Tuesday, February 28, 2017
The Station Notebook
Some years later, I had a small steno-style notebook lying around, and I used it to record certain information. Like the exact color-code of the RS-232 cables I wired up for my computer. That sort of thing was handy to have written down, because it saved a lot of reverse-engineering later I went to make another cable. But that was about it.
Perhaps a dozen years ago, I read a couple of articles about James Lawson, W2PV, and how he kept copious notebooks about his station. He even solved a sticky problem during a contest, because he kept notes about his antenna installation.
After that, I started writing more things down in my little Steno notebook. Most of it was changes I made to the station -- radios or antenna modifications. Or if something big happened -- like I blew up the amplifier. I recorded a lot more details, and I put dates on everything.
But when I began to spend most of my time out in Floyd County it put my little steno notebook out of reach. I had a new station and I still wanted to keep notes. My solution was dead simple -- I created a text document using TextEdit. I called it Floyd County Station Log.
Looking at it today, it's more like a diary. Each month, I put in a new heading: March 2017. And below that I record anything interesting that I do. I record the things that work, and I also record the things that don't work! If I don't do anything that month, I'll just change the heading to the next month.
The bottom of this document has a list of projects to be worked on. Silly now, since I'm no longer at that QTH: 6m antenna, K9AY controller, 20m and 30m traps for the dipole, tribander-Moxon times 3 (now that's an interesting project I'll need to write about some day!), remote antenna switch, etc.
This method worked so well, in May 2015, I adopted it for my main station log. Not only did I make new entries, but I also entered all the data from the steno notebook. Plus, I went back through all of my contest comment submissions and recorded all the changes I had made to the station from November 1994 to date.
Today the Gwinnett County Station Log is a reasonably complete record of all the things I've done with the station for the last 22+ years. It has six pages of project notes at the end. Lots of stuff to work on! And, yes, I also have a smaller document for the Walton County Station Log.
I guess my point is that having a station notebook is extremely valuable. It doesn't matter if you use a small steno notebook, a spiral-bound notebook, a composition book with graph paper, a loose-leaf notebook, or a computer document. The important thing is to find a style that works for you to keep notes. After a while, there's just too much to try to remember. So keep good notes.