Intro To Parks On The Air

Operating Parks On The Air FINS K-0679 Fire Island National Seashore
KE2YK @ FINS K-0679

Parks on the Air or POTA is my favorite portable, off the grid amateur radio activity. POTA is much more than just whacking the paddles or yelling into the mic. POTA will get you out of the ham shack, off the grid and out into mother nature. Remember her?

POTA is an entire ecosystem run by amateurs for amateurs. POTA is not a contest but a fun activity where activators submit logs and certificates are emailed out to both park hunters and park activators. If you enjoy collecting fun certificates, open a free POTA account and, over time certificates will be issued out depending on the number of overall contacts you make.

Every State Park has a park number. To find parks in your area, click on the map, enter the DXCC entry (United States for me) and the State (New York in my case), then zoom in to your specific area. Click on any of the dots to get the related park number.

Not all State Parks are good for a POTA activations! Prior to bringing your gear out, take a drive to the park and be sure there are favorable conditions for operating. For instance, there is a local park here with no actual entrance. If there is a trail leading to the park (within 100 feet as the POTA rules state) and you can safely operate, then you have a park that can be activated.

If you have planned out a POTA day, then create your account or log into the POTA system and use the POTA scheduler to announce your intended park, time, date and band. When you get to a State Park, you can start off by spotting yourself on the pota.us Web site. Park Hunters seeking your Park Number will respond to your CQ. Now you are a Park activator.

Of course if you are unable to get to a park you can join in on the fun by becoming a Park Hunter. Park hunters can us use the pota.us spotting page to find park activators. No logging is required for park hunters. The park activators are responsible for all log submissions.

Rules for POTA ActivatorsHunters

An Intro To Parks on the Air by N9YO
73 de KE2YK
What is the future of Amateur Radio

What is Amateur Radio’s Future?

The radio spectrum has always been a place to attract the minds of engineers and homebrewers that conduct experiments and create inventions. During its history, research by amateur radio hobbyists have had a significant impact on science, engineering, industry and social services. Amateur radio has helped to empower nations and save lives.

Now that the Internet connects billions around the globe, many potential amateur radio operators have been diverted away from amateur radio. Time is also taking its toll on the number of amateur radio operators. New licenses continue at the anemic pace of around 7,000 per year. In 2018, the number of U.S. licensed amateurs were only about 750,000. With active ham radio operators primarily in their 60’s and 70’s now, statistics offer a bleak outlook for the future of amateur radio.

The question amateurs have been kicking around for years comes into play. How and what do amateur radio enthusiasts do to attract young people into our ranks? There seems to be a deep divide regarding these questions.

With social media as their method of global communications,, it appears that young people who do take an interest in amateur radio view it as a form of community service. In their world, a transceiver is no longer required to chat around the world.

Simple cheap handie talkies can connect to the Internet by way of local repeaters now. Within amateur radio itself, an expensive transceiver and a huge antenna are no longer required to talk around the world.

What do you think Amateur Radio will look like decades from now?

73 de KE2YK

The ICOM 705 Flaw?

As the owner of an ICOM IC-7300, I really like most of the features of the new ICOM IC-705. Of course taking the wraps off the radio and actually using it is different than speculating.

Automatic Antenna Tuner:

At this point you are probably wondering why I say thumbs down to the current version of the awesome radio. Right off the bat many say the missing automatic antenna tuner a deal breaker! But that/s not it!

The simple answer to the absence of an automatic antenna tuner is to use an antenna that is cut for the band in use or use a tune-able antenna system like the Wolf River Coil TIA or the Buddistick

Another option is to pick up an outboard Elecraft T1A automatic antenna tuner or wait for the mAT-705 tuner that is specifically designed for the 705.

DSTAR:

Although I have been around DMR for a few years, DSTAR would have been be a new experience for me. However, to my knowledge there are no DSTAR repeaters in my area. 

The Openspot I previously owned was an awesome device which got me on the Brandmeister network. Over time I lost interest in DMR and sold the Openspot. As a result, unless the WIFI built into the IC-705 provides a way to make DSTAR connections, that feature is completely useless to me.

GPS:

 I’d imagine that the built in GPS will sync the internal clock for use with digital modes in the field. In my mind the clock sync feature should be a no-brainer. However, the GPS may only be related to positioning for APRS, etc.  Mere speculation at this point. 

The Flaw:

With all these incredible RF capabilities built into one awesome unit, I just can’t imagine why they designed a radio with a flaw. Suppose your mobile and having a QSO on 20 meter phone. As you approach your hometown you want to jump onto the VHF band to call a friend. 

Time Out! 

Without carrying yet another piece of gear (a coaxial switch) you are stuck fiddling with antenna connections or stuck using the HF or the VU side of the rig. The alternative; jumper to coax switch, VU antenna on one switch port, jumper to antenna tuner on second port, antenna tuner to HF antenna… What a mess!

Come on ICOM Engineering! Really! Really! The Elecraft KX3 sure has been knocked for its flaws. Poor internal battery system, poor internal speaker, insufficient heat sink to mention a few but for those wanting to work out side the HF bands, Elecraft provides an SMA connector on the VHF board.

Amazon: ICOM IC-7300

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

73 de KE2YK