Accurate time keeping has always been a concern for amateur radio operators. Whether your located in the United States trying to setup a schedule for a QSO with a contact in Germany or your running an amateur radio network on the air and have operators logging in from all over the world, it’s necessary for everyone to be on the same time in order to coordinate the schedules.
Coordinated and relatively accurate time must be logged for each contact when QSLing. The time of the QSO is especially important and must be within a certain time frame when the QSL is submitted to verify a QSO between two stations for an award credit such as those offered by the ARRL. This is the main reason the UTC time standard has been adopted by amateur radio operators worldwide.
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), also referred to as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Universal Time (UT), or "Zulu" is an international time standard (different from a time zone) used in Amateur Radio, astronomical aviation publications and applications, weather reporting, the military, NASA, and other organizations and documents.
UTC uses 24-hour (military) time notation and is based on the local standard time zero-degree longitude which runs through Greenwich, England. Midnight in Greenwich corresponds to 00:00 UTC, noon corresponds to 12:00 UTC, and so on. It is a universal "reference" time so amateur radio operators around the world have a "point in time" reference to a specific location.
Therefore, in a manner of speaking, all amateur radio operators, regardless of their location, are using the same clock!
The UTC time is the same worldwide and does not vary regarding the time zone or daylight-saving time.
When using electronic logging software, it’s important that both the computer and your logging software is configured correctly in order for the times to be logged correctly.
Configuring Your Computer’s Time
Proper configuration of your operating system and the computer’s clock is important when keeping an electronic logbook. The Windows operating system makes this relatively easy.
To configure the computer’s time, open your Windows Control Panel and select the “Date and Time” app. When the Date and Time app opens, you will see a screen similar to the image on the left below.
In the screen on the left, select the option that says “Change Time Zone”, and this will open a dropdown window that will allow you to select your local time zone based on +/- UTC time. Double check your selection to make certain you have selected the option that is relative to your location.
In Windows 10, once you have your correct time zone and time selected your computer will automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time. Earlier versions of Windows had a check box on the Date and Time screen that you will have to make sure is checked in order for Windows to automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time.
Configuring HRD Time
There are several places in the Ham Radio Deluxe logbook where the time must be configured for proper logging.
The first option to configure does not affect the times logged in your logbook. This time setting is only for the digital clock that’s optionally displayed on the Logbook screen.
On the Logbook’s main menu, click on “View”. A dropdown menu will appear where you can place your cursor on “Digital Clock”. A sub menu will then open with where you can select “Display” to show the digital clock in the logbook layout and you also have the options to set this clock to display either “Local” or “UTC” time.
The important settings that affect the times recorded in your logbook are in the ALE (Add Log Entry) window.
Setting ALE Times
On your logbook toolbar, click the “Add” icon to open your Add Log Entry screen. On the ALE toolbar, click the “Options” and from the dropdown, select “Date/Time”. This menu will allow you to select the “UTC” option.
Selecting “Start” in this option allows you to set the QSO start time. The selection for the start time should be “Set by User”.
To set the QSO End Time is just as simple. Click on “End” and set this option to “Current Time” as shown below.
Once you have these options set, close and re-open your ALE and notice what the times in the Start and End fields are doing. You will see that they are both in sync and ticking away like a normal digital clock.
What happens now with the Start time is, when you enter a callsign in the “Call” field of the ALE and click the [Lookup] button or press the “TAB” key on your keyboard, the Start time will LOCK at the very moment that you click Lookup or press your TAB key. This sets the start time of your QSO that will be entered in your logbook at the end of your QSO. You will also notice that the “End” time is still ticking away.
We know, your next question will be “What happens with that time if I’m working a pile-up and the QSO doesn’t start when I enter the callsign in the ALE?”
First, as long as the start time you log is within 30 minutes of the time your contact logs, your QSLs will still be considered a match, as long as other required fields are a match. Again, we know the question… “But, what happens if I have entered a call in the ALE and it takes longer than 30 minutes to actually make the contact?”.
We have this situation covered also. You will notice there’s a little chevron [<] button to the right of the Start time field. Just click this button when you actually start the QSO and the time will be set to the moment you click that button.
You have now finished your QSO and you’re ready to add the contact to the logbook. Again, look at the “End” time and it’s still ticking away. At this point, when you click the [Add (F7)] button on the ALE to add your contact to the logbook, the End time will stop at the instant you log the QSO to the logbook.
This takes care of the proper UTC time logging of your contacts in your Ham Radio Deluxe logbook.
Editing A Logged Record
There may be times when you may want to edit a contact’s record in your logbook. There are configuration options in the “View (Edit) window to prevent the times from being changed when you edit and resave a contact.
To configure these options, double left-click on any contact in your logbook to open that record in the “Edit” screen. Again, in this dialog, select “Options” from the top menu and then select “Date/Time”. First, make sure you select the “UTC” time option then select “No Change” for both the Start and End times. This setting will prevent the Modify dialog from changing the start or end times after you have made your edits to the record and save it back to your logbook.
That does it. If you followed our instructions you should have no problems with the times that are logged in the Ham Radio Deluxe logbook.