By Rob Wagner VK3BVW
North Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

Prepared: April 2003

This story has been prepared for the exclusive use of members of the ELECTRONIC DX PRESS and may not be further reproduced without the permission of the author.


Every now and again a great piece of freeware comes along which is a genuine help to users of personal computers. Of even more interest to DXers is something related to our radio hobby. A few months ago, I read an excellent article from Mika Makelainen's great web site. Entitled Emerging Techniques of High-Tech DXpeditioning, by Guy Atkins, John Bryant, Nick Hall-Patch and Don Nelson, this article brought to light some new and interesting techniques and software used by the four authors in recent years. They also spent some time singing the praises of great little piece of software called B-Log.

I duly downloaded and installed B-Log onto my desktop PC from

It's a small program, not requiring huge hard disk space (well under one megabyte). It's easy to use, quick to start, and appears very stable. And the best part is it's FREE!

Designed by amateur radio operator, Tom Lackamp (AB9B), the program has had one major revision since its inception, and no further upgrades are expected (or really required) in the near future. One of the authors of the above mentioned article, mediumwave and tropical band DXer Guy Atkins, gave Tom much feedback and help in the revised Version 1.1 edition of B-Log. The result is a powerful and versatile little product for listeners of shortwave, mediumwave, amateur and utility stations.

Now, logging software is not something with which I have had a lot of experience. My radio activities, both as a shortwave broadcast DXer and amateur radio operator, go back to 1968 when I received my first QSL card from HCJB. Record-keeping for hundreds of SWBC reports and ham QSL's was a big task and required some discipline to maintain accuracy. Oh, for a computer to keep it all together!

So, I found B-Log easy to use because it has only two main screens - an entry screen for your data and a display screen for editing, searching and sorting your file. You can also customize your use of B-Log to reflect the type of data you want to enter from the 15 available fields. Let's have a look at some of the features of B-Log:

System Settings

Before you start using B-Log, two user options need to be made. The Date Format option allows display of both mm/dd/yyy or dd/mm/yyy. The Log Export Bulk Sorts allows you the option to sort your export logging data in any of three formats. Simply checking the relevant boxes and the settings are complete.

Entry Screen

B-Log opens immediately to the data entry screen. No flashy splash screens here - straight into it without fuss or fanfare! At the top of this screen is a digital clock, showing the time as taken from the clock in your computer's operating system. If you want to set your computer to read UTC, this will show on the clock of the data entry screen of B-Log. It also shows the default time in the body of the data screen in the time field.

Let's go through the field descriptions.

Code: Allows you to enter a user-defined service or activity code for each log entry. This is useful for segregating different types of DXing, say, SW, MW Ham, CB or Ute logs. Once you start inputting codes, B-Log remembers your entries. When creating a new log entry, you can either enter new data into these fields or pick from a list of your previous entries. A drop-down menu enables easy entry of any code you wish to apply. This same feature also applies to the Mode and Country fields (see below).

Frequency: B-Log accommodates decimal frequencies such as 9760.5 or 9760,5.

Mode: This is another user-defined field. Again, handy if you're into many different types of DXing and want to list, USB, LSB, AM, CW, RTTY, FM, etc.

Time: Either the time of the log entry or the start of your listening to the broadcast.

Off: The time you finished monitoring the broadcast.

Date: As mentioned earlier, B-log accommodates the two formats for date.

ID: Use this to input the name of the station and perhaps its transmitting site. Again, you can enter new information or use a drop-down menu to pick a previous ID field entry. However, unlike the Code and Mode fields, the information in the ID box won't be saved until you press the "Add" button. At first, this puzzled me. I guess with thousands of ham calls available, the drop-down menu would get rather long. For SWBC stations, however, there may be only a few that you log on a regular basis, so this feature saves repetitious typing.

Country: New country names are automatically stored for later recall.

Misc: Any additional information you wish to record.

Rpt-1: First signal report field

Rpt-2: Second signal report field

Notes: For any additional information about your logging. A massive 2048 characters can be entered here, so I use this for a full description of the logging, program details, discussions in a ham contact and other observations.

Log Display and Edit Screen

The second screen displays the data you inputted in the Data Entry Screen. This second screen is where you get to change, manipulate and print your data. Several additional fields appear in the Display screen.

Attach: This is one of the best features of the program. You can type in a URL, or enter the full path name of a file that Windows can open, such as .jpg, .wav, .txt, .zip, etc. For example, you could have a recording of the station as a wav or mp3 and attach that to your log. Or, upon receiving a QSL card from the station, you could scan it and attach the file to your log for later viewing.

QSL Sent: If you send a QSL card to another ham or a reception report to a broadcast station, you can indicate this here, and even include the station address, contact information, etc.

QSL Rcvd: Enter a date that a reply is received.

Sig: Your name or initials can be included here for easy identification when exporting logs to club radio bulletins or newsletters.

Tabular Display Screen

At the top of the log display screen is a tabular display of the last 6 entries. You can adjust the column order and width simply by dragging and resizing to suit your personal needs. Great flexibility is built into this amazing little program!

Dragging Columns
Resizing Columns

Exporting Your Logs

One of the handiest features in B-Log is the ability to export your listening observations into a number of different formats. For SWLs and Hams who make regular contributions to hobby radio magazines or online e-zines, this facility is a great help in quickly putting together your recent logs. Exported logs are written to a text file. You simply choose which ones you want to export and the desired format or layout. The software's author has identified three commonly used formats (Utility, SWL and MW) based on the requirements of a number of American radio club log listing formats.

The Ute export is built from frequency, ID text (station name), time field, etc. e.g.

5766 Stanza clg Mike One - both weak; background gvg numbers,brit accent N1A? 1943 USB Very active now following ALE. Can't tell if two groups are on freq or not. 14/Aug/2001

The SWL export format is built from data in the country, frequency, time and other data fields.

S. AFRICA 17870, 1814-1830*, Channel Africa Aug 13 Strong today. Sked 1800-1830 in EE. It's usually weak or totally unreadable on this freq at this time. Unusual condx to S. Africa today.

Finally, the MW export model can be listed from the frequency, country, misc., ID and other fields in several ways:

810 USA California KGO, Aug 29 1007 - San Francisco. Strong sig tonight, overriding splatter from 820 in Seattle.


810 USA KGO, Aug 29 1007 - San Francisco. Strong sig tonight, overriding splatter from 820 in Seattle.


810 California KGO, Aug 29 1007 - San Francisco. Strong sig tonight, overriding splatter from 820 in Seattle.

A very flexible "Sort" facility is installed with four additional options for presenting your data. As well as this, there is a Report Generator that can be configured in any way you wish. The generator builds a tab-delimited text file of the logs you select, using only the fields you choose to specify, formatted in the field order you specify. I have found this to be handy for sending a bunch of logs to MS Excel when surveying SWBC bands.

4876.8 Bolivia R. La Cruz del Sur, La Paz 1020
4919 Ecuador Radio Quito 0932
4995 Peru R Andina, Huancayo 0955
9490 China Xizang PBS 1100
9600 Singapore R Singapore 1100
9660 China R Exterior de Espana, via Beijing 1135
9665 Singapore R Singapore 1140
9830 Iran VOIRI - Sirjan 1415
11600 Seychelles FEBA - Seychelles 1445
12085 Mongolia Voice of Mongolia 0959
15820 Argentina Argentine Forces Radio 1010

QSL Tracking

QSL cards are an important part of the hobby for many DXers and as I mentioned earlier, B-Log includes fields for handling your reports sent and QSLs received. There are other programs available that also do this, but they aren't free! Personally, I think I'll stick to my hand-written record keeping of my QSL collection over many years. However, for those new to the radio hobby, this feature will be most attractive.

In Summary

As you can see, I think this little program is a fantastic piece of software at the "right price"! It would also be very handy on your laptop computer when traveling or DXpeditioning. If, after trying it, you are as enthusiastic as I am about B-Log, why not email Tom Lackamp at and thank him for his time and energy in producing this little gem.

Story by Rob Wagner
Page design by Bob Padula