N1MM+ Local Area and Distributed Wide Area Networking

Networking N1MM+ on a local area network is both easy to do and functionally desirable for a multi-operator station.

Did you know that it is also possible and relatively straight-forward to do the same thing over a Distributed Wide Area Network?  Why, you may ask?  I can think of several reasons:  1) some contests allow distributed operating, such as IARU HQ stations  2) Special events – here in Louisiana we recently hosted the W5L Louisiana Purchase Special Event, and just a few years back the W1AW/5 ARRL Centennial Event.  3) For a contest where one or more participants is operating the rig remotely

N1MM Logger+ networking is automatic within a single subnet, which is usually the case in local area networks. However, if you want to network across a Wide Area Network, or in rare instances where your network involves more than one subnet, auto-configuration will not work. In that case you will need to fill in computer addresses in the “Edit Computer Addresses” table exactly as assigned by the network(s). For WAN networking you must enter the external IP addresses of each LAN and also port numbers for all the computers you wish to connect to, in the format XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX:port number}. The port number is needed to permit operators to set up forwarding through their router firewalls to the right computer. If going subnet-to-subnet, you do not need to enter port numbers and the IP addresses would be the internal IP address.

The details are found on the official N1MM+ documentation site near the bottom of the page.  The diagram by N9KT is very helpful.  I suggest using it as a pattern to create your own cheat sheet, specific to your network.


Your router must be capable of configuring the proper port forwarding, and your “world-facing” IP address really should be a static IP address.  As long as every station’s internet router is capable of port forwarding AND can specify the translation between internal and external ports per host, it is pretty easy to set up.  Every computer that will be included must have the same version of N1MM+, and must be set up for the same contest with the same configuration for the contest.

73, W5WZ

Analyzing Contest Logs by W5WZ

So you have your shiny whiz-bang contest logging software installed and configured to interface properly between your computer and your radio.  That’s a great step toward an integrated ham station, as far as logging the time, date, mode, frequency, callsign worked, and the contest exchange are concerned.  Much faster than pen and paper!  But, is that the end of the usefulness of software in the ham shack?  No way!  There are countless software tools available that fill various niche needs. I’ll introduce one of my favorite pieces of ancillary software in this article.

It’s no secret; I really enjoy HF contesting.  To me, there isn’t anything else quite like running stations at rates greater than 125 QSOs/hour.  In many contests, whether single-op or multi-op, the log will have hundreds, if not thousands of QSOs.  A deep-dive analysis of the log can provide insight into propagation patterns, timing of band changes, and even antenna azmituth to the maximum amount of QSOs.  The intent of the analysis is always to improve future contest scores.  Many software tools are available that provide detailed analysis of contest logs, but most only output page upon page of data in text tables, which are useful, but get downright boring to comb through to extract and interpret the real meat.

A few years ago, I learned about a software tool that is the cat’s meow. The tool is called “SH5 Contest Log Analyzer.” SH5 is fast and easy to use contest log analyzer which creates a variety of statistics in HTML format (WEB pages) from the Cabrillo format log generated by any contest loggers (N1MM Logger+, Win-Test, Writelog, TR4W and others). Reports may be viewed with any Internet browser, such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer. The program also allows you to upload this data to your WEB site for public access and to create an archive of your contest results.

You’ll find the SH5 website at:  https://sites.google.com/site/sh5analyzer/

I invite you to check out the reports I’ve generated using SH5 by visiting my contest log and performance archives online at http://w5wz.com/sh5/w5wz/  Go find my log and reports for a contest that you’ve participated in.  See if we changed bands at about the same times.  Did I leave the band too soon?  Too late?  These are the kinds of questions to ask, and a tool such as SH5 can help answer.

See you in the pileups!
73, Scott W5WZ

Contest Operating Tips from the experience of W5WZ

TIP #1:  Sometimes you may wish to operate in a contest, but find there isn’t much activity on the air for that specific contest, yet the bands are full of participants in other contests.  No problem!  Learn what they need for their exchange and give it to them, and get them to give you what you need for your contest exchange.  You log what you need and submit your log for the contest that you want to enter.  As a courtesy, also submit your log to the other contest(s) as a check-log.

TIP #2:  Remember when Mama told you “sit up straight”?  Well, she was right!  You’ll be able to focus better and have more energy when operating.  In fact, studies suggest that sitting or standing up straight and tall can give you an added boost of confidence.  If that equates to 5 more QSOs per hour in the log, then it’s worth it!

TIP # 3:  Logging software:  Regardless of which software you prefer, make it your goal to become an expert at using it!  Learn to squeeze every bit of performance out of it.  Learn to leverage all the specific operating aids to the biggest advantage.  When you become expert, then the layer of software doesn’t intimidate you, or isolate you from the radio; rather it melds with you to the radio.

TIP # 4:  Last, when mentioning software logging programs, think about the way you type.  Are you a “hunt and peck” typist?  Do you have to watch your fingers as you type?  If you answer yes to either of those questions, you’ve got room to improve your contest score!  Learn to touch type.  It will free your eyes and your mind to do other score-building tasks during the contest.

73, W5WZ