Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N0WBA, Feb 24, 2020.
Most fun I've with ham radio in years
This is the best advice so far. Use what you have. Then figure out what you'd like to change as you go along, and swap those out one or two at a time. I recommend against pre-purchasing a bunch of gear that you think you'll need only to discover your style requires something else. Don't necessarily go by what other activators are using. The drive-up park activator will have vastly different requirements than the hike-in 5 miles activator.
I also recommend thinking about your antenna. Something resonant that is easy to deploy is ideal. But again, use what you have first.
This is before POTA's. The local Club here (W7DK) went up to Johnson Ridge Lookout when it first opened. It was RV's, generators, and fun. I believe the radios used were an Ic-706 (mine) and an IC-735 (I think) don't remember who brought it, but the whole adventure was fun. Edit to add: This was at Mt. St. Helens in the mid 90's.
I've been a hunter for a while, but just preparing for my first outing as an activator. My "POTA case" holds an old Kenwood TS-50, LDG tuner, cables, etc. SLA battery in a separate enclosure. The TS-50 is about the same size as the FT-891, but it's a lot heavier. That's okay, since I'm not planning on doing any hiking with it. And it's paid for...
I also have an FT-817 if I ever want to go really light weight.
I don't do much POTA, but I regularly operate outdoors for SOTA (just did two summits this afternoon). I use a KX2 and wire antenna. It's only 10w, but I had no problem doing POTA activations with it, each time being a successful activation.
What in the world are you doing with your radio that puts them at such risk you need a disposable option? I mean, I take mine hiking, trail running, camping, hunting, even mountain biking yet they keep on going (I like to combine hobbies). Elecraft, when confronted by the lack of weather resistance in their KX line, said the KX2 is in use by US Special Forces in stock form without issues. I've heard of SOTA activators having large rocks drop onto their Yaesu FT-81x rigs. Nobody is reporting any sudden failures. Heck, I did two SOTA activations in sub-freezing temps, one in blowing snow flurries, with my radio today. POTA would be even less risky as many Ops drive to the site and set up near the parking lot (or operate *from* the car).
I dunno. I think the fragility of radios is overstated. Sure, you don't want to drag them down the street on a rope, but they can handle a little outdoors use without decomposing into wires and silicon dust.
From one of the activations today (could count as pota as I made more than enough contacts and was in a POTA "park"). The white on the trees is hoar frost. The temps were in the 20s, but the radio soldiered on.
I've spent the last month puzzling out a POTA/SOTA activation.....radio, power, antenna, etc.
Last summer I attended a field day with one of the local clubs, and they used marine batteries with an older Icom 100 watt rig and solar chargers and did fairly well but just like the post above I wanted to combine hobbies and make the operation for POTA/SOTA portable enough to take on my motorcycle.
I have a couple different bikes (nothing special), but plan on using my old Yamaha Venture Royale because it has generous storage space in the luggage compartments.
I enjoy using older Kenwood rigs so I decided to try it QRP and bought a Kenwood TS-430V 10 watt HF rig from one of the sellers in Japan on eBay figuring that I could run a lot longer on a battery that I could transport in my Venture. For $180 shipped I really couldn't go too far wrong, still waiting for it to arrive.
For the antenna I was contemplating a resonant EFHW and an antenna shooter to get over some trees but some searching led me to hams that use a SOTAbeam antenna lifting kite and found the whole concept exciting. But instead, my thought was to use a helium weather balloon to lift the antenna vertically. Of course the wind would give it a slope, I just have to watch the weather reports for high wind warnings. And waiting for warmer weather
They make helium weather balloons in all sizes and lift abilities so calculations would need to be made. A helium tank or two from Party City would of course necessitate taking the car out instead, so if I do that I might just go with a larger battery and my TS-450SAT and take the car.
Fun stuff to puzzle out when it's 6 degrees F and I don't want to leave the house
My idea of doing POTA is the same as N9RVB's. I do a lot of camping and RV'ing with my wife, so I would be operating mostly from a picnic table or portable folding table brought along. As such, I don't have to worry about battery weight; I have a spare car battery I can carry in the back of the truck; there's also the truck battery itself; the RV has 2 deep cycle batteries; plus if we're "glamping" in a campground then I could bring a power supply unit and plug into the RV's outlets.
I wanted an Alinco DX-70, but could never find one in decent condition. So I got myself a nice Yaesu 891 for the task: small and compact; full 100 watts. Get the Nifty manual for it...helps in navigating the sub-menus. I disagree with the statement that antenna tuners are too heavy/bulky for POTA use. I bought a used MFJ-949E travel tuner: it is 8"×6"×2" and weighs less than a pound. There are even smaller tuners out there; LDG makes a pretty small & light auto tuner.
My 891, the travel tuner, and a SignaLink interface all fit inside a hard shell, foam lined case (like a Pelican case) I bought off Amazon. I home brewed my own vertical antenna as well. It all rides in the back of my Silverado and can be set up in 30 minutes.
Anything you are willing to transport where you intend on going.
I was going to say don't over think it and just get out there and have fun, but who am I kidding? That's half the fun of POTA/SOTA, noodling out what kind of station will work great and be fun to use and set up.
I've got a couple defaults (KX2 internal tuner and a "random wire" for HF and a TH-D74 and a collection of slim-jim antennas for VHF), but when that gets boring, I start thinking about alternative antennas, radios, etc.
Now you got me thinking. I have a partial tank of helium here at the house and might have to try something similar (maybe while camping, definitely not gonna schlep that to the top of a mountain).
I have never activated a POTA. Nor have I chased POTA activations. That said, I assume any POTA radio is better than no POTA radio.