You are currently viewing all posts tagged with writing.

Recent Inks

Goulet Pens will sell you sample vials of ink. I took advantage of this to expand beyond my long-time staple of Noodler’s 19001 Black, without ending up with a bunch of full bottles I wasn’t going to use. Mostly I was looking for a blue. I came out the other side with two new favorites – neither of which are really blue.

Noodler’s 19808 Heart of Darkness is more black than black. It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black. It also dries relatively quickly, and writes well on the cheap paper one often encounters out and about in the world.

Noodler’s 19040 Air Corp Blue-Black isn’t really much of a blue-black. It is more of a teal-black. It’s a really pretty shade, and unique, but still subtle enough that it can be used anyplace there aren’t strict color requirements. This one also dries relatively quickly, and writes well on the vulgar paper of the unrefined. This ink loaded in my Pilot Vanishing Point is my daily writer now.

Working through all these sample vials over the last few months also caused me to move away from piston converter cartridges. I now just use standard cartridges, and refill them with a syringe and needle. This ends up being quicker, cleaner, and less hassle. It also means I can use the last little bit of ink in the container, without buying a snorkel.

The FMP Cutting Board

I previously mentioned that I install Rhodia pads in my Field Message Pad backwards, such that the thick cardboard backing is on top. This way when I open the pad, the cardboard provides a surface for writing on the back of the pages, where otherwise I would be writing on top of the FMP cover’s tool slots and the stuff carried within them. This means the other side of the pad has a less firm backing. On a fresh pad this is not an issue, but can become one as pages are consumed and the thickness of the stack of remaining pages is reduced.

My latest innovation in Field Message Pad technology is the addition of a cutting board.

FMP Cutting Board

I keep a number of thin HDPE cutting boards on hand at home. I don’t use these in the kitchen, where I care about my knives, but as project mats. If I’m gluing something, or cutting material with a utility knife, I’ll throw one of these mats down to protect the work surface.

I traced a 4x6” square out on one of these, cut it out with a utility knife, and gave the 4 corners a few passes with a file. The resulting piece slides down the back slot of the FMP cover, behind the notebook. With this underneath, and the Rhodia’s cardboard backing on top, I have a firm writing surface from the first page of the notebook to the last, on both sides of the page.

FMP Cutting Board

Being able to take notes on a stable surface while standing up, with the FMP in one hand and a pen in the other, feels like a super power.

Also, I always have an A6-sized cutting board with me now. Perhaps for impromptu charcuterie.

FMP Load-Out

My Field Message Pad is currently loaded with:

  • Pilot Vanishing Point, Fine Nib with a Pilot CON-40 piston converter loaded with Noodler’s Blue-Black. This is my new favorite human input device, but I got mine on eBay for a little less than half list price. I’ve been trying the blue-black ink for a few weeks now, but will probably go back to Noodler’s Black.
  • rOtring 800 loaded with Pentel Ain Stein 0.5 mm HB lead. This is another thing I only own because I found one for less than half the list price. I carried a rOtring 600 in the FMP for years, but I always get stressed about the thin metal tip. The 800 could conceivably be temporarily moved to a pocket if the situation warrants, unlike the pokey 600. And the twist mechanism is fun to play with. Both rOtring pencils are pieces of industrial art, in the same category as Curta calculators, but realistically they are no more functional than the much cheaper Staedtler 925. Quality lead made me reevaluate my previous dislike of mechanical pencils.
  • Fisher Space Pen M4. Sometimes you need to write off-planet. In pen.
  • Zebra Onamae Mackee. I used to carry a Sharpie. Then I decided to check if the Japanese had invented a better Sharpie. It turns out the answer is yes, they have.
  • CountyComm Titanium 15CM Ruler. For many years I carried the General Tools 300/1, but mine became bowed. This is a titanium knock-off of the same. The matte finish makes it harder to read, but I use this more as a straight edge than a measuring device. The bowed-ness of the General Tools stainless version is annoying in that application. The titanium version has been in my kit for 3 years and so far it is still straight and flat.

FMP Human Input Devices

A 14mm binder clip secures used pages, allowing the pad to quickly be flipped to a blank (or currently in progress) page.

I still primarily use the Rhodia A6 pads. I install them backwards, so that the cardboard backing is on top. This provides a writing surface to more easily utilize the back of the pages. Otherwise I’m writing on top of the FMP’s tool slots, which is annoying. (The thing the Canadians got right is to put heavy cardboard on both sides.)

When expecting inclement conditions, I drop the fountain pen and the Rhodia, and install a Rite in the Rain *46. But given my druthers, it’s all fountain pen all the time.

FMP Load-Out

The Mnemosyne Memo Pad

The Field Message Pad remains my primary writing setup. One of its strengths is the ability to switch between pads from Rite in the Rain and Rhodia.

The Field Memo Pad is a useful substitute for quick and short notes. I have multiple, which I keep stashed in different places and bags. But its weakness is that it is dependent upon the Rite in the Rain pad. When not outdoors, I like having the option of switching to normal (fountain pen friendly) paper.

I recently discovered the Maruman Mnemosyne N192A Twin Ring Memo Pad. They label this as B7, which ISO 216 defines as 3.5 x 4.9 inches. But in fact the N129A does not meet the standard. It is instead 3 x 5 inches. This is identical to the Rite in the Rain 135, making it a perfect substitute in this kit.

Mnemosyne Memo Pads

The paper in the N129A is lined, rather than graphed. This is unfortunate, but for my application I’m willing to overlook this imperfection.

In one of my kits I dropped a magnet down the back pocket. This pad now lives on my refrigerator, perfect for grocery lists and other kitchen related notes.

Fridge Notes

A Better Clipboard

One of the things I learned over the years at 2 Meter Critical Mass and other radio events is the value of a good clipboard. The Field Message Pad or Field Memo Pad or even the Field Notebook are great for my own notes, but when responding with a radio on behalf of an agency, said agency will probably have official log and message forms, and those forms will probably be on 8.5” x 11” paper. A clipboard is an important tool for making those forms usable in the field.

Many people end up with a Gibson approved Saunders Storage Clipboard. They’re nice, but too bulky for my tastes. I use a WhiteCoat Clipboard.

These clipboards are hinged, allowing them to fold in half. They are intended to be folded so that they fit in the pocket of a lab coat and protect patient information from shoulder surfing. But when folded they also fit well into a decent sized cargo pocket, or larger jacket pockets. Folding the clipboard also provides some protection to the paper itself. Even if you’re just putting it in a pack, it’s nice to be able to fold the board and not worry about the paper becoming wrinkled.

The WhiteCoat Clipboard is available with different quick reference medical stickers. None of these are extremely useful to me. I went with the EMT Edition because it has a scale for estimating pupil size, which is something I have struggled with in the past. I’ve considered printing my own stickers to put on the board – perhaps with some kind of radio reference material – but I haven’t decided what information would be useful to include.

A simple rubber band is available to secure the bottom edge of the paper. This is critical to one’s sanity in windy conditions. A pen clip to keep your Fisher Space Pen M4B close to hand completes the package.

The system is overpriced, but I am very happy with its functionality.

The Field Memo Pad

While I still believe in the supremacy of the 4” x 6” Field Message Pad, there are times when something smaller is wanted. Perhaps you need something more pocketable, or you have little room in your bag, and you only need small sheets for incidental notes. For these situations I use the Field Memo Pad.

Field Memo Pad

The Field Memo Pad is built around the Mil-Spec Monkey Notebook Cover Plus. This holds 3” x 5” top-bound spiral notebooks, such as the Rite in the Rain 935T. These notebooks are large enough for incidental note taking, and slide easily into a pocket. “Slide” is perhaps not the correct word when the notebook cover is added. The cover is made of Hypalon, which is quite tacky. However this is a feature, not a bug. When you are seated or kneeling and using your leg as a writing surface, the tackiness prevents the pad from slipping around, which is actually quite useful.

Field Message Pad vs. Field Memo Pad

Field Message Pad vs. Field Memo Pad

The rear flap of the notebook slides into a pocket on the front of the cover. An identical pocket sits on the other side of the cover. I use this rear pocket to hold a few business cards and a universal device reset tool (it’s also a great place for your Bogota Pi picks). An elastic band across the bottom of the cover marks your current page, making it easy to flip to wherever you left off when opening the notebook. Two elastic bands on either side hold writing instruments. I most often use these to keep a Fisher Space Pen 400B Bullet with clip and a black Sharpie Mini, though full-sized writing tools will also fit. The spiral binding of the notebook sits above the top of the cover, allowing the notebook to be opened and folded over completely.

Field Memo Pad

The Field Memo Pad provides everything needed for an all-weather analog data dump, in a pocket friendly format.

Use #361 for the Thyrm CellVault is storage of spare ink cartridges.

I keep half a dozen of the aforementioned fine Fisher cartridges (black, red, and blue), as well as a Parker Ballpoint Refill and a Parker Gel Refill in a standard CellVault. Keeping small, infrequently used items like that organized is key for future sanity.

I prefer to use the fine cartridge in my Fisher Space Pens.

The difference in line width is negligible – only noticeable when compared side-by-side – but the fine cartridge writes more smoothly and avoids the build-up at the tip that often occurs when the medium cartridge is unused for some time.