Electronic logging

Good afternoon, everyone.

I think this topic has been discussed before but it was some time ago and things move on in the electronic world.

Does anyone use an electronic means of logging on the summits? I’ve an IPaq pocket PC but I wouldn’t trust it not to go flat, nip-up or break and I’m not sure I could type / input data fast enough anyway.

As a result, I’m still on good 'ol fashioned paper and pencil. The down-side is the time taken to enter the log when I get home. It’s usually a battle to stay awake long enough to complete the task.

Thoughts, anyone?

73, Richard G4ERP

In reply to G4ERP:

SNAP! I am the same as you Richard, matchsticks at midnight, then try and check the entry 5 times to see who I missed out while nodding, hi.

73 Mike

In reply to GW0DSP:

… and what’s even worse, Sunday evening I was struggling to watch Wainwright Walks.


In reply to G4ERP:

…I never struggle when Julia is on, hi…maybe I nod a tad when Griff is on though.


In reply to G4ERP:

I usually activate Sunday & do all my logging etc at work on Monday :wink:
After years of entering everything in my log on to the database - I just realised that the chasers name / qth / cats name / mothers maiden name etc is not required on the database. Not entering this extra info has halved my logging time.

I use pencil and paper and try to get it entered onto the database the same day. I normally use some plain paper and I have a piece of estate agent’s signboard I use to write on. For when it’s too wet to use normal paper I have some waterproof notebooks.

I take two pencils and specifically use pencils because you can sharpen them with the penknife I have. I did think about using a biro but the ink gets thick when it’s below zero and they can block or run out or generally misbehave.

Electronic logging whilst out? I though about it for almost 3 seconds before dismissing it. Yet one more item to carry that can fail or misbehave. Two pencils and some paper weighs so much less than the lightest of PDAs and is unlikely to need a reset and lose all the data I have entered! :slight_smile:


In reply to MM0FMF:

Might be worth speaking to Barry - GM4TOE as I think he uses electronic logging - take a look at the cover photo on the Feb 07 RADCOM.


In reply to GM4CFS:

Hi, both.

I thought that, but I just weighed my PDA. If it had GPS built in it would be 100g or so lighter than carrying my Garmin and a logbook. I still wouldn’t trust it to perform either task without failing me. If Barry has found a robust unit, that might tip the scales in it’s favour.


In reply to G4ERP:

On the basis that anything electronic will eventually break down at a maximally inconvenient time, I stick to the KISS pencil and paper - a ringbound reporters pad with 3 or 4 elastic hairbands around the pages to counteract the wind in a gale, or waterlog if it’s raining. And a short pencil sharpened both ends in case one end breaks ( A tip given to me by my CW tutor over 25 years ago!)

73 de Paul G4MD

In reply to G4ERP:
I use a Sharp EL-6890 electronic organiser http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd308/m1avv/DSC01038Medium.jpg
as a notebook replacement. The 256K of memory is loads more than I need and all I have to do is switch on, type in QSO details and press enter (I usually just type a callsign and press enter). Battery drain is very low so it’ll keep working even after the low battery warning comes on.
There’s a serial interface to transfer data but for copying a few QSOs into the SOTA DB it’s not really worth using.
I’ve tried a pocket PC before but it was slower, mine has a GPS built in but the software isn’t really suitable for ‘off road’.
As a back up I’ve always got a mobile phone to store notes on.

In reply to G4ERP:

I use a Palm Tungsten which is OK but is definitely not waterproof!!
Main reason is that I can download the log in a format for the SOTA database and in a format to plug into my home logging program and when I get home I am tired/bone idle/needing a drink (but not in that order!) so putting the log in twice manually does not come top of my priorities.

Having said that, the last three activations have been pencil and waterproof paper because (as those who worked me on the hills will know) the weather gods have decided to punish me for doubting their one and true prophets.


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:
Simon, Barry. Good afternoon, both.

Thnaks for the comments - and the link, Simon. I hadn’t considered an organiser. I had in mind writing an application to run under CE - partly as a learing exercise. A cut-down logging program, that sort of thing. I think there are development tools out there for the Sharp as well.

Barry, how do you find using the stylus to enter callsigns etc? I have tried it a couple of times as an experiment - but never on a summit. Perhaps I should try some time.

More homework needed.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
" how do you find using the stylus to enter callsigns etc"

No problem, although sometimes it writes garbage, but it is but a moment to select the virtual keyboard and enter the info that way. The program “wot i wrote” only needs boxes for callsign and report completed (and qth/name of the caller if needed)everything else is a popup and time/date are automatic.

Downloads as a csv file and this goes straight to the SOTA database.


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to G4ERP:

Anyone thought of using one of those digital voice recorders like a modern day dictaphone. They sell for next to nothing in places like aldi & can record hours of audio. All you need is c/s, time, band & mode for database & any other info for your own log, if indeed you keep one in these days of liberalisation. They are very small / light as well. May add one to the kit for “wet” days.

In reply to G1INK:

Hi, Steve.

I got one. As you say, they sell for very little and I thought it would be useful for a wet activation rather than get out the logbook. The reality is that they’re so fiddly to use, I have never bothered taking it out with me. For one, I’d have to wear glasses to see the menus - which would be a pain in the wet.

For normal use I like to be able to see the callsign writ in front of me. The poor brain can’t cope with remembering too much info!

Barry, your program sounds very interesting. I assume from your comment that you normally enter data as handwriting in note mode rather than use the virtual keyboard?

73, Richard

In reply to G1INK:
I tried it once or twice, but like Richard I found it fiddly. Perhaps the one I got was just a little too cheap and cheerful. Not only were the menus a bit iffy, making it hard to be certain it was recording, but getting it to pick up both sides of the QSO clearly is a bit tricky. Also remember that you have to transcribe the pertinent details of the recording afterwards, keeping track of the time, which can be a bit tedious if you’re doing anything other than quick-fire QSOs.

I’d say voice recording could be a useful backup in case something is missed from the paper log, but I wouldn’t want to use it as the only log.

In reply to M1MAJ:

Oh, and the one I bought seems to get through batteries even when “switched off”, meaning your’re forever taking it apart to remove batteries just to save them.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
“Barry, your program sounds very interesting. I assume from your comment that you normally enter data as handwriting in note mode rather than use the virtual keyboard?

Program is available on the SOTA website (the Yahoo one) under files. Needs HanDbase to run on the Palm. Any problems email me off list and I will send it to you


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to G4ERP:
I have been trying out an Olympus VN-120 digital voice recorder for a little time for logging.

I came across one of these about 18 months ago, simply finding it lying in the grass. It was soaking wet but I took it home, let it dry out naturally, tried it and it worked. I was able to determine that it had been almost certainly lying in the grass for about a month through much inclement weather - yet it still worked. It clearly belonged to the miltary and I returned it to them. I was told they make extensive use of these in the field.

With such survival I thought I would try one for logging only I kept forgetting to use it for some time. However when I have remembered, I have been trying it out in parallel with paper recording and have so far only used it once as my solo logger. So far so good.

All I do is slide the hold button to activate, press record and stick it either in my shirt pocket or on some convenient rock. Not fiddly very straight forward. It records the date and time of the start of the recording and then in playback mode shown the elapsed time. I have found that with the sensitivity maximised, I can clearly hear both sides of the exchange. I simply add the elapsed time to the start for log entry, and I can fast forward and so that I don’t have to play it all through and fast back if I miss something. So far still running on the set of batteries I put in several months ago.


  1. Although you can see that it is recording after pressing rec, you don’t know what you have got till you play
    it back. Would I rely on it - I have once but I am not keen to.
  2. Playback and transcription even with fast forward is quite time consuming.
  3. Wind can make a lot of noise and can make it hard to hear the playback
  4. This model had 2 hrs max recording which may be too short for longer or multiple activations.
    73 jim