Recently, this past weekend in fact, I came to the realization that I wish I had been keeping a better station notebook. You don’t hear a lot about this and occasionally one of the Youtube bunch will mention that everyone should keep a station notebook.
I do have a station notebook, but I don’t keep a lot of good notes in it (actually I don’t keep a lot of notes in it–good or bad). Mostly right now it has a list of the antennas mounted on the house and what function/band each antenna handles. It is not just one or two antennas on the house, but there are 7 currently and over the next couple of months there will be a few more added.
I have had too much cross talk on a few of the antennas so I have had to keep records of what frequencies are in use to know how that may affect other nearby antennas. So the notebook does assist me in coordinating where an antenna should be placed and limit the amount of interference experienced.
What triggered me this past weekend started several weeks ago when on a regular weekly net I was getting reports from other stations saying that my signal was pretty low and my audio was not as it normally is. From the reports it was as if I was nearing the range of the repeater with a good amount of noise on top of my signal. That might be acceptable if I were mobile and near the range of the repeater, but I was sitting at home. As far as I know there have not been any cataclysmic events that would have caused the house and the repeater to move several dozen miles away from one another. But who knows maybe I was sleeping late one morning….
I have since had the opportunity to pull the antenna down to inspect it and the coax. After reinstalling the antenna it has gotten slightly better but it does not seem to be back to the way it has traditionally performed. Probably just disconnecting the coax and reconnecting it helped a bit.
Anyway, I came to the realization that I need to perform monthly (at at least periodically) testing of all the antennas and record the results. As it is, I have not real data telling me how any of my antennas were performing when they were installed. So I have to rely on what many (most) hams do–their faulty memories.
To fix this from becoming an issue again, I am working toward keeping a historical record of the antenna analyzer measurements for each antenna in the station notebook. This way I can keep from getting in the situation where I have a sub-standard antenna when I need it in a deployment.
I am certain that there are many more things that should be getting included in the station notebook. I would love to hear from other hams as to what items are recorded in their station notebooks. So leave a comment below with suggestions of what other things should be included in a station notebook.
If you don’t have a station notebook, I challenge you to start one and work toward keeping your station operating at a higher level.