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What You Need To POTA

So, you want to try out a POTA Activation for the first time? Not sure what you need to bring? Keep reading, I will cover what you need.  

Today I am going to cover what equipment you need to bring to do a POTA Activation. There’s no need to bring multiple totes of equipment to accomplish a simple park activation. I started out this way. After a couple of activations and countless hours spent watching other YouTube videos to figure this out. 

It took me some time but now all my POTA gear fits in a backpack. This bag is too big for what I need to bring. It is a simple 30- or 35-liter assault pack that I picked up on Amazon. It has enough room for what I need along with a little extra space in case I want to bring extra stuff like water, a cook kit, or a tarp. 

Before we jump into the bag let’s go over the must haves.

You Need

  1. Radio

  2. Power source

  3. Antenna

  4. Coax

  5. A way to log contacts

  6. POTA Park Number

Let’s start with the radio. Do you want to run QRP or QRO? QRP is 10 watts or less and QRO is anything above QRP but typically means running 100 watts. The radio to the left is a Yaesu FT-818ND, which is a 6 watt QRP radio. If you’re a little mic shy running QRP is a good idea because not as many people will hear you. You don’t need a QRP and a QRO radio. You can use the same radio and just turn the power down in the settings.

Now let’s move on to your power source. You can use any type of power you want (AC Mains, Battery, Solar, etc.). The most popular option is battery power. LiFePO4 or Lithium Iron Phosphate is the most popular battery to use because it is light weight and almost all of the stored power can be used unlike a standard lead acid battery. Here are a couple of the batteries that I use. The first is a cheap Miady 16AH battery. It fits perfectly in an ammo can for easy transport. This battery is enough to run my 891 for several hours. The 2nd battery is a Bioenno 4.5AH battery. I use this one mainly to run my 818-ND, but it could run my 891 for an hour or two depending on the radio power level.  

For an antenna I always recommend keeping it simple. My go to antenna is an End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) for 40m through 10m, but I’ve also used dipole and vertical antennas. The reason I use an EFHW is because I can change bands without having to take the antenna down or re-tune. I also live in an area where there are tons of trees. If you want to know how to get an antenna in a tree check out the video linked below.  

Now moving on to Coax, I normally bring a 25ft coil of RG-316. I started out with RG-8X because that’s what I had. It was heavy and took up a lot of space. After some research I quickly bought a 25ft and a 50ft length of RG-316. Now my coax takes up almost no room at all. I don’t use my 50ft length of RG-316 very often unless I am going to run a dipole or put my EFHW transformer pretty high in the air. 

So now you’re all set up to run a pileup like it’s Field Day. How are you going to log all of the contacts? I recommend using the HAMRS app either on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is by far the easiest logging app to use for POTA. Tons of people still run a paper log which is perfectly fine, and I have no issues with that. I’ve run a paper log a few times to try it out. I didn’t really care for it. I usually log with my laptop, and if my laptop is dead, I will use my phone.  

Hold on just a minute before you run out to any park for an activation. You will need a POTA park number. Head on over to POTA.app and in the upper left corner is a hamburger menu. Click that menu and select map, then at the top of the map select your DX Entity (United States), then select your state. Each yellow dot represents a park that is registered in the POTA system. The only parks that can be in the system are state or federally run parks, wildlife areas, forests, or trails.  

Click and drag the map to around your current location or where you want to go. Click on a yellow dot and some info about the park name and number pops up. Select more info to view all of the info about the park. One of the more useful things on this screen is a link to the website for the park. This is where you can find the park maps and other info about the park including if you need a permit, entry fee, or closures. The other useful information on this screen is the leader board at the bottom. You can see who has the most activations and the most QSOs. Maybe you can drum up a little friendly competition with some fellow hams.  

Now go run out and activate some parks. There is nothing more fun than running a pile up, while out enjoying nature. Most of these parks also have some nice hiking trails. So get out, get active, and activate. 

 If you like this kind of content or have any suggestions, please drop them in the comments. Also, check out the video below I did on this subject. Thanks for reading 73.  

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