Introduction to Parks On The Air (POTA)

What is Parks On The Air (POTA)

Parks On The Air (POTA) is a blend of "contesting" (where you compete for number of contacts over a period of time) and "Field Day", where you go portable with your High Frequency radio to gain experience operating outside of your ham shack.

I'd like to quickly add that it's a lot less stressful than contesting - contacts are a lot more relaxed and, if wanted, social.

As for the "Field Day"-like part, ham radio operators setup their radios within a national or state park boundary and make their contacts from there, which is the "Parks" part!

Most importantly, POTA gets ham radio out in public where it can be seen! This brings up the most important facet of POTA - it allows you to be an ambassador to the world of ham radio. I'm going into POTA with the mindset that if I get the chance, POTA contacts will take the back seat to introducing someone to ham radio if they're interested.

The two parts to POTA

POTA consists of two different by symbiotic ham operators, the hunters that are trying to make contact with parks and the activators that have their ham radio setup within the boundary of some national or state park (there are others locations, but right now I'll simplify)

POTA Hunters

The hunters try to contact parks from the comfort of their ham shack. They do so by trying to contact an activator calling "CQ POTA". You can either find someone calling CQ POTA by spinnig your VFO, or check the POTA webpage that will list current activators and their frequencies - POTA allows you to actually pinpoint the frequencies where activators are looking for contacts!

As a hunter you do not have to do any reporting whatsoever. All reporting is done by activators. But if you wish to get credit, you should create a [free] account on the POTA website - more on that later.

POTA Activators

Activators are the hams who go on the road and setup their equipment in parks and then try to contact hunters.

This "on the road" side of POTA allows hams to hone their skills at running their equipment off the grid, setting up portable antennsa as well as other techniques.

And this is where hams get a chance to be good ambassadors to the public, but making themselves visible and available to answer any questions people might have about what you're doing and ham radio!

The activators are also the ones responsible for reporting contacts so hunters (and themselves) get credit for the contacts.

Last updated: 2022/07/13 1340