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Old 12-11-2015, 06:29 AM   #1
K7UPJ
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Default National Parks on the Air

Is anyone planning on participating in the NPOTA operating event? There are over 400 National Park locations to choose from. It sounds like a fun thing to do and a good way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park system.

Some of us locals are very interested and planning on operating. Unfortunately there are some downsides. ARRL HQ has not done a good job of coordinating with NPS and getting an MOU that would provide guidance to local park rangers. NPS apparently has not sent anything out to the parks. So we have run into some issues. It won't be a problem with large parks but with small parks in SC like Cowpens and Ninety Six, any operation setup would be obvious. So the rangers so far are talking about requirement for Special Use permit, no generators, etc.

On the ARRL side it is extremely disappointing that repeater QSOs don't count. In spite of my emails to HQ and my Division Director, ARRL won't budge on this. Makes no sense as there are many small sites or hard to get to like Fort Sumter where a handheld for repeater QSOs would be a good way to go. Maybe if more hams continue to raise the issue ARRL HQ will make a change, but I haven't seen any pigs with wings yet.

Regardless, for those of us with travel plans it could be an interesting thing to do along the way or a reason to go visit some parks.

73,
Jerry
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Old 12-11-2015, 07:55 AM   #2
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Hi, Jerry --

There is room, I think, for difference of opinion on whether repeater QSOs ought to count.

I tend to lean toward the no side, 'cuz I think one of the purposes of such events is to get people to stretch themselves a bit, and repeater QSOs don't seem to require much of a stretch.

On the other hand, I see nothing particularly objectionable in allowing them, either. As long as the rules are the same for everybody, it's still fair, and different rules for different events add variety.

Cheers!
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:32 AM   #3
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I agree with Carl, our club actually owns 3 but using a repeater to make contacts is fish in a barrel all it takes is a Chinese radio and a charged battery. Many state or Federal parks don't have power that just makes contacts even more fun with QRP or solar it teaches us to use antenna skills and good operating practices.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NN5I View Post
Hi, Jerry --

There is room, I think, for difference of opinion on whether repeater QSOs ought to count.

I tend to lean toward the no side, 'cuz I think one of the purposes of such events is to get people to stretch themselves a bit, and repeater QSOs don't seem to require much of a stretch.

On the other hand, I see nothing particularly objectionable in allowing them, either. As long as the rules are the same for everybody, it's still fair, and different rules for different events add variety.

Cheers!
Carl,
I totally agree with NO repeater contacts for awards such as WAS, County Hunters, DXCC, etc. and contests of all types. However, the objectives of NPOTA should not be about competition. The objectives should be to get the maximum exposure for the NPS centennial by getting the most number of NPS sites activated and to encourage the most number of Hams to get and make those activations. Some sites are in urban areas and/or have other restrictions that make operation from even a mobile difficult or impossible. The rationale that I was given from ARRL HQ was not an objection to repeater operations, but that they did not have a way to handle repeater QSOs in LOTW. My counter is that would be easily resolved by just using the repeater frequency in the LOTW record.

But as you rightly pointed out, opinions differ. Everyone is entitled to what they think is correct. Hopefully if there is ever another activity similar to this where maximizing participation and publicity are the most important factors, ARRL will broaden the capability for hams to participate.

73,
Jerry
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Old 12-11-2015, 07:12 PM   #5
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It would be impossible to keep track of all of the contacts. I understand promoting the parks but think of the sheer numbers involved. I live in a tourist area 2 of our repeaters are on a local ski mountain the other is on top of MT Washington (also a state park) it can be heard in 6 states and Canada.one person in the state park could tie up the repeater for hours making contacts.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N3LYT View Post
.one person in the state park could tie up the repeater for hours making contacts.
That could be a problem for that particular repeater, but if the repeater owners object to it they could, for example, place an announcement on the repeater asking that it not be used that way.

It can be argued both ways: repeaters exist specifically so that people can make contacts; repeaters have no other purpose really.

One might even argue that, with someone on a repeater running a contact stream for a QSO party, anyone with an emergency can be completely certain he'll find someone there. This would be less true, or less useful, if the emergency station had too weak a signal into the repeater to break into the ongoing stream; say, for example, if he's stuck in a snowbank.

In sum, I lean toward no. If I owned a repeater, I'd probably think it rude to tie it up for such a purpose, unless the event organizers sought my prior approval. Can ARRL do that for every repeater?

Of course, it's possible to use a repeater for a few contacts without tying it up.

And on and on, back and forth, ad infinitum.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:01 PM   #7
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We often use our repeater for special events (bicycle races ARES etc.) but most users are kind enough either to let others in on the conversations or move to simplex when able. We get a lot of SOTA hams in the mountains around here and they are in it for the points etc on FM but only simplex is allowed for points.
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Old 02-12-2016, 10:36 PM   #8
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I just watched the latest ham nation web cast. Feb 10.

It seems to indicate that some permission is needed to operate ham radio from a national park.

I think they are talking about an organized group that would be using multiple stations. Also, some units in the park service are very small, an acre or less, so there isn't a lot of room for operation.

Is it correct to assume that a single person like myself doesn't need special permission to operate?

Sounds like a fun time.
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:58 AM   #9
N3LYT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke0me View Post
I just watched the latest ham nation web cast. Feb 10.

It seems to indicate that some permission is needed to operate ham radio from a national park.

I think they are talking about an organized group that would be using multiple stations. Also, some units in the park service are very small, an acre or less, so there isn't a lot of room for operation.

Is it correct to assume that a single person like myself doesn't need special permission to operate?

Sounds like a fun time.
Good question I sure don't know but I have made several mobile contacts with the state park guys they are out there.
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Old 02-14-2016, 04:16 PM   #10
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Is it correct to assume that a single person like myself doesn't need special permission to operate?
Yah, married folks need permission. Divorced, or shacking up, who knows?
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:37 PM   #11
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so far, my wife has given me permission to operate

as long as I use the headphones she tolerates me.
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