For those of us who love amateur radio and the great outdoors we have a few options to blend the two pastimes together. You can make a portable setup and take to the trails, or hike mountains and make contacts from the summits. Not everyone may be interested in or able to take long hikes or make steep climbs. For those people we have POTA! Parks on the air was founded in 2010 to encourage amateur radio operators who enjoy the outdoors to combine the two by operating from municipal, county, state, and national parks around the world.
How you get there is up to you, hike in or drive in, it does not matter. The only part that matters is getting outside and getting on the air. There are parks all over the world waiting to be activated. There are awards for both park activator’s and park hunters. The best is when you blend the two and be a hunter within a park to get Park to Park contacts.
Activating a park is pretty simple:
- A minimum of five contacts on any amateur radio band using any mode.
- Use any power level allowed by your license.
- Contacts can be made over several visits.
There are a few rules however:
- The Activator and all of the equipment must be within the perimeters of the park and on public property. Activators cannot attempt to activate from any private property.
- The park must be OPEN/have permission from the administration to be there.
- Use the map on the POTA site in combination with Google Maps, and official park sites to find the official boundaries. If the park is part of a trail system or river, you need to be within 100 feet of the trail or river.
- NEVER trespass on private property to access state/provincial or federal lands without permission.
- Repeaters are NOT allowed.
Getting started is simple too. Simply go to the site https://parksontheair.com/ and click “Help/Getting Started”. There is a bunch of resources on various websites as well as some good logging apps for mobile devices. Being portable it is much easier to use a paper log or mobile device for logging. One mobile device logging app that is perfect for POTA or other things like Field Day I use is HAMRS. You can find it for iOS on the app store here, and on the Goggle Play store here.
There is also a website (https://pota.app) for active spotting. Here you can self spot if you are trying to activate a park or as a hunter find active spots you can try to reach.
Let me know in comments below if you have or want to participate in POTA.