POTA 2020: Taking a look at my stats

A few days ago, I checked out the leaderboard statistics on the POTA website to see exactly how many parks I activated and hunted in 2020.

This was one of the first times I’d checked my numbers in weeks. At the end of the day, I’m not a competitive guy, and perhaps one of the reasons I like POTA is it’s more an activity, less a contest.

National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) in 2016 was not a contest either, per the ARRL, but it felt more like one since it was a one year event. I definitely caught the NPOTA bug that year and mostly within the space of 5 months activated over 90 parks. It helped that my girls’ school bordered a national park.

One of my first NPOTA activations in 2016 with buddy Eric (WD8RIF).

Don’t get me wrong, NPOTA was AMAZING fun, but I had some serious withdrawal by the end of the event and even felt a touch of burn-out.

Turns out, so many NPOTA participants had withdrawal, that they formed POTA and even turned it into a non-profit organization.

POTA is a multi-year activity and is also international unlike NPOTA.

I do believe POTA has injected some much-needed life into amateur radio and has given operators a reason to take their radios to the field.

Back to the numbers

With all of that said, I was eager to see what my numbers looked like for 2020, so I checked out my entry on the leaderboard:

Activations

Here’s a breakdown of my activation numbers:

  • 86 Activations
  • 37 Unique Parks
  • 1721 total contacts:
    • 999 CW
    • 0 Data
    • 722 Phone

I found these numbers very interesting.

First of all, had I worked one more CW station, I would have made 1,000 contacts! Still: I like the ring of 999.

These numbers show me that CW has, indeed, become my favorite mode. I’ve only been activating in CW since July 2020 and it still overtook my total number of phone contacts.

The venerable Mountain Topper MTR-3B

To be clear, though: I love SSB and CW equally.

Thing is, I have come to appreciate how effective CW is when operating at QRP levels. Also, it’s much easier to find a clear spot on the dial to call CQ in CW–SSB, some weekends, it can be a real challenge

In addition, as long as I schedule my activation in advance, the POTA spots page will auto-spot me by pulling my details from the reverse beacon network (RBN). This is HUGE for me since a good 60% of the parks I activate have no mobile internet connectivity.

SSB, however, has much greater numbers in terms of operators. I’d be willing to bet there are seven SSB-only operators to every one operator who uses CW.

Phone activators sometimes amass DXpedition-like pile-ups. It’s pretty amazing.

No doubt, if you want to really pump up your POTA numbers, the best plan is to use both phone and CW.

Hunter Stats

I’m a very casual POTA hunter, still the numbers were less modest than I had assumed:

  • 281 Unique Parks
  • 337 Total Contacts
    • 203 CW
    • 1 Data
    • 133 Phone

POTA 2021

As with 2020, I won’t pay a lot of attention to my numbers. I do have a few goals, though:

  • Achieve all of my activations with five watts or less
  • Get my daughter K4TLI in on the POTA action (she’s close to taking her General test)
  • Make at least one data mode activation
  • Go to at least 20 new parks
  • Continue to have fun!
K4TLI logging for me like a champ

To be clear about my five watt challenge: I will use more than 5 watts in the field (indeed, I did yesterday). I often test transceivers and antennas during POTA activations, so need to push the power settings from time to time.

My goal is to work my first 10 contacts (thus achieving the required amount for a valid activation) of each activation with 5 watts or less.

How about you?

If you’re a POTA activator or hunter, have you looked at your numbers recently? What are your goals for 2020? If you’re new to POTA, do you plan to join in on the fun this year? If so, what equipment do you plan to use?

Please comment!

6 thoughts on “POTA 2020: Taking a look at my stats”

  1. In the second image in this article you have the keyer and radio on a clipboard; Is that a custom template for your activations?

  2. Yes, it’s one I copied from my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF). I no longer use them, though, preferring small notebooks and often logging directly to N3FJP via my Surface Go tablet. It simply saves time later. The sheets are great, though, and make logging quite easy.

  3. I too was a NPOTA activator. My first HF contact ever was on 9/10/2016 and then I threw myself to the wolves so to speak activating my first park on 11/12/2016.

    When NPOTA was over I went into withdrawal and I thought POTA was going to fill that void but here in Western PA there’s not much to pick from. We have a lot of parks but none that fall into the park list. One of the local parks I’ve been told not to bother because it’s in the middle of the city and the local police don’t seem to like any activations there for whatever reason.

    My goal this year is to start listening on CW more and working more parks via CW. Hopefully the activators will be happy getting 5NN PA because I’m still learning CW and a rag chew is out of the question at this stage if the game.

    I work a park every chance I get but ironically Thomas, I haven’t worked you since NPOTA which is very surprising.

  4. All my POTA activations have been on CW with a straight key. One of my 2021 goals will be to learn how to use a paddle.

  5. Hi, Curt!

    I, too, cut my CW teeth by hunting CW activators. It built my confidence, helped my CW interpretation skills, and most importantly exposed me to the various exchanges and abbreviations used in POTA contacts.

    I hope you don’t mind, but my answer to the second part of your comment got a little wordy, so I turned it into a post:
    https://qrper.com/2021/01/parks-on-the-air-pro-tip-finding-more-park-sites-to-activate/

    I look forward to working you on the air! You’ll soon be a CW op–you’ve got this!

    Cheers,
    Thomas
    K4SWL

  6. Steve, you will no doubt master paddles! It’ll be a fairly easy shift for your CW brain because I believe straight keying requires much more skill. And you obviously have some skill because I thought you sounded great each time I’ve worked you!

    Cheers,
    Thomas
    K4SWL

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