Portable Logging for iPad & iPhone 3

2016-08-21 13.38.32I’ve had a lot of questions about the portable logging App I use when out on the hills. Most of the time people can see in photos and videos that I’m using an Apple iPad or iPhone but they can’t make out the App.

Since 2014 I’ve been using RumLog2Go (developed by Thomas Lindner DL2RUM) on both my iPad and iPhone. I’m not against Android, they’re just not my primary devices at the moment.

Note: While writing this post I found out that Thomas has released a new version called RUMlogNG2Go. I haven’t had a chance to use this but if it’s anything like the old version it’ll be well worth the £3.99 charge. It’s worth remembering that if you have multiple apple devices you only need to purchase it once and then you can download it to your other devices.

I use an old iPad 3 protected by a waterproof and dust proof case. Now it doesn’t look as slick as Apple intended, but it will take abuse in the mountains! I’ve used it during torrential rain/storms and not had any issues. The previous case was smart (as I used to use it at work) but not suitable for portable use:

Elecraft KX3 Setup on Trig Point

The upgrade to the water/dust proof case was just the ticket, despite it adding some bulk it really protects the device well:

Lazy late afternoon operating in the sun

iPad in the rugged case on a SOTA summit on EA8 – Lanzarote

RumLog2Go itself has worked very well for me, it’s my standard solution when I go portable (which is a lot). I have logged over 5000 QSOs on it since 2014 on mountains across Europe & EA8 in conditions ranging from storms and snow through to blazing sunshine.

Benefits

1. Logbook With You at All Times

Whether you’re out on a foreign mountain or down at your local radio club you always have your entire logbook with you. I’ve often wondered this when up a mountain and I have thousands of QSOs at my fingers!

2. Better Memory Than Me!

Spoken to what’s his name M0ABC before? Can’t remember the guy’s name? No problem, RumLog remembers! I can view all of the previous QSOs I’ve had with him and recall the bands and details easily. This has helped me remember someone’s name several times when otherwise it may have been a bit embarrassing. The App officially has a better memory than me!

Here’s an extreme example of avid SOTA chaser Don G0RQL, I of course know his name now, but the App allows me to recall all 73 QSOs I’ve had with him across a wide-spread of bands:

All previous QSOs with Don G0RQL

All previous QSOs with Don G0RQL

3. Easy Log Export

One of my primary reasons to convert from a paper log to an electronic one, was due to the time I save by not having to type up my log when I got home. This is important for me because the Summits On The Air (SOTA) scheme requires the log to be submitted electronically in a very specific format. The prospect of having to type up a lot of contacts after a busy day is not an appealing one for me.

All I have to do now is export from the RumLog2Go on the iPad, email it so myself, import into RumLog for Mac OS X (or any other logger for that matter) and then export again in the SOTA format. Finally I upload it to the SOTA site and I’m done… even If I’ve made a few hundred contacts! This leaves more time for a celebratory beer instead of keying in my log.

4. Easy DXCC Lookup

When you type in a new callsign the App tells you the country, this was particularly useful when I was getting started in the hobby and still is for the more unusual contest and special callsigns!

Also it allows you to track the DXCC you have worked across the bands, here’s a screenshot showing how many unique DXCC I’ve worked across all the various bands/modes I’ve used:

Analysis DXCC worked Across Each Band

Analysis of DXCC worked across each band

5. You Always Have a Logbook (if you use an iPhone)

There have been occasions when I’ve gone out for a walk with just a 2m FM handheld but while operating I wanted to log a QSO. But what to do? No paper or pen, but I do have my iPhone with me!

This is particularly useful if you’re on a longer hike and radio isn’t the focus of the day. Under these conditions I can walk all day with my YL with a really lightweight handheld and iPhone logging solution, leaving space for more important things like food, clothing, maps and even beer.

RumLog2Go for iPhone

RumLog2Go for iPhone

Disadvantages

Only the first three disadvantages relate to RumLog2Go itself, the rest are more related to using any electronic device in the elements.

1. Takes Some Getting Used To

Using a logging App like RumLog2Go certainly takes some getting used to if you’re used to paper logging. It’s only really difficult if you’re in a pile-up and getting used to the logging and virtual keyboard.

2. Not Contest Friendly

Now, the only time I’ve really struggled with the App is when trying to use it during contests. The fields are more geared towards standard operating and don’t support the special exchanges and it sure doesn’t remind you which serial you should be giving out… back to a manual count then.

For contests I now use a small Windows tablet (with keyboard) so I can run contest logging software such as N1MM+ and Minos (for VHF).

3. Logging Slowdown

I’ve noticed a slowdown in the time it takes to log a new contact since my log grew larger than 1000 QSO’s. It can take up to 2 seconds to log a QSO after pressing the save button. I don’t believe this is a widespread problem with the App and only really causes me an issue when running a pileup. I’m hoping the new version fixes this.

4. Running Out of Battery

This will never happen with paper! I personally haven’t had this occur while logging on either the iPad or iPhone as I’m diligent about charging and don’t tend to operate out portable for more than 3-4 hours at a time.

5. Extreme Heat

Sometimes the iPad overheats and needs to cool down, this happened during a roaring pileup on EA8 and I ended up logging 100 QSOs on paper before I could start using the iPad again! Simple solution is to try and keep the iPad out of direct sunlight and it’s not happened when I’ve done this despite 40oC heat.

6. Extreme Rain

When water collects on the iPad (case) screen it makes the touchscreen less sensitive and tougher to use. Solution? Try and wipe it down when water collects on it!

Conclusion

For me iPad/iPhone logging has been a real-time saver and as I’m tech savvy it seemed like a no brainer. Not that you need to be technical to use the App, it’s straightforward and easy to use!

I’m aware that there are more disadvantages outlined here than advantages, but the advantages are worth a lot more to me.

At the end of the day I still have a small waterproof notebook and pencil with me as a backup, I’ve rarely had to use this but having it gives me some confidence if all else fails.

There are other Apple logging options and certainly more on Android but I’m happy with RumLog in the hills.

3 thoughts on “Portable Logging for iPad & iPhone

  1. Reply Tom, DL2RUM Aug 27,2016 20:57

    When logging slows down, you should decrease the number of shown QSOs to 500. Reloading the log is the time consuming factor. For the most cases you don’t have to scroll through the full logbook.

    Well written, 73 de Tom, DL2RUM

    • Reply James Stevens Aug 30,2016 09:29

      Thanks Tom for your kind words and for building the app! I’ll give this a go. I usually have it setup to display all QSO’s made this year, but of course towards the second half of the year this is in excess of 500 QSOs!

      73, James M0JCQ

  2. Reply Ve3ips john leonardelli Sep 11,2016 23:23

    I am using Hamlog by Pignology and it has some extra features built in for regular ham use

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