Welcome News: POTA now has a manual log entry form on their website! Here’s how it works.

If you’ve watched any of my activation videos, you’ll note that I tend to log both on paper and on an app like HAMRS (iOS, Android) or ACLog (Windows Tablet).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

It will open the Log Uploads page where you will now see a button to open the Manual Log Entry page. Click it.

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.

When you click the SUBMIT LOG button, the POTA site records the entire entry and within 15 seconds, you’ll see it in your list of completed activations:

Again, this new form is still in Beta (at time of posting on September 1, 2022), but it seems to work perfectly!

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!

13 thoughts on “Welcome News: POTA now has a manual log entry form on their website! Here’s how it works.”

  1. I am still a paper logger too, as I am usually packing into my activation spot and am not going to carry a tablet. For me, trying to do it on the phone is more annoying than entering the data back at home over a cup of tea. I also don’t rack up huge numbers any given activation.

    The POTA log upload system has been working well for me since added. Granted I have only had a handful of activations since that started, but no issues so far and a nice simple system. Well done.

    Douglas
    K1GC

  2. I agree, I’m a little ham fisted when it comes to using my phone to log contacts. The only real advantage for me is callsign look up as this can help the QSO.

    Taking a tablet with me is a no no, sometimes I walk or bike to my destination and there is the security spect of increasing damage or theft.

    So I do what you do log it onto paper, transfer to my log s/w later. I don’t have as many contacts as you Thomas 🙂

  3. I still like paper logs too since that’s how I first learned.
    I’m a hybrid logger as well. But it’s something about pencil and paper that really appeals to me. Good on POTA team!

  4. Accessibilty is an important issue we always try to keep in mind at POTA. Also, we really appreciate all of you using the tools we put out there, and thanks for having fun wtith us. 73 W3AAX

  5. Interesting, I’ll give it a try. I use paper logs then transfer to HAMRS when I get home. I like that HAMRS does a QRZ lookup and fills the SPC field automatically. That step also checks that I have copied the callsign and SPC properly.

    On the other hand, I haven’t found a good way to save the HAMRS .adi file to an accessible directory on my phone so I’ve been emailing it to myself (anybody know a better way?).

    Also, POTA won’t let me upload my adi file from my phone (due to “screen resolution”?) so I can’t upload until I get home and do it on my PC or tablet anyway.

    If the POTA app incorporates automatic QRZ checking I’ll switch to this new feature for sure.

  6. Hello,
    I am using the FLE (fast log entry) application. It enables both on-line and off-line quoting. It is recommended for WWFF login and download from wwff.co in the “rules & faq / downloads” section. It may turn out to be an interesting option. I think it’s worth a try.

  7. I wanted to add that while I have tested the manual entry, which seems to work well, I am not sure that I would use it much. It is easier for me to work in my own log and export an ADIF to POTA, rather than work in POTA log and download that ADIF to my log.

    Either way, great to see all of the improvements on the logging front.

    Douglas K1GC

  8. I spent a few hours today in a nice part of K-0619, and logged 27 contacts… on paper. I’m too fumble fingered to log CW contacts on my phone…

    I tried the manual log entry system – twice… 😑. Let’s just say I got distracted while checking my entries: before pushing “Download adif” or “Submit”.

    The tool itself is great. They are correct about the necessary care while using it. This user was definitely not diligent enough… Fortunately, 27 entries go quickly, even the second time, hi hi.

    Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  9. Now that it’s a semi-automated upload, I wonder if the POTA folks could work out an upload method with the developer of HAMRS (or other apps).

    That would be quite useful.

  10. Thanks for this post Thomas. I’m a new POTA CW activator and on my first activation last week, chose to go paper/pencil. I did try using HAMRS on my phone to verify call signs but juggling the phone, paper, and my key while trying to listen to what was being sent was too much sometimes. (Maybe the juggling gets easier with more experience.) This option is a great one as my activations are often in parks with car and internet access. So I’ll give it a try in the near future.

    1. The other day I did an activation where I logged to both paper and in HAMRS simultaneously. It was a very busy activation and I realized then that I’m probably going to go back to paper only unless things are really slow. It can be stressful juggling both even with experience under your belt! 🙂

      Congrats on joining the world of POTA CW activating!

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