Some have asked me why I still log to paper when I have a means to do it electronically in the field and that’s a valid question. There are a few reasons, actually:
- I don’t like the idea of my tablet or phone having issues mid-activation and losing all of the contacts that I’ve logged.
- I simply enjoy keeping paper logs. They’re easier to manage in the field, are easier to correct if I miss a letter in a call and paper gives me a space to scratch notes and extra callsigns I hear in a pileup.
- Plus, again, my paper logs can’t crash or freeze up.
It’s true that my phone and tablet rarely fail in the field, but I’m still a bit paranoid about it. I know it’s way more likely that the electronic logs could fail than my paper logs. That and I’ve been to the field recently and discovered my phone’s battery was very low because it wasn’t charging properly in the car en route to my activation.
If I’m being honest, I really dislike logging both to paper and to my phone simultaneously. It makes for a lot of busywork as I manage contacts rolling in on the bands–especially during pileups–plus I find typing callsigns on a phone with my fat fingers quite frustrating.
So why do I continue logging to an app in the field? The simple answer is that it saves me so much time later. POTA requires that all log entries be uploaded electronically (obviously) and my logging applications are not designed for transcription later; they’re designed for live-logging.
For example, if I transcribe my logs to ACLog the day after my activation, I have to manually correct the date and time of each log entry because ACLog defaults to the current date and time. It’s a bit tedious. Sometimes I try to use find/replace strings in a text editor after creating the log to make that process go a little more quickly, but I still have to correct the time of day manually for each entry.
I can set up ACLog to be more POTA-friendly, with only a minimum of fields, but I have to keep that customized ACLog installation separate from the main one I use in the shack.
Now, however, there’s a much better option should I choose to only log on paper in the field…
New Manual Log Entry on the POTA Website (Public BETA)
Only a couple months after introducing self-uploads, the POTA development team have introduced a web-based log entry form (currently as a public Beta) and it works brilliantly.
Here’s how it works…
Log into POTA.app, click on the left menu bar, then click on My Log Uploads:
The manual log entry page will look very much like any other electronic logging application designed for POTA activations. It defaults to your callsign, so you simply fill in the Park Identifier, Date, Time (hour and minute separately), Callsign of station logged, State (optional), P2P Park Identifier (optional), then finally click the “Add Entry” button:
It will then create the first log entry and highlight the minutes field for the next log entry:
(Click screenshots to enlarge)
You can tell this logging tool was developed by actual park activators since the time defaults to the last time used and the minutes field is highlighted (this is even easier than the SOTA manual entry form).
To add the next log entry, simply type the minutes, then the callsign, and hit the Add Entry button. If you like, of course, you can add the state/province and/or P2P park identifier. Those aren’t actually required, but you can certainly record those.
Each time you hit the Add Entry button it records the contact and you can view it in the list below the entry fields.
Eventually, you’ll reach the end of your log. All you do next to submit the logs is scroll to the bottom of the page (and check your entries for any typos), then click the two checkboxes confirming the logs are correct and the activation was performed in accordance with POTA Code of Conduct.
Well played, POTA team!
The user interface for manual log entry is superb. It’s so much easier for me to use than ACLog and HAMRS for creating logs post-activation.
The best part? Once the log is entered and submitted, the ADIF file can be downloaded so that you can then upload to LOTW, QSOMap.org, or pretty much any logging application.
Keep in mind that the POTA admin is quite up-front that this application is web-based and not designed to be used in the field for live-logging. If you want to live-log in the field, then definitely continue using your logging applications that saves entries to your internal storage as you go along.
I do recommend HAMRS for live-logging to POTA contacts. It’s a well-designed and efficient application.
Thank you, POTA Team!
This manual log entry is so easy to use, I believe I’ll stop live-logging to HAMRS when I’m doing truly portable trail activations. It’ll free up my hands and ease my activation workflow.
We should all be so grateful that POTA volunteers continue to improve their system, making it accessible to everyone.
No doubt, it’s this focus on user accessibility that has made POTA the fastest-growing radio activity on the planet!