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Amateur radio log book

Why keep a log book of every single contact you have ever had? You don't see anyone keeping a log book of their mobile phone calls, do you? Well amateur radio operators keep log books simply because each contact they have over the air is a special event and is worth recording. When you speak to someone on the air it is both a remarkable achievement and a privilege all at the same time. It is a remarkable achievement because you have built your own radio station and at exactly that moment in time the earth's ionosphere decided that it would propagate your signals far and wide. It is a privilege because the person you are speaking to totally shares the same enthusiasm with radio and has gone to the same lengths just to talk to you. There is an immediate bond of friendship when this happens for the first time and that is what is worth remembering. Log books can be very useful indeed. Apart from reminding you of the name of someone you have spoken to before, they can also tell you a lot about which bands work the best and at what times.

Without a log book the following on-air conversation would be quite impossible: "Hi John, I see from the log we spoke about a year ago. You were running portable in Hawaii then. I guess you are back home now. Did you ever finish that antenna you were working on? How is Jenny and the kids, by the way?." A log book always helps break the ice and jog the memory.

Log books aren't always just books either. These days log books can be programs on computers, apps on mobile devices and web sites on the Internet, so you can take them with you just about anywhere you go.

Of course, If you are into contests, log books are mandatory. They provide essential evidence of the number of contacts you have had or the number of countries you have contacted. They often have to be submitted to contest organizers in order to win awards.

Introduction

A log book contains records of on-air contacts. It has the date and time in UTC. The amateur radio band, frequency and mode used. The call sign of the station contacted. Their name. The Readability, signal Strength and Tone (RST) reports sent and received. An example log book is shown below.

Log book

Preparation

You will need:

  1. Blank printed log book pages for each student.
  2. Pencils and erasers for each student.
  3. A working HF amateur radio, power supply and antenna
  4. A 24-hour UTC clock (A smart phone will do).

Activity

  1. Allow the students to take it turns tuning in stations.
  2. When an amateur QSO is heard, the students must each identify the call signs and names of the two stations.
  3. They use the UTC clock to determine the date and time. (Be careful about the date)
  4. They must also use the HF radio to determine their band, frequency, mode and signal strengths.
  5. Then, in their log book page, they each record the date and time in UTC. The amateur radio band, frequency and mode used. The call sign of the stations heard. Their names. Their Readability, signal Strength and Tone (RST) reports received. They can leave the sent RST field blank.

Girl operating a station with open logbook on desk Girl operating station with open logbook on desk

Homework

  1. Next time a friend, or a family member, asks you to do something say "Roger, QSL, reading you 5 and 9, over".