Outdoors,  Photography,  Technology,  Western Pennsylvania

Spring is Coming, and a Failed POTA Activation

Back in late January, I learned about an operating activity that suddenly sparked an interest in getting active again on the amateur radio HF bands. Parks on the Air aims to promote amateur radio and provide an opportunity for ham radio operators to practice setting up a station and establishing communications from locations away from the comforts and conveniences of their home stations, using national, state, and important regional parks all over the world.

This is right up my alley. Being outdoors, enjoying a hike or bike or paddle, and experimenting with radio gadgetry while I’m at it. Stations are typically battery powered and often low power. Antennas are temporary, portable, and pretty far from ideal as a result. This sounded great. I found myself a small HF radio and battery pack that would fit easily in my backpack (Elecraft KX2), and selected an antenna that could be set up as a wire tossed into a tall tree, or a collapsible vertical for times when trees might be inconvenient, or stringing a wire into them could be frowned upon (Chameleon MPAS Lite).

Unfortunately, I had forgotten that this weekend is another huge ham radio contest, and I couldn’t find a spot on the active bands that was free. My awesome Dad tried to make a contact with me, but I could barely hear him (ironically, we were probably too close and our transmissions were bouncing over one another. After a few more tries, I decided to pack it in and finish the loop hike.

Even though it wasn’t a successful activation, it was a good chance to practice setting up, and I have a lot more confidence in my process now than I did.

The hike was beautiful. Lots of sun, interesting partially frozen streams, and until shortly before I got back, nobody else on the trail. As I neared the trailhead, though, I noticed a bunch of people arriving. Apparently I had timed things well: The parking lot was now packed!

While on the hike, I went a slightly different way when I started, and encountered this pretty cascade where two streams meet. I have some ideas now on how I’d like to shoot this again, but for now, here is today’s photo. Have a great week!

Jonathan does a lot of stuff. If you ask Jenny, maybe he does too much stuff.