Many thanks to Scott (KK4Z) who shares the following post from his blog KK4Z.com:
ZN-Lite II Update
by Scott (KK4Z)
I’ve had these paddles for about a year now but I haven’t used them much. Here is a link to my original review: https://kk4z.com/2021/11/24/n3zn-zn-lite-ii/. The reason is rather complex. they are small but because of their design, they can’t be held in the hand like some other paddles. If you put them on a table with the included Lexan base, they are so light, you have to use both hands to operate them. To me, it was a conundrum. These are very well-built, precision paddles and as smooth as any well-made paddle out there. My original thought was to use them for POTA. I was a little discouraged with their functionality, and even offered to sell them at one point — but I didn’t.
Here lately, I have been pairing my paddles with my various radios. My Begali Signature with my IC-7610, Begali Traveler Light with my IC-7300, Begali Adventure with my IC-705, and my N0SA SOTA paddle with my TX-500. I have a Penntek TR-45L on order. It is a CW-only radio that has a nice retro look. I thought these paddles would be a great match for this radio. What I want for this radio is a set of paddles that can be operated with one hand. The TR-45L is a tabletop radio https://www.wa3rnc.com/store/penntek-tr-45l-qrp-transceiver. I envision its use at a park during a POTA activation. I decided what my ZN-Lite II paddles needed was a heavier base. I ordered from Amazon a 3″ diameter, 1/2″ thick piece of steel.
I drilled a hole to mount the paddle and 4 smaller holes to mount the rubber feet. The paddle hole is countersunk on the bottom so the screw head is below (or above) the surface of the base. That way it can be used without the feet.
The holes for the feet were drilled and tapped for 8-32 thread. I had to drill the hole all the way through because I didn’t have a bottom tap. Without a bottom tap, there would not have been enough threads in the hole if I didn’t drill all the way through. When I do these projects, I basically use hand tools and in this case, I used a cheap drill press I bought from Home Depot.
If you’ve read my field reports or watched any of my activation videos, you’ve no doubt noticed that I rely very heavily on automatic spotting via the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) for both POTA (Parks On The Air) and SOTA (Summits On The Air).
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to use the RBN functionality for both SOTA and POTA, so thought I might clarify (in very basic terms) how the system works and how you can take advantage of it.
Note: CW and Digital Modes Only
Keep in mind that Reverse Beacon Network spotting only works with CW and some digital modes.
I, personally, have only used it for CW activations.
The system does not currently recognize voice transmissions (although as voice recognition becomes more accessible and effective, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if something like this is offered in the near future!).
Here’s how the RBN works
The RBN is essentially fueled by a global network of volunteer receiving and decoding stations that feed information into the RBN spotting system. This system is running 24/7 and recording spots constantly.
If I hopped on the air right now and made at least two generic CQ calls with my callsign–barring any abnormal propagation–the RBN would no doubt collect my information and spot me automatically to their network.
Many thanks to QRPer, Curt, who recently left the following comment on a recent post and noted:
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.[…]
You’re right, Curt, and I totally understand. Many local, county, and private parks are not included in the Parks On The Air (POTA) program. POTA tends to include parks that are on a state, provincial, or national level. Not always in every country, but it’s the general rule of thumb.
I don’t know the POTA scene in western PA well because I’ve never thoroughly researched it. With that said, I’m willing to bet there are more accessible parks in your neck of the woods than you might realize at first blush.
Historic sites and parks–both state and national ones–tend to have very defined borders with conspicuous entry points. They’re, in many senses, “low-hanging fruit” for POTA because they’re super easy to find and usually have picnic and camping areas.
You simply locate one on the POTA map, tell your smart phone to take you there, arrive, find a picnic table or parking area near trees, setup,…et voilá! You’re on the air and activating. Typically, a very straight-forward process.
I would suggest new POTA operators start with these types of parks to give their field radio kit a good shake-out.
There are so many other POTA entities out there, though, and the POTA map (while an excellent resource) can’t represent them well.
I should add here, that POTA is an international radio activity and I do not know the various types of parks and POTA entities in other countries. There’s a lot of variability.
Here in the States, aside from parks and historic sites, we have other POTA entities like:
Wildlife Management Areas & Refuges
These types of public lands can be vast with many possible parking areas and entry points. Some have multiple, disconnected tracts of land and the POTA map only typically represents them as one clickable geo point because it would be incredibly difficult to represent them otherwise.
It requires the POTA activator to do a little planning and research.
Here in North Carolina, we have a lot of state game lands and they’re some of my favorite spots to activate.
Some game lands may only be a couple hundred acres large, others may encompass hundreds of thousands of acres.
Case in Point: Nantahala Game Land is only one entity on the POTA map, but it is located in no less than six western North Carolina counties–dominating the majority of them, in fact.
If you have lived the majority of your life where you are now, you’ll likely recognize some of the names associated with the park entities in this list.
Regardless, comb through this long list carefully. Do an internet search on the park names and you’ll quickly discover roughly where the land is located
2. Make a spreadsheet of potential parks
On this sheet make column headers for at least:
The park name
The POTA designator for that park (K-6937, for example)
The travel time to the park
The geo coordinates of potential activation spots
I also added
How “rare” the park might be (how many times it’s been activated)
How easy access to the park might be
If it could potentially be a two-fer (meaning two POTA entities overlapping)
3.) Find an activation site with Google Maps satellite view
Now that you’re developing an activation plan (via your spreadsheet), and you’ve located all of the nearby parks, game lands, wildlife management areas, trails, refuges, etc. it’s time to research each entity and find activation sites.
Most states (and provinces, counties, regions) have sites that will help you find access points to public lands. Each state is different–some (like North Carolina) have amazing online resources, others may not.
If you can’t get the details you need online, don’t hesitate to call those public departments in charge of the lands and ask them about access points. They’re experts on the subject and often your taxes pay their salary. 🙂
To find game land activation sites in North Carolina, I first go to the WRC Map and click on a site. The WRC site will offer up maps and even indicate obvious parking and camping locations.
I then find public roads in/around the game lands and do a Google Map search (you can pick your favorite mapping tool).
I compare the WRC map with the Google map (side by side) and search for parking spots using a satellite view.
Here’s how to find the satellite view on Google Maps using a sample POTA site:
Find the park area based on public roads, then click on satellite view:
Now you’ll be able to see a bird’s eye view of the land:
When you zoom in, you often can identify a nice parking spot:
That’s how I do it.
Important note: of course, it’s incredibly important that you compare public land boundaries with your activation site and make sure you will, indeed, be on that POTA entity when you activate. While there are no POTA police–nor will there ever be–I personally want to be 100% sure I’m activating entirely within the boundaries of my chosen park. Google Maps can’t be trusted to indicate unit boundaries–one needs to compare the state or federal maps of the unit to be sure.
Next, I take those geo coordinates (map links) and embed them in my POTA spreadsheet.
Later on, when I decide to activate that park, all of my research is done! I simply grab my gear and go.
If you’re like me, you may be surprised how many potential activation sites there are in your region when you take a closer look at public land boundaries and access points.
I found at least five POTA sites within a 90 minute drive of my home that were ATNOs (All-Time New Ones) that no one had activated.
How do you research parks–?
I probably should not call this a “Pro Tip” because I’m not a professional!
There are many different ways you can find great POTA sites within your region. Please feel free to share your POTA procedure with us in the comments!