Field Day Contest Log 4.1 is Now Available!

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Hi All,

Field Day Contest Log 4.1 is Now Available!

Field Day Contest Log Version 4.1 is the first upgrade to the new, rewritten C# version of my Field Day software that was used widely during the 2013 Field Day contest. Version 4.1 adds a TCP Networking option (explained in detail below), the ability to easily change operator identification and access the network display from top level menu options.

As always, upgrades are free to registered users. You'll find version 4.1 here:

http://www.n3fjp.com/fieldday.html

If you are upgrading from version 4.0, please first uninstall 4.0 from Windows Control Panel > Programs and Features or Add / Remove Programs (depending on OS). It isn't necessary to uninstall any prior VB6 versions.


User Feedback on Field Day Contest Log 4.0 Following the 2013 Contest.

Since Field Day Contest Log 4.0 is a complete rewrite with brand new code, some folks understandably stayed with the tried and true, VB6 versions this year. Folks that stayed with the older VB6 versions have been requesting feedback following the contest to help in their decision on which version to use next year, so this seems like the right time to share the results.

I'm happy to report that overall, the results were really good! There were a few problem reports related to network connectivity summarized farther down in this e-mail, but first the good news, which represents the feedback most groups sent along. This is a very small sampling of excerpts from the many kind words I received regarding Field Day Contest log 4.0, from those who used it to network multiple PCs:

Scott,

As a long time user of your software, bravo on the FD Contest Log 4.0. It worked flawlessly for our 5A setup (we had one laptop play server all day, so there were actually 6 laptops connected via Ethernet to LAN only through a managed switch all while on emergency power for the whole event). No problems encountered. No hiccups. The network communication/chat window worked great.

Thanks for keeping the great software updated!

Gary W, N2WLS
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Hi Scott,

This year went great. Your field day program worked flawlessly and the station captains commented how well it worked. We had six computers networked together this year and thank you for making it so easy to set up a network. We went hard wire and not wireless as in the past the wireless net would fail at the wrong time.

Thanks again for all your hard work.

73, Ray KJ6NO
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Hi Scott,

We just completed Field Day at WC8VOA with the new version of your FD logging software. We were networked with 3 PCs and one PC acting as the file server. Everything went well; we had no major problems.
----

Great Job Scott,

Ran three computers, two networked and one was vista (need I say more) no problems logged a little over 650 contacts with no major problems. We did delete two contacts with no loss of data and edited a couple too. Thanks for the product and keep up the great work!!!

72,
Jeff K8KZB
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As the IT Captain for K8BF this year, I'd like to report that the new version of the software worked very well for us. We had one small hitch with some automatic backups not running, but you worked that out for us very quickly. Our setup included one PC for each station, plus one to act as a server to host the database and another with the keyboard and mouse disconnected and the software open so that casual observers could see the scores, all networked over wireless. No problems and no excitement all weekend, just the way IT likes it.

73,
KD8WZS
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Our group used your latest version for Field Day. We had six computers, wireless. One utilizing radio frequency control and two using software keying, one with a MicroKeyer, the other a homebrew interface. All functioned brilliantly.

Thank you for the great software!

Lance WN0L
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The Problem Reports.

Following Field Day 2013, I received lots of great reports from the vast majority of groups who networked with File Share using my new C# rewrite (Field Day Contest Log 4.0), but I did receive a few reports from a very small percentage of folks (only 7 groups, but that is 7 too many), who had intermittent problems with the program occasionally or frequently reporting 'unable to execute the SQL command'. It appears that these problems were related to intermittent network connectivity, power surges (one group specifically reported all was fine until they experienced a power surge) and / or RF interference.

Here is a sampling of these types of reports:

Scott,

I think that the wireless issues are network related (possibly the wireless systems being overloaded by all the RF flying around). Our Field Day effort used a combination of wired and wireless computers and after one problem with the wired network (loose power connection on one of the network switches) all systems were up 100% with no failures.

Ken WB2KWC
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The Ford Amateur Radio League and the Livonia Amateur Radio Club operated Field Day this year as a 4A group. We had a lot of fun, but we encountered multiple problems with your latest Field Day Program, N3FJP's ARRL Field Day Contest Log 4.0. For the first time in using your programs for years, we received SQL errors where the software would not be able to save logs. All of our computers got this from time to time, including the computer where the master file was located.
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This year we had all our boxes going well until some power/network bumps during a thunderstorm....After the storm, our Win7 file-server was visibly running fine, but, the network file sharing was pissed.
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We had issues with locking up and late updates on the two PCs running wireless. After dropping network cables to them everything was fine. Wireless router definitely had issues...

Steve Look
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Addition of the TCP Networking Option!

While sharing an Access database continues to work fine in most cases, even a few problem reports is a few too many, so I decided to add another networking option - TCP. The TCP code is brand new. While I've tested it extensively here, I would REALLY appreciate it if you would all test it well before Field Day and let me know how you make out!

The following narrative explains the background, differences and implementation in detail:

There are now two methods for networking my software - File Share and TCP. File Share has been used very successfully since I first introduced the networking versions of my software in the late 1990s with the vast majority of users. I've just added TCP in July, 2013 as a second networking option, that should help the few groups who encountered file share problems resulting from slow network connections and / or intermittent network connectivity.

Access databases require solid, fast, uninterrupted networks to work properly. If even one of your networked PCs has a slow / intermittent connection, all the PCs will suffer, waiting their turn as the database struggles to service the problem PC. Several groups commented that as soon as they found and fixed the problem PC, everything came to life and worked great.

Networking in environments such as Field Day with the potential for power surges from generators, lots of stray RF, wireless connections near the end of the transmitter range, intermittent connectivity drops for any number of reasons, PCs of sometimes questionable performance using temporary, untested network setups are challenging! In addition to your operating skills, Field Day will fully test the performance of your network too!

So, while the existing File Share networking option works fine on stable, fast networks, I decided to add another networking option, TCP. TCP provides a second alternative for folks who may be struggling with intermittent network connectivity, which inhibits the normal, fast performance of the file sharing method.

The TCP method overcomes the delayed file share response problem since only one PC is actually connected to the file with the TCP method. That said, even TCP can't overcome a network environment that is so unstable that even TCP communications become unreliable. While the TCP option may be more forgiving, a reasonably stable network is required for any networking option!

In summary, the two options can be compared as follows:

File Share:

- The tried and true method, proven to work fine, supporting multiple connections on stable, fast networks that have NO DROP in connectivity.

- Requires all PCs to each navigate to and select the shared data file on the network by clicking File > Open, navigating to the shared file (with file and directory permissions set to update, not just read) and selecting it. Setting up file sharing and permissions on your network is required for File Share.

- Does NOT require enabling Status and Chat functions (though you will likely want to enjoy those features too.)

- Updates to the clients appear based on the refresh rate you set in the Settings > Refresh Rate option.

- Global updates to the file such as resequencing the counter, sorting or global removal of duplicates (all from the File menu options) should only be done when one PC is connected to the file. There is no way for the software to tell if other clients are connected to the data file, so make sure all other clients are disconnected before performing these functions.

TCP:

- First coded in July 2013, this option piggybacks on the functionality of the Status and Chat functions, to distribute adds, edits and deletes via TCP.

- All PCs must enable the Status and Chat functions, which connect to the server on port 1000. If you have virus / Internet protection software, you must set your protection software to allow this program to communicate on port 1000.

- Does NOT require each client to navigate to the log file, so you don't have to worry about file share permissions.

- The server should host the file locally on its hard drive, not over the network, to eliminate any possibility of network file access delays.

- While loading the file may take longer via TCP, All Adds, Edits and Deletes should appear within one second on all clients.

- ONLY the SERVER will perform BACKUPS and have the ability to perform other File menu options. This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on which functions you want the clients to be able to perform.

- For best performance, I don't recommend mixing and matching networking options. Either use File Share or TCP for every PC.

- With the TCP method, more will be asked of the server, so processor timed sending of CW may be less precise.


A Couple Other Notes:

- I've had good reports from folks running both wired connections and wireless. That said, it appears the folks who attempt wireless have trouble more frequently, even when the client is in very close proximity to the server. While RFI getting into wired LAN cables happens occasionally, I've had more problem reports from folks trying wireless. In many cases they follow up by saying they fixed the problem by replacing the wireless with cable.

- Keep ALL network equipment (especially your PCs, router and / or hubs) on a UPS! Power fluctuations on the network and PC shut downs due to power loss will damage your data file, cause the loss of a block of records within your database or corrupt it completely. If your PCs go down each time your generator runs out of gas, data loss is just a matter of time!



And in response to the questions we always receive when we neglect to include the following in our e-mail announcements...


Package Upgrade Information...

If you have registered one or more individual programs and would like to upgrade to N3FJP's Software Package or N3FJP's Software Package and CD for full use of all our Amateur Radio software, we would be glad to apply the amount that you have registered so far as a credit towards that purchase. Please send us an e-mail directly and we'll let you know your balance.

N3FJP's Software Package includes approximately 50 programs for contesting, net management, general logging and other Amateur Radio related applications. In addition to full use of all these programs, registered package customers are also entitled to receive free passwords for any new software that is added to the package and free upgrades to existing programs. You'll find all the details on the Register Now page at www.n3fjp.com.


Donations are Gratefully Accepted!

And in response to the often asked question for which Kimberly and I are very grateful...

"I know your upgrades are free, but I also realize how much time and effort coding these enhancements and new programs take and that your pricing policy doesn't fully reflect that. Can I send you something to show my appreciation for your continued efforts?"

Yes, thanks so much, your continued support in any amount is very welcome and deeply appreciated! You can use this page:

http://www.n3fjp.com/donations.html

or send your contribution by mail, payable to Affirmatech Inc., to:

G. Scott Davis
118 Glenwood Road
Bel Air, MD 21014-5533

Thank you so much for your continued support!


Thanks!

As always, thanks for your kind words, support, linking to our web site and spreading the word about our software. Kimberly and I really appreciate it!

73, Scott
N3FJP
http://www.n3fjp.com

Serving the Amateur Radio community with contesting and general logging software since 1997.



p.s.

If you need to change your e-mail address for future announcements....

The way Yahoo groups are set up, it is much easier for subscribers to unsubscribe from the old e-mail address and then subscribe with your new e-mail address, than for the list owner to do it for you. Yahoo makes it prohibitively difficult for list owners and limits or blocks their ability to add subscribers, to prevent them from adding folks without their permission.

Fortunately, it is very easy for subscribers to unsubscribe and resubscribe.

Here are the links to the Announcements Only group (low volume group where only I can post):

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/n3fjp_software/

And users group (all users can post questions here, so this can be high volume at times):

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/n3fjp_software_users/

Please go ahead and make that change. Thanks for your cooperation!

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