Simple logging software for a newbie

Discussion in 'OS: Mac OS' started by KK6ISN, Nov 28, 2016.

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  1. KK6ISN

    KK6ISN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am just getting into the hobby and started looking at logging software as a place to keep notes. I'm not interested in QSL cards or contesting right now, just a place to keep a variety of notes. Here's the type of things I'd like to track:
    - Notes from scanning. I'm trying to figure out local activity, so I started with a list of local repeaters, the data is pretty dirty, so I need to make notes on which ones are active, how well i receive them, if I hear voice modes or not, etc.

    - Which local clubs use which repeaters

    - Schedule of regular nets, log of notes each time I join

    - Rig changes: equipment, settings, test results

    - Actual contact log with a person

    I'm using a MacBook and I'd prefer to do this on OSX, but I do have a Windows 8 VM if the right software is Windows only. I'm already using Windows for the Kenwood programming software. I've looked at a few of the popular packages and they all seemed aimed at logging individual contacts, or contesting of some sort. I really just want a sort of journal, but ideally something that understood a few key pieces of data I could search on like call sign, frequency, date, etc. Is there a plain "logbook"?
  2. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    For the stuff you're looking for, a normal logbook won't cover all of that. They are designed for something like your last option: actual contal log with a person. However, there is a solution already on your Mac. The Notes app, especially if you're using El Capitan or Sierra. It is perfect for what you're trying to do. You can create folders, add all kinds of data to the notes' pages, and back it all up to your

    You can keep your contact log in Numbers, if you're looking for something a bit simplier than the existing logbooks. However, none of the logbooks are terribly complicated, so it wouldn't hurt to try them.

  3. K8AJS

    K8AJS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Notes and Numbers are good suggestions, but I've always been resistant to using spreadsheet software for a database, like trying to put a round peg into a square hole. My suggestion for an inexpensive (read: free) solution that may work for you would be to try using the database tools in Open Office

    Or NeoOffice (the free level is limited, but the Classic Edition at $15 is still very affordable).

    In both of these, you can build databases that suit your particular desires for record keeping, and if you decide to move to a more traditional logging program later, you'll have some experience to draw from for later choosing your tools.

    Hope this helps.


    John K8AJS
    K3DCW likes this.
  4. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Very true, which is why I recommended it only if the existing logbooks were not simple enough. If the logbook software isn't simple enough, then building his own database may be too difficult too; not that the OP gave us an idea of his technical ability, just his desires. I was trying to cover all bases.

    The ideal solution, IMO, is a dedicated logbook software package, with Notes used for the stuff that doesn't fit into the logbook (like schedules and repeaters and rig changes and the such).
  5. K8AJS

    K8AJS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree, but I was working on the premise that the OP seems to want very little of what we hams prize in logbook software: DXCC recordkeeping, QSL recordkeeping, and "Actual contact with a person" was last on his list. I approached it from a personal recordkeeping standpoint rather than a ham radio standpoint, since very little of what he wants is ham radio-specific.

    There are other tools; for his desires a larger investment could bring tools like DEVONthink or Evernote, both of which would do an excellent job of keeping and organizing the kind of notes and records he says he needs.

    Like you, I'm all for using a ham radio logbook that is expressly designed for keeping the kind of records the ham radio operator wants and needs, experimenting with the choices available until you find the one that best does the job. Maybe that's just me.

  6. KK6ISN

    KK6ISN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the feedback! A few comments, mostly context I didn't provide originally
    - The "actual contact with a person" being last was intentional, but not because I don't value that. it's just that all the existing software seems good at only that and I wanted to de-emphasize it.

    - I'm already a dedicated Evernote user and this is what I'm using now for my log book.

    - When it comes to computers and software, I'm very technical. But I appreciate you all not assuming one way or the other in an effort to be helpful. If I don't find a dedicated existing package I'll keep using Evernote or build something in a spreadsheet or DB. I'm capable of writing my own, but I do that for a living and already have a software project as part of another hobby so I'm a bit maxed out there for time/effort.

    - Regarding the spreadsheet as DB problem..boy, I've suckered myself into that one too many times! The second I think I want another "table" I try to remember I'm not using the right tool for the job. A spreadsheet does seem like a fit for this, until I say that I want to search either by callsign (of person or repeater station), date range, or something in the notes.

    What I'm going to do for now is keep using Evernote with a bit of structure to my "log entries" land see what type of notes I take for a few weeks. Its searching does well for me for other types of things. If it ends up being frustrating or not giving me something, I should be able to articulate what it is missing and that should guide my choice for the next solution. Finally, thanks for the pointer to DEVONthink, I haven't seen that before. I'll take a look.
  7. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Sounds like you have a good plan going forward. Feel free to let us know if you need any assistance or other guidance.

  8. KM4WJR

    KM4WJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can create Evernote templates to include all the criteria you want.
  9. AI6AK

    AI6AK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a MacBook Pro and Rumlog. Works great.
  10. WB0MPB

    WB0MPB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As for actual logging I use "N3FJP Software" logging software. I tried many different programs and found none that compared to this one Scott developed. If I remember right the license for N3FJP software is $35.00 but it well worth it. I have tried about all the free ones and non of them compare at all to Scott's logging software.

    As for the other stuff use what works. I have a few spread sheets I have made for different things like tracking my county hunting and WAS from EQSL and LoTW and Direct cards. I stopped using Microsoft office when I found LibreOffice. It is free and I think it works MUCH better than office.

    So that is what I do.

    John, WB0MPB

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