Frequently Asked Questions About

The NA Contest Logging Program

 

My computer has 32 MB of memory yet NA only shows capacity for 4000 QSOs. Why is this and what can be done to allow more QSOs?

Because NA is an MS-DOS program, it defines the way the processor uses into two types. Conventional memory is the first 640K it has access to - in the early versions of MS-DOS, this was the only memory the program could use. Beyond the first 1 MB is what is called extended memory, or XMS. NA operates out of conventional memory, but can use XMS to store QSO information for the F9 (Check Call) and F10 (Check Mult) displays.

NA stores most of its data in conventional memory for improved program speed. However on a computer with several megabytes of XMS available, NA tends to run out of conventional memory first which makes it the limiting factor.

The way to improve this situation is to maximize the amount of conventional memory NA has access to. To check this, go to the MS-DOS prompt or DOS Window and type the word "mem/c" which will show the available memory for the different types. If the display shows no extended memory, you should take steps to enable it – see your NA manual for details. The display will also show any programs or drivers that are already loaded and competing with NA for memory - removing or disabling any that are unneeded will free up memory for NA.

As a general rule, any computer that has 600K or more free conventional memory will allow NA to provide the full 16383 QSO capacity. It should be noted that there are some contest formats (such as grid multipliers) which severely reduce this number.

Why is NA an MS-DOS program when computers today have the Windows operating system?

NA has its origins as a MS-DOS program in 1989. While it could (and someday might) be rewritten as a Windows program, the result would be only cosmetic improvements to its basic operation. On the other hand, certain program features such as the CW keying would be difficult, if not impossible as a Windows program. In its current form, NA offers optimum performance under MS-DOS, can be run on older 80286/386 machines and yet run in a DOS window under Windows as well.

Can NA be used as a regular day-to-day logging program?

The only consideration when using NA as a day-to-day logging program is QSO capacity. NA can hold up to 16383 QSOs, limited by technical factors. Because the program was designed for contest use (typically over a day or two) this capacity was judged to be acceptable. Depending on your on-air operating habits, a single day-to-day log file might suffice for several years but then a new file must be started.

Many NA users record their non-contest activity using one of the logging programs designed for day-to-day use. Contest logs from NA can be exported in either ADIF or Cabrillo format and imported into their overall log for QSLing or awards.

I recently bought a new ink-jet printer. How do I use it with NA?

Not so long ago, printers functioned by receiving a character from the computer and printing it. Today, many of the inexpensive ink-jet printers require the computer to figure out the shape of each character, and send it a pattern of ink dots to spray on the page. The software required to do this comes in the driver provided by the printer manufacturer, usually only for Windows.

Such printers can’t be used directly by MS-DOS programs. The only alternative when the need arises to print from NA is to use the <W>rite File To Disk option instead of <P>rint when exiting the program. Then, pull the file of interest into a Windows word processor program and print it. One additional benefit to this technique is that it allows the file to be dressed up with the various features of the word processor such as different fonts, bold, etc.

The CW sidetone is inaudible when NA sends CW, or in Practice Mode.

Since the first IBM PC, MS-DOS computers have had an internal speaker to generate audible tones during program operation. These days some computer makers are omitting the internal speaker and relying on the typical sound card to generate these tones. Because NA is an MS-DOS program, it cannot control the sound card. One possible solution is to turn off the VOX or PTT in your transceiver, and use its sidetone for Practice Mode.

While trying to run Practice Mode, the computer crashes and displays an "Error 11" message.

This error occurs when trying to run Practice Mode without a CW keying port selected. Go into the NA Configuration Editor (CONFIG.EXE) and select a CW keying port, even a non-existent port (example: LPT3 on a computer with no LPT3) and Practice Mode will run successfully.

NA cannot use the printer (LPT) and (COM) ports on my new computer. Can this be fixed?

Many new computers are shipped with their LPT and COM ports set up to be "Plug-And-Play" (PnP) which allows Windows to decide the port number itself rather than relying on the port hardware to do so. MS-DOS programs cannot support PnP and require the ports to be defined in this computer’s Basic Input Output System (BIOS).

This problem is easily fixed. When the computer is first turned on, there is usually a screen indicating to press a certain key to enter setup mode. If you do so, you’ll be shown a selection of setup functions to perform. While these screens vary by manufacturer, if you scan through them you’ll find a screen where the LPT and COM ports are defined. Most likely, both LPT and COM are set to "PnP". Set the LPT selection to "LPT1" and the COM selection to "COM1". Follow the prompts to save the new setup and back out of setup mode and your ports should be working.

Can I mix LOOP and LINK connections when configuring an NA network?

No – all the COM port connections must be either LOOP or LINK.

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