[amsat-bb] Re: satellite VUCC applications via LOTW

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Thu May 12 15:02:04 PDT 2011

Hi Jeff!

> I think they are having problems all around with their LoTW and awards
> programs.  I had the local card checker process my cards for VUCC on January
> 24, 2011 and as of May 11, 2011, I've yet to receive my award.  I'd
> contacted the award desk at ARRL and was told about the integration of the
> system, no mention of any problems, and to give it a couple more months. I'm
> going to wait until the end of the month of May and see what's going on. If
> I don't receive anything by the end of June I'm going to contact them again
> and request they refund my money or send me the award....immediately.

Yes, ARRL has had a lot of problems with the conversion of VUCC to the
LOTW system.  Lots of problems.  My e-mail from earlier this week has
attracted a lot of responses, and some action.  Maybe they are about to
wrap up the bug-fixing there.  I'm not sure, but for the first time since late
February ARRL has updated the satellite VUCC standings at:


It had last been updated on 24 February, despite other VUCCs having
their stats updated in recent days on that page.

If ARRL is now processing VUCC applications via LOTW, I would hope
they also restart processing the paper applications as well.  Now is a
good time to pursue the matter, and next week at Dayton (for those
who will be there) may be the best time of all.  I still need to get the
actual certificate and any other paperwork that is supposed to be sent
out, but at least I'm in the satellite VUCC listing at that link today.

> LoTW is a great concept and saves a ton of money and time.  However, I get
> the feeling that this program was not professionally layed out, implemented
> nor maintained by even the lowest standards.  If they can't get their act
> together on developing a simple system to track confirmations of countries,
> states and grids for the enjoyment of it's membership, I would suggest
> abandoning it before it becomes the poster child for incompetent failure.

My $0.02.... LOTW has worked well for terrestrial operating, and any
operating that involved a single grid per station location.  Multiple grid
locators for a station location were obviously not planned for in the
original LOTW.  ARRL may be getting things to work properly now, but
it has been a long time coming.  Too much has been invested by ARRL
HQ to throw LOTW out the window, despite a relatively small number
of hams being registered in that system (current LOTW user count is
just over 41000).  It appears to work well for DXCC, and I have not
heard much about those who have tried applying for WAS with LOTW.
There are still glitches in that system for VUCC, namely how it isn't
always picking up all the grids from a station in more than one grid.
I've heard about that one many times from other satellite operators
who worked me from various grid boundaries, and seen it with some
of my LOTW QSLs, to know it is still an issue.

Along with the long wait for VUCC support to into LOTW and the
post-implementation problems that continue to pop up, the increase in
VUCC fees does not help the ARRL's case to drum up more usage of
LOTW at all.  I will pay as much for my VUCC application with 113 LOTW
confirmations and a certificate as I did for an application to get 3 DXCC
certificates a few years ago.  I still have to pay a few more pesos if I
want a VUCC pin.  And wasn't DXCC supposed to be (quoting from
http://www.arrl.org/dxcc ) "Amateur Radio's premier award"? Based on
price alone, it looks like VUCC is more prestigious than DXCC these
days.  The new VUCC fee structure would be another good point of
discussion with the ARRL people at Dayton next week.

I've said my piece.  Everything in the past two paragraphs has been said
in e-mails and face-to-face conversations with ARRL people over the past
few months.  I hope that the VUCC-related problems in LOTW get fixed
once and for all.  I also hope ARRL takes another look at the VUCC fee
structure.  Until then, I will continue to upload my satellite QSOs to LOTW
as I print and mail out QSL cards.  No changes there.  Office-supply
stores and the post office will still see me as a regular customer.  :-)



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