Recording a contest may either be useful to check unclear QSOs afterwards (the log-first-worry-later approach), or even necessary as stated by the rules of the contest. The latter may be applicable for top scorers only (see CQ WW rules, XII C.), nevertheless it’s also nice to rehear remarkable QSOs, like a P5-on-first-call QSO or a great pile-up handling by a fellow ham.

Because I have changed my OS from Windows to Linux, the built-in contest recorder of my favorite contest logger Win-Test does not really work for a couple of reasons. Win-Test was designed for Windows only, so I run it within the Wine runtime environment in my Xubuntu Linux, which works very well. Unfortunately the needed MP3 ACM Codec seems to be not working within Wine. So I tried different audio recorders for Linux and came across the Audio Recorder.

The Audio Recorder is a nice, clean and simple application. The installation is well described in the UbuntuHandbook. Short version: Open a terminal and paste the following commands one by one and hit enter:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:audio-recorder/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install audio-recorder

Once installed you can simply choose an audio source, select a format and hit “Start recording”. Don’t forget to adjust the recording level. You may want to change the default folder for recordings in the “Additional settings”. Also the available default formats, like OGG, FLAC, MP3 and WAV, have a way too high audio quality for amateur radio recordings and should be changed. Otherwise you will have a few gigabyte of data after a 48 hour contest.

With the following settings, you will have about 280 kilobyte of MP3 data per minute recording (or 16.4 megabyte per hour or 394 megabyte per day), while the audio quaility is still more than adequate. This is the already edited entry for the MP3 setting.

I changed the name to “contest recording lossy+” and the package entry to

audio/x-raw,rate=8000,channels=1 ! lamemp3enc name=enc target=0 quality=0

Rather than editing the existing MP3 entry, you may also create a new one. Don’t forget to save your changes. Enjoy recording and rehearing your contests!

Additional hints for contest recording

  • If you adjust audio levels, check if your own audio has a sufficient level. Rehearing QSOs with a huge difference in sound level between received and the own audio is pretty annoying.
  • Recording audio through a TRX built-in sound card is pretty neat, at least if it’s well implemented in your radio:
    • Within the TS-590SG you have to enable menue no. 75 (mixing beep tones for ACC2/USB audio output). With this you hear the received audio as well as your own signal. The own signal audio level can be adjusted with the TX monitor level.
    • Icom TRX built-in soundcards don’t let you record your own audio (neither phone, nor CW), only the received signal. At leasst on the IC-7600 and IC-7410. Pretty lame implementation …
  • If you want to edit your recording, e.g. to cut out a single QSO, try the open source Audacity audio software.
  • Ever recorded DK5TX in a phone contest? Please send the audio file to me by email.