Friday, December 2, 2011

What is Logbook of The World? Introduction

What is Logbook of The World?

Logbook of The World - LoTW  - is an exciting way for Radio Amateurs to confirm two-way contacts they have made and use the confirmations as credit toward various awards.

Because Logbook of The World uses double blind comparison, users cannot see what other users have uploaded unless there is a matched QSO. All files uploaded to LoTW are electronically signed by verified users. Logbook of The World maintains the integrity of the QSO verification process that has long been the hallmark of ARRL awards.

How does it work?

Logbook of The World is a very powerful system capable of collecting and matching QSO data from users all over the world.  When properly configured, LoTW can accommodate a variety of operating situations, such as DXpeditions, previously held call signs and QSL managers.

By using digitally signed certificates with QSO date ranges and station locations for geographic information, Logbook of The World is able to accommodate clubs, QSL managers, Dxpeditions, mobile and rover operators just as easily as it handles the individual user with one call sign and one location.

LoTW uses software called Trusted QSL.

Trusted QSL software is free to download and use.
Trusted QSL contains two programs – TQSL CERT and TQSL .
Digital certificates are managed in TQSL CERT.
Station location management and log signing is done with TQSL.

Digital Certificates

All unique call signs receive a digital certificate.

The primary call sign certificate is UNSIGNED.

Subordinate call sign certificates are SIGNED by the primary call sign certificate.  Subordinate call signs can be your old call sign, a DX call sign that was issued to you or portable calls such as W1AW/7, KP4/W1AW.

By using signed certificates all data that is associated with the primary user is maintained in the primary account.

Digital certificates use QSO date ranges to lock in the date range when a call was used.  Certificates issued for currently active call signs will have a defined QSO start date and an open end date.

Verified Users

Logbook of The World users are verified before they can open an account.
USA operators are verified when they enter a special code they receive from a postcard which is mailed to them at the address in the FCC database.  Postcards will not be mailed to an address other than what is listed in the FCC database.

DX operators are verified when they mail a copy of their Amateur Radio operator permit and another form of identification such as a driver license or first page of a passport or front page of a utility bill.  These copies must be mailed so that they receive a post mark on the envelope.

A note about postcards and documents:  These are only used when you open your loTW acount.  Future certificate request for call signs within the same DXCC entity do not require documentation or postcards.

Trusted QSL Files
All files uploaded to Logbook of The World Trusted QSL (TQ) files.

When you sign a log using Trusted QSL you create a TQ8 file to upload to LoTW.  The TQ8 file is digitally signed and contains Information about the QSO, your geographic information,  your call sign and your DXCC entity.

Let's look at what makes a TQ8 file.
     The call sign and DXCC entity are derived from your certificate.
     The QSO info such as the station worked, date, time, band and mode come from the ADIF or Cabrillo log file.
     The geographic information such as US State, County, grid and zones all come from your station location.
     Station locations are associated with your certificate.

Renew Your Certificate

For a number of  reasons, Logbook certificates have a term of three years and must be renewed.  If a certificate is renewed before it expires, the process is very simple.

Because the renewal is automatically signed by the old certificate there is no need for additional authentication such as documents or postcards.

Remember that if your certificate has expired it cannot be renewed.  You must request a new certificate

Download the tutorial (PDF)
Download the Logbook of The World tutorial in PDF format.  Use as a reference or to show at club meetings.

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