Posts Tagged ‘POTA’

June QST: SOTA, POTA and VHF Contest

My article that describes last year’s SOTA/POTA/VHF contest activation from Pikes Peak appears in the June issue of QST magazine. This VHF/UHF activation occurred on the Saturday of the ARRL June VHF Contest and qualified for Summits On The Air (W0C/FR-004 Pikes Peak) and Parks On The Air (K-4404 Pike National Forest). The article highlights the use of the North America Adventure Frequency of 146.58 MHz.

I made 80 radio contacts that day, on the 6m, 2m, 1.25m, 70cm, and 23cm bands. Not a great score for the VHF contest but quite nice for a VHF SOTA and POTA activation. My primary piece of equipment was the ICOM IC-705, which enabled all modes on the main VHF/UHF frequencies.

If you are an ARRL member, look for the article on Page 58 of the print edition of June QST or the online version. Not an ARRL member? Darn, you should fix that if you want to read articles published in QST.

If you are an ARRL member, please look at the article and consider voting for it in the QST Cover Plaque Award. Thanks!

73 Bob K0NR

The post June QST: SOTA, POTA and VHF Contest appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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:
One contact on 40m

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.


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.


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 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.

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