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Going Paperless for Radio DXing

Joined
Jul 2, 2012
Messages
1,000
Location
Tasmania
#1
Recently my wife and I have taken on the "minimalism" life style by making the choice to live happily with less. As a part of this we have cleaned out our home and reduced what we own.

My Ultralight Radio DXing hobby has become a real focus for me of late. I am now undertaking more portable sessions and carrying my Ultralight Radio DXing kit with me more. I have settled on my current case and have set this up to suit my needs, it works well.

One area I have never really been that happy with is the method and process I have used to log what I hear, over the years I have used a few different methods:

- Pen and Paper: This started off as an exercise book which I used to log what I heard. Over time I then started also entering these in to a spreadsheet but this meant double handling and the issue with errors being introduced. In late 2018 while still using pen and paper, I developed my own custom database, but I struggled to get this working how I wanted. Based on that I've decided to discontinue the development of the database system and just use a spreadsheet.

Digital: Working IT support, my next idea was to try and log directly in a digital method such as using a small laptop, tablet or smartphone. I tried doing this for a few times however I found that it slowed down at my log process substantially and I also had some issues with particularly tablets and smartphones not working well close to an AM broadcast Band radio, causing interference which made logging stations hard.

Recently I was cleaning out my garage when I came across my old eBook reader, it is a Hanvon n526 which is a very interesting device. As it uses a passive screen, it only consumes power when it is actually updating the screen information. It also doesn't have a backlight which means that the screen is excellent to use in daytime conditions where you have some sunlight direct on the screen. The most interesting feature about this Hanvon n526 eBook reader is that it has a full qwerty keyboard which allows you to enter notes which save as a text file.

I have now developed a process that I use for logging that I hear. I setup my Ultralight Radio DXing session using my radio, I also have my Hanvon n526 eBook reader. I open up a new notepad file and at top of that I enter the date, the time, the location and what radio I'm using. I then log what frequencies I hear active and beside them I add any notes on what I hear such as locations, call signs, advertising or anything else that would help me to confirm what stations I'm hearing. Once I finish my session, I plug my Hanvon n526 eBook ready into my laptop. I can then easily copy the text file to my laptop, from here I can add in any further information, make any changes and correct any incorrect information. I then save these text files into a folder on my laptop and I didn't delete the file off my eBook reader.

So far it has proven to work very well, it allows me to quickly log information that I hear in a digital format without having the issues of transferring from pen and paper. I keep a copy of my notes on my eBook reader which helps me to keep a track of what stations I have heard. I have also downloaded a range of PDF files onto my Hanvon n526 eBook reader, including a copy of the latest Mediumwave radio station list off the ACMA website.

One thing that I really love about this eBook reader is the fact that it easily fits in my radio case as you can see in the photos below. It slips in nicely in front of my 7.5” Loopstick equipped PL380. I can have that my other two AM radios and this for easy access when as I need it.

The other great thing is that using the Hanvon n526 eBook reader has allowed me to get rid of a lot of paper out of my Radio DXing kit. I still do keep a couple of pens and one log sheet, just for the off chance that for some reason my eBook reader fails when I need it the most.

In the short time that I using my eBook reader for this, it has been working extremely well. It makes the whole process quicker, easier and it reduces chances of errors been introduced into my logs.

Maybe 2019 could be the year that you move across to a digital logging system? if you are still using paper and pen. While I've only just started using this system, I think that it will work well for me and I love the fact that I can use this near my radios without any issues.

Photos: The Ultralight Radio Dxer: Going Paperless for Radio DXing
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
808
#2
In my case the electronic devices interfere with the radio too much... I use pen and paper, and some of the better loggings I enter into a spreadsheet, but lately I log it down less and less.
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2011
Messages
122
Location
Washington State
#3
In my case the electronic devices interfere with the radio too much... I use pen and paper, and some of the better loggings I enter into a spreadsheet, but lately I log it down less and less.

Very few stations QSL anymore so it kind of makes it a moot point to log your catches. On the other hand, if you don't send reception reports, they won't know how many listeners are out there! That , I'm sure, has a lot to do with broadcasters going off the air besides cut budgets!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
808
#4
I never did try for QSL's. I never sent reception reports, either -- whether to SW stations or MW DX stations, for that matter... I do post some Shortwave station loggings to the DXWorld SW Logbook from time to time (as well as on the thread here), and posted a lot of loggings on the DXWorld site in 2002-2003, and a few periods after I re-took up the hobby in 2011.

I have a stack of logbooks and sometimes I wonder why.
 
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,604
#5
One idea for minimalism is to use the built-in text processing command line tools of either a unix based system, or windows - basically making yourself independent of hardware changes or software rot.

Ie, using notepad for windows, or perhaps nano for a mac, create a text file named "swl.log"

For logging, we can create a free-form flat database if your log info on each station is no longer than a single line.

Example for logging Radio New Zealand into the swl.log file a line could look like this:

RNZI / 15720 / 0130utc / strong signals / dipole / Alinco R8T / fading towards end

Let's add another catch later in the day, (save the new line obviously) so now your swl.log file looks like this:

RNZI / 15720 / 0130utc / strong signals / dipole / Alinco R8T / fading towards end
RNZI / 9700 / 01800 utc / medium signals / vertical / Drake R8 / good music and interview


Just keep on adding catches to this file. In any format. You can slash it, put commas in it, or just blast it in with no formatting whatsoever.

So now with 500 catches in the swl.log text file, instead of using the text editor's find or search commands, just use the natural born tools that have been with us since about 1970 (for unix - windows has weaker tools, but still usable)

Show me all the catches I made with my Drake:

For a mac (unix based)
grep Drake swl.log

For windows based command tools - needs quotes around the command:
find "Drake" swl.log

How about we let unix do the counting for us? It will not only find all the catches I made with the Drake, but also count them up for me, by counting the lines the search was valid for. We'll pipe one command into another (grep into wc)

grep Drake swl.log | wc

I guess the point here is that if you want to be minimalistic (what unix was originally designed around) yet powerful, you can free yourself from being dependent upon spreadsheets, specific hardware, etc. Yet here we are 38 years later where the grep command is still able to do it's job well. You could find it on a DEC PDP11 back in the day, or on your latest Mac. Had you kept logs from the 1970's like this, you'd have NO problems dealing with it today!

Let's just bang a line into the swl.log file without even firing up an editor - just take your time about it. :)

Unix with cat:
cat BBC / 6175 / somewhere around midnight / great news show / Kenwood R600 / random wire >> swl.log

Windows with echo:
echo BBC / 6175 / somewhere around midnight / great news show / Kenwood R600 / random wire >> swl.log

I think you get the point - one doesn't have to be afraid of the command line. Just learn what you need to know to accomplish the job at hand, and if you want to know more, learn a little more. The command line has a bad rap because it is usually presented so poorly to newcomers - usually too much info at one time.

There is a lot you can do here and have a lot of fun. Most importantly, your swl log data will far outlive any hardware or specific software you have today. But what you learn about the command line will basically stay the same for 40 years plus!
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2014
Messages
59
#7
I'm all for reusing older hardware especially if it is minimalist in nature. For example, my next hf decoding pc is hased on old Intel server hardware where each cpu uses a max of 30 watts or so, and the vid card 15w. In keeping with the low current draw theme, laptop drives are employed, now to find some monitors that aren't current hogs and I'll be set. My present decoder sys is a current hog. Another benefit in reusing old server spec hardware is ecc memory and other high reliability items like scsi drives and so on, stuff designed to be left on for years with no problems is very nice to have around and is cheap on the used market.
 

belvdr

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
310
#8
In case someone is looking to do this, some commands are incorrect and others can be improved upon.
For a mac (unix based)

grep Drake swl.log
Linux, BSD, and macOS are case sensitive. If you happen to type DRake, drake, and Drake, the above command will only find one occurrence. It might be beneficial to perform a case-insensitive search instead using the -i :
Code:
grep -i drake swl.log
How about we let unix do the counting for us? It will not only find all the catches I made with the Drake, but also count them up for me, by counting the lines the search was valid for. We'll pipe one command into another (grep into wc)

grep Drake swl.log | wc
This counts bytes, words, as well as newlines. You need to add an option and, if desired, make it a case-insensitive search, if you want the line count only:
Code:
grep -i drake swl.log | wc -l
Alternatively, if your version of grep supports it:
Code:
grep -c -i drake swl.log
Let's just bang a line into the swl.log file without even firing up an editor - just take your time about it. :)

Unix with cat:

cat BBC / 6175 / somewhere around midnight / great news show / Kenwood R600 / random wire >> swl.log
cat is used to list a file's contents. echo is the correct method, just like Windows:
Code:
echo BBC / 6175 / somewhere around midnight / great news show / Kenwood R600 / random wire >> swl.log
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2012
Messages
1,000
Location
Tasmania
#9
Well it has been a couple of weeks since I swapped over, so fair it is working well for me. No issues as such, just getting my process sorted out.
 
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