Arron (VA7ZZA) and Paul (VE7TL) organized the Coquitlam Amateur Radio Club’s first Parks-On-The-Air POTA activation on Saturday, November 5, 2022.
A 09:00 PDT set-up was planned, but due to strong winds the night before several large trees fell on the Parkway access road, preventing entry. Through Arron’s resourcefulness, set-up commenced around 10:00 PDT. Despite poor weather the day before and even after the event, we enjoyed full on sun and brisk wind. Hot coffee, hot chocolate and pastries were provided by Paul’s XYL, Sirje.
Equipment consisted of an Icom IC705, Elecraft KX3 and various VHF handhelds. Paul erected an 80m EFHW End-Fed Half Wave Inverted-V antenna on a 40ft telescopic mast and Arron put up an 40m NVIS Near Vertical Incident Skywave dipole antenna along with a J-Pole for local VHF/UHF communications. All equipment was QRP low power operated strictly by batteries. The 40m dipole was cut too long and with an SWR analyzer, we were able to determine resonance and calculate the amount of length adjustment for mid-band operation.
Throughout the event, we described the equipment and its practical application to the newly licensed hams in attendance.
Attendees included members of the Primary Reserve of 39 Canadian Brigade Group who were given practical exposure to the theory which they had recently studied.
Leon (VA7UND), John (VA7VVO), Bianca (VA7BNR) … with Arron (VA7ZZA) on the right. Arron’s father (VA7OBY) also attended.
The VARA data communication protocol was demonstrated by sending emails to each attendee’s mobile phone in order to confirm transmission and reception. With only 5W power we were able to work with VARA stations up to 300km away on the 40m band. The receipt of these VARA messages seemed to gain considerable interest in VARA capabilities. We also checked into the Noontime net and Aurora net on 40m. We were copied well, even with just 5W TX power, by the Aurora’s Net Control station in Edmonton.
Unfortunately, propagation on the 20m and 15m bands was poor and we heard only one station calling for POTA. We called that station with no contact made. Considering the poor conditions, we chose not to Spot ourselves for POTA activity.
Visitors included Keith (VE7KW) who distributed copies of Radio Amateurs of Canada RAC’s TCA magazine and described the difficulties of setting up DX-pedition power and radio systems. We also had a visit from Jim Chisolm, the son of the founder of Chisholm Radio, who lives just across the street from our site. Three or four interested people dropped by to see our operation which was impressive considering that access to the park was blocked for some time by the fallen trees.
We are planning to organize another POTA event in January 2023 along with providing equipment familiarization at the club’s facilities for any and all interested amateur radio operators.