A Reason To Get On The Air

I don’t need much but I do need a reason to get on the air. This can take many forms as I wrote in this blog post some time ago. I see quite a few new hams struggling with the problem of “I got this license but now what?”

Operating goals or awards are a fun way to keep focused on accomplishing something via ham radio. Really, it’s a specific reason to get on the air and make radio contacts. I am not big on idle chit chat via the radio (“the weather here is 65 deg and raining”) so having a reason to make contacts helps me get on the air. I’ve tended to pursue awards in a serial manner…once I hit some level of accomplishment, I usually declare victory and move on to something else.

Way back in the wayback machine, the first award I pursued was Worked All States (WAS). It does take some effort but I was pretty active on the HF bands at the time, so many of the states just showed up in my log. But to really drive it home, I kept track of which states I still needed and actively looked for opportunities to work them. Later, I pursued Worked All Continents (WAC), which obviously requires working some DX. But then I decided that if I had any DX cred at all, I needed to get DX Century Club (DXCC). Recently, the popularity of FT8 has been a game changer and I currently have about 175 entities confirmed (thank you, Logbook of The World). I don’t chase paper QSL cards anymore, which is just too much trouble for a Slacker DXer™.

The VHF and higher bands have always been a passion for me, so I pursued the VHF/UHF Century Club (VUCC) awards. First, it was 6 meter VUCC, the easiest one to get. A really good run during the ARRL June VHF contest can produce the 100 grids you need for the award in one weekend. Later, some mountaintop activity resulted in 10 GHz VUCC. At one point, I got into working the LEO satellites and confirmed the required 100 grids for satellite VUCC. (Hey, Technicians, this is something you can do right now!) I still don’t have very many grids confirmed on 2 meters, so that one is still calling to me.

Summits On The Air

If you read my blog, you know that Summits On The Air (SOTA) is my number one activity lately, both activating and chasing summits. This is a natural fit for me as I’ve enjoyed mountaintop operating in various forms, mostly on VHF and UHF. (See my SOTA blog postings.) My hiking partner and wife, Joyce/K0JJW is almost always activating with me. Her #1 ham radio activity is also SOTA. We both achieved Mountain Goat status (1000 activator points) using only VHF and higher frequencies. (Technicians can have a lot of fun with SOTA on VHF!)

The SOTA program has a wide variety of awards, supported by a comprehensive database used to record SOTA radio contacts and keep track of the scores. It is not really a competition but there is friendly rivalry between SOTA enthusiasts as they monitor each other’s posted scores. Here are the “badges” that pop up when I check my SOTA info.

Parks On The Air

In the past few years, we have added the Parks On The Air (POTA) program. It turns out that not all regions of the country have interesting SOTA summits but they all have state or national parks. This fits nicely into our outdoor hiking/camping/4WD activities.

Many of our SOTA activations are in parks (national forests, national parks and state parks), so we usually try to make the SOTA activation count for both programs. This means that many of our POTA activations are done using VHF/UHF only, if from a summit. More commonly, we use the HF bands for POTA activations. Our standard POTA setup is a Yaesu FT-991 driving an endfed wire antenna, usually on SSB or FT8.

POTA also has a great database, good tools and plenty of awards available. Here’s what shows up on my POTA awards page. Just like SOTA, POTA is not a competition but it is interesting to see what other hams are doing and compare you level of activity.

So those are my thoughts.
What motivates you to get on the air?

73, Bob K0NR

The post A Reason To Get On The Air appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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