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tlf - Man Page

amateur radio contest keyer/logging program for Radiosport


tlf[-dhnrvV] [-f config_file] [-s user:password@host/dir/logfilename]


Tlf is a console (ncurses) mode general purpose CW keyer, logging and contest program for amateur radio operators. It supports the CQWW, WPX, ARRL-DX, ARRL-FD, STEWPERRY, PACC and EU SPRINT contests as well as a lot more basic contests, general QSO and DXpedition mode.  From version 1.2.0 onward there is also support for the FOC Marathon. It interfaces with a Morse Code generator, a number of radios via the Hamlib library, and with a DX Cluster via telnet or packet radio.  Tlf can project DX cluster data into the excellent Xplanet program, written by Hari Nair.

Contest operation mimics the popular TR-Log program for DOS, the output file is TR-Log compatible.  The log can be exported in ADIF or Cabrillo format.

The program was written for console mode on purpose, which allows it to run on smaller machines, or remotely via SSH or a modem link.

Since Tlf version 0.9.21 the cwdaemon 0.9 is fully supported, featuring direct mode for the keyboard and output to parallel and serial ports and speed and weight control from the keyboard, and band info output on the parallel port.

For users of the K1EL series of “Win Keyers”, the winkeydaemon is available from GitHub. Setup is the same as for the cwdaemon.

For radio control Tlf works with Hamlib (version >= 1.2.8), you can find it at www.hamlib.org.

Tlf provides full TCP/IP networking between Tlf nodes, syncing/distributing log, packet data, frequency data, local talk, serial numbers, time sync etc.


Options given to Tlf on the command line.


Show summary of options and exit.

-f config_file

Start with non-default configuration file:

tlf -f PA0R

Defaults to logcfg.dat in actual working directory.

-s user:password@host/dir/logfilename

Synchronize log with other node

tlf -s user:password@host/dir/logfilename

Output version information and exit.


Verbose startup.


Debug rigctl.


Start without packet/cluster.


Start without radio control when user wants to start Tlf without modifying logcfg.dat.


Import an existing CABRILLO file. When Tlf starts, looks for the YOURCALL.cab log, reads the configuration and rule files, and based on the current setup, generates the log(s). If the contest is WAE, and you have QTC's in cabrillo, then Tlf makes the QTC logfiles too. Tlf doesn't write over the existing log(s).  The generated import will be IMPORT_CONTEST.log, where the CONTEST is the name of contest in the config. If QTC exists, then the files IMPORT_QTC_sent.log and IMPORT_QTC_recv.log will be created.


Tlf has been written for console mode. If you want to run Tlf from a terminal in X, you will probably get the best results if you set TERM=linux and use a Linux console terminal.  Both KDE and GNOME terminals have a facility to start a Linux console in an X terminal as does Xfce-terminal.

By default, xterm(1) may give unreadable colours.  If so, you will have to set different colours in logcfg.dat or prepare $HOME/.Xresources to the preferred colour scheme.  One advantage of xterm is that it doesn't consume the F11 key which other terminal emulators reserve for full screen mode nor Ctrl-PgUp/Ctrl-PgDn which may be used for tab switching in other emulators.

Recent efforts have resulted in improved keyboard handling.  If you find keys that do not work, the developers would like to receive your report of which keys and which terminal have the problem.  Please send the report to the mailing list shown in the Bugs section below.

There are excellent results with the latest KDE, GNOME, and Xfce terminal emulators (vi colours are preferred by some).  As Tlf uses ncurses to format its display you must use a proper font.  (Good choices are the Linux font, Inconsolata, Hack, or any monospace font that dots or slashes the zero character).  If you have problems, try the linux text console first and work from there.

Normally you start or restart Tlf in fast mode with “tlf”.  During debugging of a logcfg.dat file you can start in verbose mode, to have a look at the startup messages. From Tlf version 0.9.3 you can load different config files with:

tlf -f config_file

If you have the packet cluster enabled you will first see the packet screen (if you are using telnet and you have provided your callsign in logcfg.dat you will be automatically logged in switched to the main logging screen).  Log in with your callsign, if needed, and switch to the main logging screen with the ‘:’ command.  You can come back to the packet screen later with the :PACket command from the call input field of the main logging screen.

You can exit and close Tlf with the :EXIt or :QUIt commands or with Ctrl-C, Alt-Q or Alt-X.

At restart Tlf recalculates the score, which may take some time depending on the number of QSOs in the logfile and the speed of your system. Tlf takes the points as they are in the log, and calculates the multiplier from either callsign or exchange field (depending on the contest).


These commands are entered in the callsign field of the main logging screen.  Each command consists of the leading ‘:’ and at minimum the upper case characters of the command name plus any needed parameters separated by ‘Space’.


Writes the log to an Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF) file logfile.adif.


Input the number of characters for CW auto-start or ‘m’ for manual start. Possible values are: ‘0’ (off), ‘2’...‘5’ or ‘m’ (manual).  After typing as many characters in the input field or after pressing the ‘Enter’ key in manual mode Tlf starts sending the callsign without further keystrokes.  You can type in the rest of the call (but quickly).  As soon as the sending catches your last typed character Tlf automatically sends the exchange and the cursor jumps to the exchange field.  ‘Escape’ stops sending.  This works only in CW contests in RUN mode.


Turn the dupe check window On|Off.


Change Auto_CQ delay (in 1/2 seconds, with PageUp/PageDown keys).


No cluster information (non-assisted contest operation).


Show cluster window or bandmap.


Toggle contest mode On|Off.


Show needed country multipliers, zones, multipliers per continent (depends on the contest).


Switch TRX to CW|SSB|Digimode mode.


Debug routine for rig communication links.


Edit the log with your favourite editor. Be careful!


Exit Tlf (synonym to Ctl-C, Ctl-D, Alt-Q, and Alt-X).


Filter cluster info (announce, dx-spots, all).


Show frequency or band/score information of your other stations.


Turn off/on Fldigi communication.


Show online help (displays help.txt from working directory or from /usr/share if no local one exists).


Show network status.


Edit CW (Morse Code) messages.


Toggle TRX mode (CW|SSB|DIG).


Switch to the packet terminal.  Switch back to the main logging screen with ‘:’.


Re-opens the connection to the DX cluster in case it was disconnected.


Recalculates the values in the score window (e.g. after deleting or editing QSOs).


Toggle the RIT reset after QSO On|Off.


Edit various parameters in logcfg.dat file and reload it.


Enter the SCAN function (return with ‘Escape’).


Toggle the score window On|Off.


Adjust the soundcard volume for the sidetone (Up|Down).  Range: 0–99.


Toggle simulator mode.  In simulator mode you can work a complete CQWW CW contest in TR-Log mode.  Set CONTEST=cqww.


The SOUND recorder is a utility to record the voice keyer messages and enables you to record the complete contest in chunks of 1 hour to the hard drive.  It does this in the directory: $HOME/tlf/soundlogs. The sound recorder uses a script called soundlog which has to be located in $HOME/tlf/soundlogs. It can be found in the scripts directory.  If your soundcard is different from /dev/dsp you can use the SC_DEVICE parameter in the logcfg.dat file.  The file extension is .au, the Sun ulaw format.  The recorder produces < 60 MB per hour.  This means you can record a complete CQWW in less than 3 Giga Bytes. If your disk cannot handle this, FTP the soundfile to a server every hour.

F1 ... F12sc, ... will record the voice keyer message for that key.

1: Start contest recording to ddhhmm.au.

2: Stop contest recording.

3: List contest recordings.

4: Play back contest recording ddhh[mm][:xx].

xx is the offset from the start of the file e.g.:

2110 will start from beginning of the day 21 hr 10:00 file.

21100013:00 will start from day 21, hh 10, mm 00, + 13 minutes: 0 seconds.

To create a new file every hour add a crontab(1) job to run the following command every hour:

/usr/bin/pkill -f sox > /dev/null 2> /dev/null

Running the crontab job at other intervals will create sound recordings of the interval period in length.

Once started the recorder will run until the lock file $HOME/.VRlock is removed.


Synchronize the logfile of this node with the logfile pointed to by the parameter SYNCFILE=user:password@host/dir/logfile.  Tlf will wget(1) the logfile from the relevant node, make a dated backup of your local logfile, and merge the 2 files.  The score will be recalculated.

:TONe [dd]d

Set PC sidetone frequency in Hertz.  Range: 300–900, 0 = Off.


Toggle rig control On|Off.  Default is Off unless RADIO_CONTROL is given in logcfg.dat (only makes sense with rig control capability).


View the log with less(1).


Write cabrillo file according to specified format (see CABRILLO statement in the Rules section).


Work has been ongoing to unify the key map between the Linux text console and the various X terminals.  It may be slightly different on certain X terminals depending on which keys they consume for their own use.  Turn off any key recognition by the terminal for its own purposes (menu access, help display, etc.) if possible.  Pay special attention to the F1-F12 and Alt-<char> keys. Moreover, on some systems you must set the TERM=linux or TERM=rxvt environment variables.  This also works under VNC.

Certain key combinations will probably not be useable as the Linux console consumes Alt-F1 through Alt-Fx (often F7, but could be greater) for switching its virtual consoles. Likewise, the various desktop environments consume key combinations for their own use.  Ctrl-F1 through Ctrl-Fx are used to switch desktop workspaces. Alt-Fx combinations are used for various desktop features and are unavailable for Tlf use.

Some desktop terminal emulators are capable of being configured to allow the application running in them to get all of the keys the desktop environment does not consume.  In testing good choices seem to be Gnome Terminal, Rox Terminal, or the classic Xterm (although its color representation differs from the Linux console and other terminal emulators).  Xfce Terminal is known to consume F11 and Ctrl-PageUp and Ctrl-PageDown.  The Tlf developers have implemented Alt-PageUp and Alt-PageDown as a work-around for the Ctrl counterparts.  Reports of success with other terminals are welcome.

Call Input and Exchange Fields

The Call Input and Exchange Fields are the two main entry fields of Tlf where the majority of the keyboard entry takes place.  The call input field is active when Tlf completes its initialization and presents the main screen.

Most key sequences are the same in both fields.  Differences are noted as necessary.


Call input: ASCII letters, numerals, and the '/' characters that make up an internationally recognized amateur radio callsign plus temporary location identifiers.  Spaces are not allowed.

Exchange: information provided by the other station possibly separated by spaces, e.g., ARRL Field Day and ARRL Sweepstakes.


Switches from call input to exchange field.  Separates exchange field elements when multiple exchange elements must be entered, e.g., ARRL Field Day and ARRL Sweepstakes.


Switch between call input and exchange fields (jump back to call input from exchange field).


Smart key depending on contest mode.

Tlf follows the TR operating style which has two modes, CQ and S&P.

CQ mode is used for “running”, i.e., staying on one frequency and having other stations answer your call.
S&P mode is for tuning up or down the band and answering the calls of other stations.

In CQ Mode:

  • With the call input field empty, ‘Enter’ sends the F12 message (Auto CQ).
  • With characters in the call input field, ‘Enter’ answers the calling station by sending the F3 message (RST) and moves the cursor to the exchange field.
  • If the exchange field is empty, ‘Enter’ repeats the F3 message (RST).
  • After the exchange information received from the other station is entered, ‘Enter’ sends the CQ_TU_MSG message if defined, or “TU” and your call otherwise. Afterwards it logs the QSO, and returns the cursor to the call input field to answer the next call.

In S&P Mode:

  • When the call input field is empty, ‘Enter’ sends the S&P_CALL_MSG if defined, or your call otherwise.
  • When the exchange field is empty, ‘Enter’ sends the S&P_CALL_MSG if defined, or your call otherwise.
  • When the call input field has been filled, ‘Enter’ sends the S&P_CALL_MSG if defined, or your call otherwise. Afterwards it moves the cursor to the exchange field.
  • Once the exchange has been received, ‘Enter’ sends the S&P_TU_MSG if defined, otherwise it sends your call followed by the F3 message (RST). Afterwards it logs the QSO and returns the cursor to the call input field to answer the next call.

Erases the character to the left of the cursor and moves the cursor one position to the left.


Stop CW transmission, clears characters, returns to call input field, keyboard off (universal undo).

As an example, characters have been entered in both the call input and exchange fields, the cursor is in the exchange field, and the transmission of a CW message is in progress.  The first press of ‘Escape’ will stop the CW transmission and clear the exchange field and position the cursor to the leftmost position of the exchange field.  The second press of ‘Escape’ will move the cursor to the right of the last character in the call input field.  The third press of ‘Escape’ will clear the call input field.


Change to next band lower or wrap to highest band if already on the lowest band when callsign field empty.

Enter edit mode if one or more characters are present and move the cursor to the left of the rightmost character.


Change to next band higher or wrap to the lowest band if already on the highest band when call input field is empty.


In CQ mode, send message F1 (CQ).
In S&P mode send message F6 (MY).


Restore previous CQ frequency from MEM and send message F1 (CQ).


Send CW, RTTY or VOICE messages 2 through 11.


Start Auto_CQ (only from call input field).  Sends F12 message repeatedly pausing for Auto_CQ delay time between messages.  Auto_CQ is cancelled with first character entry into the call input field.

+ (Plus)

Toggle between the CQ and S&P modes.


Increase CW (Morse Code) speed (from call and exchange fields).

If the cursor is in the call input field and it is not empty and CHANGE_RST is set: increase his S value (the leftmost of the RST pair).

If the cursor is in the exchange field and it is not empty and CHANGE_RST is set: increase my S value (the rightmost of the RST pair).


Decrease CW (Morse Code) speed (from call input and exchange fields).

If the cursor is in the call input field and it is not empty and CHANGE_RST is set: decrease his S value (the leftmost of the RST pair).

If the cursor is in the exchange field and it is not empty and CHANGE_RST is set: decrease my S value (the rightmost of the RST pair).


Increase Auto_CQ delay pause length (+1/2 sec).

Set Auto_CQ delay to message length + pause length.


Decrease Auto_CQ delay pause length (-1/2 sec).

As some terminals, Xfce Terminal is one such, consume Ctrl-PageUp/Ctrl-PageDown, the Alt-key combinations allow for setting the Auto_CQ delay pause length.

NB: If neither key combination works try :CQD instead.

? (Query)

In CW or DIGIMODE sends the partial call followed by “ ?”.  In VOICE mode sends recorded message 5 (F5).

; (Semicolon)

Insert note in log.

, (comma)

Activate Morse Keyboard.  Also Ctrl-K.

" (Double quotation)

Send talk message to other Tlf nodes.

- (Minus)

Delete last QSO (Use :REScore to correct scoring afterward).


Edit last QSO: Insert, overwrite, and delete; + log view.

= (Equals)

Confirm last call.

_ (Underscore)

Confirm last exchange.

{ (Open brace)

In RTTY (DIGIMODE), keyboard mode switch TX on.

} (Close brace)

In RTTY (DIGIMODE), keyboard mode switch TX off (RX).

\ (Backslash)

Log QSO without CW output.

In RTTY (DIGIMODE), keyboard mode switch controller to command mode (back to operating mode with “K ‘Enter’”.

# (Hash)

Transceiver VFO frequency → MEM, MEM → transceiver VFO frequency.

$ (Dollar)

Pop MEM frequency: MEM → transceiver VFO frequency and clear MEM.

% (Percent)

Swap transceiver VFO frequency and MEM.

! (Exclamation)

Get a new shell.  Come back with “exit”.

. (Period)

Change bandmap filter configuration.  You can filter to show spots from all or own band only, from all/own mode only and if you want to see dupes or not (see the help (Alt-H) display), only new multiplier or all call (only CQWW).


Add a spot to bandmap and broadcast it on the local network.


Send a spot to the DX Cluster (a connection to a DX cluster must exit).


Exit Tlf (synonyms to :EXIt, :QUIt, Alt-Q, and Alt-X).


Ends modem capture for RTTY mode in QTC window (started with Ctrl-S).

See /usr/share/doc/README_QTC_RTTY.txt for more information.


Set frequency.  Use Up/Down-Arrow for 100hz steps and Pg-Up/Pg-Down for 500hz steps.  Return to logging with ‘Escape’.


Grab next DX spot from bandmap.


Keyboard (CW and RTTY).


Reset the screen.


Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF) display.


Open the QTC window for receiving QTCs if QTC=RECV or QTC=BOTH or sending QTCs if QTC=SEND is set in logcfg.dat. Same as Ctrl-S if QTC=SEND.

See /usr/share/doc/README_QTC.txt and /usr/share/doc/README_QTC_RTTY.txt for more information.


Toggle /dev/lp0 pin 14 (Mic/Soundcard switch | trx1/trx2 switch).


Open the QTC window for sending QTCs if QTC=SEND or QTC=BOTH in logcfg.dat.  Saves QTCs while in QTC window.

In RTTY mode starts capture from the modem after the window has been opened with Ctrl-Q. End capture with Ctrl-E.

See /usr/share/doc/README_QTC.txt and /usr/share/doc/README_QTC_RTTY.txt for more information.


Show talk messages.  In the QTC window shows RTTY lines.


Stop Tlf.


Send CW (Morse code) messages.


Cycle cluster window: NOCLUSTER → CLUSTER → BANDMAP → ...


Band up in TR-Log mode.


Toggle display of checkwindow.


Enter QSO edit mode.


Grab first spot from bandmap which has the characters in the call input field in its call.  Allows the operator to selectively grab a specific call from the bandmap.


Show help.


Show talk messages.


Show other local stations frequencies.


Keyboard (CW and RTTY).


Show multipliers.


Add Note to log.


Toggle PTT (via cwdaemon).


Exit Tlf (synonym to :EXIt , :QUIt , Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-D).


Toggle score window.


Toggle score window.


Tune your transceiver (via cwdaemon).  Activates PTT and Key output for 6 seconds.  Stop tuning by pressing any key.


Band down.


Set CW weight.


Show zones worked.

CT Compatible Mode

Tlf has limited support for the logging sequence keys used in the once popular CT logging program.  Unlike the default Enter  Sends  Message (ESM) mode, the CT Compatible mode uses the Insert and + keys in the logging sequence and Enter logs a complete QSO.  Unlike ESM mode, CT mode does not have separate CQ or S&P modes.

CT Compatible mode is enabled with the CTCOMPATIBLE keyword in logcfg.dat (see the Preferences section below).

The following keys differ in behavior in CT Compatible mode.


Log the complete QSO without sending any message macro.

If the callsign field is empty, pressing Enter will activate the Auto-CQ function.  If the exchange field is empty, pressing Enter in either the callsign or exchange field will result in no action.


Send the RST (F3) macro.

Since the RST macro includes the other station's callsign by default, the HIS macro is not sent first.  This differs from classic CT, but is a compromise to use the default Tlf macros.

+ (Plus)

Send the TU macro and log the QSO.

The + key checks if the exchange field is empty and if it is nothing is sent or logged.  In rare cases where nothing needs to be entered in the exchange field, e.g. working DX from USA in ARRL 160, simply enter a space to allow the + key to send the TU message and log the QSO.


Change CW speed.


Tlf can be fully configured by editing the logcfg.dat file.  Normally you keep one logcfg.dat file, setting up your callsign, the log file name, the ports and addresses for packet, the radio, the network etc., and a separate rules file per contest.

The logcfg.dat file can be edited from within Tlf by the :CFG or :SET commands (or with any other plain text editor before starting Tlf).

You can set your favourite editor in the logcfg.dat file.

You connect the rules file by using the statement Rules=contest_rules_file_name in logcfg.dat.

Tlf will first look in the working directory for a logcfg.dat file, and if it cannot find one it will look in /usr/share/tlf for a default one.  Make sure you edit the logcfg.dat file at least to hold your call and your preferred system configuration.

logcfg.dat Statements

Configuration parameters set in logcfg.dat located in the working directory (where Tlf is started).


Name of the rules file to load.  It helps if you name the rules file according to the contest you want to describe.


File on remote host you want to synchronize with (use wget(1) syntax).


Do not use the TR-Log QSO sequence, but use ‘+’, ‘Insert’ and ‘Enter’ to log the QSO.

The default mode of operation is the TR-Log sequence which uses ‘+’ to switch between CQ and S&P modes, in which ‘Enter’ is the sole key used to call the other station, send the exchange, and log the QSO.


TLFCOLOR1=23 (Header and footer)
TLFCOLOR2=67 (Pop up windows)
TLFCOLOR3=70 (Log window)
TLFCOLOR4=57 (Markers/dupe colour)
TLFCOLOR5=43 (Input fields)
TLFCOLOR6=63 (Window frames)

The numbers are given in octal, FG/BG or BG/FG (some experimentation likely required).

You should only specify these if you wish to modify the standard colours of Tlf.  In some Terminals you can set a special profile for Tlf with your own colours.  Another way is to define the colours via the $HOME/.Xresources file.

EDITOR=nano | vi[m] | <your_favorite_editor>

Editor used to modify the QSO log or logcfg.dat. The command specified receives the file name as an argument.

When using a GUI editor that runs in the background (e.g. gvim) make sure to exit the editor before logging new stations. You also have to use :RES command to reread the log and correct scoring.

Best is to force the editor to stay in foreground (e.g. with 'gvim -f').


Your call used in messages and used to determine your country, zone and continent.


Used to shift the Tlf time with respect to the computer clock. Normally 0.  Range: 0–23.


This node transmits the time over the network (only one master allowed!).


Adds an IP address (and optionally a port number) to which we broadcast stuff. (WARNING: Only add addresses of other nodes).


Node designator (default “A”).  If Tlf hears its own node ID on the network it will exit and ask you to pick another one!  Range: A–H.


Specifies on which portnumber (default “6788”) Tlf is listening for broadcasts from other instances.


Switches on the debug function.  Dumps all Tlf net traffic received on this node into a file named debuglog in the working directory.  This log can be used as a backup log for the whole network, as it is easy to retrieve QSO data, cluster messages, gab messages etc. after the contest.  Some users have this enabled all the time.


Switches the CW keyer on.  Only the IP networked keyer cwdaemon or any other program that emulates cwdaemon such as winkeydaemon is supported.  You may also need the keyer for PTT control or band info output.


Default port is 6789.


Default host is (localhost).


Activates support for the MFJ-1278B multi-mode controller.  The MFJ-1278 supports CW as well as RTTY contesting.  Fixed serial port rate is 9600 bps.


Range: 4–69.


Set the dot to dash ratio.  Only for the NETKEYER.  Range: -45–50.


Delay activation of the Push To Talk pin.  Range: 0–50.


Support backspace key in keyer window.


Use soundcard for sidetone output.


Set soundcard sidetone volume (default is 70).  A value of 0 turns off sidetone output (even for the console speaker).  Range: 0–99.


Set automatic CQ pause delay in 1/2 seconds increments between message transmissions.  Range: 3–60.


Set the PC speaker or soundcard frequency.  A value of 0 switches the sidetone off.  Range: 0–999.

(Due to a bug in cwdaemon it also turns off the Alt-T tune function.  Use SIDETONE_VOLUME=0 instead).


Outputs band information to pins 2, 7, 8, 9 on the parallel port.  Output is 1 (160m), 2 (80m) ... 9 (10m).  This format is compatible with the standard interface for antenna switches, band filters etc.


Output pin 2 for 160, 30, 17 and 12, pin 7 for 80, pin 8 for 40, and pin 9 for 20, 15 and 10.  This comes in handy when you have 3 dipoles and a 3-band beam (...).


This will prevent unwanted band switching when you are not using rig control.  Band up = Alt-B, band down = Alt-V (TR-Log compatible).


Use Telnet to connect to a DX Cluster node using a DNS name or IP address, e.g. claudia.esrac.ele.tue.nl or


DX Clusters often use a non-standard port for Telnet, e.g. 8000.


You can use /dev/ttyS0, /dev/ttyUSB1, etc. anything that looks like a tty.


Tlf supports 1200, 2400, 4800 and 9600 bps.


The FIFO (First In First Out) interface is used when you want to receive cluster info from the network, or from another source.  The FIFO interface uses a special FIFO file in the working directory called clfile. Anything you dump into this FIFO will be displayed by the packet interface.


Switches the radio interface on.  The rig interface makes use of the Hamlib library which supports a number of different rigs.


Look at the Hamlib documentation for the rig_number.

Hint: rigctl -l and its manual page (rigctl(1)).


Speed of the serial port for rig control.


You can use /dev/ttyS0, /dev/ttyUSB1, etc. anything that looks like a tty.

RPC rig daemon users should use RIGMODEL=1901 and RIGPORT=localhost.  In this case RIGSPEED is ignored (NB: rig model 1901 is deprecated in Hamlib releases 3.0 and later and is replaced by rigctld(8) which is rig model 2).


Send rig configuration parameters to Hamlib.
e.g. RIGCONF=civaddr=0x40,retry=3,rig_pathname=/dev/ttyS0


Clears the RIT after logging the qso.  This only works if the rig, and the Hamlib routine supports it (tested on the OMNI 6+).


Declares that Hamlib CAT PTT capability should be checked at startup and if available use it to activate the radio's PTT for sending voice messages instead of the NetKeyer PTT.


Sets the CW bandwidth of your rig when changing bands.  If unset or 0 the default bandwidth (as determined by Hamlib) is used. (a valid bandwidth for the rig must be used).


Sound card device for scan function.
e.g. SC_DEVICE=/dev/dsp0


Start Tlf in SSB mode (default is CW).


Start Tlf in RTTY mode (defaul is CW)


Tell miniterm(1) where to get the data.


Tell Tlf where to send the macros.


Show cluster window at startup.


Automatic login for the telnet client.


Write clusterlog to disk.


Shows cluster bandmap on startup.  Use '.' to change bandmap filtering.


Show cluster bandmap on startup and set start values for filtering.
<xyz> string parsed for:
“B” - only own band
“M” - only own mode
“D” - do not show dupes
“S” - skip dupes during grab_next (Ctrl-G)
“O” - show only multiplier (CQWW only)
<number> livetime for new spots in seconds (number >= 30)


Show the score window (same as Alt-R).


Show the country/call check window.


Show a list of possible contest calls.


Use the auto-complete utility (takes some practice...).  Tlf will complete the call as soon as it is unique in the database.  This can of course lead to strange effects, but in practice there are far more hits than misses. Sometimes you must edit the call because it has locked on a unique call.  Try it, and switch it off when you don't like it.


Put frequency (kHz) into QSO number to enable logging of frequency (only QSO and dxped mode).


Enable to allow multiple QSOs in a contest with the same station (considered a good idea these days as contest bots will take care of dupes).


Set the sunspots value which is used to do a rough calculation of the MUF.  If the cluster interface is used the SSN will be updated by WWV or WCY messages.


Set SFI used to calculate SSN.  The SSN value is used to do a rough calculation of the MUF.  If the packet interface is used the SSN will be updated by WWV or WCY messages.


If set in logcfg.dat, PgUp and PgDown will change RST instead of CW speed if field is not empty.
Default is Off.


Do not send automatic “QSO B4” message.
Default is On.


No automatic CQ when pressing ‘Enter’ or ‘F12’.


Generate marker file for Xplanet.  Xplanet will show the last 8 spots on an azimuthal map.  See the relevant Xplanet documentation.  Use azimuthal projection and center the map on your QTH.


Use this value to multiply the final points.  If the contest rule allows one to use the power multiplier (e.g. Stewperry, ARRL-FD), you can pass that here.

NB: The type of POWERMULT is a float, e.g. POWERMULT=1.5, but the final score will be rounded by the C library floor(3) function, which gives the largest integer value that is not greater than multiplied score.


Sends a “DE” word before your callsign, e.g. “DE W1AW”. There is a special case: if SEND_DE is present in logcfg.dat, and Tlf if is in DIGIMODE, then the other station's callsign will be sent before “DE”, e.g. “DL1A DE W1AW”.


If set with RADIO_CONTROL option, specifies the mode to change the rig to when :DIG mode is selected. mode may be one of “USB”, “LSB”, “RTTY”, or “RTTYR”.  If not set, “USB” is used if FLDIGI is set and “LSB” is used otherwise.


The contest rules can be put into separate files.  Tlf will first look for a directory called rules/ in the working directory, and a file named for the contest, e.g. cqww. If Tlf cannot find such a file, it will look into the directory /usr/share/tlf/rules. A rules file contains contest specific parameters like multipliers, scoring rules, CW and voice keyer messages, etc.

NB: The rules file overrides settings from the logcfg.dat file!

WARNING! It is your own responsibility to try these rules well BEFORE the contest. The authors of Tlf cannot possibly check all rules for all contests :) and during the contest there is normally no time to fix it.


Name of the contest (same as the file name contest_name referenced above).  Some contests, like CQWW and WPX, are pre-programmed. Look for the relevant rules file in /usr/share/tlf/rules.




Specify the name of the cabrillo format to use (see doc/README.cab).


Sets Tlf into contest mode.  Do not use this parameter for normal QSO logging!


Do not use RST in contest, e.g. for CW Open, ARRL Sweepstakes, or ARRL Field Day.  If you want to write a Cabrillo log you must provide a conforming format definition without RST values.


Put the node ID into the logline (just after the QSO number) to support Multi/2 operation where the station logging the QSO must be in the Cabrillo file.  This can also be used for M/1 and M/M, to enable post-contest analysis of the nodes.

Macro characters in the messages

% = mycall, @ = hiscall, # = serial number, [ = RST, + = increase cw speed, - = decrease cw speed, * = AR, = = BT, < = SK, ( = KN, ! = SN, & = AS, > = BK, ! = his serial (e.g. confirm exchange of station in DIGIMODE).

F1="cw message 1"

CQ message, (e.g. CQ de PA0R TEST).

F2="cw message 2"

S&P call message, (e.g. @ de %).

F3="cw message 3"

Exchange message, (e.g. @ ++5NN--#).

F4="cw message 4"

TU message, (e.g. TU 73 %).

F5="cw message 5"

Call of the other station (e.g. @).

F6="cw message 6"

Your call (e.g. %).

F7="cw message 7"

QSO B4 message (e.g. @ sri qso b4 gl).

F8="cw message 8"

Again message (e.g. AGN).

F9="cw message 9"

Query message (e.g. ?).

F10="cw message 10"

QRZ message (e.g. QRZ?).

F11="cw message 11"

Please reply message (e.g. PSE K).

F12="cw message 12"

Auto-CQ message (e.g. +++TEST %---).

CQ_TU_MSG="cw message 13"

Auto Exchange message in CQ mode (TR-Log mode), (e.g. TU %).

S&P_TU_MSG="cw message 14"

Auto Exchange message in S&P mode (TR-Log mode), (e.g. TU 5NN #).

S&P_CALL_MSG="cw message 25"

Custom call message in S&P mode.  Allows replacing the auto-generated S&P call message.

Alt_0=<...> ... Alt_9=<...>

Up to 10 additional messages.


Uses short form for serial number (599=5NN, 001=TT1).


Uses long form for serial number (default).

VKM1=voice message file name 1 ... VKM12=voice message file name 12

Use F1 ... F12 keys to send recorded messages for phone.


Auto Exchange voice message in CQ mode (TR-Log mode)


Auto Exchange voice message in S&P mode (TR-Log mode)


One point per QSO.


Two points per QSO.


Three points per QSO


Points per CW QSO.


Points per SSB QSO.
NB: SSBPOINTS and CWPOINTS need to be set for both to work!


Points for working your own DXCC entity (often zero (0)).


Points for working countries in your own continent.


Points for working a station in other continents.


Deprecated.  Use MY_CONTINENT_POINTS and DX_POINTS instead.


Points for countries in country list.


Score zero points for countries not in the list.

COUNTRYLIST="comma separated list of prefixes starting with colon"

e.g. Scandinavia:SM,LA,OZ,OH.


File with a list of prefixes.


Multiply points x2 for portable stations (e.g. R1 field day).


Double all points for lowband (40, 80, and 160m) QSOs (can be combined with any other value). (Will be deprecated in future! Use BANDWEIGHT_POINTS instead.)


Exchange is multiplier, per band, whatever you enter.  Tlf builds its own list of multipliers.


Exchange is multiplier, whatever you enter.  Counts once for the whole contest (not per band).


Multiplier is the CQ zone (per band).


Multiplier is the ITU zone (per band).


Multiplier is prefix (PA0, DA2, VE7, etc.).  Counted once per contest, not per band.


Same as WPX, but the WPX only used CQ-WW-WPX, and there a single prefix multiplier only once, not all band. With this option, the PFX counts as multiplier on all band. This usable on AA-DX.


Multiplier is the DXCC entity (per band).


Name of multipliers file (often sections, provinces, states, counties).  May contain comment lines starting with “#” in the first column. Each multiplier resides on a single line by itself.

Starting from Tlf-1.4 on you can also use aliases for the multipliers. Define the aliases as


If you log a QSO with one of the aliases  it will be counted for as the according multiplier. You can have more than one line for the same multiplier.


Multiplier is section from multipliers file.


Exchange is serial number and section, multiplier is section from multiplier file.  Mults count per band.


Exchange is serial number or section.  This option is similar to SERIAL+SECTION, except the exchange could be a serial OR the section.  The options was introduced for HA-DX, where HA stations give the shortest form of their county, other stations give serial.


Exchange is serial number and grid (e.g. JO21QI), multipler is 4-character grid (JO21).  Mults count per band.


Multiplier is DXCC country or section from multiplier file.


Exchange can be recycled, will be filled into exchange field when it is known (see also INITIAL_EXCHANGE).


The file must contain a comma-separated list of exchanges, if e.g. the exchange is the name of the operator:

If RECALL_MULTS is set, Tlf will look in this list for the exchange and fill it in for you.  There are various contests which have a standard exchange, like e.g. the FOC Marathon.  The module also recognises embedded calls (CT3/PA0R/QRP).


Allow to name a different file used as callmaster database (default is 'callmaster'). See Files section.


Exchange is continent (NA, SA, EU, AS, AF, OC).


Exchange is serial number (formats exchange field).


Station can be worked both in SSB and CW.


Start Tlf in SSB mode.


For the “Stewperry” contest, this option is used to set the QRA, e.g.: JN97, or the full form: JN97OM.  In Stewperry, the points are calculated based on the distance between the stations.


If you want to send or receive QTC's on contest (usually on WAEDC), put this option to logcfg.dat. This needs a parameter, which could be one of these: RECV, SEND, BOTH - note, that currently just the RECV works. For more information, please see the README_QTC.txt file.


If you want to help yourself to indicate that the station is QTC capable, you can see it on your bandmap or worked window. Put the callsign of stations in a file, one callsign per line, and give it as an argument to this variable.


If you use QTC feature, and you are on EU station in CW/SSB modes, then you can only RECEIVE the QTC's. Most sender station send their QTC's as a most short form, example, after the first line it doesn't send the first two characters of time field. If you set this option, then when you fill the first QTC line, then Tlf will fills the other time fields, only the first two characters. Of course, if you change the hour (eg., if there is a time: 2059, and the next one is 2100), then all next time fields will be changed.


If you use QTC feature, and you are on EU station in CW/SSB modes, then you can use this feature. In normal case, Tlf checks all received QTC lines: the time field must be 4 characters long, callsign and serial fields must be non-empty. If you set up this option, Tlf will ignore this restrictions.

CONTINENTLIST="comma separated list of continents"

Valid values are: SA, NA, EU, AF, AS and OC.


Points for stations from continents in CONTINENTLIST


Score zero points for station from continents not in the list.


Allow a point weighting factor for different bands. E.g.
can be used for AADX contest. It will multiply all QSO points by 3 on 160m, by 2 on 80m and 10m and on all other bands only by 1.

Bands not in list are weighted by 1.


Allow a weigthing factor for multipliers on different bands. E.g.
can be used for WAEDC contest. It will multiply the number of multipliers on 80 by 4, on 40 by 3 and on 20/15/10 by 2.

The multiply operation is executed after any other multiplier modification.

Bands not in list will be weighted by 1.


On WAEDC (and maybe with other contests too) the multipliers are the different countries, but there are some exceptions where of certain countries a different prefix number is a different multiplier. On WAEDC these countries are: W, VE, VK, ZL, ZS, JA, PY and RA8/RA9 and RAØ.  With this option, you can list the affected countries: PFX_NUM_MULTIS=W,VE,VK,ZL,ZS,JA,PY,UA9.  Tlf will read these items, make a lookup in a countrylist for a country code, and that code will be used.  If you include the UA9 prefix and then make a QSO with a station from Asiatic Russia, the PFX number will evaulated with a new multiplier, but European Russia will not.


Some contests have a special multipliers list, which is easier to write with by excluding a predefined set. For example, the main set could be COUNTRY_MULT, and you need to exclude from that list just a few countries, e.g. the SAC contest excludes the Scandinavian countries as they are not multipliers). In that case you can use this configuration:
Another useful example at WAEDC RTTY contest: then all stations can work each other, for EU stations only the non-EU stations are the multi's, and reverse: for non-EU stations only the EU stations are the multipliers. In that case the EU stations can use this config:
Now all country are multi, except the EU stations. In this contest the non-EU stations can use this config:
In this example all countries are multis, except from SA, NA, AF, OC and AS continent, so only the EU stations left as multipliers.


If set, with RADIO_CONTROL and BANDMAP (mandatory) options, Tlf will grab the callsign from bandmap, if the TRX frequency is equal with bandmap freq.


If set, with RADIO_CONTROL and BANDMAP (mandatory) options, Tlf will add the callsign from callsign field, if at least 3 character have been entered. Use “S”kip dupes in BANDMAP settings to control if it should also grab dupes.


If set, Tlf will automatically switch its mode between LOG and S&P after every QSO.


If you work RTTY (or any other digital modes), you can communicate with Fldigi through XMLRPC. The FLDIGI keyword will activate the interface.  By default it connects to http://localhost:7362/RPC2.

If you run Fldigi's xmlrpc server on an different port use FLDIGI=http://localhost:port_#/RPC2


Use this option when the contest is a minitest like contest. In that contests the full contest intervall is divided into shorter sections (e.g. 6 * 10 minute sections in an hour).  Any station can be worked once in each of the time sections without counting as dupe.  The default length of the sections is 600 seconds (10 minutes), but you can pass another value (in seconds) after the '=' sign. There must be an integral number of time sections per hour!


Multiplier is callsign. You have to pass one of these arguments: ALL, BAND.



The argument tells Tlf, how to score the callsigns as multipliers:
ALL means the callsign is a multiplier, independet of band.
BAND means the callsign counts as multiplier on different bands.

DKF1=digi keyer message 1 ... DKF12=digi keyer message 12

Use F1 ... F12 keys to send recorded messages for phone.


Auto Exchange TU digi message in CQ mode (TR-Log mode)


Auto Exchange TU digi message in S&P mode (TR-Log mode)


Auto Exchange call digi message in S&P mode (TR-Log mode)


/usr/share/tlf/logcfg.dat is a recent example of the configuration file Tlf needs to know what to do.  Tlf won't start without one.  Copy it into the working directory and edit it before use.  You should do your experiments well before the contest.  It contains, amongst other settings, your call, name of the log file, info about ports for CW keying, packet or rig control, contest rules, points, multipliers etc.

/usr/share/tlf/rules/contestname contains the rules of the various contests.  You can easily write one for your favourite contest making use of the various multiplier and points capabilities.  Check it before the contest and send a message to the Tlf development list if anything is wrong (or right!).

/usr/share/tlf/cty.dat contains a flat ASCII database of info about countries.  This is the same file as used by CT or TR-Log.  Updated versions from Jim, AD1C, are available from: Country Files.

/usr/share/tlf/callmaster contains a flat ASCII database of known contest callsigns.  Updates are available from Super Check Partial. Save the master.scp file as callmaster in the working directory (or use CALLMASTER=master.scp to use that file). It will take precedence over the system installed callmaster.

Section files contain a flat ASCII database of multpliers like states, sections, provinces, districts, names, ages, etc.  They are invoked by including MULT_LIST=section_file_name in the rules file.


An operation manual (a little bit outdated) is available in HTML format at the old Tlf project page.

An FAQ and other useful tips are installed in the system doc directory under tlf.


Please send bug reports to the Tlf development list.


Tlf was written by Rein Couperus aka Rein Couperus but maintained from 2009 onward by Thomas Beierlein. Lots of valuable contributions from PG4I (Joop PA4TU), PA3FWM, LZ3NY, VA3DB, OM4AA, OK1RR, DH5FS, G4KNO and various other contributors.  (See the AUTHORS file for more). Thanks to all for improving Tlf!

Beta testers and feedback are always welcome!


version 1.4.1 TLF Ham radio