This new year brings us the 2016 ARRL National Parks On The Air Event. Portable operating like RaDAR has been my passion for a while. So this is a fit for me. The activation part of NPOTA involves traveling to a National Park System Unit and making at least ten contacts. Units include the national parks but there is a variety of locations included. In my case, the nearest NPS unit is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Its designator is SS08. The seashore is actually a number of locations on the Florida and Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Okaloosa Island location is the closest to my home QTH of Panama City, Florida. It is a little over an hours drive.
|The scraggly pine was handy for my antenna
I have been excited about my first activation since I heard of NPOTA. I went to the Okaloosa Island park in December to scout it out. It is a minimal park on the shore of Okaloosa Bay. There just happens to be a scraggly pine that is perfect for supporting my Chameleon Tactical Dipole lite. The dipole or doublet has 60 foot legs. The legs stretch out to palm trees on each side. I also tried a Chameleon vertical about 50 feet from the saltwater with great results on 17 meters.
|I operated from the seat of the truck. The rig is an Icom 7100 in the box. The tuner and battery for the rig is also in the box.
I wanted to do the activation on New Years Day. Unfortunately it was a rainy New Years. So I chose January 2nd to go. The weather was in the 40s with a breeze. So I used the same pine tree for the antenna but I ran the coax to the truck. I operated the Icom 7100 from there. Suzy came with me so I took breaks to walk her. She actually enjoyed the chilly weather.
|Suzy did not mind the chilly weather.
I had a plan to walk up the bands from 40 to 17 meters. On 40 meters CW, I had the ten contacts in 25 minutes. If you get spotted they come running! Eventually, I got up to 20 SSB and had the pileup of my life with 38 straight contacts over the course of 40 minutes. Now that pushed me to my limit of operating capability. As portable operators know, we can sometimes have a problem scaring up contacts but this was not a problem with NPOTA. I had 67 contacts for the day.
I am working through using ARRL Logbook Of The World. This is necessary to get credit for activating or chasing. I got the first ten contacts put in and I showed up as an activator on the leader board. If you want to do NPOTA and you are not enrolled in ARRL LOTW you should get that out of the way. It takes a few days to get your signing certificate.
Many of us are not so close to units to activate. I hope to combine activations with other family travel during the year. We will see. Of course, I can return to one of the Gulf Islands I might do that in a month or so. So stand-by for that.
|The view toward the bay.