Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Logging in the field.

Operating in the field is fun; and it gives a good chance to get out into the fresh air and sunshine. There's nothing quite like having a QSO on 20 meters while stationed next to a small stream; or in a park or open field, listening to the birds chirp and to the other sounds of nature.

Logging those contacts though, has always been a pain in the butt for me. I used to use the ARRL mini-logbooks; but invariably I would spill something on them, get them wet, have the pages become wind blown, dog-eared and messy. Writing notes about QSOs and then putting the pieces of papers in my pocket to transfer to my main log later was not the best solution, either.

The one day, I read an article on the WWW about using a Palm Pilot for logging QSOs away from the main shack. It seemed like a brilliant idea to me! A trip to eBay and a winning bid later ($26) procured an entry level Palm Pilot, the m105, for me.

Looking for logging programs revealed plenty! I finally settled on two - "QSO Diary" by Ray Goff G4FON and "Ham Pilot" by Chris Williams. "QSO Diary" is freeware and "Ham Pilot" is shareware with a $5 donation requested if you want to register the program.

Both programs are intuitive and quite easy to use. I finally settled on "Ham Pilot" for one reason. I subsequently purchased an optional, folding keyboard for my m105. It makes data entry so much easier instead of relying on the stylus all the time. With "Ham Pilot" hitting the enter button on the keyboard will move the cursor from field to field. The other programs require that you select each field with the stylus - a major drawback in my mind.

The Palm allows me to log my entries just as if I were doing it on my laptop in the shack at home. The price if the Palm is a mere fraction; as are the weight and size. A portable computerized logging system that is small, lightweight, efficient and runs on two AAA batteries. You can't beat that with a stick!

73 de Larry W2LJ

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