HAM Radio 101

POTA (Parks on the Air) Overview

If you enjoy operating in the great outdoors, Parks on the Air℠ (POTA) provides opportunities to advance your portable deployment skills, win awards, rag-chew with like-minded Hams, and take in some spectacular views.

From POTA’s website, the program is designed to “promote emergency awareness and communications from national and state/province level parks.” There are more than 10,000 sites to choose from in the U.S. and Canada. As of June, POTA operators had recorded more than 538,000 QSOs. Started by a small group of U.S. volunteers in 2016, POTA now boasts 1,500-plus registered users.

POTA awards are given for Activators (amateurs operating from within a POTA designated park), and for the Hunters who contact them. Unique awards include making QSOs with parks in all 50 states, working six parks on six meters, and logging 1,000 QSOs from the same park. Click here for all available awards. Per the rules, participants must make a minimum of ten QSOs for the activity to count toward a POTA activation. This must be accomplished within the same day in Zulu Time 00:00-23:59.

The POTA website includes all the information you need to get started. You’ll find registration information, a list of qualified parks and zoom-in map locator tool, rules, frequently asked questions, and active spots to begin your pursuit of POTA-chasing glory.

Experienced POTA enthusiast, DX Engineering’s John, KJ3X, gave us a rundown of some of the gear he takes when activating a park:

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