LOTW isn’t hard…

For some reason, the Logbook of the World naysayers have been popping up here and there recently, with the overall complaint STILL being that the service is too difficult to set up.

I can understand those who don’t want to support LOTW for philosophical reasons (they don’t like the ARRL, for example). And I reckon if you don’t own or use a computer during the commission of your ham radio work, you wouldn’t use LOTW. The computer has been, and will always be an integral part of my station, whether I am using it for RTTY, digital modes, setting up a QSO sked, checking propagation or logging. I really couldn’t “do radio” without one, hence I tend to look at those who don’t use them in their shacks as being somewhat anachronistic at best, and a Luddite at worst. But I digress…

K8GU expressed his thoughts on the LOTW quandary in a recent blog post, and I found myself nodding in agreement. His posting coincided with a minor plea I issued on the local 2-meter net Sunday, for all hams who work HF, to please use LOTW, even if you aren’t chasing paper. Also, I can’t believe how many folks don’t understand what LOTW actually is: namely, LOTW isn’t used as a logging program to replace the (awful?) QRZ logger, Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook, or DX Labs, etc. — but rather, it’s an online tool to store generated logs for the purpose of QSLing.

Setting up LOTW is NOT HARD! The ARRL has published several PDFs with explicit instructions on how to get the package up and running, how to move it to another computer, troubleshooting, etc. It’s all on the LOTW site.

The majority of problems seem to arise with the fact that LOTW isn’t an instant service. You must apply, and wait a short time with patience until the ARRL sends you your authentication postcard. If you are in the US, this only take a few days.

Ham radio has challenged me from the very beginning. As a new ham with no experience in electronics or RF theory, I had to learn a great deal before I was ready to take my Technician exam. Weeks of study… then it was weeks more study to pass the General, and yes, more weeks of study before the Extra was in my grasp. Then I actually had to set up a station — find a rig, find an ideal antenna, figure out how to get coax into the house, figure out how to raise the antenna, work out a grounding solution, search for and purchase things like power supplies, cabling, audio interfaces, antenna tuners, get the rig interfaced to my computer, etc., after which I had to learn how to make it all operate together.

A lot had to happen over a course of MONTHS before I was able to complete a single QSO. All of that was a heck of a lot more difficult than following the ARRL’s linear instructions to set up LOTW.

Hams are some of the smartest guys I know. Surely, setting up LOTW shouldn’t bring them to their knees.

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