I’ve been hitting the POTA activations pretty hard lately, and finally made it to 300 confirmations with unique parks. It’s definitely a challenge, but attainable by anyone, no matter the skill or equipment level.
Steve, K5ATA, has just uploaded an interview with Jason Johnston, W3AAX, with a great overview of the Parks on the Air program.
Goodgame Ham Radio & Outdoors YouTube Channel
This was a good overview of the POTA program. Steve has a great channel with lots of videos about various aspects of ham radio. Check it out here.
As I’ve said many times, YouTube is your friend. I don’t care what I’m doing … building an antenna, wiring a switch, buying a new phone, or changing a washer in a faucet … there’s most likely a video showing how to do it.
The propagation gods giveth and the propagation gods taketh away … . Saturday was a good day for radio for me. I had over twenty POTA contacts and too many digital contacts to count. Then came Sunday!
There were plenty of spots for POTA activators, but I could not hear any of them well enough to make a solid contact. My noise levels were up and signal strengths were down. I was even having difficulties making digital contacts. The bandscope was pretty much flat for most of the day. Bummer!
I got up earlier again this Saturday and fired up the rig. I worked six POTA stations in less than an hour … pretty good mix of CW and SSB. I even worked AC8RG on 40 and 60 Meter CW. A quick check shows that that’s my first CW contact on the 60 Meter band … 5.405 MHz marks the spot!
Before that, I worked a bunch of stations on 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 Meter FT4/8. Mostly USA and Canada, as you would expect on the lower bands, but an occasional European there too. There’s always contacts to be made on digital. Just throw your call out there and somebody will answer … almost guaranteed!
This past weekend was pretty rough, propagation-wise. Here at the QTH, noise levels were quite high, and the bands seemed to be sparsely populated.
I checked the POTA spotting page and there must have been ten or fifteen activators listed, and I literally could not hear a one! Either the noise covered their signals, or I just couldn’t even discern that there WAS a signal. I gather that there was some sort of solar storm, and I noted that the sunspot number was down to zero again.
No luck! Except for the digital modes, that is! It was easy to work loads of FT-mode stations, pretty much on demand. It seems that there’re always FT QSOs to be had.
Well, every day is a new day! If you don’t like the weather today (space or terrestrial), wait until tomorrow 😀 .
The Solar Flux Index is in the 70s, and the Sunspot Number is up in the teens … quite an improvement over just a year ago. Some predictions say this cycle may be a barn-burner … only time will tell 🙂 .
I do notice that the general noise level seems to be a bit higher. So even though the signals are stronger, so is the background noise. Some of that is the season … summer is just naturally noisier than the rest of the year (mainly atmospheric noise from thunderstorms), but some is (I think) from a more “excited” atmosphere due to the rising solar cycle.
I’ve been adding a few POTA contacts most days. I’ve seen more and more CW activations and, with the noise levels on the lower bands, it’s copyable when you can barely hear the SSB signals. In lots of cases, the CW signals are effectively not even moving the S-meter, but still good copy.
Along with the increased noise levels, there’s some pretty nasty QSB, or fading. I can be hearing a station well enough to copy 100 percent one second … reply to them … and they come back multiple S-units down, sometimes inaudible. Hey, that’s the way it goes!
I’ve been keeping up my FT4/8 count, too. There’s always a few contacts to be had there. Those keep up the QSO count 🙂 .