Opening Weekend – NPOTA 2016

Challenging the notion that anyone is “too busy” to get on the air

I spent a few minutes over the weekend getting my feet wet in the NPOTA — as a chaser. My shack has been mostly abandoned over the holidays and I didn’t want to spend my last weekend  off work secluded from the rest of the family.

After all, the radio amateur is “balanced”, right?

I managed to make contact with three National Park operations, the first on phone and the others on CW. What was immediately apparent was the weak signal conditions experienced. That’s to be expected, after all, the activators could be operating from batteries and obviously are using portable antennas.

Others have noted that as the year wears on, and especially once we’ve passed the winter months, park operators will likely begin using larger, more efficient antennas.

Having found spots on the cluster I tuned around and took stock of signals, I switched to CW and  quickly worked two more parks. It’s worth noting that while this made for a couple of quick and easy  contacts, most of the park stations were using phone.

Operating a single mode probably won’t be a great strategy over the entire year — if you’re intent on putting a big dent in this event.

The contacts made were quick and easy. Events like this are perfect for those with little free time and challenge the notion that anyone is “too busy” to get on the air. My transceiver was on for less than ten minutes this weekend, yet I managed to put three parks on the leaderboard.

As part of the exchange, the park station sends their call sign, signal report, and NPS identifier made up of letters and numbers. Those “NPS Units” can be looked up on the NPOTA Web site and reveal more information about each National Park. I found it interesting to learn a little more about each of them.

+ New York [HP42] the Saratoga National Historical Park
+ New Mexico [MN40] the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
+ Louisiana [MN62] the Poverty Point National Monument

Can’t wait until next weekend!

Author: Jeff Davis