N2CX Adventures in POTA

Radiosport in America's Parks

Joe Everhart, N2CX

 

   

Welcome to my Adventures in the ARRL National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) during 2016, and Parks On The Air (POTA) in 2017 and 2018.  I'm still building "The Stories", but you can see where I'm going here, and more importantly where my passions lie in Amateur Radio today. 

Nothing thrills me more than operating out in our nation's parks ... the planning of equipment needs, researching the target parks, the travel to them, making contacts with old friends and new, exploring the local areas, and documenting my adventures.  My hope is that my experience in RF design, test and evaluation over the years, along with a cumulative 50+ years of being a ham, will help others new to the art and science of operating from the field. 

Please let me know what you think of my new "home" here on this page and maybe we'll get a chance to connect on one my coming POTA adventures!

72/73,  Joe Everhart N2CX

 


Activations
(Click on dates for details)

Date Designator

Location (List of all NPOTA Service Units)

21-May AA19 Batsto Village in Pinelands National Reserve, NJ
14-May HP28
TR23
Morristown National Historic Park, Morristown, NJ
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
8-May WR24
AA17
Chilikadrotna National Wild and Scenic River, Maurice River, NJ
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route , Ft Mott, NJ
7-May HP46 Valley Forge, PA
1-May NS67 Steamtown, PA
28-Apr AA17 New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route , Ft Mott, NJ
24-Apr WR03 Delaware National Scenic River, Wash Crs, PA
21-Apr WR04 Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River
16-Apr MP03 Gettysburg National Military Park, PA
9-Apr NS33 Hampton, MD
8-Apr NP51 Shenandoah, VA
7-Apr MN31

TR22
TR23

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, MD
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

7-Apr DZ11 Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, VA
3-Apr RC07 Delaware Water Gap, NJ
27-Mar HP12 First State National Historic Park, DE
25-Mar HP44 Thomas Edison National Historic Park, NJ
19-Mar TR22 Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, MD
12-Mar DZ09 Rock Creek Park, DC
5-Mar WR28 Musconetcong National Wild and Scenic River
27-Feb WR39 White Clay Creek National Wild and Scenic River
27-Feb HP12

First State National Historic Park, DE

20-Feb WR24 Maurice river, NJ  (Bivalve, NJ??)
15-Feb HP34 Paterson Great Falls, NJ

Blogs

May 21, 2016
AA19: 
Batsto Village in Pinelands National Reserve, NJ

Yet another good time at an NPOTA affiliate today.

Set up at the historic Batsto Village in NJ - home of, among other things bog iron cannonball source for the Revolution. It is part of the Pinelands
National Reserve, AA19.

Neat place in the pine woods which I first "discovered" on a grade school trip many years ago. Home of a guy name Wharton - ever hear of the
Univ of Penn Wharton School of Business? Also hiked on the Batona Trail as a Boy Scout 'way back when. Though I've not taken advantage,
many enjoy canoeing on the Mullica River.

Set up on 20 CW with a quarter wave telescoping whip on my vehicle so as to give far out stations the benefit of a location they may not ordinarily
work. Kinda crummy condx but did work several on the Gulf and West coasts as well as a good cross-section all over the country. Glad to work a
couple of folks known in the QRP community including Paul WA9PWP out in WI and John K4ARQ down in FL. No NJ stations since 20 meters
skips over them.

Luck was usual for most of my activations - did I mention the wind and rain?

Stay tuned for a multi-day blitz of NPOTA activations next weekend in the MD, DC, VA area. Gotta jack up the number of activations on the
Leader Board.

Back to Top

May 14, 2016
HP28:  Morristown National Historic Park, Morristown, NJ

TR23:  Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

It was a good activation!

Spent the morning at the NJ History Fair in Monmouth Battlefield in NJ where I chatted with some National Parks folks pitching other parks about
the NPOTA operations. They were familiar with the program and quite enthusiastic about it.

In the afternoon I went up to Morristown NHP (HP28) farther north in the state. Its a Two-fer with the Washington-Rochambeau RT TR23

After scouting Jockey Hollow and finding it OK, I went up to Ft. Nonsense, another depart of the park. It sits on a high hill overlooking Morristown
and was fairly empty so good for an NPOTA setup. Tried out a 16 foot Bass Proshops telescoping pole attached to a mobile mount and a 16 foot
wire. Resonant on the high end of 20 meters, it works well on 40 with some Miniductor as a loading coil. It is a backup antenna for my 33 foot pole
when the latter is impractical.

Worked fairly well with 29 Q's on 40 cw before the rain forced shutdown. Alas, only one "local" W2AAB, but lots of OH, MI, NC and KY. I think
Fred may have "spotted" me on one of the cluster sites since things picked up after working him. 40 is not good these days for close-in work with a
vertical antenna, a sloping wire on the 33 foot pole might have been better for that.

Thanks to those who listened but could not connect.

Only two more NP sites left in NJ for N2CX, Gateway NP at Sandy Hook and the Appalachian Trail; however the year is yet young. Will probably
be out of state next weekend.

Back to Top

May 8, 2016
WR24: 
Chilikadrotna National Wild and Scenic River, Maurice River, NJ
AA17:  New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route , Ft Mott, NJ

As the saying goes "well that was interesting!"

Set up along the Maurice River in Commercial Twp for a two-fer with WR24 and AA17. 30 meter operation had been chosen to avoid
contention with  QSO Party activity on 40 or 20 meters. A prime goal was to break in use of a small laptop for logging.

The favored spot was a boat launching area along the river near a handy bridge. Noticed large puddles in the area and then checked the
river level - it was only about 2 feet below the parking area. Guess the puddles had been made at high tide. Fortunately the tide was on the
wane. NPOTA rules say that on Scenic Rivers you have to operate within 100 feet of the river. Does that include tidal puddles?

My intention was to use my 33 foot mast and drive-over mount with a sloping 23 foot wire as the antenna. Weather forecast indicated
10-15 mph winds at home in Brooklawn, but near the Delaware Bay, it was more like 30-35 mph. Got the pole up, but the wind bent it over
so far that the antenna wire kept slipping off! Time for plan B, a common Hamstick on the car. Less efficient, but probably good enough for
the task. Did I mention the wind?

As it turned out, it was entirely adequate. Managed just under 20 contacts before things petered out in spite of poor propagation predictions.
Even managed to snag some of my NJ buddies though my signal was quite weak.

Oh yeah, and the computer logging worked out as well except for me hosing up the location in my upload to LOTW. Should have entered
WR24 and AA17, but only did the former. Now to figure out how to resubmit with correct Two-fer info.

Thanks to all who showed up to prove that 30 meters is a viable option.

Back to Top

May 7, 2016
HP46:
Valley Forge Park, PA

[I can't find your recap for this one Joe.]

Back to Top

May 1, 2016
NS67: Steamtown, PA

Yet another good activation!  Set up in the Steamtown parking lot with my 33 foot pole and drive-on mount.

The hope was that the proximity to the Phila/NJ area would net a bunch of local contacts on 40 CW. The ionosphere did not cooperate as has
been the case lately. Several "2" and "3" calls were worked but they were all expats. In fact several contacts were from west of the Mississippi.
Apologies to my close-in buddies.

As has been the case when I activate lately it was a dreary, rainy day. Operating from one's car is a definite advantage in those conditions. All
told there were 30+ contacts in just under an hour, so it was successful.

The "aftershow" was exploring the Train Musem exhibits afterward. Then the icing on the cake was an hour long steam train ride, the Nay Aug
Gorge Limited which runs on Sundays.

Have I mentioned that I love this park stuff?

My paper logging was sloppy as noticed when transferring data to LOTW. So if you worked me and don't show up on LOTW, or if there are
other errors in the info please let me know so that I can correct it.

See you next weekend from yet another National Park location.

Back to Top

April 28, 2016
AA17: 
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route , Ft. Mott, NJ

Interesting time today.

Location was Ft Mott in Pennsville, NJ on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail Route.

While my previous activations have been from my car, I wanted to see what could be done with a self-contained fully portable setup. This will
be needed to activate things like the Appalachian Trail.

Set up with my Alex Walkham Loop and KX3. Ran 10W vs "true" QRP since the loop is less efficient than my normal setup. 20 meter CW
was chosen since the loop is almost a dummy load on 40.

Results were not bad. 20+ Q's were made from ME to FL going north and south and out to CA, OR and BC on the west coast. Now some
of those guys doubtless had great antennas, but I even so my peanut whistle got thru. Obviously no NVIS on 20 meters but did manage to
snag N2APB in MD.

One of the bigger surprises was working NF0R who often uses a loop himself.

This stuff gets more addictive all the time!

Back to Top

April 24, 2016
WR03:
 Delaware National Scenic River, Wash Crs, PA

Yet another enjoyable time out in the parks. Weather was great and was able to use my 33 foot pole and sloping wire at Washington Crossing
on the PA side.

After the usual slow start, someone spotted me and it was off to the races. Managed to log 60+ Q's before things petered out. As has happened
recently nearby stations suffered. However K2SQS, W2LJ, W2AAB and W2BVH in NJ did make it as well as K0BAK (look up his last name!)
from PA did make it. For the most part most other contacts were beyond 150 miles or so.

Enjoyed walking around the Park after the operating was through, noting all that has changed since elementary school bus trips back loooong ago
deep in the last century.

Thanks again to all who tried and especially those who spotted me.

This makes a total of 20 Activations out of my goal for the year of 50. Guess who is at the top of the Leader Board for NJ...

Look for yet another location next weekend.

Back to Top

April 21, 2016
WR04:
Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River

Activated three-fer WR04, AA17 and AA19 today at the Weymouth Furnace Park.

20+ Q's total, not as good as hoped, all on 40 CW. Tried 30 and 20, but even the RBN stations could not hear me on those bands!
The ionosphere seems to be very fickle.

As a trial I set up my 33 foot telescoping pole lashed to a picnic table, using the table as my ground system. Tuned up fine and worked
many states, all over 150 to 200 miles away, in fact the first contact was in IA! Vertical wire gave no NVIS. Confirms my suspicion that
I need the sloping wire on the car to work close-in stations.

Good time, however and I enjoyed some leisure time in the park when done operating.

Thanks to those who managed to get thru and to all who tried.

Gonna do another nearby activation on Sunday, this time with some NVIS coverage.

Back to Top

April 16, 2016
MP03:
Gettysburg National Military Park

Wow, what a difference from last weekend!

The sun was shining, the temp was comfortable and there was only a light wind at Gettysburg Military Park on April 16. Propagation was so-so,
but not terrible.

Thanks to a tip from the ARRL NPOTA Facebook page I set up at Benner's Hill. It's an out-of the way location with very little traffic - a good
place to set up a 33 foot pole. There was even a serenade of cannon and rifle fire from a nearby Boy Scout encampment.

Arrived later than expected, but once on the air, contacts came at a steady rate on 40 CW. When the sending wrist decided that enough was
enough after an hour of paddling, 30+ contacts were in the log. It was a pleasure to work some regulars, N2CQ, W2BVH, W2AAB, K2SQS,
WD8RIF and a local NJQRP attendee AA2YO.

Another hour or two was spent getting reacquainted with the Roundtops, Devil's Den and other familiar spots. A stop at the Visitor's Center even
netted a seat next to a statue of Abe Lincoln. This National Park stuff is really addictive.

Thanks to all who worked me or at least tried and once again a special thank you to spotters.

See you next weekend from another location yet to be determined.

Back to Top

April 9, 2016
NS33:
Hampton, MD

It was a dark and stormy day...

Ah, the perfect end to an three-day NPOTA effort.

Approaching the Hampton National Historic Site in Timonium MD the wind picked up and intermittent rain became a wintry mix of sleet, freezing
rain, snow and hail. Definitely not the best weather for putting up a 33 foot antenna pole. So plan B went into effect. I had a 20 ft Black Widow
pole and 16 ft end-loaded wire used the week before at the Delaware Water Gap outing - did I mention the wind? Fortunately this went up ok
and surprisingly loaded up quite well. Frequency was 7034 kHz
and mode was CW at a mighty 5W.

Once again after briefly topping off the ATU, WD8RIF sat there lying in wait. After a couple of minutes things really started hopping once I got
"spotted" on one or more spotting sites. Conditions weren't great, but in 45 minutes or so 20+ Q's were in the log, thanks to some folks with really
good ears and well-performing antennas. Sorry that my antenna was not the best for NVIS. As at the Water Gap the closest contact was over 100
miles away.

Oh yeah, the Hampton site is kinda interesting, in an Antebellum sort of way. This National Park thing is really a blast!

Back to Top

April 8, 2016
NP51:
Shenandoah, VA

Today, Friday I ventured down to Shenandoah, VA on the Skyline Drive. Band conditions were not as good so only a measly 12 contacts were
made in an hour of operation. I then tried 20 meters with a mobile whip with no joy. Someone else had commandeered my favorite spot 14.061
so I went up to about 14.0615. Nil, not even a hit on the Reverse Beacon Network. Even so the 12 Q's on 40 satisfied the minimum of 10
needed for a valid activation.

Thanks to all of those who waded into the waters and made these operations a success, and a big thanks to the "spotters" who brought in the
non-qrp crowd to make things interesting.

So far this week now, I have 5 activations and over 90 contacts. There's more to come though. My next post will lay out another planned activation
for Saturday, April 9.

Back to Top

April 7, 2016
MN31: Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
TR22:
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
TR23:
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

Whew, quite a week so far.

On Thursday N2CX set up at Ft McHenry in Baltimore in a special place set aside by the NPS for NPOTA operations. I recommend for those
who want to operate there to contact them two weeks in advance to get permission. The site is well worth it and the folks are most gracious in
allowing hams to use it.

BTW, it is a 3-fer site covering Ft McHenry MN31 as well as The Washington Rochambeau Route TR23 and the Star Spangled Banner Trail
TR22. So that's a total of 3 activations at one swell foop!

Using my new favorite antenna, a 40 meter 1/4 wave wire strung to a 33 foot pole, I found good success on 40 meter CW. After a slow start,
things picked up and over 40 Q's were logged all over the East Coast and as far west as MO. At times it was like a DX pileup - what a rush!

That evening I went down to Wolf Trap DZ11 in Va and set up at 5 pm. Once again things went fast and furious on 40 m for about an hour resulting
in another 40 Q's from CT to FL and AL and as far west as MO and MN. A total of 40 contacts were logged. At that point my wrist was limp and
my "fist" was atrocious...

40 meters was superb on Thursday even with a measly little 5 watts.

Back to Top

April 7, 2016
DZ11:
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

[I need this recap Joe]

Back to Top

April 3, 2016
RC07:
Delaware Water Gap

Wow, another "interesting" activation.  First thing was the weather, temps in the 30's and steady winds in the 30's with much higher gusts.  
Best location found was close to the Delaware River on the NJ side with high mountain walls blocking most directions.

 

Attempt to set up previous "killer" antenna was unsuccessful due to high winds.  This meant that the backup antenna, a 20 ft pole with a
loaded 16 ft wire was used.  Unlike the "killer" this was lower efficiency with a mostly vertical orientation, thus minimizing NVIS for
close-in contacts.  Not good for 40 meter operation.

 

First contact was immediate with WD8RIF; Bill must have been lying in wait!  Thanks!

 

With the signal blocked, a total of only 10 contacts were made in spite of reasonably good SNR on the Reverse Beacon Network, at
least from far out stations.   Quick sojourn to 20 meters netted no contacts with only one 4 dB hit on RBN and that was from Utah.
Going back to 40 netted one more QSO.

 

At least it was a success with more than the minimum 10 contacts made.  Sorry for the locals who couldn't get thru.

 

If I ever go back to the Gap it will be under more benign conditions - did I mention the wind?  Plus a site with improved view of the
horizon will be imperative.

Back to Top

March 27, 2016
HP12:
First State National Historic Park, DE

Wow, what a blast today! Thought that pickin's might be slim today what with it being Easter and alll - not so. Managed an hour of
operation with 31 good contacts all over the place.

New antenna - a 33 ft sloping wire was much more effective than previous Hamstick. Will use the wire when practical for future
operations. Managed contacts out as far as Nebraska and that was on 40 meters during daylight!

Super "happening" was when WD8RIF called from TR04 in Ohio. It was my first NPOTA to NPOTA contact.

Thanks to all who took time out from their Easter festivities to, as my son calls it, "play beep-beep."

And a special thanks to those who "spotted" me causing some mini-pileups

Back to Top

March 25, 2016
HP44:
Thomas Edison National Historic Park

[Need recap for this one Joe]

Back to Top

March 19, 2016
TR22: Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

Another successful NPOTA activation, this time on the Star Spangled Historic Trail at North Point Park in Edgemere, MD. This makes
a total of 6. Log submitted to and accepted by LoTW.

Arrived a tad later than expected due to traffic but there were several folks waiting. I had intended to use a more efficient 40 meter antenna
than the usual Hamstick type, but rain prevented setting it up - maybe next time.

Even so, 20 CW QSOs were logged From ME to AL and out as far as IN. 40 petered out after an hour or so and 20 was attempted but
competition with a European DX contest made the effort worthless.

All in all it was a good day and a nice park to further investigate during nicer weather.

Thanks to all who took time out to contact me and spot me on qrpspots and dxsummit. Spots truly work out well.

Look for the next activation from a location in NJ on Good Friday presumably with a more efficient skywire. Details to follow later in the week.

Back to Top

March 12, 2016
DZ09:
Rock Creek Park, DC

Wow, yet another fun activation.  This time it was at Battery Kemble Park in DC: <http://www.nps.gov/cwdw/learn/historyculture/battery-kemble.htm>. 
Kinda coincidentally, this is a park that was a popular sledding spot when my son attended nearby American University some years back.  Just picture a
bunch of Poly Sci students sliding down the hills on cafeteria trays, flattened cardboard boxes and plastic wading pools "liberated" from a nearby daycare
center...

I finally manged to get set up about a half hour after the announced time.  Firing up on 7.034 kHz there were no takers for the first 10 minutes or so. 
 Finally I self-spotted on qrpspots  and things got going.  36 good contacts were amassed during the next hour, all over the East Coast and out as far
as Iowa.  Not too shabby for a KX3 at 5 watts and a Hamstick (TM) on my car.

Oh, and the park is a neat place to stroll around and enjoy our recent warm March weather.  Lots of folks there used the opportunity to picnic and frolic
with their four-legged friends.

Thanks to all who took the time to work me and to post further on-line spots.  The latter makes quite a difference!

I'll to upload the log to Lotw later today.

Look for me next week from yet another location.

Back to Top

March 5, 2016
WR28:
Musconetcong National Wild and Scenic River, NJ

[Need recap for this one Joe.]

Back to Top

February 27, 2016
WR39:
White Clay Creek National Wild and Scenic River, PA

All went well at WR39 with over 20 contacts on 40 meter CW, thus meeting the 10 Q NPOTA criterion. Once again, things picked up
after some kind soul "spotted" the operation on dxsummits.

Perhaps the best lesson learned was that early (1 PM) is better than late (3 PM).

Some very good news is that I've finally mastered LOTW, so the contacts "count" now.

Look for me on Saturday the 6th at yet another location in the mid-Atlantic region, details to come in a post on Friday.

Thanks to all who took the time to hook up. That, and enjoying yet more historical locations, make it all worthwhile!

Back to Top

February 27, 2016
HP12:
First State National Historic Park, DE

Wow, what a blast today! Thought that pickin's might be slim today what with it being Easter and alll - not so. Managed an hour of
operation with 31 good contacts all over the place.

New antenna - a 33 ft sloping wire was much more effective than previous Hamstick. Will use the wire when practical for future
operations. Managed contacts out as far as Nebraska and that was on 40 meters during daylight!

Super "happening" was when WD8RIF called from TR04 in Ohio. It was my first NPOTA to NPOTA contact.

Thanks to all who took time out from their Easter festivities to, as my son calls it, "play beep-beep."

And a special thanks to those who "spotted" me causing some mini-pileups

Back to Top

February 20, 2016
WR24:  Bivalve, NJ

Yesterday's operation from Bivalve (not Shellpile) NJ was pretty good.

Started of on 30 meters but was disappointed to only make 3 contacts. I thought that perhaps I'd encounter more refugees from the
DX contest scent than that.

40 meters, though was different. My first Q there was from Fred W2AAB  who then spotted me on DXsummit! That started a mini-
pileup resulting in 16 more contacts. Thanks, Fred!

Guess the next activation will concentrate more on 40 and 20 where there activity is greatest.

However I will stray over to 30 and, possibly, other WARC bands to stir up more action on them.

Thanks to all who made it a worthwhile activity.

Logs will be on LOTW once I manage to jump thru all of the ARRL hoops.
Back to Top

February 15, 2016
HP34:
Paterson Great Falls, NJ

[Place commentary here.]

Back to Top


A Presentation ... (click image below to view)

[Right-click to download PDF to your computer.]

Back to Top

 


Copyright 2016-2018  Joseph Everhart. All rights reserved.
                            Last Update: 6/4/2018