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Parks on the Air® (POTA) is a popular Amateur Radio activity that involves operating portable radios from designated parks and nature reserves around the world.

Thousands of parks are available in the program worldwide, and each will present a unique experience. Operating styles and seasons will also affect the nature of your experience.

The program’s objectives include:

  • encourage Amateur Radio operators to develop their skills
  • promote emergency awareness and communications
  • promote Amateur Radio to the general public
  • promote outdoor recreation and education
  • increase awareness and appreciation of protected areas around the world

Currently, POTA lists over 400 national/provincial/territorial parks, nature reserves and historical sites.

The following information is courtesy of the main POTA website:

  • Getting started with POTA can happen via one of two paths: as an “activator” who heads out into the parks or as a “hunter” who is trying to contact someone in a park.
  • The easiest way to participate in POTA is as a hunter, who can be located anywhere, and contact the activators in the park.
  • Activators are the individuals that pack up their portable gear and head out to a park, and set up a station. 
  • The first place to start as a hunter is to head to https://pota.app. The home page you land on will be the spotting page, which lets you know who is on the air, what parks they are in, and what frequencies and modes they are currently operating on. Spin the dial, and answer their call if you can hear them. If you make a contact, you’ve officially started in POTA! That’s all there is to it!
  • Activators are the individuals that pack up their portable gear and head out to a park, and set up a station. After you’ve done some hunting, you might want to take a shot at activating.”
POTA Profile: Tracy McKim, VE3TWM

QSO Today excerpt:

“Tracy McKim, VE3TWM, believes in the effectiveness of low power communications to communicate across town or around the World. Tracy uses his YouTube Channel, ‘Outdoors On The Air’, to first demonstrate the use of fiberglass poles to install wire antennas, and then to successfully demonstrate outdoor ham radio operation using those full size antennas to operate QRP single-sideband. VE3TWM is my QSO Today.”

Tracy’s info:

VE3TWM – Callsign Lookup by QRZ Ham Radio

Please check out my YouTube channel Outdoors On The Air which is devoted mainly to HF Portable operations.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqO2enRDIhg1PXahSxpoVHw

HF Portable: Answering The Call

This is my how-to on setting up an effective portable station. This is the basis for presentations I have given to Amateur Radio clubs in Canada and the US:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-UEyk845g8

 

Field Day 2022: Deployment Deep Dive

This one shows how to set up a Field Day station:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT2sZpfj7bU&t=1586s

 

Great Lakes On The Air #3: Lake Huron
Here is a breakdown of a POTA activation, set up and operation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTslUWpcDNs&t=603s

 

 

Benefits of Parks on the Air:

Participating in Parks on the Air (POTA) can provide you with several learning opportunities, including:

  1. Outdoor Skills: You will learn how to set up your radio equipment in a portable manner and how to operate it outdoors. This can include learning about battery power, portable antennas and radio communication techniques.
  2. Radio Communication Skills: POTA provides an opportunity to hone your radio communication skills including proper etiquette, frequency usage and operating procedures. 
  3. Enhance emergency communication capabilities: POTA can enhance an Amateur Radio operators’ ability to communicate during emergency situations. By practising temporary communication station setups and operating in challenging environments, Amateur Radio operators will be prepared in the event of an emergency.
  4. Nature and Conservation: POTA can provide an opportunity to learn about local flora and fauna, environmental conservation, and the importance of protecting natural resources.
  5. Collaboration and Community: POTA provides an opportunity to connect with other Amateur Radio operators around the world and to work together to improve your skills, share knowledge and support each other.
  6. Navigation Skills: POTA provides opportunities to enhance navigation skills by reading maps, using GPS devices and understanding park regulations.

The Parks on the Air program is a fun and rewarding learning experience that combines your love of Amateur Radio with adventures in the great outdoors!

Note: Parks On The Air activations  are eligible for the RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award for RAC members.