Combined Logging for SOTA and POTA
Doing a simultaneous activation of a Summits On The Air (SOTA) summit and a Parks On The Air (POTA) park is becoming more common. There is a lot of crossover between the two programs. Here in Colorado, many of the SOTA peaks are in national forests or national parks, making them an ideal double activation.
Creating one file for logging both programs can be a challenge but I’ve settled in on an approach that works for me. I’ve decided to use HAMRS for this, whether it is real-time logging or transcribing a paper log after the event. HAMRS provides useful templates for both SOTA and POTA, but not both simultaneously. HAMRS still has a few quirks on entering callsigns and timestamps, but I am hopeful those things will get addressed in the fullness of time. If you are using a different logging program, you can probably still benefit from this post.
I wrote about the different ADIF fields that POTA and SOTA use here:
Simplest Case: No P2P or S2S
For an activation that does not involve making contact with other parks or summits, the logging requirements are simple. POTA refers to these contacts as Park-to-Park or P2P, while SOTA refers to them as Summit-to-Summit or S2S. Same basic idea.
The ADIF file for POTA needs to have the usual logging information but the special POTA fields (MY_SIG_INFO, SIG_INFO) can be left blank. The filename will indicate the park you are operating from and must meet the standard POTA format. (Example: K0NR-K-4404-20211017.adi for K0NR operating from K-4404 on 17 Oct 2021). If you do have some simple P2P QSOs in there (one park contacting another single park, no double activations), the POTA database will attempt to identify these contacts by comparing the logs of the two POTA activators. I believe this works pretty well but I have not tested it extensively.
For the SOTA log, you must provide your SOTA summit using the MY_SOTA_REF field. If you use the HAMRS SOTA template, it will take care of this for you. Then you can use the same ADIF file for POTA by setting the filename to the right format. If you need to add the MY_SOTA_REF manually, ADIF Master is a good tool to use.
With P2P or S2S
When there are P2P or S2S contacts, things get a bit more complicated. The ADIF log needs to have MY_SIG_INFO for each QSO set to your POTA number and SIG_INFO set to the other station’s POTA number. If the other POTA station is activating more than one park, this can be handled by entering multiple QSOs in the file. (I think this is the cleanest way of handling it, but let me know if you have other methods.)
The SOTA logfile requires something similar, with MY_SOTA_REF set to your SOTA summit and SOTA_REF set to the other station’s SOTA summit.
One ADIF can be created that has all four SOTA/POTA fields set correctly but you’ll probably have to use ADIF Master or a text editor to get this all entered. HAMRS can help you with either SOTA or POTA, using the corresponding template. Normally, I try to determine if I have more P2P or S2S contacts and choose the template (POTA or SOTA) with that in mind. Then, I use ADIF Master to add in the other -OTA program logging info.
POTA does allow for simultaneous activations of more than one park. For example, the Continental Divide Trail is considered a park and it often runs through a national forest, so both can be activated together.) If you are activating more than one POTA park, you will need to create a log file for each park and submit them individually. A SOTA activation can only be from a single summit.
I treat my SOTA/POTA logs as separate files but I also import them into my master logging program, which is currently Log4OM2. I also upload the file to Logbook of The World (LoTW). It is important to set up a new LoTW location with the grid locator, state and county set correctly. This may create a long list of locations in your LoTW account but provides proper confirmation for stations chasing grids, states, and counties.
These are some things I’ve learned along the way and I hope you find them useful.
73 Bob K0NR
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