So you like the great outdoors


I have been noticeably absent regarding my recipe series as I was recovering from COVID. Both my wife and I consider ourselves very fortunate as this is the first brush we have had with COVID-19. We are both fully vaccinated and it was like having a bad cold that would just not go away. Now I did lose my sense of smell and taste for about a week which was a bit weird. We did stay at home (about 10 days) until we tested negative. I will humour my readers with one soapbox moment.....a friend of mine mocked us both for staying home telling us it's the new cold bug get over it. My answer to that is "very true" BUT it also is very contagious and that is the problem as I see it. To wander around without taking precautions allows the bug to spread and more get sick. My friend, I would consider selfish in a way as it's all about "him". Wait until he has to go to the hospital but has to wait forever as staff are sick at home, and needs the police but response time is longer as some are off sick and so on. I am retired and could stay home for 10 days but to him I say at least wear a mask if you venture's not all about YOU. 

OK time to step off the soapbox now and get to the meat and potatoes of the next post. In the last few years, there has been an explosion in getting outdoors and operating radios.  We have Park on the air (POTA) summits on the air (SOTA) and then branch-offs from that. One of the main ingredients of this recipe is to love the outdoors. The modes of operation are SSB, CW and digital modes if you operate CW then some practice picking out code in a pileup, being able to pick out a call. I have listened to some POTA and SOTA activations and it can get very busy. It truly is an art to pick out calls in a pileup. Refining this art will help increase your contacts and the needed numbers for an official activation. Another ingredient is Increasing your knowledge about portable antennas and how best to set them up. Learning the ins and outs of your rig (most of the time a small compact unit) as when operating you won't have the luxury of a manual to refer to. Another ingredient is the art of organization it can make or break an activation. A simple BNC to PL-259 connector left at home can bring an activation to a fast end before it even starts. 

If you are doing a summit on the air an important part of the recipe is safety. I would not do it alone, if it's a crazy summit then bring along a sat-phone, GPS locator, and first aid kit as funny things can happen. The technology is there so use it. NEVER NEVER think it could ever happen to me.  

Most activation's are portable and a 100 watts signal is a dream which was left at home. For this reason, your best bang per watt may be CW or digital operations and not to worry SSB will do the trick as well. An important ingredient is to figure out how to spot yourself during an activation. This will get you folks listening for your peanut signal and buy you some contacts for the log. Another ingredient in my humble opinion is to get a good set of headphones. You could be in a park with other people and their noise, the wind and so on. Now having said that let me also include a very important ingredient and that is ham radio ambassadorship. If you are in public then the public is going to wonder what you are up to. Be ready to field questions and be ready to share about the hobby. It could be an onlooker, park ranger, police or who ever

Well there you go all done with the recipes of ham radio I  hope you enjoyed this little montage.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “So you like the great outdoors”

  • Charles KO4MWU:

    Hello Mike, 46 years in healthcare here. While I appreciate your comments regarding COVID, your statements are incorrect and invalid. Studies have repeatedly concluded that masks cause more harm than good. They are a pseudo-security apparatus which, paradoxically helps the spread of viruses. There have even been discussions over the years of removing the mask in the OR unless you are directly over the patient. Then you don a mask that really works such as a N-100 which then lasts only a couple of hours. Covid viruses have been around for many years and are no more contagious now as they have ever been. Most important: WASH YOUR HANDS! Common sense measures should assume actions. If coughing, cover the mouth with the crease of your arm. And, depending on the frequency of cough and malaise, remain isolated. I like the info on portable antennas. Best Regards

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Charles, thanks for the years of knowledge and another view on the matter. I for one do not have the experience that you have regarding COVID. Thanks for the input and for stopping by to leave a comment.

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