Conrad Trautmann, N2YCH , writes:
On Saturday, October 21, 2023 at 11 am, Parks On The Air activators in Connecticut met on 40 meters SSB for the state’s second “Park to Park” net. It was a huge success.
Rewind the timeline…I was on my quest to activate all parks/references in the state. I discovered one other amateur radio operator had already accomplished this, activating 136 parks in the state of Connecticut. That ham was Shawn, KC1NQE. I reached out and started a dialog and clearly, if he’d done it and I was on my way to completing it, there was no doubt about our passion for the Parks On The Air program. We had a lot in common. Add Peter, K1PCN, who is also attempting to activate all references and is also the President of the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club and we had the core group that officially started up the CT-POTA groups.io email distribution list.
With the three of us as the first members of the group at the end of August, we began spreading the word through various channels. We shared the group URL with the ham radio clubs in the state: Greater Bridgeport ARC, Candlewood ARA, Woodmont ARA, MARC, FARA, Greater Norwalk ARC and others. I sent email invitations to top activators at Connecticut parks. We posted about the group on social media and met up with people at hamfests. And now, we’re up to 47 members. That’s in just shy of two months. Quickly, we’ve discovered others who are also on the quest to activate all references in Connecticut and are as passionate about POTA as we are.
Rewind a little further… Shawn, KC1NQE, had organized a park to park net via the POTA discord channel on Summer Support Your Parks Weekend in 2022. It worked out well and we wanted to try this again. We announced the net on the new group and instructed operators to email Shawn with the parks they planned to be at Saturday morning and also to share their cell phone numbers with him. On Friday night, Shawn posted the list to the groups.io channel so all of the operators could see who else would be participating. Shawn created a text group of the operators who signed up and on Saturday morning, searched for a frequency on 40 meters to meet up on and texted it out to the group. In addition to this being Support Your Parks Weekend, it was also the Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) weekend, so the bands were busy.
Shawn acted as net control, but with a twist. Once he had made contact with all of the stations on the list and any late check-ins, he handed over net control to me. Since we’d already made our contact, I called for stations below me on the list and once done, handed net control to Peter, K1PCN. As you can see, the further down the list you go, the fewer contacts need to be made eventually with the last person likely not having to call anyone, since they’ve already QSO’d with everyone above them on the list. It was the ultimate in getting park to park contacts since we were all out at parks in the state.
In the end, we had about 20 participants and virtually everyone could hear everyone else from one end of the state to the other. Towards the very end of our net, we began experiencing some QRM from a JOTA station that went on the air 1 Mhz down from our frequency position and a few operators missed a few park to park contacts. We have some ideas for our next net on ways to speed things up and move through the list more efficiently, but in the end, our idea worked out well.
The day didn’t end there. We planned a meet up at a park that is in the middle of the state, hoping that the trip for any operator within the state wouldn’t have a very long drive to get there. We met at K-1728, Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford, Connecticut. There, the Meridan Amateur Radio Club brought out their emergency operations trailer and tents and tables. They set up an SSB station, a digital station and even a satellite station. Many of the operators from around the state did drive to the park and met each other in person. A number of students taking classes for their technician test and some newly licensed hams also came out to see what ham radio is all about.
Before we wrapped up for the day, we did a round robin of park to park contacts on VHF and UHF. Surprisingly, some local hams heard us on the call channels and got in on the action and got a few park QSO’s for themselves. To get an idea of how the day went, Rob, N1NUG, recorded a video of his experience which you can watch at https://youtu.be/3aJBYFD1gZk?si=LVBScL8X3LCN5fHD.
If you’re into parks on the air and live in the state of Connecticut, please apply for membership in the CT-POTA group on groups.io. The group is active and we’ll announce future CT POTA events and meet ups on the list.