Recently, I commented on participating in the Parks On The Air (POTA) program: How About Parks On The Air? Since then Joyce/K0JJW and I have done a few POTA activations, including a few combination SOTA (Summits On The Air) + POTA activations. We are starting to sort out how SOTA and POTA work for us. I am sure this will evolve over time as there are many operating options with both programs. But here is what we’ve done so far.
Recall that we’ve been focusing on VHF/UHF operating for SOTA, although I did break down and actually made some HF contacts from a SOTA summit recently. VHF/UHF is a good match for SOTA (Height Above Average Terrain). However, for some remote summits, it can be a challenge to get enough radio contacts (4) to qualify for the SOTA points. Using HF can be a big help in generating contacts. POTA can also be done with VHF, some parks have high elevation, but many of them are not attractive VHF locations. POTA requires 10 radio contacts to qualify for points, so that raises the bar a bit, too.
Yesterday, we decided to hike up Mt Herman (W0C/FR-063) for a short afternoon VHF/UHF activation. I posted both a SOTA alert and a POTA alert. We made plenty of radio contacts (40 total) and submitted logs to both the SOTA and POTA websites. I know there were SOTA chasers out there but I’m not sure if anyone worked us specifically for POTA. As usual, a lot of hams give us a call just because it is fun to work someone on a summit (without any SOTA or POTA interest).
The majority of our SOTA activations in Colorado are in national forests, which count as “parks” for POTA. So it is easy to tack on a POTA activation when doing SOTA.
Joyce and I also did some POTA activations from a vehicle. It is pretty easy for us to get to Pike National Forest (K-4404) or San Isabel National Forest (K-4407) and set up a portable station.
We used a Yaesu FT-991 and endfed halfwave antennas for 20m and 15m, supported by a SOTAbeams pole. This is the same configuration I’ve used for portable operating from many locations, including some Caribbean islands. I recently purchased a 20 Ah LFP battery from Bioenno Power to use as a power source so that we don’t rely on the vehicle battery.
We focused on HF for these POTA activations and were pleased to have decent pileups of stations calling us on the 20m and 15m bands. Fifty watts to a halfwave antenna works just fine. We also made it a point to call on 2m FM and usually picked up a handle of contacts on that band, too.
At this point, our outdoorsy portable operating is looking like this:
- SOTA Summits – if the summit is in a park, we will probably go ahead and submit a POTA log along with the SOTA log. Many of the W0C SOTA summits are in national forests, national parks or state parks. VHF-only activations will probably have less impact on POTA…those chasers/hunters tend to be on HF.
- POTA Parks (day trip) – another option is for us to just stop by one of the national forests or a state park and get on the air. (Pike National Forest is about 2 miles from our home.) This will be focused on the HF bands but we can always make a call or two on VHF.
- POTA (RV camping) – we’ve been RV camping in state parks and national forests this past year. An obvious additional activity is to set up on HF for a POTA activation. We haven’t done this yet.
I’ve already done a combination VHF Contest and SOTA activation, so this could be extended to include POTA. Three Things In One. In fact, some locations qualify for more than one POTA park, so maybe it is time for a Four-In-One.
73 Bob K0NR