Is it just me, or do you also think that Logbook of the World (LOTW) is more trouble than it’s worth?
Three years ago, I went through the bother of downloading the software, getting the certificates, etc. I used it for a while, uploading all of the QSOs that I’d logged since I got back on the air, and it was interesting to see the QSLs tote up.
Then, I switched to a Mac in my shack. I managed to get LOTW working, but sloughed off on uploading my contacts. It was a bit of a hassle to do it, and the law of diminishing returns kind of took over. By that I mean I wasn’t seeing the rush of new countries that I did when I first started uploading. This was only natural.
Then, my Mac crashed. I had backed up my computer log, but I’d forgotten to back up the LOTW certificates and the .p12 file (whatever the h*ll that is). It got to be such a pain that I just forgot about LOTW altogether.
About a week ago, though, I get an e-mail from the ARRL noting that my certificate was about to expire. After getting a second warning today, I thought I’d give it a whack. I downloaded the latest version the TQSL software, but I’d forgotten that I’d lost my certificates. I logged into the LOTW website, and right on the homepage, it says, “Looking for your certificate? Click Your Account in the menu above.” I did that and downloaded a certificate, but the TQSLCert program didn’t recognize it, so I couldn’t renew it.
So, it was back to step 1. I ran TQSLCert and told it to generate a new certificate request. It created a .tq5 file that I uploaded to the LOTW website. Unfortunately, upon doing so, I got the error message, “Sorry, but you can’t have two certificates whose dates overlap.” This makes sense, but it’s oh so frustrating. So, now I have to wait for someone at the ARRL to sort things out, so that I can start using LOTW again.
Apparently, I’m not alone. According to the LOTW website, the system has only 30,039 users, and many of those are DX stations, I’m sure. Of those 30k, I wonder how many are like me, and rarely use the thing?
I gotta believe that there’s an easier way to do this. All this security is well and good, but we are talking about amateur radio QSLs here, not corporate trade secrets or national defense. I’m a computer person, and if I’m having trouble with it, just think of all the problems that hams with less computer experience than me are having with it. Or, is it just me?
Well, I’ve finally got it all straightened out. Shortly after I wrote this, someone at the ARRL actually did sort things out and sent me a new certificate, and I finally got around to installing it last night.
At first, I was having trouble saving the .p12 file and digitally signing an ADIF file. I even fired off an e-mail to the ARRL asking why my password didn’t work. As it turns out, this was my fault. Apparently, when I requested the new certificate, the caps lock was on, meaning that the alpha characters in the password were all caps. Once I figured that out, everything went smoothly.
I now have 8,928 LOTW QSOs and 1,160 QSLs. This includes 81 different DXCC entities. I haven’t run through my QSL collection yet, but I’d bet that I now have enough countries to get a DXCC certificate.