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Logging tips for visually impaired activator?

I’ve started suffering from a severe progressive loss of visual acuity, and am looking for alternatives for logging short of getting another person to sit beside me.

So far, I’m able to do the hiking once I get to the trailhead (friends, public transport). But I have very little central vision.

Using my smartphone for logging is no longer viable (impossible to operate the keypad). I won’t be investing in an expensive tablet until I know how things are progressing and know if it’s a mid- to long-erm solution.

I’m currently using a magic marker on paper (lines from ink pens are too thin to read easily), but trying to write when you can’t really see what you’re doing isn’t easy. That makes deciphering the log sheet later lots of fun.

I’ve thought about an audio recording directly from my KX2 into some device (I’m 95% CW). Any suggestions on a good device to use here? And how to handle time stamping? The KX2 memory is too short for more than a few QSOs, and I don’t have the timestamp module.

Any other suggestions from fellow visually impaired activators would be quite welcome.

tnx, 73
Paul HB9DST / AA1MI

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Hi Paul,

I don’t think that recording the on-air traffic would help as you need the info to complete each QSO unless you attach a very clever device which translates the Morse and picks out just the info you need in real time. I evaluated the logging feature on my KX2 and concluded it wasn’t reliable enough. I’ve not tried this suggestion but would it be possible to use the voice recorder app on your smart phone to capture your spoken log key words?

It depends on how much info you like to log but saying aloud the time, callsign, reports and sota ref should do it [BTW: I no longer bother logging the report exchanges since I never revisit my uploaded SOTA logs].

Importantly, this also requires that you stop [the habit of many years?] CW copying to paper and switch to ‘head copying’ (something that took me a long time to do even to get back to about 17wpm).

Of course you would want to practise this at home first long before trying it ‘live’ on a real activation, e.g. listening to CW QSOs (e.g. contests) and speaking aloud the key words as you head-copy it.

Good luck, Andy

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Hello Paul, I’m fortunately not visually impaired, but I have forgotten a means to write down my log a couple of times. On those occasions I did as Andy suggests and used the voice recorder function on my phone to record key elements of the contact (not the actual contact). It works, but is a bit fiddly with a touchscreen device (that persists in going to sleep during periods of inactivity). A proper hand-held dictaphone would probably be better; fairly cheap, not very bulky or heavy with proper buttons to facilitate easy use.

Edit, this is the sort of device I’ve used for work. I’m sure you can find something similar where you live.

Best wishes,

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Paul, sorry to hear about your vision problems. I assume you are under good care from an ophthalmologist who is working to save as much central vision as possible.

I haven’t considered this problem before so I am not speaking from experience. Just a few thoughts: There are wristwatches designed for people with visual impairment - some allow you to feel the hands, other audibly announce the time.

Another option would be a battery powered LCD clock with a big enough display for you to see. I found some options by searching Amazon for “battery clock small.”

Best wishes – please let the community know what works for you.

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Hi Paul

Sorry to hear that your visual acuity has become bad.
The suggestion of Andy and others seem to be a possible way.

I do hope there will be some improvement or that your vision problems are not becoming worse at least.

If you like to make joint activations i will be pleased to do it with you.

73 de Bruno HB9CBR

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My IC-705 can record every QSO and it also records the time, frequency and mode being used at the time, embedding these in the recording. It can use up to a 32Gb SD card and records for hours. The radio also has a speech button which if pressed verbally states the selected frequency.

It would be a big change from your KX2 but is an option. You can play back the recorded files on the radio or on a PC if the SD card is removed.

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Unfortunately, unless it can also identify the other party’s callsign and ‘save’ it along with the timestamp, mode, etc, this doesn’t appear to be a complete solution

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Andy Hi,

I think so much it’s one of the solution, Paul don’t write on the summit but by hear it can make the QSO like I can make it ! It’s a good CW OP and after activation he can write in his house the complete log, the solution by John @M0WIV is the best way :+1: :wink:

73 Eric

2H later
PS:
The problem it’s not his ears …

I don’t write well in English but what I wrote is what so and so will say on the subject!

Paul @HB9DST, I QSO you very regularly in CW at a very good speed! Last QSO was yesterday :wink:

My eyes become a little problem with age but it’s true I’m at home.

You can, in my opinion, give all you can of your head, if you have a good recording medium you can always quietly at home review all your log.

See you soon Paul, with pleasure

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I was thinking the logging would be done later at home. Either with the assistance of someone else or by Paul himself if he can read the characters on a PC screen.

An alternative approach would be to use a voice recorder of some sort and a small speaking clock. These have a button which when pressed announce the time. Paul could speak into the recording device to identify callsigns he’s having a QSO with plus any other information such as the RST.

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Yes, I think recording the QSOs would work fine.

I hope Paul doesn’t mind me pointing out that he’s a fine CW op and won’t need to refer to written material to complete a QSO. I’m a poor CW op but I head copy everything, writing only the callsign and report in my log.

I use a Philips Voice Tracer stereo recorder- I got a stereo recorder as I wanted it to double up a recorder for YouTube videos too. I use a splitter cable to separate the audio into two streams, one for my earphones, the other for the recorder. I home brewed a little audio level control using a potentiometer and a dc blocking cap (recorder outputs a microphone bias voltage). I found that the recorder is easily overloaded and the potentiometer helps to keep the audio level at a more sensible amplitude.

I’m sure it would be easier without a direct connection whilst using a speaker on the rig, that way you can add in time information by voice as needed. SSB contacts would probably need to be done this way too, although I’m not familiar with the KX2. Most of my radios don’t contain a speaker.

73, Colin

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There’s something about the details that are still bugging me [Sorry, it’s the engineer in me] … so bear with me to see how this works.

I don’t know Paul so I’ll generalize my comments. Let’s assume the visually-impaired activator is already good at head-copying at normal operating speeds. So, he/she [I’ll use ‘they’ ] can head copy the incoming callsign and remember it for the duration of the QSO. SOTA QSOs are pretty short so no problem.

I’m concerned that with QSB, QRN, etc an ‘off air’ audio recording can be unintelligible at times whereas the human ear/brain can usually make sense of it despite the distortion. But let’s put this to one side.

For a non-IC705 rig they would record the rig audio (in the manner suggested by Colin @M1BUU). Once home they would playback the recording and transcript the relevant info to their preferred logging program either with visual support (e.g. large font settings) on the PC as John @M0WIV suggests, or with assistance of a normally-sighted person.

If the activation involved say 50 contacts over 40mins, they would spend that time or more creating the written log. Tedious but doable. But where are the timestamps? One would need to know when the recording/activation started [although I’m guessing the rules of SOTA don’t require this to be to the nearest minute].

For an IC705, is this process quicker? Can the info can be read out in one go like a list of QSOs? But as no callsign is attached to each ‘QSO’ there’s the possibility of mis-sync’ing callsigns with its list of QSOs [remember sometimes chaser contacts can get lost mid QSO or the activator decides the QSO is not valid for logging] …. Don’t they have to listen to the whole recording at normal speed (as above) to match the IC705’s list of QSOs with the callsigns from the recording? No one (except Memory Man) can remember a list of callsigns in their head in correct order until they get home.

My KX2 has a logging feature for CW QSOs but needs the optional RTC module to record the timestamps. The in-built Morse decoder makes ‘mistakes’ if the other party’s sending isn’t that good or during periods of distortion.

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The 705 has a lot of options for recording and I am not an expert on it. But one set of options will create a new sound file (with time stamp) as soon as you start transmitting, including CW transmissions. It will also record what was being received before you started transmitting. The options go up to the previous 15 seconds so if you respond say to a CQ call it will probably record what you are replying to.

But I don’t think there is any easy solution short of taking someone to log for you.

Use a speaking clock to say the time and add that to the recording.

Call CQ, identify caller, make clock say time, start working caller. All goes in the audio log.

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Paul,

very sorry to hear about your eyesight, I hope you find a solution which allows you to continue to activate.

As for the KX2 internal logging, don’t discount it totally. I often use it, in fact I used it today when it was windy and cold on GM/SS-014. I logged 43 qso on CW and it had room for about 3 or 4 more. I use an internal memory for my CQ’s which are not logged, this saves space. You do have to send the other persons call if you call someone for a S2S, plus if a S2S calls me I send back “R ZH010 TNX S2S” so I record his summit.

You do need the real time clock option, I keep that accurate by setting the clock with the KX2 Utility from your shack PC. I dump the log using KX2 Utility, then copy/paste it into Notepad on PC. From there I have the dumped text file open along with the excellent FLE, transcribing into FLE.

It works for me, I probably use KX2 internal logging on half of my activations.

73 Gavin
GM0GAV

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A procedural change that would add the time of the contact to an audio log, would be to acknowledge each new caller like this:

After being called by HB9DST:

HB9DST de VK1DA at 0900 gm Paul UR 579 579 BK
Etc

This is a minor addition but it inserts the current time (provided you can see a clock on your phone or radio well enough) into the recording.

Add this into the mix of ideas above, perhaps.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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When I was using an MCHF clone I managed to fashion a cable that would plug into my mobile phone and allowed recording of a QSO by splitting the headphone socket on the transceiver to both the phone and a pair of headphones. This requires a monitor facility on the rig. That doesn’t help with recording timings, but in the past I’ve also timestamped the start of an activation then relied on listening back to the audio file and marking the QSOs minute by minute.

A lot of this depends on technical aspects, so may be far from practical for Paul.

Regards, Mark.

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Paul,

Something like this touch-to-hear-time might be part of what you need:

I’ve also asked K9PM to reply about his audio recorder, which takes audio from his KX2.

Here’s another blurb from the US. Veteran’s administration:
It’s nice because it will do 24-hour time.

Good luck. Ken

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While my primary logging method is direct entry into OutDLog via a Bluetooth enabled keyboard, I use a Sony (Model ICD-PX470) digital recorder to record all my SOTA contacts. This model has 2 audio jacks: one jack to connect the headphones and one jack to connect a male-male audio cable to the radio’s headphone jack. The Sony recorder also contains a built-in USB plug for quick upload of recordings to a computer.

Good luck and please post your solution(s). I’m sure that others will benefit from what you learn about what works best for you.

73 de K9PM Paul

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Gavin, do you use an internal battery with your KX2? I use only an external LiPo and [without the RTC module] find the ‘time of day’ set to zero (midnight?) when I power on the KX2 at the summit.

A crazy design flaw in the KX3 that should have been fixed years ago for the sake of a CR2032 and an RTC chip. It was one of the things that put me off the KX3. I don’t understand why they haven’t made any significant modifications for the design.

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