It's one week till Christmas! Most of the podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels have given you their suggested Christmas shopping lists already, but rather than write up list of products that I think you should want, I want all of you to tell me the top 5 ham radio things you want for Christmas - and remember, if Old Saint Nick is making it in his workshop, cost is no objective!
I have written quite a bit in the last year about my NPOTA activations and portable operations. I get the opportunity to do a decent amount of these because I travel a fair bit for my work. As we move into 2017, I will continue to operate mobile and portable quite often due to my work travels. With the impending end of NPOTA I figured that I would just go back to operating from hotel rooms and truck stop parking lots during my travels. As it turns out though, there is another way I can continue to operate portable and do some award seeking at that same time, that I learned about thanks to an interview I heard on 100 Watts and a Wire (if you don't listen to this podcast, you need to start. Like now.) What's this amazing, portable operations, award program I speak of? WWFF, otherwise known as World Wide Flora and Fauna.
This program works very similar to NPOTA, but has been going on for years and is quite popular internationally (it wasn't big in the US before now, but W3AAX is hoping to change that!) Each country has it's own sub-group so there are rewards and scoring both in the US group, and internationally. The international program is known simply as WWFF and the US sub-program is known as KFF, or in US slang, simply Parks on the Air.
With that bit of introduction, let me get to the point....My travels for 2017 start up again in the first week of the year, so I will be doing my first "pure" KFF activation almost right away (all my KFF activations prior where combo NPOTA/KFF, as nearly all the National Parks are also KFF sites.) I thought it might be fun to let you in on how I "plan" my activations. With that thought - here it goes!
Step 1 - Find Out Where I'm Going
For me, step 1 is the easiest step, because my work schedule dictates the city I'm going to be traveling to. The offices I support in my job are basically everything the company has east of the Mississippi (I have a co-worker that covers the west.) Based on business needs, I just scheduled a 3 day visit with our office in the Hudson Valley. The office is in the town of Harriman, New York, so step 1 is complete - look out Harriman, here I come!
In 2017 I'll be making roughly 2 trips per month, so I'm making it a personal goal to do 30 activations in 2017 because I think I'll be able to hit 1 or 2 parks on each trip.
Step 2 - Find Out What Parks are Close
For NPOTA there weren't many parks, so at the beginning of the year I had saved every National Park in the states I travel to as a favorite location in Google Maps (Just in case!) WWFF includes most National Parks, and many State Parks, Nature Reserves, and other "Green Spaces." Because of the number of sites, I havn't had time to save them all. I do still start with Google Maps though, just to look and see where the office is. After I have that pulled up, I open another browser tab and go to wwff-kff.com and scroll down to the map. I then zoom into the same area of the country, to see what parks are close:
So, In this case the closest parks, and my potential options are:
Step 3 - Decide Where to Stay
Something I just recently started, with an activation in Cuyahoga Valley, was to try and find lodging inside of a park. In 2017 I've made it a personal goal to do as much camping as possible on these work trips, instead of doing the standard hotel chains. With that being said, many state parks close for camping in the winter, but some do have Lodges, Cottages, Cabins, etc. Knowing that I'm looking for either a camp site (during warm weather) or some kind of indoor lodging (during cold weather) I browse the websites for the parks that I turned up in Step 2. In this case, Bear Mountain State Park has some Stone Cottages that, based on the website, look pretty neat, so I'll give it a try!
Step 4 - Let Everyone Know Where I'm Going
So, addmittedly, this is the step I skip most often. Because I'm traveling for work, it's hard to be able to know exactly when I'll be on the air. Sometimes I even end up working long hours because I only have a limited time in town, so there are cases where I have planned to operate, but then didnt' get to after all. I have vowed to do better this year, and to make sure I post my plans to the Agenda page on the WWFF web site and also on the Facebook groups for KFF and WWFF. Even when I fail in doing this though, once I'm up and running a quick blast out on social media, or even a self-spot on the cluster, usually gets things rolling. Even when I don't have cell signal, I've found that once I finally get a bite or two then the calls start to come in as I start to get spotted, etc. Based on reviews, cell signal in Bear Mountain can be spotty, so I might be relying on good old fashioned luck to find someone to answer my CQ's during this one.
- N3VEM -
Welcome to my Ham Radio Blog! This blog was started primarily to share my two concurrent shack builds - my mobile station and my home station. Over time, this has grown to include sharing about my operations, and general radio-related thoughts that I have as a newer operator.
Proving that hams do indeed still build stuff!
100 Watts and Wire is an awesome community, based around an excellent podcast.