Posts Tagged ‘POTA’

On Learning Humility; a POTA Evening with Bugs in Florida

Monday April 30 I set up at Hobe Sound Nature Preserve, KFF-0220180418_160217.jpg41, to activate on 40 and 20 meters.  I waited till late in the day, arriving on site about 5:30pm EDT to set up and get ready for 40m to wake up as the sun goes down.  Took my time walking the entire area to scout a good spot.  Was previously here two weeks ago in a

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time-pressured situation and hurriedly set up at the first thing I found, a simple park bench.  Not that much from which to choose here as this is principally a minimally-developed natural resource area, appealing to fishermen, hikers and nature-lovers, and not as well furnished with picnic areas like a State Park.

Got a eleven or twelve qso’s that day with the Link Dipole arranged up only a dozen feet in the beloved inverted vee style.  Not the best operating position, but sufficient.

Here I am on the original activation, looking optimistic despite the ominous smoke on the horizon (just a controlled burn, actually).

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After an outrageously successful activation of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, only a few miles from here, this past weekend, I just knew I could return to Hobe Sound Preserve and catch many more Q’s to make my 44 needed to earn the coveted WWFF recognition.  At JD I got 23 qso’s Saturday but needed more to make the grand total of 44 so went back Sunday and got on the air a little

20180430_174619past seven on 40m, receiving a total of 49 more in under an hour!  Wow, I said; Gosh, I even had a little pileup going a few minutes at a time.  “Oh Baby, That’s a What I Like,” (with a Hatlo Hat Tip to the Big Bopper).  Couldn’t wait to do that again at Hobe Sound today.

Confidently, I left the house 5pm to head to the site.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of me confidently driving my car but just look how confident I’m still looking upon arrival; who wouldn’t want to work a ham like this one?

Took my time to walk most of the trails to scout the best location to set up and found this tranquil spot:20180430_174012

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No cooperating trees in vicinity, so let’s set up a tower.s  Below’s the view from the idyllic picnic table and thatched roof.  The open area is to the North-NorthWest, ideal aiming direction for Southeast coast of Florida.  Same orientation as yesterday – good omens.

 

 

 

I’ve learned how to erect a tower alone; step one is to lay out the antenna (EndFedz in this case) to judge where to place the tower and its guy lines.  Lay the tower down, tie on the guy lines and provisionally place your tent stakes.  Remember to attach the antenna and attach your coax to said antenna (this is the voice of experience speaking) before pushing up the tower.  This is the dicey part, when having an assistant would be helpful, but in the spirit of self reliance, you can do this if you’ve guessed well where to place the tent stakes.  Something I’ve started to say to the Curious, especially when the Curious is a Park Ranger, when they ask what you’re doing, say “I’m setting up a radio station in a simulated emergency situation.”  They will eat this up.

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After some fumbling, your tower will finally look like this:

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This tower tip is at 22-23 feet; yesterday, same time, same antenna, and same band, I was up 35′ thanks to a handy tree.  But still, this looked really good so I expected similar if not better results, qso-wise.  Here’s the low end of the EndFedz on a photographer’s lighting tripod, up ten feet and guyed.

Bodacious good SWR as you can see in image below.  All’s well, it seems.

Eager and self-assured, about 6:30 I begin calling CQ, ready for the inevitable pileups. Quickly I stumbled into a net and was invited to check in, so I did.  Not POTA, but

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a start.  A next contact happened 2-3 minutes later.  These always start slow, right?  Twenty-seven minutes pass, my confidence dwindling, before getting another contact, AA5UZ, whom I worked yesterday.  I’m going, “what’s wrong?”  This same setup yesterday was causing pileups; I could hardly write down the call signs fast enough.  I fiddled with the antenna, getting it higher, but no improvement in qso rate.

So what is it?  Is it Monday versus Sunday, are the bands that different one day to the next, is it that I the antenna location is that much different to limit results?  I kept at it, watching the sun go down and aware I failed to pack a table lamp or a decent flashlight but wanting the darkness to come and boost results.  Had a few small stretch when I got 4-5 contacts in quick succession, and heard others trying me that I just could make out, but nothing like yesterday.

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I dunno; packed up at 8:17 (end of civil twilight), and it was pretty dark when I finally departed, rather deflated.  This was a lot of work for eleven qso’s, and I’m still only half way to the magic forty four.  From the time I left the house to when I returned, it was over four hours invested.  As an experiment, I will return to the happy spot at JD State Park where I got the 49 in an hour, and try again there to see if similar results occur at the same time, same band, same antenna setup.  Stay tuned!

But for now, it’s time for ice cream; that usually makes me feel better.  Thanks for listening; you’re in the log.  De k4wk, Wayne, http://www.hamdom.com

#POTA Activation of JD Mac Arthur SP in South Florida

This, my second POTA activation, was a much bigger su20180321_171323ccess (39 qso’s in an hour) than the first (a mere dozen), despite #2 being on a weekday afternoon vs. Sunday for #1.  I attribute this to my savvy scheduling to avoid ARRL’s DX Contest and at the same time, ARRL’s respectful consideration for a Big Gun like me in not trying to compete!  As the Borg said, “Resistance is Futile.”

The other big factor was getting a few hams to spot me on the clusters.  I was quite surprised, and thrilled actually, to be the subject of a pileup for a few minutes.  Imagine, lil’ ol’ me, being sought after; I hardly knew how to handle the fame!

Things started kinda slow, my first contact being a ham about two miles away; I’m thinking, oh boy, this’ll be a long afternoon.  Will I ever get the requisite ten qso’s to count a POTA activation?  I tried to spot myself but on Dxsummit.fi it is so awkward to do on your smartphone.  With ten thumbs like me, mistakes are made.  I did ask several hams to spot me and soon a few did, and then I was in demand, even at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon.  I never knew there were so many retired or unemployed hams sitting around bored during the day.  From South Florida I worked hams in NY, CT, MI, PA, MN, AZ, CA, England and Spain!

I used my link dipole antenna up approx 24′ at the apex, set for 20m.  By closing a pair of links, it can be reset for 30 or 40 meters.  I built this antenna a while back, and tuned and trimmed it carefully for each of these bands, so no tuner necessary.  I’ve tried a PAR EndFedz and a homebrew Buddipole for HF and this is the best for me, thus far.

 

From left to right: the dipole (made of speaker wire) rolled up on custom deluxe wire winder; middle, the handsomely crafted center SO; and right, the links for 30m, left open so antenna resonates at the shorter 20m cut.  Note “stress relief” at the SO and use of safety pins to carry the tension of the dipole when hoisted.  Below is pic of my antenna launching tool; it was too heavy at first so I drank half the contents.  Also below is a pic of my tie down line, fluorescent builder’s twine.  I’ve decided to be stealthier in the future and will change that out for something that’ll blend better.

 

I want to be stealthier so I don’t draw attention to my station and my suspicious behaviors.  Even though I have a right to be there at a picnic table not all Park Rangers got the memo and some may think they should run me off.  Last week a Ranger did stop by and I thought “well, here we go,” but actually he just wanted to chat; his Dad had been a ham, so I tried to recruit him.  I had another visitor, too; note to self, don’t operate so close to garbage cans!

 

And finally, a note to the wise for operating out of doors in Florida; bring your bottle!

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This is Wayne,  k4wk, http://www.hamdom.com.  Thanks for listening; you’re in the log.

QST Article – “Live Trees Affect Antenna Performance” – implications for #POTA #SOTA

In February 2018’s QST was a very interesting and scholarly article, the cover story actually, on the effects of live trees on the performance of both vertical and horizontal antennas.  Things to ponder:

  1. Living wood (trees, as opposed to dry dead wood such as boards) absorbs EMF from vertically polarized antennas.
  2. Living wood resembles human tissue in terms of dielectric properties, so wearing your HT on your belt will greatly reduce your effective antenna power.  Presumably, unless you’re a real fathead like me, talking into HT held at your face should not be too bad.
  3. A single vertical tree has next to no effect on horizontal antennas, such as dipoles.
  4. A forest, containing lots of vertical trees, is even worse than a single tree like in your backyard, so for us backpackers and hikers, we need to find a clearing when trying to use our HT’s in the woods.
  5. Worse, a forest will affect both vertical and horizontal antennas so when we’re operating in the field, for POTA or SOTA for example, we should look for a Goldilocks spot with enough trees to launch the, say, dipole, but not too many.  Better in Winter after leaves fall, though.

This is Wayne,  k4wk, http://www.hamdom.com.  Thanks for listening; you’re in the log.

Skeeter Hunt News

They say Memorial Day is the "unofficial" 1st Day of Summer.  That may be true; but in Skeeterland, we wait until the "official" Official 1st Day of Summer to start issuing NJQRP Skeeter Hunt numbers. That day is coming up fast - next Wednesday, June 21st is when Skeeter numbers for 2017 will start being dispensed.

All you have to do to get one is to send an e-mail to [email protected] and one will be sent back to you in a confirming e-mail.  Be sure to include your name, call sign and either the state you'll be operating from or the POTA #.

POTA # ?????  Yes - because this year, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be featuring the Parks On The Air program. For all the details, please visit http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/


Last year, it was NPOTA and this year it will be POTA. 100 Bonus points will be added to your score if you activate a POTA entity, and there are PLENTY of them available!  To find one near you, please visit the interactive map at: http://wwff.co/directory/map/

Now I know some of you faithful Skeeters are probably reading this and are thinking, "Wait a darn sec, there, LJ!  Where's the Soapbox page from 2016 and where are our certificates? Huh? What do you have to say about that? Huh?"

Mea culpa, friends!  I'll readily admit that I was tardy on both counts.  However, the 2016 Soapbox page is now up at http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%209 and your richly deserved certificates are in the process of being printed. I hope to have them in the mail, no later than this weekend. And hey, the timing isn't so bad, is it?  You can read the soapbox and make plans for this year, while reminiscing over last year!

There's also a new Fabook group devoted to the Skeeter Hunt - https://www.facebook.com/groups/175763746290252/, if you're so inclined to join.


So to answer one last question - why new Skeeter numbers every year?  Why aren't they good for life?  The reason for that is that I like to give everyone the opportunity to get a low number. Those seem to be the most coveted.  For various reasons, not everyone is able to participate from year to year - family commitments come up, business trips happen, vacations happen.  It's not fair to lock up a low number because of that - so they get issued to folks who really want them and have every intention of using them.

That being said, if you're not certain that you'll be able to participate - DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM GETTING A NUMBER !!!!  I'd rather numbers go un-used than not issued at all. Sometimes things come up, but then there are times that potential conflicts get resolved and it's better that you have a Skeeter number than not!

Lastly, I kinda fibbed on that statement about Skeeter numbers not being good for life - at least in one instance.  Let it be known, throughout the kingdom of Skeeterland, that from henceforth, W2LJ will always be lucky Skeeter #13. There are some superstitious folks out there, who have specifically asked me to make sure they are not issued #13 - so I've solved that little predicament by assigning it to myself in perpetuity.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Skeeter Hunt News

They say Memorial Day is the "unofficial" 1st Day of Summer.  That may be true; but in Skeeterland, we wait until the "official" Official 1st Day of Summer to start issuing NJQRP Skeeter Hunt numbers. That day is coming up fast - next Wednesday, June 21st is when Skeeter numbers for 2017 will start being dispensed.

All you have to do to get one is to send an e-mail to [email protected] and one will be sent back to you in a confirming e-mail.  Be sure to include your name, call sign and either the state you'll be operating from or the POTA #.

POTA # ?????  Yes - because this year, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be featuring the Parks On The Air program. For all the details, please visit http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/


Last year, it was NPOTA and this year it will be POTA. 100 Bonus points will be added to your score if you activate a POTA entity, and there are PLENTY of them available!  To find one near you, please visit the interactive map at: http://wwff.co/directory/map/

Now I know some of you faithful Skeeters are probably reading this and are thinking, "Wait a darn sec, there, LJ!  Where's the Soapbox page from 2016 and where are our certificates? Huh? What do you have to say about that? Huh?"

Mea culpa, friends!  I'll readily admit that I was tardy on both counts.  However, the 2016 Soapbox page is now up at http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%209 and your richly deserved certificates are in the process of being printed. I hope to have them in the mail, no later than this weekend. And hey, the timing isn't so bad, is it?  You can read the soapbox and make plans for this year, while reminiscing over last year!

There's also a new Fabook group devoted to the Skeeter Hunt - https://www.facebook.com/groups/175763746290252/, if you're so inclined to join.


So to answer one last question - why new Skeeter numbers every year?  Why aren't they good for life?  The reason for that is that I like to give everyone the opportunity to get a low number. Those seem to be the most coveted.  For various reasons, not everyone is able to participate from year to year - family commitments come up, business trips happen, vacations happen.  It's not fair to lock up a low number because of that - so they get issued to folks who really want them and have every intention of using them.

That being said, if you're not certain that you'll be able to participate - DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM GETTING A NUMBER !!!!  I'd rather numbers go un-used than not issued at all. Sometimes things come up, but then there are times that potential conflicts get resolved and it's better that you have a Skeeter number than not!

Lastly, I kinda fibbed on that statement about Skeeter numbers not being good for life - at least in one instance.  Let it be known, throughout the kingdom of Skeeterland, that from henceforth, W2LJ will always be lucky Skeeter #13. There are some superstitious folks out there, who have specifically asked me to make sure they are not issued #13 - so I've solved that little predicament by assigning it to myself in perpetuity.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

To help with your NPOTA withdrawal

There IS a Parks On The Air program that has been up and running for a while.  In the USA, POTA is part of the World Wide Flora and Fauna program, which is international in scope.  Like NPOTA, WWFF was devised in order to get Amateur Radio ops off their duffs and into the Great Outdoors. I love their catch phrase - "Make nature your shack!"


POTA is the United States arm of WWFF and POTA encompasses not only NPOTA, but State Parks as well.  So if NPOTA was difficult for you as an activator, POTA should be easier as it will include many places that were not part of POTA.

Take for instance, the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge (KFF-0454)  here in NJ.  I drive through it every time I go up to HP28, Morristown National Historical Park (KFF-0746), which is part of NPOTA.  Since the Refuge is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it was not part of NPOTA - but it IS part of POTA. My favorite portable operating spot, Washington Rock State Park, is also part of POTA (KFF-1635).

Activation requirements for WWFF are a bit stricter. For a valid activation, WWFF requires 44 QSOs, while NPOTA required only 10.  Happily, according to my good friend Greg N4KGL, POTA also requires only 10 QSOs for a valid activation. A good day's worth of portable operations should cover you. If you're bound and determined to work towards Activator awards, then you have a good program here to fill your heart's desire.. Me? I'll just be happy to have the "excuse" to go out and put some NJ parks on the air.

I've only just registered and have not looked into all the details about how to upload logs and stuff; but I am bound and determined to put some parks in New Jersey on the air this coming Spring and Summer for the chasers that are really into this.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

To help with your NPOTA withdrawal

There IS a Parks On The Air program that has been up and running for a while.  In the USA, POTA is part of the World Wide Flora and Fauna program, which is international in scope.  Like NPOTA, WWFF was devised in order to get Amateur Radio ops off their duffs and into the Great Outdoors. I love their catch phrase - "Make nature your shack!"


POTA is the United States arm of WWFF and POTA encompasses not only NPOTA, but State Parks as well.  So if NPOTA was difficult for you as an activator, POTA should be easier as it will include many places that were not part of POTA.

Take for instance, the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge (KFF-0454)  here in NJ.  I drive through it every time I go up to HP28, Morristown National Historical Park (KFF-0746), which is part of NPOTA.  Since the Refuge is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it was not part of NPOTA - but it IS part of POTA. My favorite portable operating spot, Washington Rock State Park, is also part of POTA (KFF-1635).

Activation requirements for WWFF are a bit stricter. For a valid activation, WWFF requires 44 QSOs, while NPOTA required only 10.  Happily, according to my good friend Greg N4KGL, POTA also requires only 10 QSOs for a valid activation. A good day's worth of portable operations should cover you. If you're bound and determined to work towards Activator awards, then you have a good program here to fill your heart's desire.. Me? I'll just be happy to have the "excuse" to go out and put some NJ parks on the air.

I've only just registered and have not looked into all the details about how to upload logs and stuff; but I am bound and determined to put some parks in New Jersey on the air this coming Spring and Summer for the chasers that are really into this.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


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