Logbooks And Record Keeping

What are logbooks?

Logbooks are something most radio hams use to keep a record of their activities. In almost all countries it is a condition of their licence to maintain an accurate record of transmissions. This is no longer a requirement in the UK, however it is good station practice to do so.
Some circumstances are excluded. When using a radio mobile it would be impractical to make a logbook entry while driving, for example.

Why keep a logbook?

The main reasons for keeping an accurate up to date logbook are:

  • Legal – In some countries it is a legal requirement to keep a log. A log of all transmissions may also be used to prove innocence in the unlikely event of a complaint that you were causing interference.
  • Operational – Having a log of the contacts is essential for completing the details on any QSL cards you wish to send, or entering radio contests.
  • Personal – The log is a personal radio history. You can look back over the different contacts that have been made with other stations.

What information is required?

The very minimum information that needs to be in the log is:

  1. Date
  2. Time contact started & finished – normally in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)
  3. Frequency of transmission / reception
  4. Mode of transmission
  5. Callsign of the station contacted

Additional information of the contact may be added as personally required. For example, I also log signal reports, names, locations and comments. Some people also like to record antennas, power, propagation conditions etc.

How Do I Keep a log?

A log can be kept on paper or computer or both depending on your personal preference.
My log is kept as an SQL database on one of my radio computers.
When I’m operating at a portable location, I keep a paper log, transferring the information to my main log as time allows.
Below is an extract from my actual logbook which is automatically updated approximately every five minutes when I’m on the air.

I also automatically upload a copy to various online logbooks which allows operators to search my log and display brief contact details.

Latest entries in my online logbooks

Below are brief details of the last few contacts added to my HRDLOG.net logbook, updated in real time as I enter them into the log. If my call shows as G7H, the contact was made in a contest using my contest call. You can click on the “My Logbook” link to view the full log.

Another online logbook I use is Clublog