2016 is the 100th Anniversary of our National Park Service. Throughout 2016, Amateur Radio will be helping the National Park Service celebrate their 100th anniversary. Hams from across the country will activate NPS units, promote the National Park Service and showcase Amateur Radio to the public.
On April 2nd, the C.A.R.S. club, Coastal Amateur Radio Society scheduled an activation at Fort Pulaski National Park. I am a member of the club but had not been to any events yet, the last scheduled activation was rained out. Weather was suspect but they had the picnic pavilion to set-up at (covered) so it was planned rain or shine. It was about an hour down there so I headed out at 8:00 am to be there for a 9:00 am setup time. Upon arrival, there were 2 other members there beginning to setup the portable antenna for 40 and 20 meters and I pitched in to help.
So, what is an activation for the NPOTA?? To promote the park system, the ARRL has a radio program where anyone can activate at any park whenever and as often as they want throughout the year. If you notify them, they will add you to a listing of scheduled activation’s. During the event, you broadcast as a NP Special Event station and log contacts with people in the US and around the world. There are many hams called Chasers who try and log contacts with as many parks as possible (like a contest to make the most contacts to the most parks).
We got everything set and Bill (his station) began broadcasting and immediately making contacts on 40 m, though it was a bit noisy. Throughout the morning, more people showed up to participate and also just socialize. Mid morning, Bill switched over to 20 m and Kevin took over the chair and logged a pile of contacts!!! Later Bob stepped in and continued making contacts though not quite as rapid as Kevin. It started to rain a bit so we re-located the station further under the enclosure and then Bill went back to broadcasting.
Before noon, a few guys began to set up another antenna in the trees for a CW station (morse code). They had that operating just before I left on 40 m as Bill was still doing voice on 20 m.
I enjoyed it very much up to 16 people at one time I heard and I had not met any prior. I took pictures of the event and presented them to the club for their web and facebook pages.