Aviation kneeboard with a paper pad that has a matrix of callsign suffixes and signal strength numbers.

Solving a dorky problem – writing things down

Greetings, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. I’ve had some things cooking in the background and have a few posts to write about some things I’ve been doing that aren’t especially interesting but could be helpful none the less. This post is about something that seems a bit silly, but is actually pretty important… the ability to easily and comfortably write things down while operating in places without writing surfaces.

I ended up stumbling across something that pilots had been using for quite some time: aviation kneeboards. The advantage of these is that they’re designed to be strapped to a leg and for situations where space is constrained like a cockpit. This concept maps nicely to vehicles or any spot where you can lay down in a supine position and bend a leg or sit. Most situations I’m in when operating in the wilderness it’s nice to not have to deal with a folding table when I’m in an odd spot or simply don’t want to carry one on a hike. As long as I can sit in a relatively normal position or lay in the back of a vehicle or on a bed it’s easy to use.

It was useful to have something big enough to easily record dozens of callsigns for one weekly net I participate in. It’s easiest to track all the participating stations’ callsigns on a single sheet of paper for easy counting and reference. A 6×9″ tablet had been working for me previously so I sought out something that could accommodate one. A company called Battle Board made a “medium” aviation kneeboard that could hold the tablet I was using. I picked this one for a number of reasons including a clipboard attachment that can be used for other kinds of documents, markers for the polycarbonate window that can be erased, and a plastic sleeve that can be used to protect maps or other documents from water. I suspect any similar device could work just as well, but this one could be used for other things I’m interested in doing.

This works by setting it on top of your leg and pulling the elastic band behind it and attaching the adjustable metal hook to some elastic bands on the back of the cloth flap with the mesh pocket. I’ve used this in a number of locations from bed with a bent leg, in a vehicle, in a camping chair, and sitting on large rocks. It works pretty well and easily slides into a backpack. It’s pretty comfortable and does a reasonably good job of staying put. There are elastic retention straps that easily secure the top and bottom of the tablet using the cardboard backing. The mesh pocket on this specific one can be used as a phone holder. It also holds a ‘rite in the rain’ notebook so it’s still useful in inclement weather.