CBR2ADIF and Other Utilities


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This Web page deals with certain aspects of amateur radio. I have made no attempt to give a general overview of amateur radio, or even of any particular subject within the hobby. Although I do give a few links to other sites, I will not attempt to provide a comprehensive list, since that has been done elsewhere. However, for those whose interests happen to align approximately with mine, I hope that you may find some interesting material here.

As described elsewhere on this site, my personal amateur radio interests focus on CW and digital DXing and contesting. With the exception of CW DXing and ragchewing outside contests, all of these activities are supported by software.

The need for software is particularly evident in digital modes. There is now a wide variety of software available for download from the Internet for use with the various digital modes. This software requires only a standard Pentium-class computer with a sound card and a couple of cables to connect the sound card to the radio. I have made a collection of links to sound card digital-mode software for easy reference. I have used most of these programs on the air, with the notable exception of the SSTV programs.

Software is also used for a variety of other purposes related to amateur radio. For example, there is free software available to do logging and record-keeping to aid in the hunt for operating awards, as well as software that is designed for hard-core contesting. No one piece of software does it all equally well, so the subject of file transfer among various programs is naturally of interest.

Since its introduction in 1996, the Amateur Data Interchange Format (universally known as ADIF) has become a de facto standard for transferring amateur radio log information among logging programs and related software such as QSL software. Most general-purpose logging programs now support both import and export of log data in ADIF. ADIF is also the most common means for export of log data from digital-mode software.

One domain of amateur radio where ADIF is not quite so widely used is that of contesting. The aims of contest software are to facilitate operating during the contest by keeping track of multipliers and duplicate contacts, and to support scoring of the contest by preparing the contester's log in a format suitable for the contest organizers to do the massive job of post-contest cross-checking. Both of these aims drive contest software developers towards compact and concise formats containing only the information needed for the contest. While ADIF is very flexible, it is not compact, nor is it well-suited to quick inspection by either the contest operator or the contest checker.

Since 1999, the two major sponsors of contests in North America, the ARRL and CQ magazine, have agreed upon a common format for electronic contest log submission, called Cabrillo. Other contest organizers are likely to follow the lead and adopt the same format. The major contest software developers now support export of contest logs in Cabrillo format, for submission to contest sponsors. The Cabrillo format specifies header information specifying the contest, the entry class, and information identifying the operator(s), followed by a list of the contest QSOs in a fixed format. There is no room in the Cabrillo format for information extraneous to the contest needs (except for frequency, since on HF the Cabrillo format records the band in the form of a frequency in kHz).

Contesters are often also DXers and are therefore interested in combining their contest logs into a general station log after the contest entry has been submitted. That way, the contest QSOs can be used in record-keeping for award chasing, QSLs can be printed for those QSOs that were new band-mode combinations, and so on. To do this, contesters have usually relied upon a separate file-conversion utility program, to convert the contest program's internal file format, or the Cabrillo format, into either the logging program's own format or ADIF.

General-purpose logging programs usually store more information about a QSO than is found in a contest log. For example, a station log will probably include both band and frequency information, transmit power, sent and received RS(T) and the CQ Zone for every contact, as well as the state for W/K QSOs. Depending on the contest exchange, some of this information may be in the contest log, but some of it is usually missing. Instead of entering the missing information by hand into the station log after it has been imported, it may be easier to use an ASCII text editor to put the desired information into the ADIF file. Some of the information is unchanged from one QSO to the next, so it would make sense to let the computer add it.

My favourite contest software, TRLog, has the capability of storing frequency information in the log. However, this frequency information was not transferred into the ADIF file by the conversion software. So, I wrote myself a little utility program, ADIFRFIX, which reads the frequency information from the original log and adds it to the corresponding ADIF file. While I was at it, I also added transmit power (assumed to be the same for all QSOs) and optionally a sent and/or received RS(T). This little program made the job of transferring contest QSOs into my station log easier.

The available conversion programs for producing ADIF files from TRLog files left something to be desired in my view. For example, when I used the TRLog post-contest utility to replace frequencies with sent serial numbers in the log, I found that the resulting log was sometimes rejected by the TRLog-to-ADIF utility. Some of the fields in the contest log could be stored in the wrong ADIF field. These glitches could be fixed with a text editor, but I thought it would be nice to have a program that did a better job of conversion with less intervention.

In March 2001, I realized that the Cabrillo format would be very easy to read into a program that could not only translate the contest fields into the corresponding ADIF fields, but could also add missing information such as transmit power and default RS(T). At the same time, the program could easily expand some of the information into additional fields. For example, if the ARRL Section is known to be EWA, it is an ideal task for a computer to derive the state (WA) and CQ zone (3), thus relieving the operator (me) of the error-prone task of adding these fields by hand. The result was the CBR2ADIF program, which reads a Cabrillo file and converts it to ADIF, while adding some additional information either deduced from the Cabrillo file or input by the user.

The band/frequency information in a Cabrillo file is actually stored in the form of a frequency, although in the majority of cases the frequency that appears in the Cabrillo file is actually just a band indicator (for example, all 20m contacts are usually recorded with a frequency of 14000 kHz). Therefore, instead of adding frequency information to an ADIF file using ADIFRFIX, I decided it would be easier to add this information to the Cabrillo file before passing it to CBR2ADIF. The result was CBRFRFIX, another small program to take frequency information from a log file from TRLog and add it to the corresponding Cabrillo file.

While these programs were written for my own use, there is a possibility that they may be of interest to others. Therefore I have made them available for download from this Web site. If you think one of them would be useful to you, please feel free to download it and give it a try. Please send bug reports or suggestions for improvements to the address below.

73 de Richard Ferch, VE3IAY

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Page last updated 24 August 2001