Well, it’s been more than a year since I mentioned Parks On The Air. It’s still a major source of Ham Radio activity for me.
I’ve been doing activations when I can. I have activated 86 times from 21 different parks. Sometimes, they are two-fers, where you find a spot that is within two parks so that it counts for both, so that inflates the count a bit. But, it’s been great fun and a good way to get outside and play with radios in the great outdoors.

I also hunt from home quite a bit. When you find and call activators in the field from your home station, it’s called hunting. I have accumulated quite a lot of awards that way. I’ve gotten Worked All States with POTA. I’ve had 4200+ contacts while hunting over 1700 unique parks. Compare that to 5700+ QSOs while in a park. Other than dabbling in Field Day or what not, it’s been the main source of fun on the radio.

I managed to get what’s called a Kilo Award at two parks. That’s making over 1000 contacts while activating. It can be over many sessions. I reached that goal at my two closest parks – K6532 Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and K8098 Empire State Trail. They overlap for hundreds of miles across New York State, including just a few blocks from my home. I usually activate from a trailhead (parking lot) a couple miles away. But I’ve used several locations from Buffalo to Medina as well.

I’ve also picked up another radio just for use while activating with POTA. It’s a Yaesu FT-891, a compact hundred watt HF radio that is a favorite among POTA fans. It works well, but I have a love/hate affair with it’s complex menu system. I keep threatening to sell it and pick up another IC-7300. But, it does a good job with CW, SSB, and even digital modes which have been a big part of POTA activating.

I’ve built up an arsenal of portable antennas as well. Everything from a couple Hamsticks on a mag-mount, or an 18 foot telescopic whip. I’ve experimented with some homemade loading coils to go with them. I still have the loaded dipole I wrote about a few years ago which would be good for this as well. Someday, I’ll try it. But my most effective antenna so far, when I have the time and space to deploy it, is the EFHW. Whether hung from a tree, or the 33 foot fiberglass telescopic mast, it’s hard to beat and works several bands. You can coax a couple more bands out of it with the tuner. I also have a DX Commander Classic, which I love, but takes a little effort to assemble for use. But when you do, it’s hard to beat. On a par with or better than the EFHW.

One more cool thing has happened. My son, Bryan, got his Extra ticket and is now AA2BG. He had a tech for a few years. I guess he and some friends at school got licensed. Not my urging, just all on his own. But he heard about POTA and got the itch to upgrade. He studied online for a while and took the Advanced and Extra in one sitting. Now, he’s out doing POTA as well.