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Ideal Pen for SOTA

Fully agree. That’s exactly the way I work during my activations. Paper and pencil, picking up the callsigns and storing them in my brain short term memory, then writing them down on the paper log while they are coming back to me with their signal report and greetings.





PaperMate Inkjoy (i.e. random pen borrowed from work). Works at 10’F, rain, etc. Thought about getting something better, but this one hasn’t let me down.
73 Jim/K7MK


Pencils. Simple, can’t freeze and you can correct mistakes easily.


That make me remind a story i heard… When going into space, the NASA spent a lot of money to make a pen that would work in all position without gravity.
The Russians did use a simple pencil !! :joy:

No they didn’t.

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The space pen/pencil story is wrong in pretty much every respect. NASA did use mechanical pencils, but broken lead bits are conductive, which is a risk.

Fisher Pen Company spent $1 million of their own money to develop an “anti-gravity” pen. NASA started using it on space flights in 1967. A year later, the USSR ordered 100 pens and 1000 ink cartridges to use on Soyuz. Both space agencies got the volume discount and paid $2.39 per pen.


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Who didn’t what ?

NASA didn’t spend millions inventing a space pen and the Russians didn’t use pencils.

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I try to use the App called Ham radio log but finally I return to the roots, paper and pen (and two backup pencils).

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When I’m activating in the States (as W6PNG) I use HamLog 73 (iOS) primarily as its quick, easy, the WX tends to be great and I have limited issues parsing US callsigns.

When here in the UK (as M0SNA) I started using paper logs partly because I keep running into a bug with HamLog when trying to change a number in a callsign. For example, G5TTX corrected to G6TTX shows up as GTTX6 in HamLog which requires even more correcting and hence I get even further behind on logging.

I find paper much easier to jot down and correct partial call signs and also to stack two or more that you might hear especially as I’m still learning all the variations of call signs I might hear from the UK.

I don’t really want to drag a laptop to a peak but I did try N1MM on a Surface Go in portrait orientation with a soft keyboard up and it was pretty usable.


Hi Paul
The humble pencil and rite in the rain 4" X 6" logbook is hard to beat for SOTA activations, so long as you can write small. If you get a short slim pencil it can be stored in the wire spiral in the top of the logbook itself.

73 Phil

Kindly supplied by your local Ikea store (or golf club if a member!)

My writing on a peak is pretty bad and gets harder to decode the longer I leave the process of entering the contacts into some electronic form.

As promised when I was sharing photos of Fred’s (KT5X) amazingly small station at the G/LD pub meet up here is the snap with you in the log. That was serendipitous!! 5,000 mile QSO on 3 watts CW.


Well observed Barry, in this case “borrowed from Ikea”, but not so local. 60 miles away in Leeds…

73 Phil

Yes Paul - condx must have been exceptional that day 29/04/2011 (Sunspots). I also had a much bigger HF beam then which will have helped hear Fred. Noted also that Reg G3WPF also worked Fred that day. Amazing that his whole station is contained on that clipboard. Transceiver, antenna reel with end fed and matcher fixed to it, Morse key and pencil! I’ve subsequently worked Fred using the WS0TA New Mexico club call I believe, and I note he now has 6086 activator points!

73 Phil .

Uni Powertank every time for me. It writes underwater, upsidedown and many other words! (I carry a pencil as a spare but never needed it)
Why, it is the best for writing on wet paper… but then I use a ‘rite in the rain’ notepad as well!

I carry a write in the rain log book, hard cover, and I use a pencil and
a write in the rain pen. Been using the same log book for a few years
and another for a record of all my activations. Have not lost any data
using these books with the pens and the pencils.
de John Paul // AB4PP