Parks On The Air 101: Some real-time, real-life videos of a typical POTA activation using the Icom IC-705

On Monday (October 19, 2020) I received an inquiry from Dale (KI5ARH) only an hour or so before packing up my radio gear to activate Lake Norman State Park (K-2740).

Dale is interested in using his recently acquired Icom IC-705 to get involved with Parks On The Air (POTA) and play radio in the field.

What’s in my field kit

Dale was curious about all of the components of the field kit I use with the IC-705, so I made this video:

Equipment links:

Since I had already set up my phone to record the video above, I decided to make a couple more.

I thought there might be some value in making real-time videos showing what it’s like operating CW and SSB during a POTA activation.  The videos have no edits and haven’t been trimmed.  It’s as if the viewer were there at the activation sitting next to me at the picnic table.

Operating CW with the IC-705

After setting up my station, I first started on the 40M band in CW. I meant to start the camera rolling during tune-up, but forgot to hit record. The video begins after I’d made a few CW contacts, but shows what it’s like changing bands and relying on the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) to pick me up then the POTA website to auto spot me.

Note: to be automatically spotted by the RBN, you must schedule your activation via the POTA website in advance, or have been already spotted by yourself or someone else, so the system will know to look for you.

My video cut off abruptly due to a low battery message. I had to give my iPhone a quick power charge to make the next video.

Operating SSB with the IC-705

After operating CW for a while, I plugged in the hand mic that ships with the IC-705 for a little SSB action. My main goal with this video was to show how I call CQ and use the voice keyer memories in order to manage the field “work flow” process.  I also speak to how important it is to either self-spot or have a friend spot you to the POTA network while operating phone.

I spent so much time setting up and running the camera, I wasn’t actually on the air for very long, but I easily managed to achieve a valid activation and had a lot of fun in the process.

I’m not a pro “YouTuber” as I say in one of my videos. I much prefer blogging my experiences rather than “vlogging,” I suppose.

Still, I think I’ll do a few more “real-time” videos of POTA activations and speak to the various techniques I use to activate parks. Since these videos aren’t edited for time, they may not appeal to the seasoned POTA activator or QRPer–that’s okay, though. My goal is primarily to assist first-time POTA activators.

Have you been activating Parks or Summits lately?  Do you have any advice or suggestions I failed to mention? Or do you have suggestions for future topics? Please comment!

8 thoughts on “Parks On The Air 101: Some real-time, real-life videos of a typical POTA activation using the Icom IC-705”

  1. Dang, I’m always missing your activations. When the WX permits, I’d love to spread my LoG out at the dike and try to hear K4SWL in CW.

    Actually, these videos are creating a lot of appetite to make that a 2-way contact! 🙂 Great demonstration showing how comfy the IC-705 is for days when you have to call a little longer to catch someone’s attention!

    1. That would be brilliant, Ollie! Yes–let’s arrange for a 2-way QSO sometime. The stars might have to align for a good path, but hey!

      If I think about it, I’ll try to give you warning next time. 🙂


  2. Yeah some help from at least one star and old Heaviside would be great, and some antenna gain would help too. OTOH I recently copied someone from FL with 10W on a vertical on 20 in SSB without all of that help, so 5W CW, 2 good radios, some luck and a few sunspots could already suffice! 🙂


    1. I’ll make sure I’m also holding my luck rabbit’s foot! 🙂 We can make it happen, Ollie!


  3. Not a professional. You could have fooled me, Thomas. Great videos–very well done and most informative. I am planning to purchase a 705 so have been looking at things about it on the Internet. I was born in Newton, NC, and have relatives in the Denver area. I remember when there was no Lake Norman. My wife and I drove through there and crossed a dam on Lake Normal a number of years ago. Thanks again.
    Bill, W8BC (originally K4CPK)

    1. Thank you, Bill. I was born and raised in Hickory and we never went to the Lake Norman area. That’s amazing that you remember the area before there was a lake!

      I like Newton and go there at least once a year to visit the Catawba County Museum–chock full of interesting local history. It’s in the old court house!


  4. Thomas,
    Thank you for all of the information on planning a POTA visit. I’ve been scoping out what parks are already listed in WA and WY. I have residences in both states. Just received my IC-705 and I’m waiting on the tuner before I head out into the wilds. What type of coax are you using from the tuner to the Chameleon EMCOM antenna?

    1. Hi, Mark,

      Sometimes, I simply use the coax (with in-line choke) that Chameleon provides with the MPAS 2.0 system. Other times, I use an 8-10 foot ABR cable assembly. I’ll need to grab the part number off of that cable, but I believe it’s similar to RG-58.

      You’re going to love the IC-705! I hope to work you Park 2 Park someday! 🙂


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