X: Chris, I heard you’re doing POTA now too, so Park On The Air. Don’t like SOTA anymore?
C: Not at all! I wouldn’t want to miss anything about SOTA. Better almost nothing, but more on that later.
X: How did you get into POTA?
C: In the last few months the weather here in northern Germany has been very unpleasant. Rarely below 0 degrees Celsius but without any sun and always with an ice-cold wind. With many SOTA activations I got very cold and soon had to dismantle. Sometimes with gnashing of teeth for freezing.
X: Wrong clothing?
C: Maybe, despite warm gloves, fleece jacket, down jacket, rain jacket and felt insoles for the shoes (tnx POM ;-).
X: Hmmm, so why POTA then?
C: Well, especially in the last blustery few days, it’s tempting to sit in the car and legally make POTA. There are two POTA Parks in my hometown of Hanover alone.
X: And you enjoy going to these 2 parks over and over again?
C: No, of course not. I love hiking and have checked all my favorite places within a 100km radius to see if they are designated as nature reserves. So I was able to successfully suggest many new POTA parks to our responsible POTA administrator Martin, DK9CA. There were also some who have a SOTA summit. Ideal for double activations.
X: And how do these POTA activations work?
C: Of course no comparison with SOTA. There are no pileups and 30qsos in 30min. For a valid activation you need 10 qsos. This usually took me 1 to 2 hours. Fortunately, there are also some very active SOTA chasers (hi Lars, Don, Fabio, Franci…) And in the afternoon hours, when SOTA is quieter, the North American chasers come and are happy about every qso with good old Europe.
X: So you’re definitely staying true to SOTA. But what do you mean at the beginning with the sentence: I would like to miss “almost” nothing at SOTA.
C: Sometimes, as an underpowered activator, it’s very difficult to get through the pileup and finish your qso. Despite S2S in ssb or /P in cw. I don’t mean the very accommodating activators themselves.
X: But we’ll hear you again soon at a summit?
From my QTH it is a 3-4 hour round-trip to get into SOTA territory and as the summits get activated through the year the drives grow longer.
I have 4 POTA parks within a 30 minutes drive. Great for a quick outdoor ham experience without a whole day of commitment. The POTA activations help keep me growing CW skills. I can work @20 stations in a hour on POTAs.
I’ve also found a couple of very nice POTA mountain hikes in Western PA with good vertical that are not SOTA summits but the experience is exactly the same.
Of course If I am close to a SOTA peak SOTA takes precedence!
It seems maybe POTA is bigger in USA, don’t know for sure. I work both and often do combination activations. There are not a ton of either very close but POTA places are closer. I enjoy working both and have no problems making plenty of cw contacts at 5 watts with a short vertical antenna. As I get older I am more concerned with being deep in wilderness areas alone. So my hiking is getting less all the time. POTA can be a quick outing for me but I cut my teeth on SOTA and still prefer SOTA.
There’s a POTA, or is it a WWFF? near me. I think it’s the latter. It’s an oak wood. In a steep sided glen. I think I’ll give it a miss. SOTA is closer for me.
For me, the approach to POTA should be similar to SOTA. I’ve seen videos of large groups erecting Field Day style marquees and pulling linear amps out of their trucks for a POTA. Not clever and not how to grow the hobby or win hearts and minds.
Best of luck Chris, however you get on the air /p.
Both can be fun. I enjoy chasing both. A fair number of SOTA are also POTA at the same time as the summit is part of a park in the USA. Somedays, if you look at the weather maps, you can see why some dedicated SOTA operators went the POTA route on a particular day for weather related safety reasons while operating. Here in the USA, around noon, we find 5-12 POTAs active (and inter-mingled) among a similar number of SOTA. Often there are pile-ups. Both have very useful and enjoyable spotting websites.
The last time I looked for the nearest POTA to me (less than a mile away)I found the former “Pickering Showground” listed. It’s well fenced off now - private. Steam traction rallies used to be held there and car boot sales, custom car shows etc. Privately run for profit. There were plans to turn it into a holiday park but that floundered years ago and it was fenced off and secruity gated about 5 years ago. No way should it be classed as a POTA location!
Anyway, sure enough for curiosity I just checked back on their website maps (now improved) and the Pickering Showground POTA has now been removed. There are others within an hours drive of my QTH but the scheme doesn’t interest me as I am committed to visiting SOTA uniques these days. albeit there are none I can get to in less than 4 hours by car now. I also like operating from my home QTH with more power and bigger antennas and more bands than I muster on a SOTA summit.
Does anyone know if the 44 code they send relates to completing 44 QSOs on each summit? And is that the target you need to qualify and get the POTA points? The scheme seems to be catching on…
While POTA is claimed (in some quarters) to have started as early as 2010, the concept got a huge boost when the ARRL ran a year-long National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) celebration in 2016. That is where the present Parks On The Air scheme seems to have started, and naturally it initially covered just National Parks in the USA.
I certainly came across an incarnation of “Flora & Fauna” very shortly after I was first licensed in 2010, and as the present incarnation covers the pretty much the same sort of ground as POTA and has been established for longer, I can see why it’s taken a while to get POTA going over this side of the Atlantic.
I did register for POTA, but as a chaser there’s nothing much to be done. All the POTA logging requirements are the activator’s responsibility. I did just check, and it seems I’ve chased twice as many parks as I thought I had. The one I’d not counted was the result of an FT8 contact.
after reading your post I would like to add some questions:
Why establish the “new” POTA which is very similar to WWFF? WWFF already is an established award program. With a spot in the DX Cluster WWFF causes pileups comparable or even more than SOTA. POTA here in Europe seems to have only few chasers (you write about 10 QSOs in 1-2 hours).
There seems to be lot of confusion between WWFF and POTA also in this thread. What are the differences?
The only I could find: I can activate WWFF from my shack in my own house if my house is within an WWFF area. This seems not to be allowed in POTA.
POTA requires 10 contacts, WWFF 44.
But both POTA and WWFF seem to allow
operation from car
usage of fuel powered generators.
Here in Germany POTA and WWFF also use the same references - obviously as nature parks are the same, only the reference numbers differ.
What is the long term motivation of doing POTA? POTA seems to have copied an error of WWFF: Every reference counts only once. As soon as I have done all references around my QTH I am stuck with progress regarding points or diplomas.
SOTA allows me to gain points for the same summits every year, GMA every day.
Finally: I hope this is not too much off topic here in the SOTA reflector. But as POTA and SOTA can be combined easily (SOTA seems to have the more strict rules) this could be an addition for some SOTA activators.
The idea to make something known by the amateur radio beyond its borders I find good! You can see it at the temporarily assigned call signs for events.
If one wants to establish this permanently, it succeeds best over a structure, in which the respective objects are seized after criteria; particularly if one generates then still another valency of the objects (like the points of the Summits) or comparative lists of the activators and chaser.
The creation of these structures is a lot of work. That is succeeded with SOTA in remarkable and thankful way and it is in my eyes unique. Of course one can also discuss about some things here… but it is the best system of all (GMA, WWFF, POTA, COTA, IOTA,…) … and that’s why I do SOTA!
you are a true radio wave traveler and you will try many topics. Many hunters will enjoy your activation. you don’t have to justify yourself. you are still in the air and this is the most important thing … Leszek