loaded in the MS Paint program, will show up in EVERY card printed. Only the data will be different for each card. To identify things in the pictures you can use lines (the Line tool), and or write it out (the Text tool). Both lines and text can be made in various sizes and colors. When you're in the Text mode there are several fonts available as well as bolding and italics. Just remember, when you had to say, "Ooops" because you added something you did not want on the final version, you can always remove the previous step with a Ctrl/Z.
Once you have your background picture like you want it, be sure to save the file. Place that file in the LogPrint SWL folder so you can locate it when you're ready to print the card. If you are finished designing background pictures and getting them ready to combine with SWL card text, you can close the MS Paint program. As old as MS Paint is, it still remains an easily used and versatile graphics program and bears keeping it in one's tool caddy. Personally, I keep a Paint shortcut on my Desktop at all times.
Setting up LogPrint:
LogPrint likes to see where it will be printing so I would first set up a printer in the configuration. Click on File and Select Printer. The program should be able to identify any or all the printers you have attached to your computer. If you're on a network, it should display a list of all the printers you might have available on your network. I personally like to have the option of printing my labels or cards to a .pdf file rather than to send it directly to a printer. Printers, particularly inkjet printers, use up valuable and expensive ink as you experiment so printing to a .pdf file is quite a $$$ saver. I use a program called PDF995 that is inexpensive, easily available, and works well. I wrote about it in a previous article and you can read that information at: http://www.hayseed.net/~jpk5lad/LogPrint%20Labels/2013%20Label%20Update/LogPrint%20Update2.htm It's listed as Note#1 under the "NOTES:" section. In addition to being more inexpensive to print to a .pdf file, I find that it gives me more control of the final printing so I often print my output to the file and do my final printing job from that .pdf file.
Next, you need to identify the ADIF file which contains your "to print" data. In this case it will be called, "[your call]32_SWL_dump_file" and will initially be located in your Logger32 folder. This will probably be in C:\Logger32\ or if you installed the program prior to Windows Vista, or recently to one of the older Windows versions, it might be in C:\ProgramFiles\Logger32\. I like to move my dump file to the LogPrint SWL folder also but if you prefer to leave it in the Logger32 folder, it will continue to increase in size as new SWL cards come in and are entered. Since I want to collect, print, then start again a new file for the next printing, I prefer to move my dump file out at this time.
Next comes the Setup that instructs LogPrint where and what to print in the white box you created on your background picture with MS Paint. Click on SetUp on the LogPrint menu bar. If you will be printing any labels, click on "Your Information" and fill in what it asks.
Click on "Custom Label Sheet setup" to set up the type of stock to be used in the printing activity. LogPrint already has the dimensions for many commercially available labels sold by Avery. The box in the center of the screen, under the Choose Label Sheet title shows the Avery product number and when a number is highlighted the line Label Information: tells the values for that particular label. For instance, the Avery label number 5161 describes a label sheet ready to feed into a standard printer (8 1/2 x 11) that has labels 2 across and 10 down. These labels are individually die cut to be 1 high and 4.19 wide and will easily peel off the carrier sheet when printing is complete. It has a left margin of 0.19 and a top margin of 0.5 where nothing should be printed.
There is no setup configuration for a QSL card so the user must define their own in one of the Custom Label Sheet entries. Since two of the configurations in this example use the same size stock, only one Custom Label needs to be defined. We will used Custom Label 1 for both cards in configuration spots #1 and #3. These cards are to be 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 so well enter 5.5 under Horizontal Pitch and 3.5 under Vertical Pitch.
Also the Top Margin and Left Margin need to be set since most inkjet printers will not print from the very top or bottom edge or from the leftmost to rightmost edges. This may vary from printer to printer but most printers allocate about a quarter of an inch around any sheet of stock and will refuse to print on any of those border edges. If you attempt to have your SWL card begin printing from the exact upper left corner of the paper stock, hoping you could only make two cuts to extract your card, youll probably be disappointed. To print a card with the exact dimensions you set up (which is probably 3 ½ x 5 ½) you must add a value in the Top Margin to move it down and the Left Margin to move it over. The cut the card out, and free it from the larger piece used to print, it will take four cuts. Again, this may take some experimenting with your own printer but a good value to start with is ¼. I started with .3 in each box and ended up with .25.
It would be convenient to print QSL cards 2 across the shorter dimension and 2 down the longer dimension. That way we could print 4 cards on a standard 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of card stock, and then cut the 4 cards apart with an eXacto knife and have very little trim to discard. Unfortunately, however, LogPrint does not have a feature to print cards this way so I find it easiest to just print 1 card per sheet of stock at a time. Any user who likes to experiment with LogPrint could probably set up their configuration to print 2 and possibly even 3 cards on a single sheet of stock by printing the longer card length across the page. 3 cards on a page becomes even trickier since many printers automatically allocate some space at the top and bottom of the page for their own use so the user would need to do some fancy footwork to print three 3 1/2 high cards on a single page. Even if LogPrint allowed that feature, two 5 ½ cards printed the long way would equal 11 which is the typical size of the paper stock. We mentioned in the discussion in the previous paragraph about printer borders, that would run out this printer method. As for me, I was happy to set up my configuration to print a single card on a single sheet of stock.
Once the Custom Label Sheet is set up, click on Associate Label Sheet and click on the line Reset Association This lets the program know that when youre on Configuration #1 it should use Custom Label Sheet entry Custom 1. Do the association activity with each configuration setup.
Any user who likes to experiment with LogPrint could probably set up their configuration to print 2 and possibly even 3 cards on a single sheet of stock by printing the longer card length across the page. 3 cards on a page becomes even trickier since many printers automatically allocate some space at the top and bottom of the page for their own use so the user would need to do some fancy footwork to print three 3 ½ high cards on a single page. As for me, I was happy to set up my configuration to print a single card on a single sheet of stock.
You might note that you do not need to allocate a border as above when youre printing the commercial Avery labels. When you choose an Avery label product number, such as #5161 for the 1 x 4 labels, it automatically makes allowances for the top and side borders. It knows where the cuts have been made in the sheet and knows where the labels are to be printed.
The next, and probably the most important step in the setup, is the "Custom Label Design" sub-window, reached by clicking on SetUP on the LogPrint menu bar. Choose the one you want to work on (1, 2, or 3) and put a descriptive name in the box labeled "Change Design Name." Once you have filled in the name and closed that sub-window, the next time you see the window showing "Change Design Name," it will also display the name you have provided, for example -- "Change Design Name - K5LAD Custom SWL Card #1"
The procedure for setting up the LogPrint configurations has been written up in detail on my website in an article titled "LogPrint Multiple Label Suggestions" found at: http://www.hayseed.net/~jpk5lad/LogPrint%20Labels/LogPrint.htm
and another article titled "Updated Information on Printing With LogPrint" found at: http://www.hayseed.net/~jpk5lad/LogPrint%20Labels/2013%20Label%20Update/LogPrint%20Update2.htm
I will show the configurations I have used in this article but if you want to study how LogPrint works with the configurations in detail, please see the above referenced articles.
I have made available a copy of the Logprint.ini file that I am currently using for my configurations. LogPrint is such a versatile program and everybody has their own ideas for what they would like their finished products to look like. Perhaps sharing my file is somewhat akin to sharing a toothbrush but it might give you an idea of a starting point for your own. It also bears reminding both the novice and veteran LogPrint user to keep a correctly working Logprint.ini file in a safe place somewhere, perhaps on that old thumb drive that you originally thought held loads of data but that 64Meg thumb drive is pretty puny today.
It is also worth reminding the user that a previously mentioned article on LogPrint has a nice collection of what some of the errors mean, which sometimes rear their ugly head. This is located near to end of the article at: http://www.hayseed.net/~jpk5lad/LogPrint%20Labels/2013%20Label%20Update/LogPrint%20Update2.htm
Once the user has prepared their background picture for their SWL confirmation cards, the rest of the activity is not as difficult. Somewhat like free-fall parachuting, its that first step thats the hardest.
My thanks to Jim W5IFP for his ideas in creating my original card. Perhaps some day Ill become more creative and wont need to stea borrow my ideas from others.
Note: Both the Logger32 complete logging program and the LogPrint printing program are available for FREE downloading from the website at:
Logger32 can be found by choosing Program Files and LogPrint is under the choice Support Files.
Written August 17, 2013 Updated 08/20/13 03:23 PM