Posts Tagged ‘POTA’

Microphone Hanger for Backpacks

My standard SOTA setup is a Yaesu FT-90 compact VHF/UHF transceiver stuffed into a fanny pack with its Bioenno battery pack. The fanny pack is a pretty nice flyfishing pack that I position on the front side of me so I can easily see and operate the radio. I am usually holding the 2m or 70 cm Yagi antenna and talking on the microphone.

Clip for microphone
These clips used to be quite common on older cellphones (pre-Smartphone) and they fit the standard microphone button.

I’ve been looking for a way to clip the microphone onto the pack. Typically, what happens now is I drop the microphone and it gets banged up when it hits the rocky ground. I needed a way to easily hang it on the side of the pack. I recalled having an old cellphone belt clip that accepts the standard button on the back of a mobile microphone, but I couldn’t locate it. However, I did find one on Amazon.

Typical Yaesu mobile microphone hanging from the clip.

I clipped it onto my fanny pack and the Yaesu microphone hangs quite nicely on it. This clip can be used for other applications…anywhere you want to hang a microphone onto a backpack, belt, or whatever. Depending on your station configuration, this may be useful for all kinds of portable operating: SOTA, POTA, and satellites.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Microphone Hanger for Backpacks appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

An afternoon of POTA

We have been having rain a lot out this way and today it was overcast and showers were not forecast. I decided it was time to go out for a walk and get some fresh air. The temperature was plus 2C with a brisk wind. As I was getting back home it started to snow but not enough for any to stay on the ground but the days of that are just around the corner. Once home I poured myself a cup of decaf coffee and headed to the radio room. 


I am not sure why but I thought it would be nice to check the POTA (parks on the air) website and look over the spots. I have done this in the past and was not able to hear any of the park activators. I am very glad I did as the POTA propagation gods were smiling on me. On 20m I tuned in to each mentioned spot on the POTA website and low and behold I was able to hear the park activator. Their signals varied from 229 to 599. I had a great time and it's only a short exchange of information for the contact as they are racking up contacts.
The contacts I made on 20m:
KQ4CW
KD8IE
N1QD
KD3D
KG8CO
K9ABR
One contact on 40m
KC1MXB

POTAXXIA May Be Right For You

Help Is Available

The post POTAXXIA May Be Right For You appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

POTA Enthusiasts: POTAXXIA May Be Right For You

Help is available.

The post POTA Enthusiasts: POTAXXIA May Be Right For You appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Ham Radio Gamification

Setting operating goals has been useful for me in ham radio. They often provided a reason or incentive for me to get on the air and make some contacts. I followed the typical award sequence of Worked All States (WAS), Worked All Continents (WAC), DX Century Club (DXCC), and so forth. I wrote about it here: Pursue Radio Operating Goals.

Gamification

Over time, I’ve come to realize that some amateur radio activities include the elements of gamification. Gamification is a hot topic in user interface design, online learning, and other computer-based systems. The basic idea is to incorporate gaming techniques into activities to increase user engagement. From Wikipedia:

Gamification techniques are intended to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure, or simply their response to the framing of a situation as game or play.

Gamification commonly uses these elements (also from Wikipedia):

Game design elements are the basic building blocks of gamification applications. Among these typical game design elements, are points, badges, leader-boards, performance graphs, meaningful stories, avatars, and teammates.

This article discusses some of the principles involved and Dennis/AD6DM wrote this piece on the topic: The Gamification of Ham Radio.

Summits On The Air

I first became aware of this topic after I became involved in Summits On The Air (SOTA). Before SOTA was a thing, I was often found on the top of some summit making radio contacts. So when SOTA was established in Colorado (W0C), I thought “this is interesting but I am already doing it.” It did strike my fancy enough that I started submitting logs into the SOTA database. Oh, guess what, many of my mountaintop operations were the first activation for SOTA. How about that? I am the first. I win. I have bragging rights, or something.

Soon I was accumulating SOTA activator and chaser points. My first objective was to qualify for the 100-point activator certificate. (SOTA has many certificates and awards.) Achieving 100 points took me about 15 activations, so it is not too difficult but does represent an accomplishment. It did not take very long to do this and soon I was focused on 1000 points for the coveted Mountain Goat award. That goal took several years to complete, but I got it done. I decided to only use the VHF/UHF bands for the Mountain Goat award, so that was my little personal twist on that accomplishment.

We can clearly see that the SOTA program has these elements of gamification: points, badges (certificates/awards), and leaderboards. For me, the leaderboard is the Activator Role of Honour, with the Colorado (W0C) Association selected:

At the moment, I am #12 on the list. I do not aspire to be at the top of the list but I do want to be on the list, somewhere above the 1000 mark. I also like to see how my fellow W0C SOTA activators have been doing. For example, it has been fun to watch Szymon/WV0X go from zero activator points to over 1800 in a short period of time. Also, Gary/W0MNA and Martha/W0ERI are a couple from Kansas (no SOTA summits in the state) that have both made it to Mountain Goat. Not an easy accomplishment. It is cool to see that we have 19 Mountain Goats in the association and more on their way. Pretty good!

SOTA does not specifically have any teams formed as part of the program but the camaraderie of W0C is essentially a team. We share information about various summits and encourage each other when new goals are achieved. Sometimes groups of activators get together for a joint activation. (Most areas that have significant SOTA activity also have this community/team effect.)

Parks On The Air

Recently, I have become involved with Parks On The Air (POTA), which also has gamification built into it. POTA has the advantage of parks being virtually everywhere. (Unlike SOTA summits, Kansas has parks to activate.) As Joyce/K0JJW and I have traveled around the country, POTA has been a satisfying activity to include in our plans.

POTA has many different award schemes, too many to mention here. I pulled up my awards page to see what I have qualified for:

The objective I have set for POTA is to activate all the parks in Colorado. I want to visit them anyway, so this is a good opportunity to blend ham radio with our travel plans. There are 187 POTA parks in Colorado, so this is going to take a while to complete.

Implications

Gamification can be used to make ham radio activity more fun and to more fully engage the participants. Traditional radio contesting is clearly a competition and has the elements of keeping score, having leaderboards (after the contest) and having teammates. However, most contests provide painfully slow feedback. The official results may not be posted until 6 months later. (The 3830 Scores website was created to bypass this delay by sharing scores immediately.) Contesting is obviously a game, so where’s the gamification?

Perhaps your radio club (or just your group of ham friends) can use gamification to have fun. You could leverage programs like SOTA and POTA to create a club activity. Pursue a club goal (activate 50 parks or summits this year), a friendly competition, whatever. POTA lets you activate with a club call while still providing credit for the operator, so that opens up some possibilities.

If you are getting stale in your ham radio operating, perhaps one of these gamified programs would be good motivation for you. It could be SOTA or POTA (both include chasing, so you can do it from home), or maybe some other program out there.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

73 Bob K0NR

 

The post Ham Radio Gamification appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004

Rito Alto Peak is an easy 13er about 15 miles west of Westcliffe, CO in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. This summit caught my attention because it was near Hermit Pass, one of the highest passes in Colorado at 13047 feet. We’ve been taking the Jeep up the highest roads in Colorado, and Hermit Pass was on The List. Looking around on the map, I noticed that Rito Alto Peak was an unactivated 10-point SOTA summit right next to the pass. Not only that, the summit is in the San Juan National Forest (K-4404), enabling a POTA activation as well. So how could we not do a trip up there?

Bob/K0NR climbing up Rito Alto Peak near Hermit Pass

Rito Alto Peak (W0C/SC-004) and Hermit Pass are about 15 miles straight west of Westcliffe, CO. To get there, take CR 160 (Hermit Road) west and then turn south onto FS 160. The turn-off is easy to spot and begins the 4WD portion of the trip. The 4WD road is not particularly difficult from a technical point of view, but the road is very rocky for most of the 9 miles. Every once in a while, the road has a smoother section, only to be followed by lots of rocks. I call these roads “moderate but annoying.” Any real 4WD vehicle should be able to handle this. We drove our stock Jeep Wrangler and it did fine. This is not a road for Suburu-class SUVs.

To get to Hermit Pass, head west from Westcliffe, then follow Hermit Road south.

At the end of the 9 miles of bouncing up the road, we parked at Hermit Pass and started the climb there. (It took us about 2 hours to drive this road.) Of course, you can always hike some or all of the road. Useful climbing info can be found here on 14ers.com. Hermit Peak, to the south of the pass, is NOT a SOTA summit. However, further south is Eureka Mountain (W0C/SC-007), which could also be hiked from Hermit Pass.

Climbing route shown in blue.

The figure above shows the track of our climbing route. There is no trail and there is plenty of talus to step over and around. The route is not critical but we tended to stay on top of the ridge line, sometimes deviating to find a better path. The distance was 0.7 miles one way with an elevation gain of 700 feet. So not too difficult, except for climbing over rocks. Trekking poles are highly recommended.

We spotted three bighorn sheep on the next ridge over.

On the summit, we set up our normal 2m FM station: the Yaesu FT-90 transceiver with 3-element 2m Yagi antenna, and started calling on 146.52 MHz. Joyce made the first contact so she has the honor of doing the first SOTA activation from this summit. You Go Girl!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Rito Alto Peak.

I was a bit worried about getting enough contacts to qualify for SOTA points but that turned out to not be a problem. We heard strong signals from the Buena Vista area (W0BV, KD0MRC) and Florrisant (K0MGL). We also made some Summit-to-Summit QSOs (S2S): WV0X (St Charles Peak, W0C/SC-031), W0ADV (Snowmass Mountain, W0C/WE-003), and W0CP (McQuaid Butte, W0C/SP-109). We also worked K0EEP, K9RZK, W9RIK, and W9NDR. Our Best DX for the day was 104 miles, with W0ADV on Snowmass. Thanks for all of the 2m FM QSOs!

Just one of the many fantastic views from the mountain.

As shown in the photos, the weather was excellent. We took our time on the mountain and never saw signs of thunderstorms. The climb down was easy and we returned to the Jeep. Then it was 9 more miles bouncing down the road and on to Westcliffe for a late lunch. What a great day for SOTA + POTA + Jeep trip.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Four Days of SOTA Fun

This year, the Colorado 14er Event had the normal two-day (Saturday and Sunday) schedule plus two bonus days (Friday and Monday) for four activation days. Of course, Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to activate all four days using VHF/UHF frequencies. Frankly, we have not been doing that much hiking this year, so we were careful to lay out a plan that would work for us over four days.

Kaufman Ridge (W0C/SP-081)

On Friday, we hiked up Kaufman Ridge, which is a relatively easy summit near our cabin. I had an online meeting in the morning that caused us to get a late start this day, but we did chase some activators in the morning. On the summit, we worked a number of stations on VHF/UHF using the IC-705 transceiver. It was clear that most of the activators left their summit before noon, as is the usual practice for the 14ers and high peaks.

Normally, we focus our SOTA fun on VHF/UHF but this time I brought along an end-fed halfwave antenna for 20m and made a few 20m SSB contacts, including one with Elliot/K6EL on Mount Davidson (W6/NC-423). That’s right, a rare HF SOTA activation by K0NR. Joyce and I also turned in a log for Parks On The Air (POTA), which was San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR on the trail up Kaufman Ridge.

Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)

On Saturday, I wanted to focus on making some 1.2 GHz (23 cm) contacts so we chose Pikes Peak as a good platform for that. Pikes is always fun because of its easy access (yes, we drove up) and its high location towering over eastern Colorado. We had Jon/KM4PEH and his wife join us on the summit, taking turns using the VHF/UHF bands. I made 42 QSOs on the various bands but my 23 cm contact with N0OY was the most exciting. I worked him in Salina KS on 1296.1 MHz using CW for a distance of 627km (392 mi). This is my new personal best for SOTA on that band.

Saturday was a good day for Summit-to-Summit (S2S) radio contacts, as I picked up 13 of them, all on VHF/UHF in Colorado. Joyce and I both worked Dave/W0ADV on Capitol Peak (W0C/SR-060) using 1.2 GHz FM. Capitol is a challenging climb, as shown in Dave’s video here.

Pikes Peak is in the Pike National Forest (K-4404), so we submitted our logs for POTA.

Bob/K0NR sitting down on the job, getting ready for a 23 cm activation.

Mount Antero (W0C/SR-003)

On Sunday, we got up early and drove the Jeep up Mt Antero Road, parking at about 13,600 feet in elevation. This cuts a large chunk of the distance and elevation off the ascent to 14,268 feet. Besides, who wants to hike on a 4WD road anyway? It is still a decent climb over the rocky trail to get to the top.

A view of Mount Antero, on the way up.

This was my fourth SOTA activation of Antero, including its first activation back in 2011. (Actually, I’ve activated this many more times during the Colorado 14er Event, which predates SOTA in Colorado.) The activity was down a bit from Saturday and we were much further away from the large population centers, which is a factor on VHF/UHF. Still, we both made 17 QSOs, including five S2S contacts. We submitted our logs to POTA for San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR working 2m FM from the summit of Mt Antero.
The 70cm Yagi-Uda antenna is vertically polarized for FM operation.

 

Wander Ridge (W0C/SP-042)

On Monday, we activated one of our favorite summits near Cottonwood Pass, SP-042. Usually, I would refer to this as an Unnamed Summit (12,792), which is the name the SOTA database shows. Dave/W0ADV pointed out this summit does have a name: Wander Ridge, so I’ve adopted it for this special peak. The USGS approved that name in 2017 but it has not yet made it into the SOTA database.

Bob/K0NR on the Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail, headed to Wander Ridge.

From an outdoor hiking perspective, this was the best summit of the weekend. The hike starts at Cottonwood Pass and follows the Continental Divide Trail south toward the summit. Then, a short off-trail hike takes you to the summit. The weather and views were excellent!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Wander Ridge.

The activity was a bit light but we both made 10 contacts, enough to qualify for a POTA activation (in addition to SOTA). This summit is right on the border of San Isabel NF and Gunnison NF, and we chose to activate it from the San Isabel side (K-4407). We only had one S2S contact, with Steve/K5SJC on Pikes Peak.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with four excellent summit activations. It was wonderful to work our old and new SOTA friends on the VHF/UHF bands. My special thanks go to Pete/N0OY for firing up his mega 23cm station to work me on Pikes Peak.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Four Days of SOTA Fun appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.


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