PileUpNet - A Networked System for Real-Time Scoring of Pile-Up Competitions
On Sunday afternoon a week prior to the 2008 Austin Hamfest (Summerfest), I received a call from my radio pal Gary (W5ZL-SK). After the typical W5ZL BS, Gary got down to business and indicated he would like to run a CW pileup competition at Summerfest and he wanted it to be computer graded so the results would be easy to produce. He wanted to know if I could come up with something along those lines? It sounded simple enough and by Tuesday I emailed him a small application for the competitors to use (see the Player application below) and a second small application to do the grading of the logs (a small part of the Host below). Well, Gary was glad to get something but he was not impressed, his main complaint being "It's not networked, we'll have to run around in our sneakers and gather the logs for scoring!". Needless to say, with the short timeframe we had, that is exactly what we did. But the seed for the application had been planted as had the programmer's itch to do it and by the end of September the first edition of a networked version called PileUpNet, along the lines of Gary's original vision, had been developed and a detailed description had been prepared for PileUp! the on-line contesting journal published by the Contest Club of Finland. [Note: Unfortunately it appears that those issues are no longer available on-line but here is a link to the draft copy.]
As the name suggests PileUpNet is a collection of networked applications developed by the author to support pile-up competitions similar to those conducted each year at Dayton by the Kansas City DX Club. PileUpNet is also the system referenced in the "CW Pileup Competition 101" article in the November/December 2011 issue of the National Contest Journal. A detailed step-by-step guide for setting up and running the system is also available as well as a separate document describing the network setup procedure for Win 7 [Note however that for best reliability, especially in environments having a lot of wi-fi networks, it is best to use a dedicated switch/router and hard-wired connections for PileUpNet.]
Interested readers are referred to the guide document for a detailed description of the system and how to use it. It has been used in the following pile up competitions so far:
The Manual Logger Application is the application used by administrative assistants to enter the logs of competitors who have elected to log on paper. Following completion of the manual log entry the log is submitted to the Host over the network for grading and presentation on the scoreboard(s).
The Scoreboard Application is a separate application whose only role is the real-time presentation of scores received following grading and ranking from the Host. It is an optional piece since the Host application also contains a scoreboard but with somewhat less scoreboard functionality. A feature of the scoreboard application that increases spectator interest is the "Morse Race" view of the results. This feature, which was added for the 2011 Dayton competition, allows playback of the top five finishers thus far in the competition while at the same time showing in real-time how the current competitors are doing vs the top five and identifying at the end of the session any new members of the top five. Scores of the top five and current players are shown in real-time with advancing bar graphs. The most effective presentation of the scoreboard is via either a digital projector or an HDMI connection to a large flat screen HDTV.
In addition to the above applications the system contains a Utility Application which is used to install the proper files on each machine depending on it's assigned role in the system. The system contains a few old audio and checklist files but does not include the capability to produce new files. If that is desired it is the responsibility of the user is to supply an audio wave file and a checklist text file listing the valid calls on the audio file. The audio can be either CW or SSB but to date the system has been used primarily in CW pileup competitions.
Networking and Other Requirements
The system has been run on peer-to-peer networks and on wi-fi networks in both cases using a mixture of machines running XP and Windows 7. Some adjustments may be required to the security settings of each machine and certain hibernate and screen saver features should be disabled. It is also advisable to disable the tap feature on the touchpad of any player machine. For best reliability, especially in environments having a lot of wi-fi networks, it is best to use a dedicated switch/router and hard-wired connections for PileUpNet. For example the DLink DIR-632 Wireless-N 8-port router, which has eight wired ports, an internet port, and supports wireless, has been used successfully. The eight wired ports allows wired connections to a host, six players, and a scoreboard.
I continue to update PileUpNet with the latest version dated June 13, 2012. If you need an update to your current version or you are interested in using PileUpNet for your own pile up competitions or have questions concerning it's use that are not answered in the above documents please contact me at
Copyright: C.W. Sanders, NO5W
Last Updated: 23-May-2013