What Is It?
POTA (Parks on The Air) is a part of Ham Radio that is growing in popularity. It starts when a Ham Radio operator travels to a National, State or County Park that is listed on the POTA website. They set up their equipment and try to make radio contact with other Ham Radio operators. There are many ways to communicate but the most common modes are SSB (talking on radio) and CW (like morse code).
First, Some History
I have been fascinated with radios for as long as I can remember. I have many fond memories as a child, playing with my hand-held short-wave radios. I am certain that these radios played a role when choosing my profession, a pilot for a major airline. This passion for radios re-kindled in 2017 when I revisited the Ham Radio hobby. All Ham Radio operators have a unique call sign. It's what identifies them on the radio and is assigned by the FCC when licensed. Mine is KB4CO.
Let's Go Camping
A friend of mine Tommy (K4VOZ) and I had been trying to get together for a long time and decided to go camping at Arkabutla Lake State Recreation Area in Mississippi. This park is listed on the POTA website as a place to transmit or operate from. This is called activating a park. Each park has a unique identifier in POTA and this park's ID is K-7124. This camping trip also coincided with ARRL Field Day. ARRL Field Day is when a lot of Ham Radio operators go out into the field and try to make as many contacts with other operators as possible.
We set up our camp and radios on Friday with the anticipation of activating the park the next morning early. We were on the air about 55 minutes and logged 20 contacts. I worked SSB and Tommy worked CW. I was glad Tommy was there to work the CW as my skills are still a work in progress. The pictures above and below are of the antenna set up.
The radio I used was a Yaesu FT891 with a FC50 tuner.
The power source was a Bioenno Power BLF 1230A battery
Power Film Solar F16-3600 60watt solar panel.
BuddiPole Power mini support pole
Chameleon MPAS 2.0 antenna.
Elecraft KX2 QRP radio
Bioenna BLF-1209A battery
Logging the Contacts
Below is the log we used to log all the contacts we made from the park. We had a great time and would encourage any Ham Radio operator that hasn't done POTA to give it a try.
Hope to hear you on the Ham Radio bands soon or out on the trails.