This discussion will be primarily about ham radio contesting programs, with an additional overview of all the myriad uses of computers in ham radio.
The initial popular programs were by WJ2O and K1EA.
K1EA’s CT revolutionized ham radio contesting in the
DOS days. Back then, you needed different programs for
different contests, including TR by N6TR and NA.
The initial ham radio logging programs (for DOS) were
hindered by the necessity of pre-loading port drivers for
the DB- 9 RS-232 output ports. Modern programs do not
require this. In fact, almost all can be run with a USB type
of output, without the need for the cumbersome DB9-
COM port converters, which suffer from almost a
universal lack of standardization.
When Windows arrived, so did WriteLog (WL). This
program — originally written for radioteletype (RTTY) —
was far advanced as compared to its predecessors. Then,
the free programs N1MM and M1MMPlus took over.
Alternatives also include Win-Test and SuperDuper. It took
me two years to learn WL and seven years to use N1MM,
but N1MMPlus is by far the most favorite current contest
program among the general ham radio contesting
population. More computer-savvy individuals know how to
use this program without any instruction.
A screenshot of N1MMPlus is shown in Figure 1. Free
instructional videos are on the WWROF foundation
website. N1MMPlus is free, and was written by a
dedicated group of about 10 hams. All modern logging
programs have a feature that can indicate the frequency of
operation of the transceiver and that a telnet spotting
network is accessed, which together markedly increase
scores. A DX spotting network is one that shows the
call signs and frequency of stations that are desirable
with which to make contact for fun, or an increased
score in the contest.
For CW (international Morse code) and RTTY
contests, the reverse beacon network greatly increases
scores over telnet nodes. This is a system of automatic
receivers/decoders that spot stations (rather than
humans) all over the world that are being received. It
is free to users. The RBN (Republic Broadcasting
Network) system is revolutionizing amateur radio
contesting to the same extent that the invention of the
logging program did in the ‘90s.
Besides keeping score and sending (sometimes
receiving) code and voice, “ham” logging programs
have a “supercheck partial” system where — in the
case of an incompletely copied call — the program
suggests a call that might fit in from a database of
Since most Nuts & Volts readers are already computer/kit/Raspberry Pi/Arduino
users, it will warm your heart to learn of computer uses in amateur radio. What?
Amateur radio? That bunch of retro geeks? Yes! The initial use of computers in
ham radio involved logging contacts with other ham stations — especially for use
in ham radio contests where the score is the number of contacts times the
multiplier. An extensive list of contests is available at wa7bnm.com.
By John Thompson
36 May 2016
FIGURE 1. Screenshot from N1MMPlus.
Post comments on this article and find any associated files and/or downloads at