I was recently asked by the President of the Washington, DC radio club (W3HAC) to give a brief presentation/demo on the popular Parks on the Air (POTA) program and some tips on portable radio operating.

We met up at Rock Creek Park, which is very beautiful and hidden gem of the district. The park is property of the national park service and runs in a north/south direction from Maryland down towards the white house.

Upon arriving we set up three stations: 2 QRP (low power) stations with vertical antennas and one 100W stations with a dipole.

We had some interference due to the close proximity of the antennas, but with a little configuring we made it all work.

I gave a short info session on Parks on the Air (POTA) and portable radio operations.

*Thanks goes out to Patrick Sullivan for sharing the video with me. Also, thanks to Jeff Dahn, the club president for his patience in getting all the proper permits and paperwork to make us legal in the eyes of NPS.

We had several experienced operators present as well as a newly minted general license holder. I made quick work in getting him on the KX3 and making contacts. He worked several Croatian stations which was a lot of fun. Not bad for 10W SSB phone. As always we had a lot of issues with local DC urban RFI, pretty standard for operating in the district. Propagation was up and down but we made it work.

We also had a visitor who found us through a Google search. It is always fun to have new people visit and share with them our passion for the hobby. We quickly got here on the air making contacts as well..because let’s face it, ham radio is not a spectator sport!

Something to note that I think ya’ll might find interesting. As I always do, before calling CQ on a frequency (regardless of the band), I listen first and after 20 secs or so I ask twice if the frequency is in use (QRL? for CW). If I still hear nothing then I start calling CQ. At the demo was no different. I started calling CQ and then noted that the POTA Facebook group members posted that there was a bible net on that frequency. With a S6 noise floor, yep you guessed it, I didn’t hear anything. So what did I do? I QSY’ed to another open frequency and started over. The last thing I want to do is interfere with someone else’s QSO. The reason I share this, is that sometimes you could be in an hour long QSO only to have somebody start calling CQ right on top of you. Now..they might not have ever listened or asked if it was in use first and just started calling away. On the other hand, it could have been someone like me who never heard anything to begin with…something to think about next time your on the air.


Stuart, KB1HQS