My first Parks on the Air Activation

Parks on the Air (POTA) is a popular amateur radio activity that involves operators setting up their radio equipment in designated public parks and natural areas. The goal is to make contacts with other amateur radio operators while enjoying the outdoors and promoting the conservation of these public spaces.

10 months ago I listed my goals for amateur radio for the year. The first one was “Activate a park for POTA.” Of all my goals, the POTA activation was the only one remaining.

My original plan was to activate Peddocks Island, but I didn’t bring my radio on that trip due to the remnants of a hurricane that was blowing through. So I set my sights on Minute Man National Park (POTA park K-0745).

Minute Man National Park is about a 15 minute drive from my house. National parks don’t like visitors throwing ropes and wires into trees. I’d need a self-supporting antenna. So I built one.

I drove to the park and set up near Hartwell Tavern.

I was able to deploy my new ground-spike vertical whip and set up my station in about 15 minutes. The banana plugs made it really easy to connect and lay out the antenna’s eight radials. It was my first time deploying and using my new home built vertical. It was incredibly satisfying to set it up, turn on the radio an see that I had a 1.4 to 1 SWR match. The antenna at its full height was resonant for 20 meter operation and ready to go.

Although CW mode (Morse code) operation has been my focus lately. I activated Minute Man National Park via voice (phone) in single-side-band (SSB) mode.

The activation went without a hitch and I had a lot of fun. I made 27 contacts in under an hour operating at 20 watts. Given the low power that my Xeigu G90 has I don’t often deal with a pile-up.

A pile-up is a term for when radio operators have a lot of stations trying to call into their station at the same time

Today, activating a popular park with my new antenna I had a lot of stations waiting for their turn to contact me.

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Towards the end of my activation one station, EA9LS, called in with a strong signal. It was my first time having someone from Spain answer my call. I’ve had QSOs with Europe before but it was always me searching and pouncing on their station not them calling into me. Vertical antennas have a lower max radiation angle and are better for longer contacts. This seems to prove it.

So today I finally activated a park for the POTA program. I think it will be the first of many.

Thank you to the many hunters who contacted me.