Tag Archives: National Parks

NPOTA Fun – Activating a New Park

Ever since we built our Mobile HF Station, we’ve talked about taking it to Acadia National Park in Maine and operating from the top of Cadillac Mountain.  The 2016 ARRL NPOTA event gave us the motivation to plan the trip for the week before Labor Day.    The week before our trip, we saw an article in the ARRL Letter encouraging operation from the newly declared National Monument, Katadhin Woods and Waters in Maine, which had just be designated as NPOTA MN84.  Visiting the NPS website, we learned that the park is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Bar Harbor, where we are staying.  We decided to accept the challenge to be the first to activate the new park.

Our F150 Mobile Station at the entrance to Katadhin Woods and Wildlife National Monument
Our F150 Mobile Station at the entrance to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Tuesday August 30 was our first full day of vacation, we left our hotel room and parked by the Acadia visitor center and called “CQ National Parks”.   We ended up with 76 contacts in the log from NP01.

After that we got on the road and headed toward Katadhin Woods and Waters, activating counties along the way including the county line between Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

NPS Map of the Park

As a newly designated National Monument, Katadhin Woods and Waters does not yet have a visitors center or any signs showing you when you enter and exit the park.  We just had the map (above) to determine where the park boundaries were.    All of the roads in black on the map are gravel roads that are also used for logging trucks.

Entrance to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Entrance to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

We entered the park from Swift Brook Road off Rt 11 in the lower right corner of the map.  We drove through the lower section by the entrance and then headed north along the Eastern Branch of the Penobscot River and operated near the Loos camping area.   The sign above confirmed that we were within the park boundaries.

Scenic View of Katahdin Woods and Waters NM
Scenic View of Katahdin Woods and Waters NM

The scenery along the river was beautiful with views of the mountains in the distance.

Operating at MN84
Operating at MN84

We started operating on 20m and the pileups were huge!  Everyone was excited to get this new NPOTA into the log.  Fred, AB1OC/M ended up going split on 20m due to the size of the pileups.  After a while, he moved to 40m to give the close in folks a chance at MN84.  We went back and further between 20m and 40m until the pileups thinned out.   We also made 18 QSOs with the club callsign N1FD to also give the club credit for the activation.  We really enjoyed activating the park and the people we talked to were great!  We made a total of 350 QSOs from MN84.

National Park Yes!
Friendly Sign at Katahdin Woods & Waters

We also plan to activate Acadia National Park NP01 again from Cadillac Mountain this week. We will also activate Saint Croix Island, HS01 and Roosevelt Campbello International Park, AA21 in Canada (as AB1OC/VE9 and AB1QB/VE9).

Activating MN84 for the first time was truly a memorable experience.  We enjoyed it so much we will be back on Saturday to give more NPOTA chasers a chance at MN84!  Hope to talk to you on the air!

Anita, AB1QB

Our Second Round Of NPOTA Activations

We held our second series of National Parks On The Air Activations this past week. The weather was beautiful and we have the pleasure of activating two different parks this time.

Mobile HF In Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP
Mobile HF In Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

On Saturday, Aron W1AKI and Merle W1MSI Insinga, Anita AB1QB and Fred AB1OC activated Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park (NPOTA HP26) in Vermont, USA. We used our Mobile HF station for this activation which was a SSB operation on 20m and 40m using 500w.

Operating Mobile HF in NPOTA NH26
Operating Mobile HF in NPOTA HP26

We took turns operating as two person teams with an operator and a logger. The IC-7000 radio which we use in our Mobile HF station is easily accessible for connection and we brought a laptop running N1MM+ which we connected to the radio. This made logging accurate and easy. We made a little over 210 QSOs in about 2 1/2 hours in Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller on Saturday.

Saint-Gaudens NHS
Saint-Gaudens NHS

On Sunday, we activated Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (NPOTA NS60) for the second time.  In addition to the gang from Saturday, Joe KB1RLC and Jill Gordon, Jeff Millar WA1HCO, Ira Brand KC1EMJ and Mike Ryan K1WVO joined us for the Sunday activation.

Portable Antenna - 20m Inverted-V
Portable Antenna – 20m Inverted-V

We arrived early on Sunday and began our operation by setting up and tuning a 20m Inverted-V antenna for our portable station. We were able to get the feed point of this antenna up higher (about 35 feet) this time and the antenna performed better as a result.

Portable Operation With A View - NPOTA NS60
Portable Operation With A View – NPOTA NS60

We setup our 20m portable station in a shady spot at the bottom of the park’s meadow. This gave us a nice view while operating.

20m Portable Station
20m Portable Station

We used our 20m portable setup which is based upon the 100w Icom IC-7300 again for our second activation and it worked very well. We had a laptop computer running N1MM+ for logging.

Nashua Area Radio Club Operating Portable In NPOTA NS60
Nashua Area Radio Club Operating Portable In NPOTA NS60

The 20m portable station tent was our main “hangout” during our NPOTA activation on Sunday.

Mobile HF On 40m In NPOTA NS60
Mobile HF On 40m In NPOTA NS60

We also had our Mobile HF station at Saint-Gaudens and we operated it on 40m. We were QRO at 500w from the Mobile.

40m Bandpass Filter - 500W
40m Bandpass Filter – 500W

We used the new bandpass filters from DXEngineering on both the 40m Mobile HF and 20m Portable stations. These filters have very low passband loss and very good filtering characteristics. We had no problems with interference between our 20m and 40m stations during our activations.

Saint-Gaudens Park Staff
Saint-Gaudens Park Staff

The park staff rolled out the red carpet for us during both of our NPOTA activations. They displayed our signage and shared the information that we provided about the NPOTA program and our club. They really made us feel at home in the park.

Great Weather And Music Draws A Crowd
Great Weather And Music Draws A Crowd

There was a large crowd of visitors at the park during our activation. The combination of great weather and live music was a huge draw for folks. This gave our club and our NPOTA activation some nice public exposure.

Abe Lincoln Sculpture
Abe Lincoln Sculpture

Saint-Gaudens was a renowned culture in his time and there are many impressive pieces of sculpture on the park grounds. The park recently commissioned this impressive sculpture of Abraham Lincoln which has become one of their centerpiece works in the park.

Flower Gardens At Saint-Gaudens
Flower Gardens At Saint-Gaudens

The park has many beautiful gardens and they offer a wonderful set of surroundings for the sculptures in the park.

Our Favorite Walkway In The Park
Our Favorite Walkway In The Park

This is my personal favorite spot in the park – a Birch tree-lined walkway!

Team Operating Our Portable Station
Team Operating Our Portable Station

Our NPOTA operations kept us pretty busy all afternoon on Sunday. We operated as two person teams – an operator and a logger. This gave more of us a chance to operate and the teamwork made it easier to handle the steady stream of callers.

More Team Operating
More Team Operating

I got a chance to operate both the mobile and portable stations. It was great fun handling our contacts with NS60!

Eyeball QSO With A Local HAM
Eyeball QSO With A Local HAM

It seems that every Amateur Radio operation that I have the pleasure to be part of manages to hand our a nice surprise or two. This one was not exception. I worked a local HAM, Jeff Katchen WB2NWR, in Cornish, NH which is very near the park. He came by afterwards to visit and share his QSL card and a nice eyeball QSO!

Our operation was a lot of fun –  a success by all measures. We made a total of 570+ QSOs between our activations on Friday and Saturday.

If we include our test activation of Saint-Gaudens, our NEQP activations of both parks and our July activation of Saint-Gaudens, we have made a total of 1,240+ NPOTA QSOs as N1FD!

There was some discussion at the end of the day on Sunday about doing one more NPOTA activation this year. Our final one would be a high-power operation with both stations running QRO 500w! We will discuss this at an upcoming club meeting and we’ll certainly do a third activation if there is enough interest and support.

We took a lot of nice pictures between this last and our previous activations. You can look at them in the gallery which follows.

73,

Fred, AB1OC

2016 Summer Activities!

The Nashua Area Radio Club has a lot going on this summer!

Examples of CW Keys at Our First CW Training Class
Examples of CW Keys at Our First CW Training Class

First, our CW Training Classes have begun. We held our first class last Saturday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Nashua, NH.

CW Training Class Details
CW Training Class Details

These classes are being held on Saturday mornings and are open to all Club Members and it’s not too late to join. You can find more about the classes in our CW and QRP Forum and on our calendar here on our website.

Saint-Gaudens NHS
Saint-Gaudens NHS

We also completed the first of our planned NPOTA activations at Saint-Gaudens NHS recently. We had a lot of fun and made a bunch of contacts. You can read all about our activation here. We are planning a second activation at Saint-Gaudens NHS on August 7th. You can find more about it in Aron’s article on our Blog and on our Calendar.

2016 ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY Information
2016 ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY Information

Don’t forget the ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY which is coming up on August 21st. Fred, AB1OC and I will again be hosting a multi-op entry in this contest. It’s open to all of our members who have earned their first Amateur Radio License in the last three years. We will be scheduling a training and practice session before the contest. We will announce the details in the Member’s Forum here on our website. You can read about our ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB entry here on our blog.

Nashua Area Radio Club Summer Picnic
Nashua Area Radio Club Summer Picnic

Finally, don’t forget our upcoming club picnic on Saturday, August 27th (the rain date is Sunday, August 28). This will a pot-luck picnic and social gathering for our club. Bring your whole family and meet the families and friends of our club members. Our picnic will be held at Greeley Park in Nashua, NH. You find directions and information about the park on our club calendar.

Please contact me at ab1qb@arrl.net for more information on any of our summer activities. We hope to see you at these events throughout the summer!

73,

Anita, AB1QB

July 10th NPOTA activation by N1FD

On July 10, N1FD members gathered in Cornish, NH to activate the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site as part of the ARRL’s year-long National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  We almost cancelled it due to a prediction of thunderstorms, but the weather changed to merely intermittent showers, which we didn’t let get in our way.

NPOTA Portable Station at Saint-Gaudens NHS
NPOTA Portable Station at Saint-Gaudens NHS

While the rain was still very light, the advance crew was able to set up the canopy that was last used as the food tent during our recent Field Day operation.  It was more than adequate to keep the 100W station and a handful of club members dry throughout the day.  The site was on the edge of the meadow (a/k/a the reserve parking area) near the entrance to the Ravine Trail which was furthest from the buildings.

20m Inverted V Antenna
20m Inverted V Antenna

With the next carload of club members and a pneumatic launcher, we were able to put a line over the branch of a tree along the edge of the meadow and use it to hoist up a 20m dipole in an inverted “V” configuration.   It only had to be lowered and raised a couple of times to tune it, and we got it right on the mark using an antenna analyzer.

20m Portable Station
20m Portable Station

A small, quiet generator was also set up on the edge of the field to provide power.  This 20m antenna and generator were used on the 100W station, an IC-7300.

Mobile HF Station on 40m
Mobile HF Station on 40m

A second station, Fred AB1OC’s 500W mobile station, was parked midway across the field towards the road and operated on 40m.  I don’t know how many NPOTA activations have had multiple stations running at once, but a number of hams worked us on both bands.

One of Many Sculptures on the Park Grounds
One of Many Sculptures on the Park Grounds

Unlike our visits earlier in the year, park operations were in full swing for the season.  All of the buildings were open to visitors.  The park’s Resident Artist for this summer was working on a clay original to later be cast in bronze, and he paused to talk to us about his work.   Club members were able to explore other modern sculpture, and also the sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, that is on exhibit throughout the grounds.  A number of members walked the Ravine Trail, which descended into a deep ravine (what did you expect?) to a stream and a swimming hole used by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his family and others who worked at the studios. People were also able to enjoy a bit of the Sunday afternoon concert.

Saint-Gaudens NHS Resident
Saint-Gaudens NHS Resident

Not too far from where our 20 meter station was, Mike K1WVO spotted a tiny salamander, a Red Eft, crawling across the forest floor.  I’m not sure, but I suspect that a few Pokémon were also spotted in the park!

We also had some special visitors: a ham from California whose daughter worked at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park across the river in Vermont, and a local ham who worked us and then drove over for an eyeball QSO.

N1FD On The Air at Saint-Galuldens NHS
N1FD On The Air at Saint-Gaudens NHS

The rain continued off and on throughout the day, but it was never heavy — certainly not heavy enough to dampen the spirits of the Nashua ARC members who were too busy making or helping to log QSOs to notice it.  The group logged a total of 528 QSOs in a little over 4 hours!  At the end of the day, the equipment was quickly broken down and packed up, just in time for the rain to completely stop and the skies to clear for a pleasant drive home.

We’re hoping that you and your family can join us for the next activation of this park on August 7!

– Aron W1AKI