My conciliation with Parks on the Air
by Thomas (DM1TBE)
POTA and I had a very one-side relationship so far.
Roughly a year ago I tried to activate a park, but although I spotted myself, I had not been able to make a single QSO. In April last year, I tried it again, with the same result. Luckily, I was on a SOTA summit and spotting me on SOTA brought me enough QSOs to make it a successful activation for both, POTA and SOTA. So I decided to disregard POTA and my only POTA activity was watching Thomas (K4SWL) nice videos on YouTube.
My bad experience with POTA was probably due to two factors:
- I only had an intermediate license previously, which limited me on HF to the 10, 15 and 80 meter bands and
- POTA was no as popular in Europe and Germany in particular as it was and is in the US. While SOTA and the Flora & Fauna program already had a very active community in Europe for years, POTA had a hen and egg problem.
However, with the increasing popularity of portable operations, POTA has also gained some traction in Europe. I have the feeling that every time I take a look at the spots on the POTA website, I see more European stations.
Things here in Germany have changed for the better, too. POTA got a German website (parksontheair.de) and a community called “Draussenfunker.de” (“Outdoor ham”) with website + Discord that became very active with those pursuing outdoor activities in general and POTA in particular. Lately, local POTA coordinators have been named, who started to add new parks to the program.
Photo by Carsten Steger CC BY-SA
I thought suggesting a recreation area close to my home would be a good idea. A few days later I had the brand new POTA park DA-0410 30 minutes away. The park has a size of 6.3 km² / 1,567 acres and a peak elevation of 780 m / 2559 ft, which is also the SOTA summit Kaltes Feld (DM/BW-659).
My plan was to operate from the clearing on the top plateau, where there is also a mountain hut with restaurant. The 2 km / 1.25 mi trail was not very difficult with an incline of just 105 m / 344ft as the parking area is already at an elevated level.
Although the park extends to the proximity of the parking area at the Hornberg gliding airfield, I wanted to be in the SOTA activation zone due to my bad experiences with POTA activations. The gliding site was founded nearly 100 years ago. After the First World War, the Allies largely banned motor flight sports in Germany, so gliding airfields, such as this one, popped up across Germany.
The weather was cold and foggy on this Saturday morning, with temperatures below 0° C / 32° F. I have been there many times before, with and without a radio, so finding it was not an issue.
I wanted to be as flexible as possible band-wise, so I have decided against the 15 / 30 meter band end-fed half-wave and went with the PAC-12.
As usual, I have taken my Elecraft KX3 with the BaMaKeY TP-III paddle with me along with a good deal of hot tea.
One very important piece of equipment, that I have not mentioned yet, was a thermal mat to sit on. Together with hot tea, the mat made it possible to operate for nearly one hour.
I called CQ and even before I have spotted myself, I had my first QSO. Over the next 50 minutes I logged 29 QSOs in total with 12 different countries. It worked like a charm.
I am very please with the result. I got well above the required number of QSOs, and I am sure, if I had more time, I would have made even more contacts.
Dear POTA: You have one new activator! 🙂
13 thoughts on “Guest Field Report: Germany has a new POTA activator!”
Well done Thomas! An enjoyable read too 👍
73, Tom, M7MCQ.
I can imagine sipping an amazing German beer on a nice summer day while watching gliders take off and land all while activating both a summit and park.
Seriously: does it get any better?
Thank you so much for this guest post, Thomas!
Thanks Tom for such a great report. I look forward to more reports and maybe some photo’s of the gliders when the weather warms.
Congratulations Thomas on making nice-nice with the POTA spirits!
In addition to making a great set of QSOs in freezing weather, you also obtained a new park for your fellow hams. I’m sure they will appreciate it.
73, Bob – N4REE
Very nice! 32F for an hour – I can see how the heated mat is necessary! I’m very curious what type of glove setup do you use to operate a CW key and still stay warm.
Hi Daniel. You can see my gloves in my previous post https://qrper.com/2023/03/dm1tbe-field-report-shivering-with-18-wpm-on-the-ruins-of-the-medieval-hohenstaufen-castle/?swcfpc=1
Germany is a beautiful place. I hope to someday visit as my family immigrated from there a long time ago.
Hope you will have the chance to visit Germany one day, and it is then not as foggy as today…otherwise you might get lost and end in Switzerland 😉
Thanks Thomas for the nice report! I have yet to activate a combined SOTA/POTA. That sounds fantastic 🙂
I’ve had very similar experiences with POTA last year but this year is a totally different game.
One strategy I particularly like is to hop on 20m CW in the early evening in a German park and you’ll have tons of US stations hunt you almost immediately. Lately 10m and 15m have also been very fruitful during the day.
I have one of the PAC12s. It looks good. I got a 2nd coil. But only used once with little success. I did not play with it much, did have to use all of one of the coils for 20m (the coils have sliding tap). I need to play with it more. I think it can be configured with different sets of the bottom section (there are 4 sections that screw together) and adjust the top whip. Looks like a good antenna, but need to work with it to get best performance. 73, ron, n9ee
Great report, on such a chilly day. Winter activations poise unique challenges.
Thank you for the report Thomas!
de W7UDT (dit dit)
From one Thomas to another, I offer congratulations to you on a successful activation. I hope to have the same luck as you someday. So far only 2 successful activations for POTA. Hopefully this summer, I can make it to Colorado and claim my first SOTA/POTA activation. All of my antennas are home-brewed, but they work well enough. I do need a better radio though. It is truly a challenge operating with a uSDX Chinese clone, but I am grateful to have any radio at all to be honest. Likewise, I enjoy Thomas’ (K4SWL) videos and he has encouraged more hams to be involved in POTA through his videos than most I suppose. Still, I have not worked him on the air (yet). POTA is the best thing to come along in ham radio for a very very long time I think. 73, AEØPL
Hi Thomas. Thank you for your comment. I have not worked the other Tom(K4SWL) either 🙂 I am sure you will activate many more parks. The uSDX-clone should do it. By a mistake I have worked with 1,6W on a SOTA summit recently and got 17 QSOs. To be honest, I think homemade antennas work better than many commercial antennas. But I have 10 fat thumbs – unfortunately. Just take your time and enjoy the activation, even with less or no QSOs. My last failed activation was less then 3 months ago. What helped me a lot to increase the numbers of QSOs was to learn CW. Hope to work you one day, 73 de DM1TBE