VK Portalog, Idiots guide??

Complete N00b to digital logging, and very wary of it! A current pencil and paper man, but need to reduce my kit carried…

Had VK portalog for a while on my phone, but not been brave enough to have a go! Haha dont want to do an activation and it all go horribly wrong… so an idiots guide would be nice! Preferably a video, so I can play along as it were…

How to set it up for the different actications, logging and the all important uploading it to SOTA etc…


Alan (logging luddite)


I’ve been thinking of doing such a video for over a year. Leave it with me. :slightly_smiling_face:



Have you looked at Peter VK3ZPF’s webpage?

There are some helpful guides on the page: VK port-a-log | VK3ZPF Ham Radio Blog

Download and read the User Guide and check out the Settings screens examples.
Once the Settings are set up, it should all be pretty simple.

There is also an overview of the app from a presentation Peter VK3ZPF made in October on the wwffaustralia website:

I now rarely take pen & paper with me on activations & find the app very easy to use. Thanks to VK3ZPF for a terrific tool.

Good luck,

Peter VK3PF


Not sure if it answers all your questions but you should probably take a look at the video from Red Summit RF …

I tried different logging software on the phone but always came back to good old paper an pen. If you try to reduce the weight of your kit you will most likely find other things in your rucksack more heavier than paper and pen …

73 Martin


I’ve been thinking of doing one for about 7 years - still no progress. :rofl:


Hi Alan

All the suggestions given here are valid and worth exploring.

If you are still unsure about it, and you can’t find a local user to help you out, please email me and we can work it out and calm your fears.

FYI - I have not taken pen and paper for logging on a summit or WWFF activation in about 9 years and have logged more than 4500 SOTA QSOs with the app. Other VK port-a-log users have logged significantly more.

Peter VK3ZPF


Some considerations probably useful apart from the mentioned video:

  1. I wouldn’t want to be without it. Certainly, there are other tools, but I got used to VK port-a-log quickly and I like it. Certainly, others like other tools. Main development of the tool has been done years ago, but the same regarding the principles of SOTA. Still matching for me.

  2. VK port-a-log runs here on a small and cheap android 5.1 (!) tablet with a 7" screen that I use only for SOTA logging. Some have it on their android cellular phone. Be aware of the battery drain over a long day full of SOTA activations.

  3. Consider your fingers, since they are the main tool to operate the device. Do you have large fingers and have thus difficulties with typing on mobile devices? A small phone screen may be too small in such cases.

  4. VK port-a-log delivers CSV and ADIF files. I upload the CSV file to the SOTA database and the ADIF file to my logbook at home. Some let write the reports to the notes field, so you may probably not need a central logbook at home but data availability for paper QSL cards may be a problem then.

  5. There are several ways to handle the output. Some mail it from the mobile device to another one and process it there. Others do the complete stuff on the device. I have a utility on the device to synchronize the day folders to my NAS storage and process at home from my PC (still have one, hi).

  6. I was sweating blood and water on the first activation since I was nervous then. That is normal - but enjoy this special rush. Give it a try for several activations and don’t run away after the first try. 2nd use and onward are much more fluent. Maybe you try it for the first time on a dry run at home and delete the data afterwards - e.g. take your last log incl. some S2S, type it into the tool and reflect your experience afterwards. Start e.g. your activation on a band with possibly lower chaser traffic (so not on 20 or 40).

  7. My old tablet from 2016 is still running. It has an outdoor mode to make the screen visible well. Try outdoors with sunshine, sunglasses etc. to gain your experience how well you can read the screen.

  8. I take part only in SOTA what is in the scope of VK port-a-log. If you want to participate in other programmes do some own research how the additional data can be stored and processed best.

  9. There are many software properties to be customized upon your needs. Be aware what your needs are, hi. I had one setting misleading my home logbook. Its correction took some time.

  10. I do only SSB/FM. No practice so far to log electronically CW SOTA traffic with switching constantly and quickly between keying CW and logging on the device. That is my biggest personal question mark.

  11. Don’t forget the device at home when activating outdoors. Be prepared to have always paper and pencil with you as a backup. It will happen all 1-2 years.

  12. Master Peter VK3ZPF and the community on the blog are friendly helpers. Peter has also taken some decisions what is in the tool and what not. Keep your requirements simple what makes the use also simple and easy. The tool is an outdoor logger. It doesn’t cook your meals.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ


That would be amazing Fraser, as you know I enjoy your video’s and watch them all! you have a really nice way of explaining things :slight_smile: Thanks!

I havent, but i now will! Thankyou Peter

Its not so much the weight reduction, more the “stuff” reduction, after chasing a log sheet across the moor the other day in the wind after it broke free from my clip board, I thought to myself there must be an easier way than this! i already use “hamclock” on my phone, so its a logical way to go! Thanks Martin :slight_smile:

I will bear that in mind, thankyou Peter

I will go through that once I have watched and done some reading, its all interesting stuff. Thanks Markus!

Thankyou to everyone for offering support and guidance, its appreciated! i will go through all the info above methodically and see if i can crack the basics! then its the more advanced stuff like using the data for POTA and QRZ ETC ETC…

Thanks all!



Can’t help with instructions. But I can say that I’ve used this for several years on hundreds of activations.

I have even been known to upload my log file directly from the summit!

It saves SOOOO much time keying logs back home.

I carry a USB battery bank and still have a pencil and waterproof notebook for backup (but they are part of my standard hill safety kit).

The only time it fails is on a 2m only activation when sat in the pouring rain. Screen on the phone won’t work properly when it’s wet.



I tend to avoid “wet” activations where i can… I know it can happen and catch you out, but I dont find getting soaked enjoyable! :rofl: :rofl:

Cheers - Alan



Unfortunately, vk port-a-log does not support POTA. It does support WWFF. But it is possible to log POTA once you know what you are doing, with a bit of work once back at home.


Peter VK3PF


Ok, i been playing and managed to upload a log (obviosly deleted again straight after). so, this leads to my next question, how do you finalise one log and open a new log for a different summit/activation on the same day?? or is it just a case of changing the Sota reference??

Cheers - Alan

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yea, this is a shame… alot of UK SOTA/HEMA activators also double up with POTA aswell, as many of the summits are in POTA areas aswell… Lets not climb though before i can crawl though eh! need to get my SOTA logging off to a consistent start first! hahaha

Thanks for all your help Peter!



That’s all you need to do!


sometimes the obvious answer is the simplest answer! but its human nature to overcomplicate things in the mind! :rofl: :rofl:

That, now makes alot of sense!

Thanks - Alan


Indeed it is!

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Woo well, after uploading another test log, I think i have boxed this off!! Dont know what I was scared of!! :rofl:

Just need to figure out how you make the spotting work now so I can spot from it!

Thanks all



Swipe the screen left and it opens up the spotting page

Swipe the screen right from the main screen and you will see latest spots, including yours if it is there. If you are chasing summit to summits, tapping on a spot puts the other stations call sign, mode, frequency and summit reference straight in your log. How good is that? :grinning:

You need to be logged into your SOTA account from the settings for the spotting to work, but you only need to do this once.


And if you hold the Spot button for some seconds it will create a syntax correct spot-sms message and open the sms app to send it for off to generate a spot.
Just mentioning that because it’s not fully intuitive without reading the vk-p-a-l user manual.


Although I haven’t tried any logging software, I’m with Martin on this one. My problem is that, although I’m pretty bad at writing, I’m even worse when it comes to typing, especially on a small smartphone screen. So, waterproof pen and paper for me!