This note describes how DX4WIN keeps track of DXCC award credits. Throughout, the term "QSL" can be substituted with "LoTW confirmation" (LoTW = ARRL Logbook of the World).

NOTE: This may need some updating for Version 8. So don't always trust the screen shots.

Basic Terminology

Here are some basic terms that you should be familiar with. They will be used below

DXCC Credit
This is the basic unit of DXCC "currency". It is an entity that you have worked and confirmed on a particular band or mode (or mixed), for which the ARRL has seen your QSL card and determined that it was a valid contact with that entity.
Award Flag
A status flag in DX4WIN used to indicate the state of a QSO for award purposes. It might indicate Submitted or Checked.
The state of a confirmation in DX4WIN, which you have sent to the ARRL to be added to your DXCC totals (mixed/band/mode).
The state of a confirmation in DX4WIN, which the ARRL has added to your DXCC totals (mixed/band/mode).

The Circle of Life

Here are the stages that a QSO may go through in DX4WIN:

You've logged a QSO
You've set the Label flag for the QSO
You've sent for a QSL, either by printing a label, or by setting the "QSL Date" field in the QSO
You've received a QSL, or have imported a confirmed QSO from LoTW. The "Cnfm" or "Upl Cnf" field for the QSO is set to "Y"
You've submitted a DXCC application
You've received your DXCC application back from ARRL

DX4WIN needs award flags to keep track of the submitted and checked status. This is because they are status above and beyond simply "confirmed". You can see the award flags by expanding your QSO window using the F5 key, here is an example from DX4WIN Version 7:

DXCC Award Flags

You can see the DXCC Band and DXCC Mode award flags at the bottom are set to "Chkd" (Checked). This means that I have received DXCC credit for this QSO for my 30 meter and CW DXCC awards.

DX4WIN 8: The award flags are simply labeled 'C' (Checked) and 'S' (Submitted). There is also 'I' meaning Ignore this QSO for this award. Do not confuse the 'C' here, meaning Checked, with the 'C' meaning Confirmed, shown in the various windows and report listings.

Normally you do not have to keep track of the award flags yourself. Using DX4WIN's submission process makes this almost a push-button operation.

The DX4WIN Submission Process

DX4WIN makes it easy to submit and track QSOs for DXCC credit. QSOs must be confirmed before you can start this process. If they are not confirmed (either by paper QSL or LoTW), then they will be ignored.

IMPORTANT: Do not start this process unless your DX4WIN records exactly match your ARRL DXCC records. This means that for every DXCC credit you have received from the ARRL, DX4WIN has a record of the same credit (it's marked as Checked in DX4WIN). Otherwise, the records are going to get further apart, and it will be harder to reconcile them. See the section below entitled, "Check that DX4WIN matches your DXCC Award Credits". If you already have ARRL DXCC credits, but none of them are tracked in DX4WIN, then start here instead.

Reports | DXCC | Submission

This step makes a list of confirmed QSOs that will add to your various DXCC Award totals. It's important to have your station and DXCC Award preferences set up correctly before you do this. Otherwise, DX4WIN may try to submit confirmations for awards you don't care about, like Phone or 6 meters. Make sure to print or save the submission report if you want to make changes or print it later (right-click on the window and choose "Write to File").

DX4WIN 8: Select Reports from the QSO window. Then select DXCC in the Award drop-down list, and Submission in the Report/Action drop-down list. If you submit confirmations only for a particular award, use the Modes and Bands drop-down lists, and check (or uncheck) the appropriate boxes in the Award box on the right.

NOTE: if you are (also) submitting confirmations from LoTW, see the section below entitled, "How does LoTW Complicate Things?"

This step will make changes to your DX4WIN logbook (setting award flags), so save the log after doing the submission.

Gather the QSLs and mail them in!

Using the Submission report, find all the QSLs and mail them to ARRL. Per the DXCC rules, keep them in the same order as the listing. If the same QSL will be used multiple times, it should be put at the end of the stack. This has to do with the way the data entry program at ARRL works.


Reports | Change Award Flags

Once you've received your application back from the ARRL, you can now change the Submitted flags in DX4WIN to Checked. You may have to do this up to three times, once for each award type: DXCC Mixed, DXCC Band and DXCC Mode.

There are a couple of things to be aware of before changing the award flags:

  1. You may not receive DXCC credit for a particular QSO. It could be an operation that was not approved by the DXCC program (for example, Afghanistan or some African countries like 9Q). Or maybe the ARRL forgot to check a card (it's happened to me). The best way to deal with this is to clear the Submitted flag(s) for that particular QSO by hand, before changing the award flags to Checked. The next time you do a DXCC submission, DX4WIN will pick this (or a similar) QSO to submit again. If it was an operation that will probably never receive DXCC approval (like 7O1YGF), then also set the "ValidDX" flag in the lower-right of the QSO window to "Invalid" and DX4WIN will never try to pick this QSO again (the change will also be reflected in your DXCC Confirmed totals).
  2. You may receive DXCC credit for a QSO that you did not intend to submit. When a QSL confirms multiple QSOs, the ARRL will enter all the QSOs into the DXCC system, even if you don't have those particular awards. The goods news is that you'll never have to submit this QSL again! However, you should mark those QSOs by hand in DX4WIN as Submitted as if you intended to submit them for DXCC credit. If you don't, you might end up submitting the QSL again in the future, which is unnecessary.

Once the DX4WIN DXCC Award flags are in-line, you can use Change Award Flags to change all Submitted flags to Checked.

Check that DX4WIN matches your DXCC Award Credits

To make absolutely sure that your DX4WIN records match the ARRL, I have written a utility to help you do this:

Compare DX4WIN DXCC Credit Status with LoTW

Follow the instructions for using the program, as there are some prerequisites before you can use it. Also note that the program operates on the Submitted/Checked flags in DX4WIN, so it won't work if your QSOs are only marked as Confirmed, even if you have received DXCC credit for them.

It is critically important for your DX4WIN records to match ARRL before preparing your next DXCC submission! It will save you a lot of headaches if they match.

How does LoTW Complicate Things?

Using LoTW to submit DXCC credits is very easy. But it's not as easy to keep DX4WIN in-sync. This is because ARRL LoTW doesn't currently provide a method to download DXCC credit information (only confirmation information). Therefore, if you submit any QSOs through LoTW for DXCC credit, you may have to maintain the submission information manually in DX4WIN.

One way to submit a "hybrid" DXCC Application (containing both paper QSLs as well as LoTW credits) is as follows:

  1. Set your QSO preference, "Confirmed QSOs" to "Card in hand"
  2. Reports | DXCC | Submission. This will set the award flags to Submitted for all your paper QSLs. Save this submission report to a file (right-click on the window and choose "Write to File").
  3. Change your QSO preference, "Confirmed QSOs" to "Card or upload"
  4. Reports | DXCC | Submission. This will set the award flags to Submitted for any additional LoTW confirmations for which you don't have a paper QSL.

Now here's where things get a little tricky. If you do a DXCC submission through LoTW, the QSOs that it chooses to submit may not be the same as the ones DX4WIN chooses to submit. This may not be an issue for some people, as long as the DXCC credit itself matches (i.e. EA on 40 meters). However, others may want them to match exactly. While there is a method through the LoTW web site to "cherry pick" the LoTW confirmations that will be submitted for credit, I think it's easier to just change the award flags in DX4WIN to match LoTW. This means clearing the Submitted flag for each QSO that LoTW did not submit, and setting the Submitted flag for each QSO that LoTW did submit.

There's a second complication. DX4WIN may try to submit a paper QSL for DXCC credit, for which you also have a LoTW confirmation. You need to decide what to do here. While it's easier (both for you and ARRL) to submit the LoTW credit, and you won't risk sending your precious QSL through the mail, it does cost $0.15 for each LoTW credit that you want added to your DXCC totals (whereas the QSL credits are free, up to the first 120). You should submit one or the other, but not both.

Finally, if you will be submitting paper QSLs as part of your DXCC application, the submission form (saved in step #2 above) should list only the paper QSLs (not LoTW credits) you will be submitting. If you chose to submit a credit from LoTW instead of a QSL that you have (and that DX4WIN wanted to submit), you should edit the submission form to remove that QSO (you can open the file in Excel or another spreadsheet program to make changes). Then print the form when done, and send it along with your DXCC application.

I already have DXCC Award credits, but have never tracked them in DX4WIN. What do I do?

To maximize the utility of using DX4WIN to keep track of your DXCC records, QSOs for which you have received DXCC credit must be marked as "Checked" in DX4WIN. You should do this before using DX4WIN to perform your next DXCC submission.

This can be a difficult and error-prone process. However, you can use the utility described above to help you, as long as your ARRL DXCC records are already linked to LoTW.

DX4WIN doesn't require that that you match QSOs exactly, though some people may want to do this, especially if they kept accurate records of every QSL submitted for DXCC credit. All that's important is that the actual entity credit matches. For example, if the ARRL says you have Phone and 20 meter DXCC credit for Spain, EA, then any EA confirmation you have for that band and for that mode can be marked as "Checked" in DX4WIN for DXCC purposes (it can be the same QSO, or two different QSOs).

There are two ways to get DX4WIN to try to match your ARRL DXCC credits:

  1. The brute force method is to simply do a DXCC submission in DX4WIN. Before doing so, however, make sure your QSO and DXCC Award preferences are set for only the DXCC Awards your presently have. This method will effectively re-submit the DXCC credits you already have, in addition to credits you do NOT already have.
    Using the LoTW Comparison program above, identify those DX4WIN credits that the ARRL doesn't have, and change the DXCC Award flags for those QSOs back to "--" which will clear them. Repeat until the program says that everything matches.
    Once everything matches, use Reports -> Change Award Flags to change the Submitted flags to Checked. You may have to do this up to three times, once for each award type: DXCC Mixed, DXCC Band and DXCC Mode. Perform the comparison one last time, then SAVE YOUR LOG. You are now in-sync!
  2. The second method is to start from a blank slate, and carefully set the DX4WIN Award flags to Checked for each QSO you have received DXCC credit for. The easiest way to do this is if you have accurate records of the QSLs you've submitted. If you don't know which QSLs you've submitted, you probably should use method #1 above.
    You can use the LoTW site to help you, however. Click on the Awards tab across the top, then select your DXCC Award Account. On the left, click on the Account Credits tab. Now you can view your DXCC credits for each and every award you may have received. Make sure to select "All credits" in the view. You might also want to sort the list by prefix instead of name. When the Award Credits list is visible, clicking on a callsign will bring up the QSO details. If there is a number instead of a callsign, then the DXCC credit was transferred from paper records, which do not have any of the QSO information.

Again, use the LoTW Comparison program above to help you identify mismatches. Once there are no mismatches, you should SAVE YOUR LOG. You are now in-sync!