A Backpack Radio Lap Desk

It isn’t always easy to find a picnic bench just where you need one for outdoor radio operations. Quite often a compromise is necessary. That is where my lap comes in handy. Somewhere convenient to put the logging notepad, writing instrument, CW paddles and a small clock for logging the time when contacts are made.

I have experimented with many configurations of “lap desk”. I have even tried strapping my key to one knee and balancing my logging notebook on the other knee. That didn’t work for me.

So, the latest iteration of the VA3KOT backpack portable radio lap desk is shown in the picture. It is functional, not elegant, but it works very well for my needs. It incorporates my home built bulldog clip key. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this key works. I expected rather flakey performance but it beat all my expectations. And best of all, it cost me only a buck or so to buy enough bulldog clips to make half a dozen keys.

Another recent change was the switch from a cheap dollar store spiral bound notebook for logging to a very expensive “Rite in the Rain” notebook. It took a while for me to be convinced that a small thin notebook was worth the hefty price tag. But then one afternoon I was sitting under a tree completing my logs for a POTA activation. A gust of wind caught the tree which shook and emptied the water off its leaves right onto my logbook. That was it; I was sold.

I like using gel pens for taking notes they write very smoothly on regular paper, but don’t work on “Rite in the Rain” paper unless it remains dry. I switched to pencils. Pencil leads break, or wear out just when you need them. My solution was to sharpen both ends of two pencils to give me four chances to complete my notes and logs!

Finally, the board on which everything is mounted is a standard US Letter size clipboard. I moved the clip to where I needed it and glued a thick rubber pad underneath to make it softer on my lap. Now off to the field for another season of outdoor ham radio.

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