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Old June 14th 21, 06:15 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated,rec.radio.amateur.homebrew,uk.radio.amateur,free.uk.amateur-radio
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Default [M0IAX] Parks On the Air - How to


M0IAX

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Parks On the Air - How to

Posted: 13 Jun 2021 01:10 AM PDT
https://m0iax.com/2021/06/13/parks-on-the-air-how-to/



I do most of my Amateur Radio operation and for the most part I use the
digital mode JS8CALL picking a spot to set up somewhere in the great
outdoors and spend a couple of hours on the radio.




But sometimes its nice to have a purpose on a radio day and also check out
how well our equipment works and also how how the site selected affects
what propagation we get on the bands we use, this is very useful in general
but also great for those of you who plan to use your station for Emergency
Communications (EMCOMM). You could enter a contest if thats your thing but
that doesn’t really interest me, but that does leave us with a couple of
options.




All of the options involve the activity of “Activating” something. By that
I mean you pick one of the schemes set up to operate your radio from
something, that may be an annual event such as Mills on the Air, Railways
on the Air or SOS Radio week (which is now a month) but you need to wait
for the date of those activities to come around however there are more
options, SOTA (Summits on the Air) is the one I have heard most about but
we only have one summit nearby and its quite popular with walkers and
tourists running about enjoying themselves so not the best location to set
up.




Fairly new to England is Parks On The Air (POTA) this is quite popular in
the USA but its new enough here that operators hearing your calls sometimes
assume its a special event, which is good in a way because many will
respond to get you in the log. The best thing about POTA for me is that I
live right in the centre of a huge (by English park standards) park Exmoor
National Park and, especially as I’m currently enjoying 2M, it also has
quite a few easily accessible high points of around 500M ASL with views in
all directions.



Getting Started with POTA



Registering




You can go out and happily call CQ POTA and have a great day on the radio,
but you can also register on the POTA site to have your log and activation
recorded.




This is a simple process, go to POTA.app click the sign up button top right
and enter your details. You will get the confirm email and with that you
are ready to go.



Find a Park




So now you need to decide where you are going to carry out your first
Activation. Use the search box at the top of the POTA landing page to enter
the name of the park if you know it or use the map, select DXCC and then
search for a county name and see the parks (yellow dots) that are
registered.



Search for parks Parks on the Air




Click or tap on a yellow marker to see the Park and most importantly its
reference. In the case of Exmoor Nartional Park its G-0236



Exmoor National Park Parks on the Air




There are not many rules for POTA but first and foremost is that you must
operate from within the boundaries of the Park and you must operate in a
public place, if like me you live in the park you can’t operate from your
back garden you must be in the park on public land so technically I could
set up at the side of the road that leads to the house, however that
wouldn’t be wise as the roads aren’t very wide here



Activation and Spotting




Before you set off you can schedule your activation on the site and once
there you can spot yourself. I found this didn’t really help here in
England as its not so popular as in the USA but maybe that will change as
more operators get interested in this.



On the day




Now that you are ready to go, making sure you have packed everything you
need, Radio, CoAx, Antenna, power supply and notebook, head out to your
chosen location and setup on your favourite band.



IC-705 and HD9CV antenna for 2M




In the case of 2M I started on the calling channel (145.500MHz for FM and
144.300MHz for SSB here in the UK)



Calling CQ




I’m sure I dont need to tell you how to call CQ but there is an example
‘format’ on the POTA website and I used similar




CQ CQ CQ this is M0IAX/P, M0IAX/P Calling CQ Parks on the Air in Exmoor
National Park and standing by for any calls




Top tip here from me is that If your radio has a voice record facility like
my Icom IC-705 record the call for the day and use the playback function to
call CQ it can get very repetitive if there are long gaps between callers




Once contact is established QSY to another channel to keep the calling
channel clear and once you complete your QSO remember to call QRZ on the
channel you are on, you may find other operators that heard your call are
waiting to have a QSO with you.







Submit your Log




In order to get your log and activation on to the POTA website you need to
create an ADIF file (all logging software has the option to export an ADIF
file of selected QSOs). When operating Phone I tend to log in a notepad
(this is currently the only time I EVER use a pencil and paper these days!)
and enter the QSOs in my log when I get home.




Once you have exported your log you need to rename the file to the format:









So for my activation yesterday it was









You then need to email the file to the POTA admin there is more info here
but in a nutshell if you have a zero in your call sign you send to
, if you had a 1 then etc




Remember to include the County you activated from in the case of parks that
cover more than one county, for example Exmoor extends from Somerset to
Devon so I specified that I was in the Somerset part.



Conclusion




I found this a great way to add something more to my usual portable
operation. It give me a reason to go a bit further into the country side
with all my gear which is not only a great way to make sure my setup works
as I want, its also a great way of getting some exercise and seeing some
great views.



Exmoor National Park. Just one of millions of great views




The one overriding piece of advice I can give (and this counts for all
aspects of amateur radio) is dont give up you may find yourself calling CQ
for quite some time particularly on 2M here in England as its not well
used, certainly not where I have been. But with a bit of persistence you
Can have a great day out and easily get the 10 QSOs you need for the
Activation.




Good Luck!









73




Mark



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