I’ve created this unofficial user guide for ARRL’s Logbook of The World to supplement the help available
from the LoTW site. It is a work-in-progress that in places refers to Logger32 simply because that’s the logging software I use. Feedback and additional content is very welcome.
- Why should I bother with LoTW?
- Joining LoTW
- Using LoTW - some Hinson tips
- Checking/correcting your CQ and ITU zones and locator in LoTW
- Applying for DXCC or WAS awards using LoTW
- Archive your LoTW certificate/s and log/s [important - trust me!]
- Update your log to show countries credited (granted) for DXCC
- Generate an online DXCC application - identify the QSL cards to submit for checking
- Find out who else is using LoTW
- “Official” help on LoTW
- A wishlist for LoTW enhancements
Why should I bother with Logbook of The World (LoTW)?
Because of the buzz you’ll get from seeing things like this ...
If you are a serious DXer, you know how frustrating it can be waiting for QSLs to arrive to confirm
each new country. Whether you send QSLs and $$ direct or just hope for cards to arrive via the
worldwide QSL bureaux, collecting confirmations on paper can be tedious, not to mention
expensive. Then once you’ve got your tidy little stack of QSL cards and you wish to apply for
awards such as DXCC or WAS, you still need to get them checked and verified by the relevant
Quite simply, LoTW makes the whole process quicker, easier, cheaper and
With LoTW, you upload your log periodically to the ARRL’s LoTW website where it is entered into a
database system that cross-matches your QSO details against other uploaded logs, generating
electronic confirmations for all QSOs that match. LoTW confirmations normally come through within
days or weeks, as soon as both parties to a QSO upload their logs to LoTW.
Those ticks in the box against Tristan da Cunha & Gough Is meant that both I and Nigel ZD9XF had
uploaded our QSO information to LoTW. The LoTW system had found two matches, and noted that
ZD9 is a new DXCC country for me. The confirmations came through just a few days after the
QSOs at essentially zero cost to both of us.
The LoTW system tracks your progress towards DXCC, VUCC, WAS and WPX awards and, when
you are ready to claim your awards, it handles the application electronically for you. For QSOs that
have been verified in LoTW, there is no need to sort out QSL cards, fill out the application form and
submit the cards for verification. However you may still choose to submit QSL cards for specific
DXCC countries or US states for those bands and modes which are not yet confirmed on LoTW ...
or you can just be patient in the hope that eventually you will get them all in LoTW anyway.
By the way, there is nothing stopping you exchanging paper QSLs as well as using LoTW. These are
not mutually exclusive options. Many of us enjoy collecting picture postcards from exotic foreign
places to show off to our ham friends and amaze our long-suffering families. Even if you are not
collecting QSL cards, I encourage you to respond to incoming paper QSL requests as a courtesy to
other hams regardless of whether you also use LoTW.
Back to quick links
The process to join LoTW is a little complicated because it is a secure system. It uses digital
certificates to authenticate submitted logs and prevent people uploading false or fraudulent logs for
others (authenticated users are trusted to submit accurate logs for themselves!). So the first stage
is to obtain your digital certificate from ARRL.
Obtain your digital certificate from ARRL
- Download and install
(TQSL) for Windows, MacOs or [knit your own] Linux.
, generate a callsign certificate request
. This involves entering basic station
information such as your name and callsign and creating the .tq5 file that you will submit to
ARRL. They then check the details. US hams’ details are verified using the FCC’s systems. Non
-US hams have to submit a copy of their license to ARRL HQ by post, or to a local ARRL
-authorized DXCC card checker, to get it checked against the certificate request, for their first
certificate anyway. If everything is OK, ARRL emails you back your callsign certificate.
Load the callsign certificate onto the system you used to create the certificate request using
TQSL. The certificate is matched up with the certificate request and verified, just in case
anything got corrupted on the way. If it all checks out, you can now start using the callsign
certificate to sign your logs and upload them to LoTW ...
your certificates and settings in TQSL. Save the backup safely offline e.g.
on a USB memory stick, CD-ROM or floppy disk (I remember those!). Trust me, when (not if
!) something nasty happens to your computer, it is much easier to restore from the backup
than to go through the process of re-authenticating and applying for replacement certificates.
Provided you have one current, valid callsign certificate, you can use it to generate and sign
electronic online requests for further certificates e.g. for other calls you hold, or for
replacement certificates when yours expire. Don’t forget to
your new certificates!
Upload your first log to LoTW
- Generate an ADIF output file
from your logging program containing the QSOs you want to
upload to LoTW (i.e. your entire log at the start. Subsequently, you will normally only send
new QSOs since the previous LoTW upload).
Electronically sign the ADIF file using TQSL
. This generates a digital signature based on the
content of the ADIF file and your private key, allowing ARRL (or indeed others) to verify the
data using your public key on your digital certificate. The digital signature is appended to the
QSO data in the ADIF file, and the whole thing is then uploaded to LoTW.
- Login to LoTW
to check for new LoTW confirmations
using LoTW’s reporting tabs for
QSOs or awards. At busy times, you may need to wait a few minutes to see the first
confirmations coming through - rather less than the weeks, months, years or decades QSL
cards can take!
Update your logging program to show the LoTW confirmations received. Any decent logging
program (such as Logger32) provides a function to download and import the LoTW
[Mandatory unless you like living dangerously] Backup your log
! Backup your log! Backup
your log! Do it now! Do it often! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Back to quick links
Using LoTW - some Hinson tips
Make time to read the official help
, online on the LoTW website plus offline in TQSL and your
logging programs. A lot of effort goes into writing and proofreading it. Most queries are
answered somewhere in the help. Learn how to search for stuff.
- Upload new QSOs to LoTW as often as you can
, ideally at least once a month, preferably
once a week. If you are very active, upload new QSOs daily and check your LoTW
confirmations at the same time. Uploading QSOs to LoTW is, in effect, an off-site log backup
but only for the essential QSO details (date, time, call, mode, frequency/band). Other QSO
info (such as name, QTH, reports, notes etc.) is discarded by the import routines.
Keep an eye on the QSO and confirmation counts
(top right of most LoTW screens). As
LoTW usage spreads, the proportion of QSOs that are confirmed via LoTW is gradually
increasing. About half my recent QSOs are confirmed via LoTW - a higher proportion on digital
modes, lower on the legacy modes in line with computer usage.
If you alter QSOs in your log (for example correcting broken callsigns when QSL cards arrive),
you need to re-upload the changed QSO records to LoTW
. While you might be able to
extract the changed QSOs and just upload them, the easiest way is to periodically re-upload
your entire log since LoTW automatically ignores exact duplicates. However, please don’t do
this too often (no more than, say, once a year) as it wastes computer power and slows the
LoTW systems down a bit. Be nice. You’ll need to tell TQSL to sign and upload the duplicate
Use the award status
table to check on your progress towards DXCC, WAS, VUCC or WPX
awards (and soon WAZ too). Use the quick QSL report to check for new ones. recently
Make lots of digimode QSOs
. Unlike back in the 70’s when I got my ticket and Creeds were
holding well-apointed shack desks firmly to the flooor, almost all digmoders today are using
computers to send and receive the digital modes. Digimoders are mostly logging on
computer and a good proportion of them use online logging and award systems, such as
Take part in lots of contests
! Contest stations are more likely to upload their logs to LoTW
than most hams.
use LoTW, although some have deliberately waited many months before
uploading, ostensibly to complete “checks” but in reality to extort more money from the
hams they worked. This runs counter to the true amateur spirit :-(
Preferentially contact other LoTW users
rather than non-users, given the choice. The LoTW
user list is helpful to identify them, especially if you integrate the data in your DXcluster or
logbook software (VE7CC’s cluster user program is ideal for this). This is not about being a
clique, simply that you are more likely to get a confirmation and more quickly via LoTW than
by any other means.
If you are patiently awaiting a LoTW confirmation that seems “overdue”, the DX station may
not have uploaded his log in a while (if ever!) or it may have been a busted QSO. You can
check when someone last uploaded to LoTW. If they have uploaded recently but your QSO
remains unconfirmed, it might be worth emailing them to check for a busted call, or writing it
off as a dud.
- You may need the security of a password to unlock access to the secret key on your LoTW
certificate, but then again you may not. If the risk of some reprobate sneaking onto your
machine and maliciously signing false logs in your name is low enough to be safely discounted,
then feel free to remove the passwords from your certificates in TQSL
using the these
instructions. If you do this, you can upload log updates to LoTW from Logger32 with “just” 5
clicks following the instructions on my Logger32 page using a utility entry to call TQSL with
the appropriate parameters.
Tidy out your old LoTW files from time to time. Once you have sent a .tq5 certificate request
to LoTW, received back the .tq6 certificate and loaded it into TQSL, you can safely delete both
files. Same with the .tq8 signed logs that you have uploaded to LoTW: there is no need to
keep the .tq8 files any longer after they have been uploaded. Hang on to your ADIF logs, of
course, and any .p12 or .tbk backup files. Keep them safe, preferably off-line (e.g. on a CD
-ROM or USB memory stick)
off-site (e.g. at the radio club, in a safety deposit box at the
bank or in cloud storage).
If you need to download your entire log from LoTW as an emergency backup*, there are at
least five options:
Use LoTW’s QSO reports to find out all you can about the missing QSOs and re-enter
them manually into your logging program (tedious and error prone unless you are only
missing a few QSOs);
Capture (‘screen-scrape’) the text one-screen-at-a-time from LoTW’s reports: this is
also tedious and error prone, and is definitely not recommended;
Use the neat online LoTW log download utility by K1MU, without entering any specific
- Use this LoTW query page directly (it starts a full log download - thanks to G4LMW for
Use the ‘synchronise log with LoTW’ function in logging programs such as AClog (but not Logger32, unfortunately).
* Treat this as a last resort: as I said earlier, LoTW only stores the basic, minimal QSO details.
Trust me, it is much better to make your own regular off-line and off-site log backups.
Have you backed up your log lately?
Do it NOW!
Back to quick links
Checking/correcting your CQ and ITU zone and locator in LoTW
Some hams are either in such a rush or so confused when they join and start using LoTW that they
make leeetle mistakes with their zones and locators. Perhaps the most common mistake is to
swap CQ and ITU zones. Some hams evidently know their CQ zone but haven’t a clue about their
ITU zone. If the values are wrong, every LoTW upload thereafter using that certificate and hence
any LoTW confirmations will carry the wrong info until eventually someone notices and kindly lets
This is how to check and if necessary correct your zone and locator data:
Even if you think you know them, double-check your CQ zone, ITU zone and locator.
HINT: if you think your ITU zone number is less than your CQ
zone number but you don’t live in Canada, you have probably
made a mistake.
Export an ADIF version of your log containing all QSOs from the location whose zones or
locators you want to correct. [In Logger32, this means going to "File" then "Export Logs"
then "Create ADIF (Adi) file". Navigate to a suitable directory and give the ADIF file a name.
Do not select "Partial log" as you almost certainly want the whole thing. I normally select
"Export full Country names" here as it lets me check and sometimes correct the DXCC
country allocations made by Logger32].
- Backup your log at this point, not because anything in the rest of this procedure is particularly
risky, but just in case. It is generally safest to backup both the ADIF log (which may contain
errors from the export process) and your logging program’s database (which may contain
additional info but is not as portable as the ADIF). Store the backups safely, preferably offline.
- Run TQSL
and on the top line menu select "File" then "Sign existing ADIF or Cabrillo file".
Click a "location" to select it. You are actually selecting the appropriate digital certificate - if
you manage more than one callsign in LoTW, each will have its own "location" defined and you
must use the appropriate one to sign the relevant logs.
Click the "Edit" button.
Enter or check and correct the zone and locator information there.
Click "Next" then "Finish".
[The "location" you just corrected should still be selected] Click "OK".
Find the ADIF file that you created in step 1 and click "Open".
Click "Save" [the signed log file will be saved with the same file name as the ADIF file but with
a .tq8 extension, in the same directory as the ADIF file by default].
Click "Yes" to confirm that you really want to sign your log [doh! Why else would you be
doing this? Dumb question!].
If prompted, enter your TQSL password [to unlock your private key and sign your log with
your digital certificate] and click "OK" to sign your log.
Login to the LoTW website and upload your signed log (i.e. the .tq8 file) as usual. LoTW
overwrites your previously-uploaded QSO data with the correct zones etc.
[Optional] If you have more than one location and log to sign and upload, go back to step 1
and run through again for the other info.
Thanks to Chris for helping prepare these instructions, and for correcting his info!
TQSL incorporates basic integrity checks for zones, and version 2 has various improvements that
make it easier to use. It’s definitely worth upgrading if you are running an old version. To get the
current release of TQSL, visit the ARRL LoTW page.
By the way, I gather hams operating from grid boundaries/junctions are able to select multiple
adjacent grids in TQSL, up to four of them I believe. This could prove attractive for VHF/UHF
contests, and for the new ARRL International Grid Chase if you live or operate at the boundary of
several rare grids.
Back to quick links
Applying for awards via LoTW
The LoTW system can automatically track your progress towards ARRL’s DXCC, VUCC and WAS
awards, plus CQ Magazine’s WPX award, but first you need to configure it by setting up your award
accounts in LoTW.
The DXCC rules allow you to accumulate QSLs from more than one personal callsign (for example if
you use a personal contest or vanity call but not a shared/club call), provided all QSOs are made
from the same DXCC country. Under WAS rules, all QSOs must be made from within 50 miles of
the same location: if you move more than 50 miles away, you have to re-start your WAS claims
from the new QTH. Configuring LoTW therefore involves telling the system where you operate from
When LoTW’s DXCC or WAS reports indicate that you have enough QSLs for an award, you can
prepare and submit your application through LoTW. Here are the steps for DXCC:
Login to LoTW as usual.
Open the Awards tab.
Select the DXCC account and open the familiar DXCC summary report showing the credits
already granted, any claims in progress, and any confirmations not yet claimed.
Click Application on the left menu.
Click Check All if you want credit for all the new LoTW confirmations, then Continue.
Complete the rest of the application, providing your credit card number to pay for the
certificates/endorsements, and submit it for processing.
Wait a day or three for an email to say the application has been processed.
Wait a week or three for an envelope from ARRL HQ containing your certificates and
Proudly display them in your shack and show off to your DX pals. You deserve to gloat!
Aside from LoTW confirmations, you can apply for DXCC credits using QSL cards.
Back to quick links
Archive your LoTW certificate/s
If you somehow lose or corrupt your LoTW certificates (for example if your hard drive crashes, you
pick up a PC virus, you accidentally delete or overwrite the files, or your shack burns down), you
will need to go through the rigmarole of reapplying to ARRL HQ, sending your license again for
validation ... unless you had the foresight to make an archive copy,
Archive your LoTW certificates now, before you forget!
How to archive your LoTW certificates (using TQSL version 2):
From the menu, select File then Backup Station Locations, Certificates, and Preferences...
Navigate to a convenient directory on your system.
- Click Save.
Copy the backup file (called
) to a suitable archival/long-term storage medium
such as (in decreasing order of merit) CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, external hard drive, USB memory
stick, Web or cloud backup, another PC, 8” floppy diskette, stone tablet, wax disk, sand
impression or notches on a stick. That’s your archive.
Store your archive safely, well away from your computer and shack (don’t just sling it in the
bottom of a drawer: it’s valuable! Take care of it!).
To recover lost/corrupted LoTW certificate, location or config data (using TQSL 2):
- Select File from the menu then Restore Station Locations, Certificates, and Preferences...
Find either the backup file (if it is intact) or your archive, and click OK to restore your info.
use the same process to transfer your TQSL info to a different PC, such as a new PC or a
second station PC. Install TQSL on the second system, then use the restore function to load the
info from your archive.
make a new archive whenever you get a new/replacement certificate, move to a new QTH
and set up a new location in TQSL, or when you archive your log (make this a routine every New
Year’s Day, when the clocks change to/from daylight savings time, or whenever it suits you).
Backup and archive your log/s too
Be sure to take regular backups of your log or logs
. Backups are handy to recover from little
accidents: provide the backup file is OK, you can recover most of your QSOs (up to the last backup
) after accidentally corrupting a section of your log, or perhaps deleting or overwriting the whole log
file. Without backups, if your log is damaged or lost, you will lose all record of all the QSOs you’ve
ever had, except perhaps for the very basic details of any you have previously uploaded to LoTW
or Clublog (both of which only store the bare minimum of QSO information - think of them as last
resort backups). Believe me, it’s a real pain when it happens. Those who worked Mellish Reef
toward the end of a certain DXpedition know what I mean: the vital laptop dropped into the sea
while they were leaving the reef. Ooops. Luckily QSOs made up to a day or so earlier had already
been uploaded to a control station and were safe, but the final QSOs were lost forever to Neptune.
Every so often, make an archive too
. Backup your log/s as normal but then copy the backup
file/s to suitable offline media such as a CD or USB memory stick, and stash it somewhere safe
away from the shack. Make this a regular thing e.g. once a quarter depending on how active you
are - once every thousand QSOs is another way.
At the very least, take a moment to archive
your entire log at the start of every new year, and store it safely away.
That way, the most you will lose will be the QSOs you made during the subsequent year and details of any QSLs
received since you made the archive: still bad news but not a complete disaster!
Back to quick links
Update your log to show DXCC credits (granted)
The QSOs that have been confirmed and credited to your DXCC record can be downloaded from
LoTW to update Logger32, using the program “ARRL scraper.exe” provided with Logger32. Look in
C:\Logger32 for the program.
The scraper asks for your LoTW username and password, then logs in to LoTW. It generates
working lists of the QSOs already credited to various DXCC awards (e.g. DXCC Mixed, DXCC CW etc.), then one-by-one, it downloads the relevant QSO info from LoTW, saving the QSO details as
an ADIF file.
It is a slow process, taking about a second or so per QSO. My 2600 DXCC credits took about 2
hours. The utility churns away in the background, the little blue progress bar steadily advancing to
the right, whereas I would have gone nuts trying to do what it is doing by hand!
The utility does some integrity checking as it attempts to find QSOs in the log that don’t match the
DXCC credits, displaying errors (such as the 8J1ANT one above) and generating a plain text error
file - some 30 QSOs in my case:
HS0ZEA, for example, is the call credited in my DXCC records but in fact he was mobile, and I
logged him as HS0ZEA/M, the callsign he used on air. I always try to log callsigns as sent. LoTW
evidently strips off the /M suffix, giving a match in LoTW when it checks the QSO but a mismatch
with the QSO in my log when it exports the matched QSO info. It is easy to fix the errors in
Logger32: manually locate the QSOs in question and update them to show they have been credited
Back to quick links
Online DXCC application (for QSL cards)
Logger32 can generate an ADIF file for an online DXCC application, identifying QSOs that you have
confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW:
Logger32 can identify QSOs that have been confirmed on QSL cards but not on LoTW using
the “QSLs only” selector at the bottom of the DXCC report:
- For a clean start, unset any “Submit for
DXCC” flags currently in your log by running
the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file
function, selecting the option to delete the
On Logger32’s QSL-only DXCC report, click
an orange “C” blob to identify the
corresponding QSO or QSOs that have been
confirmed on paper.
Now from one of those dusty shoeboxes or
postcard albums, dig out a suitable, readable,
original and unmodified QSL card for one of
Right click the corresponding QSO in the log,
then click “Submit for DXCC” to flag the QSO.
Note: topband cards can only be checked by
ARRL HQ or by card-checkers who have been
authorized to check 160m cards.
Move on to the next orange “C” blob, and repeat steps 3 & 4 until done.
Run the File -> Export file -> Export DXCC file function again to generate the ADIF file you
need. If you are certain you will complete the process, select the options to delete the flags
and mark the QSOs as submitted for DXCC. Otherwise wait until after you have actually
completed and sent the submission - simply run the Export DXCC file again with the options
set that time.
Upload the ADIF file to the online DXCC application and, before finalising and submitting your
application, double-check that you have the correct QSL cards for every QSO you are
claiming, in the same sequence as shown on the form. The cards must match the claimed
QSO details on the form for callsign, date, band or frequency and mode. For DXCC countries
with ambiguous prefixes (e.g. North and South Cooks both use E5), the card should explicitly
state the location.
If everything is in order, complete and submit the online application and print out the form to
send with your QSL cards to be checked. Sign the paperwork and send or take it plus the QSL
cards either to ARRL HQ or to your friendly local DXCC card-checker.
Wait patiently for news about the status of your application.
Back to quick links
Robert HB9BZA used to compile a list of >100,000 LoTW users as a public service to the amateur
community ... until eventually ARRL got the hint and started publishing a definitive list of LoTW users
, complete with the last upload dates.
The CC user program by VE7CC can use the list, adding a “+” to the comments field on spots for
DX stations who use LoTW, and optionally filtering out spots for those who do not use LoTW:
If two or more wanted DX stations are spotted, I give preference to those with the plusses
because I’m more confident of getting a confirmation from them.
Back to quick links
Getting help on Logbook of The World (LoTW)
ARRL’s “official” LoTW FAQ is the definitive source of help on LoTW. It’s not bad at all.
The web page you are reading right now is “unofficial” - simply a compilation of things I have
discovered while using LoTW.
If you have other queries not answered in the FAQ or here, you could try asking me but you are
likely to get a more accurate response from the nice people at ARRL HQ, or by joining the LoTW
email reflector at Yahoo!
Back to quick links
A LoTW wishlist
Here are two changes to LoTW I’d quite like ARRL to make:
- Add more awards
such as IOTA and contests
such as CQ WW. ARRL would do us all a
service by opening up the system and so encouraging even more hams to use LoTW. A
relatively simple but extensible option would be for LoTW to
verify, sign and return ADIF
logs submitted by authorized users (e.g. contest adjudicators and award admins)
identifying which of the QSOs have been matched. Making use of ARRL’s investment in the PKI
, LoTW could digitally sign its reports, allowing others to confirm that they have not been
tampered with or fabricated. The reports could then be used for all manner of awards and
contests without ARRL having to cater for each one individually. Meanwhile, ARRL have at
least facilitated some integration of LoTW with other sites, such as Club Log, and the CQ WAZ
award is currently being added.
Provide a bands and modes x countries grid similar to Club Log’s. [That excellent suggestion
comes from WB5EIN - tnx Larry, good idea! The LoTW Awards reports are functional but not
pretty, a bit like me.]
Please contact me if there are other ideas you would like to add to the list, or to comment on my
Notwithstanding my little wish-list, I’d like to thank ARRL and the DXCC Desk for making this facility
freely available to hams worldwide.
Back to quick links