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Logbook of the World - Current & Continuing Problems

Nov 20th 2012, 17:12


Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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In October, 2003 issue of QST, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) announced the start of Logbook of the World (LoTW) September 15, 2003. Wayne Mills, N7NG outlined in the announcement how LotW would work with a simple procedure under a system to ensure the validity of QSOs.

In the past decade, LotW has grown to more than 53,000 users and nearly a half billion (456 million) QSOs on file. However, this 50k users represent less than 3% of the licensed hams in the world. In Mills original article he states that use of LoTW will be paid for by usage in the form of credits purchased by users seeking DXCC, WAS and WPX awards programs.

If would appear that the income from the users has lagged far behind the cost of improvement and maintenance of the computer system(s) – hardware & software. Initial problems appeared after the first major DX contest in 2011 then the LoTW servers seemed to choke with the influx of logs in October, 2011. Days would pass before uploaded logs would be processed into the LoTW database. The ARRL offered little in the way of explanation other that a vague comment that it was the sheer number of logs uploaded after the contest which created the slowdown.

In mid October of this year, once again LoTW crashed. No public comment was made by the ARRL until three days after LoTW stopped working and that was a vaguely worded comment that the system was undergoing maintenance. I received Information from an ARRL staffer that the system, ‘ ran out of memory.’ Later in the week the ARRL stated that they expected LoTW to resume operation at the end of the week. Still no official word has been forthcoming as to what actually happened, nor what steps were being taken to prevent another failure. The only thing the ARRL emphasized was that no data was lost.

During the 2012 National Capitol DX Association DX East convention, ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, stated that there was no intent by the ARRL to change the method users become validated – LoTW system emphasizes secure authentication using cryptographic key distribution. The ARRL, unlike most other secure online systems, still relies on paper validation of users in the form of a license copy and some form of official identification document for non-US licensees to be sent via mail to ARRL headquarters and the return of the digital key being mailed back to the requester before one can become a LoTW user. Perhaps it is this antiquated method of adding users to LoTW that the ARRL relied upon to prevent usage that causes the system to crash.

In mid November, an ARRL staffer was reported as blaiming extensive use of LoTW on contests but on third party software programs – such as DXLab & DX4WIN as the reason it is slow and crashes.

It is time for the users, and potential uses of LoTW, contact the members of the ARRL board of directors directly and demand that sufficient resources be devoted to the LoTW system to ensure its efficient and reliable operation for not only today but in the future. A list of ARRL Directors & vice Directors with their contact information may be found at this web page

If you are an ARRL member ask your Director to:

• Respond to you why LoTW is crashing and not operating efficiently,
• Respond to you as to what steps he/she is taking to ensure sufficient resources are being devoted to the LoTW system
• Encourage a more modern and simple means for non-US licensees can become authenticated as LoTW users
• Create an ARRL headquarters staff position with the responsibility for LoTW & online data based awards program operations.

If you are not a LoTW user, complete the steps to become an authenticated user and use LoTW daily to upload, maintain and back-up your logs.

Tom Gregory

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