25 August 2016

NPOTA Activation - Tumacacori - 100th Annversary of National Park Service

Today is a special day for the great outdoors.  On this day, 100 years ago, the National Park Service was founded in the USA.  While I'm not a fan of big government, I do love nature and I'm glad there are protected places where nature is protected.

To honor 100 years of national parks, the American Radio Relay League coordinated with NPS and created the "National Parks on the Air" event.  For the entire year of 2016, amateur radio operators are encouraged to visit parks and "activate" them.  Other operators are encouraged to "chase" the activators, i.e. the goal is to promote the parks by having people make contacts from within park boundaries with others around the world.

Our local club, Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club, has done several NPOTA activations this year from nearby national parks.  This morning, we set up bright and early at the Tumacacori National Historical Park (designator HP45).  We were ready to roll before sunrise!

Tumacacori also happens to lie along the 1200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (designator TR13), so we were able to provide a double NPOTA activation to chasers.  We set up a single station, so we had plenty of operators to share duties.  We all used the OVARC club call sign, W7AI.

Operations began with SSB on 40 meters, then CW on 40.  A few others ran the station while I observed and assisted with the donuts :-)

After a while, I took over and operated 20m CW.  We were using N1MM to log, which has an automatic keyer, but I also used a nice paddle.  We were spotted on the DX cluster which helped draw chasers, so I was able to run on 14.043 for a while.

Most of the station gear was supplied by Tom, W8TK.  We ran 100 watts from a Kenwood TS590 into an end-fed half-wave, with the top up around 30 feet on a portable mast.  This was a nice portable setup, although band conditions were moderate at best.  We worked stations pretty much across the US and Canada.

I left a bit earlier than the others, because it's a work day and I needed to get to the office.  When I  left, we were hovering around 100 contacts, and hopefully they pulled out a few more QSO's before breaking down.  The park officials had invited us to a birthday cake and ice cream celebration at 10am, but I wasn't able to stay that late.

This was my first NPOTA activation, and I sure enjoyed it.  I think OVARC will have a few more before the end of the year and I'm hoping I'll be able to join in on the fun again!

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