In many ways, I’m old school. While I love leveraging technology to make the most of my radio world, I also have a sincere appreciation for simple “analog world” solutions to my needs.
I’m a notepad guy.
When I moved to France to do undergraduate studies in the early 90s, I became reliant on small notepads to keep my brain organized and maintain some sense of sanity. I kept one in my pocket, my backpack, and had larger notepads for each one of my classes. It was in France I discovered the amazingly wide variety of notepads that could be found in a Papeterie or stationery store. While I could hardly afford notepads and pens/pencils I found in those stores, I did occasionally splurge.
To this day, I keep notepads in my EDC bag and near my radio desk. I find that the act of writing something down–pen to paper–locks thoughts/memos in my memory much better than taking notes on a digital device.
If you’ve followed any of my field reports for Parks On The Air (POTA) here on the SWLing Post or on QRPer.com, you’ve probably seen me employ a wide variety of note pads and logging sheets.
While I often do live logging with my Microsoft Surface Go tablet to speed up log submissions, I always log on paper first. Always.
For one thing, when I’m copying a callsign in Morse Code (CW), I prefer writing down the call as it’s being sent. Regardless if a contact is in CW or phone, I copy the callsign and exchange information on paper first, then immediately transfer it to my logging software on the tablet. I carry the Surface Go tablet with me on about 75% of my field activations, but leave it at home if I’m doing a substantial amount of hiking.
Not only do I find it easier to log on paper first, but by having a full set of logs in notebooks, I know I’ve got a proper archive of the activation if my tablet fails me.
Plus–if I’m being completely honest here–I love seeing my handwritten logs after an activation. It gives me more of a sense of accomplishment for some reason. Don’t ask me why.
Muji A6 Notebooks
A couple months ago, I was searching for a notepad that could easily fit in one of my compact field radio kits.
My wife (an artist) suggested I check out Muji Notepads of Japan because she’s both pleased with the quality and price as compared with other quality notebooks. She measured my field kit pack and suggested the Muji A6 lined notebook. On Amazon, they’re sold in packs of 5 books for $12.00 US. I was skeptical about the size, but placed an order anyway.
Each book has 30 pages which means if I write on the front and back of each sheet, it should last me up to 30 average park activations (assuming roughly 25-40 contacts per activation). Since my activations tend to be short, it’s rare that I exceed 40 contacts.
I purchased a pack of five notebooks and put one notebook in each of my radio field kits. I even dedicate one for my Elecraft AX1 antenna kit.
I love these Muji notepads–they’re compact and thin, but the paper quality is nice and it’s large enough I can use “normal” hand writing. While I tend to prefer spiral-bound notebooks for logging, I like the binding on these notebooks because it doesn’t catch on anything and keeps the profile super thin which is perfect for small packs and cases. The pages lay flat once open, too.
For the record, I also keep a few Rite in the Rain weatherproof notebooks handy if I’m heading to a park or summit after heavy rainfall, if there’s the possibility of rain in the forecast, or if I’m camping. They’re also indispensable. The Muji Noteboooks aren’t designed to handle water, but in truth it’s very rare that I’m playing radio in the rain. I prefer the slim profile of the Muji Notebooks for day-to-day field work.
I just ordered another pack of five this Muji A6 Notebooks this week and plan to put one in my portable SDR kit, and two of my portable receiver kits. In truth, my shortwave radio logs are less organized than my ham radio logs, but I’m constantly jotting down broadcasters, times, frequencies and receiver performance notes.
Click here to check out Muji A6 Notebooks on Amazon (affiliate link supports the SWLing Post).
Love shopping at Jet Pens for Japanese stationary products. I too find writing something down helps me retain it better. It also gives me another excuse to use my fountain pens as well. Not so much outside in the in the Pacific Northwest though. That is what pencils are for.
Check out the Dango Products D01 Dapper Pen Wallet. You will ALWAYS have a pen and notepad with you for quick notes.
I am no affiliated with Dango at all – just a happy customer.
This post grabbed my attention. Only recently back to SWL after a 50 year hiatus, I naturally turned to paper and pen but then explored numerous digital logs. Trying many, I’ve stuck with a cheap spiral notebook and Bic pen. I listen mostly to Ham bands and take notes trying to figure out the contact (many hams give call signs too infrequently and hard to hear). So my paper log is a mishmash of info and notes. When I score a contact where I can hear at least two contacts, it goes into the digital log.
BTW, thoughts on writing instruments…? In the picture, it looks like you used a pencil.
Personally, I buy bags of the old Bic Crystal pens (blue) and student note books in the fall when they go on sale at Staples. I have a stack of them.
Thanks for the posting.
In Australia, we have something called “nu: Tradie Waterproof Notebook.” It works great and I always keep an A5 sized notepad in my Shortwave Gopack.
Most pen shops (generally promoting fountain pens) have various stationery packets
Jetpens.com out of San Jose, Calf. has major supply of Japanese (and German and Swiss) stuffs.
Multiple options, sizes and such of notebooks, notepads and so on.
See the long left-hand column of options to narrow the selections. Several tutorials and videos.
Nothing is exclusive to Jetpens
Try searching Bing with [ pen shops near me ] [ pen shops near North Carolina ] and so on.
The bigger cities have more money, so have more shops. Many “pen shops” are in luxury hotels, but the paper books are the same. Eg. https://greerchicago.com/collections/journals
Muji is Japanese design, manufactured in China. They have 17 shops in the United States, and 505 around the world.
( In July 2020, Muji USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. [ https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/07/10/business/corporate-business/muji-u-s-files-bankruptcy-citing-pandemic-shutdowns/ ]
Muji.com is the Global corporate site
Muji.net is the Japanese site.
Notebooks, notepads etc and other stationery at:
Muji marketing slogan “lower priced for a reason”.
(and don’t fall for the Moleskine “history.” They are modern way of using paper notes
Yet another thing I didn’t add to the calculation when I decided to live the high (frequency) life: Finest sought out international station stationery! Traditionally using malfunctioning ballpens to chisel unreadable characters into whatever comes across (bills, parking tickets, used envelopes, cigarette packs, vegetables), I feel like caveman now.
To my defense I gotta report that your influence so far was strong enough that I decided to not wrap my 705 in whatever sack I can find but to get a halfways fitting small-ish (camera-) bag for the 705 and required accessories as an interim arrangement until you recommend a classy little bag that’s a) available in the EU and b) just big enough for my field kit and c) sturdy and somewhat forgiving in rough weather (hint, hint, nudge, nudge!). 🙂
Let’s not forget Rite In The Rain’s series of waterproof pens and mechanical pencils, too! This company is based in Tacoma, WA a few miles west of my home. Rite In The Rain’s products are proudly made in Tacoma in the heart of the drizzly Pacific Northwest :^)
….in his Muji, no doubt!
[btw I _never_ write down anything on air – force of habit by being a copy-in-the-head CW/morse addict only. Waterproof? I’ve bought only Toughbook computers for the last 15 years and I wouldn’t buy anything else.]
Clairefontaine and Rhodia here… with a Kaweco Sport fountain pen and Parker Jotter mechanical pencil.
Best regards form another paper addict.
I LOVE Rhodia pads, too! I need to check out the Parker Jotter! Thanks!
Hi Thomas, interesting point of view but why not test Fabriano EcoQua, Carta per Notebook (A4, 85g/ m², 5 mm)? It is a luxury notebook from Italy. (please see http://www.fedrigoni.com) 73 Patrizio
Patrizio… I’m from Jesi 😀
Hi Andrew, I’am a engineering technician in paper production from Fabriano school, nice to meet you here. 73 Patrizio ([email protected])
Thomas, don’t get me started about my moleskine notebooks 🙂
Ha ha ha!!!!