Hike and Talk: Using best practices

Last month, I recorded another “Hike and Talk” session before a POTA activation at K-4861. If you’re not familiar with my “Hike and Talk” series, these are long-format, unedited videos where I hike (camera in hand) and cover a topic that’s not easy to encompass in an email reply or even blog post.

This particular topic was even difficult for me to title–!

I receive a lot of questions and feedback from readers about my field deployments and choice of antennas, feedline, power output levels, etc. Most of the time, these are readers who are genuinely curious why I’m not using “best practices” in my POTA/SOTA activations; deploying the highest efficiency antennas, using more counterpoises, running 100 watts, etc. etc.

Truth is? It’s all about context!

My field radio station, for example, isn’t set up to the same standard as my home or QTH station…for good reason, actually! The “best practices” I use at my home station aren’t always the same as the ones I use during a POTA activation.

I hope you enjoy this video and would welcome your constructive comments.


Click here to view on YouTube.

9 thoughts on “Hike and Talk: Using best practices”

  1. Thomas! Ya hit a ‘home run!’ I loved this video!

    Field expediency & efficiency, in balanced, are the overriding factors of ‘Best Field Practices,’. Balance those two, throw in some extensive field experience, and that is the recipe for success.

  2. An easy answer is that the benefit of POTA is *you are the DX!*

    It’s like contest propagation -the single most important factor in whether someone answers your CQ is the number of people who are listening for it! Not how efficient your antenna is, or how much power you are transmitting into it. Top that with the lack of competition, like one would experience in a contest, or trying to work a dx station, and you have a recipe for success with modest setup.

  3. Thomas, I undersand your points, and the fact that “You are the DX”, but there’s something more to say, let me expand my thought a bit

    First of all, when performing a POTA/SOTA activation one may just ignore the fact that the coax radiates due to common mode or that the setup is less than optimal, also since we’re dealing with QRP, but then there’s the other side of the coin

    By ignoring some “best practices” we are reducing the performance of our setup for both TX and RX and this in turn isn’t really nice with respect to the “chasers” since they may then be unable to hear or we may be unable to hear (some of) them, sure we can’t do miracles, but I think that trying to follow some baseline “best practices” means trying to be kind to our “chasers” and making some effort to help them contacting us

    Nothing else, and by the way it’s just my take which may probably be wrong

    1. I think that at the end of the day, the only real obligation that a POTA activator has to hunters is submitting a log so that hunters that have been worked get credit for the QSO, regardless of whether or not the activator made the 10 QSOs needed to get credit for the activation. Also we owe it to each other to be courteous operators and follow the DX Code of conduct.

      On eHam there was a discussion in the Portable Operating Forum regarding “Who Owns an Activation”, which I thought was a rather odd topic. However, if I had to answer that question I would say that IMHO the answer is the activator. They determine when and where it will occur and they are the ones calling CQ and they manage the pileup. It is up to them to make the choices of equipment, location and they call the shots. I understand that for some hams everything is a competition, even POTA, but there are a lot of us that just like to get outdoors for an hour or two and make a few contacts, often as a side to some other outing that might include a hike or a picnic. As a result efficiency is not always the highest priority in our goals for a portable setup. More often than not, there is a trade-off between efficiency and convenience. Often convenience/portability wins out. If I felt that I needed to spend hours setting up a hex beam and a 100 watt transceiver for every activation, to be fair to hunters, then I simply wouldn’t bother. The reality is whether or not I run 5 watts into a compromise antenna or 100 watts into a beam, there will still be stations that want to work me that won’t be able to hear me.


      Michael VE3WMB

  4. Home recovering from big surgery. I love the walk and talk sessions. Today may have been the best one yet. So nice to hear a friendly voice who has the best intentions for all of us. God bless and thank you.

  5. Another great video. Its like sitting in an outdoor lecture theatre enjoying suprb advice in a wonderful environment. Glad your here!

  6. Good morning,
    I just found your website when looking for popular portable field radios. While QRP related to 10 W or less, a slightly larger radio up to 20 W has its merits. The military Manpacks like the PRC 104 is liked/loved by many hams and can operate with reduced power. A combination of more features but battery operated radio allows both the successful use at home and portable.
    As for choices I oscillate between the ICOM 703 with build in ATU and the 705 which has an external tuner. The AH705 is a bit large but has a much wider tuning range then all competitors..
    If you look at my QRZ website you see my favorite all purpose Manpacks, some hams in NJ found a few on flee market.
    Together with the latest Diamonds mobile antennas I got great results.
    73 de N1UL

  7. Tom. A perfect mix of defining the differences between permanent/efficient and temporary/less efficient ops. My winter POTA activations are done with inefficient practices. I operate inside the vehicle QRP and roof / mag mount Hamstick(s). That’s deep into the less efficient category but still rather effective working the west coast and a sprinkle of European stations from Long Island. 72 Tom de KE2YK @ ke2yk.com

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