Lately, the majority of my radio activity has been SOTA and POTA activations, sometimes simultaneously. The logging requirements for the two programs are different so I often need to adjust the log file before submitting it. Even more common, I need to double-check and fix errors in my SOTA and POTA logs. Some of this comes from the idiosyncrasies of the logging software but often the errors are introduced by the operator. (That would be me.)
Here are a few tools and tips to assist with your portable logging.
SOTA and POTA Logging Tools
For SOTA, Joyce/K0JJW and I normally just use a paper log. If the number of QSOs is small, the paper method is easy and reliable. Later, I use the SOTA CSV Log Editor by G0LGS to enter the information into a CSV (Comma Separated Variable) file. This program is reliable and easy to use. This Windows program uses CSV for the log files but it can also export the log in ADIF (Amateur Data Interchange Format).
For POTA activations, we tend to have a larger number of QSOs so I try to log them in real-time on a computing device. The HAMRS logger is a relatively new logging program by Jarrett/KB0ICT. It runs on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS and Android. I’ve been using it on Windows, an iPad, and my iPhone. The user interface is tuned for portable operating with just enough features and not a lot of fluff. There are some bugs here and there but Jarrett continues to release bug fixes and new features at a steady rate. I have not encountered any serious issues and I really like the implementation. HAMRS exports files in ADIF format.
A CSV file just has the variables of interest separated by commas, usually one QSO on each line. These files are a bit cryptic but can be read by humans with just a little effort. Below is a CSV file generated for a SOTA activation. Note that the first line contains the header information that defines the variables in the subsequent lines.
Sometimes it is very helpful to just be able to edit a CSV file directly. For example, if Joyce/K0JJW and I worked the same set of chasers from a summit, I can create a new log file by doing a find/replace of my callsign with her callsign. For this, I use a simple text editor such as Windows Notepad. Its native file format is plain text so it won’t inadvertently add in additional formatting or characters. Excel (or another spreadsheet) will handle this format but make sure you output a clean CSV file.
ADIF is the most flexible and portable file format for ham radio logging. It can be uploaded to Logbook of The World and imported into most comprehensive logging programs. ADIF files are a bit more complex, using Data Types, Enumerations, and Fields to produce a flexible file format that is also human-readable.
Again, a simple text editor (Notepad) is useful for making edits to an ADIF file. The particular file shown above was exported from the SOTA CSV Editor with each field on its own line. This makes each QSO easier to read but the file has a lot more lines in it.
The program ADIF Master is very good at viewing ADIF files and making changes to them. I often use it to do a final check of the log before submitting it.
When ADIF Master saves an ADIF file, it puts each QSO on one line. The fields and variables remain the same, but the spacing changes. This reduces the overall length of the file (number of lines) but it can be more difficult to read.
Sometimes you might need to convert between CSV and ADIF file formats. There are online tools to do this but I have not used them enough to comment.
I am not going to try to explain the various fields and labels used in these file formats. For the ADIF format, take a look at the detailed specification here: https://adif.org/. A few times, I have needed to find a specific field that was missing and add it to an ADIF file. ADIF Master can do this for you, but you must know the exact name of the field.
These are a few things I’ve learned along the way playing around with SOTA and POTA logs. I hope this is helpful.
73 Bob K0NR