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Working POTA - A beginner guide & video


SARC in the park!

We had an interesting workshop on Saturday, September 16, 2023.  'SARC in the Park' was a presentation by Dmitry VA7DVO for our members interested in POTA activations. You will find more about getting started in POTA at their website, and in our free digital magazine 'The Communicator'.

With an easy to build and inexpensive segmented 5-band wire dipole antenna, we made several of the 17m SSB POTA contacts shown in this video, including Switzerland, Italy and with a mobile station in Northern England.

The antenna plan is at: on page 45.

Dmitry VA7DVO presenting POTA at the OTC

The on-site demonstration took place at Serpentine Fen Wildlife Refuge

Alex VA7PVC, Dmitry VA7DVO , and Leandro VE7LSI at Serpentine Fen

Here is the presentation on video and a look at the activation

Do you want to know what else is happening at SARC?

All our events are now available through our 'live' calendar at:

Larry Bloom VE7LXB
New Ham Coordinator


A POTA Field Trip!


Learning the basics of Parks On The Air

Getting Started with POTA

Parks on the Air® (POTA) started in early 2017 when the ARRL’s National Parks on the Air special event ended. A group of volunteers wanted to continue the fun beyond the one-year event, and thus, POTA was born.
General information about the program is available at, so we highly recommend checking out the information there. You may also want to join the POTA Slack Channel or the POTA Facebook group, where you can easily interact with the POTA community online. POTA also maintains accounts on Twitter and Mastodon if you prefer to interact on those social media platforms.Once you’re ready to start, just remember that the golden rules of POTA are to have fun and keep it simple. We want to give you as much flexibility as possible, to have fun your way.Getting started with POTA can happen via one of two paths — as an “activator” who heads out into the parks or as a “hunter” who is trying to contact someone in a park. The easiest way to participate in POTA is as a hunter, so we’ll start there.

Dmitry VA7DVO at his POTA station

Dmitry VA7DVO and his son Alex VA7PVC have become involved in a big way since becoming licensed through our SARC course. They have activated several sites and Dmitry will present a POTA classroom overview followed by an on-site demonstration at Serpentine Fen Wildlife Refuge. Participants will have an opportunity to use the station to make one or more contacts.

Sign-up for the workshop will be though Larry VE7LXB. 

Do you want to know what else is happening at SARC?

All our events are now available through our 'live' calendar at:

Larry Bloom VE7LXB
New Ham Coordinator


A Basic Soldering Workshop


Want to learn the basics of soldering?

By popular request we will have a Basic Soldering Workshop in October. Among the topics to be discussed will be:

  • Basic soldering of wires and  electronic components to circuit boards..
  • Soldering wires together.
  • Soldering cable connectors onto coax, e.g. PL-259, SMA, BNC, etc.
  • Tinning, and why it is used.
  • Dealing with braided wires vs. solid wires.
  • Types of solder to use. Rosin core or not.
  • Soldering temperature considerations, e.g. to get the best soldering connections without damaging wires and components.
  • Undoing / repairing a poor solder joint
  • Different types of soldering irons and soldering tips.
  • Methods to “hold” components together while soldering.
  • Safety issues.
  • Difficulties / issues soldering different types of materials, and how to overcome those issues
The latter part of the workshop will be devoted top making a LED Christmas Tree kit.

The session will be led by Dino VE7XN. Dino has offered a number of project workshops to SARC/SEPAR in the past. We expect this workshop to be over subscribed as we have a maximum of 12 seats, but additional sessions will be arranged as needed.

Larry Bloom VE7LXB
New Ham Coordinator


Another1/4 wave antenna solution

 Quick & dirty... but it works

I picked up a Chinese-made 1/4 wave mag mount for my car. I also wanted to be able to use it in the house, but needed a ground plane and didn't have the room/material for a proper sized solid ground plane. I came up with a super simple solution that would work for you as well. I took some 12ga NMD-90 "Standard House Wiring", cut single strands into pieces 4' long and then bent them into a 'V' and stripped the wire off the centre. 

I made 3 of these, and then placed them under a piece of metal I had lying around to electrically bond them all together to create a 6 radial ground plane that the mag mount could sit on. I'm getting great receive, and was full quieting on the VE7RPT (Seymour repeater) last night and today. I was able to activate one of the repeaters in Abbotsford, and also the one at the top of the mountain near Blaine, WA last night. Unfortunately nobody else was on for a QSO. 

Below are some pictures for reference if you want to make one yourself.


~ Warren Moxley


The GOTA Net

A progress report

The GOTA Net has been up and running for almost 5 months now, and it's been fascinating watching it evolve. Other than one quiet Thursday we are averaging 8-12 check-ins each week. Of course the idea isn't to set records for check-ins - we'll leave that to the Rainbow Country Net. Rather, the purpose of the GOTA Net is to help newbies get on the air and assist them with ham radio issues. A little social interaction doesn't hurt either. As one of our GOTAs told me recently, if we even help 2 or 3 new hams get over the hump then we've accomplished something important.

I am aware that some of you are struggling to reach the SARC repeater. That's not surprising particularly if you live in Vancouver or Burnaby, and use a Baofeng radio armed with a rubber ducky antenna. But this is a positive. After all, Ham Radio is all about finding solutions to problems. 🤔

Let me give you an example using my own recent trials and tribulations.

For months now, I've had great success with my IC-7000 using a 1/4-wave mag mount antenna on a pizza plate. About 4 weeks ago my signal began losing its oomph and background static became the norm. Reluctantly, I had to drop my participation in a Saltspring Net. My signal for the GOTA Net became a struggle as well. Turns out my mag mount had a poor SWR reading. Plus, residential construction in my area and that of our repeater has gone crazy so I suspect there's been some building interference lately. 

Anyway, John VE7TI spent some time with me and after experimentation we settled on a 5/8 Larson whip attached to the aluminum flower box outside my 3rd floor window (see pic below). This morning I had a crystal clear signal into the Saltspring repeater. 😁 

Will my signal be as good into the Surrey repeater? Time will tell as my antenna is facing in the wrong direction. I do expect a significant improvement, though.

My point is this: embrace the challenge and don't give up! You'll learn a ton working through these problems. 😊 

Have a great rest of the summer, folks and hopefully I'll catch you on the GOTA Net soon.


~ Larry VE7LXB


The Arctic!


On the way to the 'Worked All Continents' (WAC) award

One of our recent course grads, Dmitry VA7DVO got his first HF radio, a Yaesu FT-891. It is a portable 100W radio that he plans on taking around for 'Parks On The Air' (POTA) activations. For now, he has it set it up on a low-power digital mode, FT-8 and is making contacts around the world. He uses a wire half-wave end-fed antenna stretched between the trees in his backyard. Its working for him because the most distant contacts completed were in Indonesia.  He reports that North and South America and Europe work just fine as well. 

Dmitry's most interesting contact so far is a Russian science exploration platform RI41POL in the Arctic. 

If anyone is interested, Dmitry has offered to share his notes on how to do FT-8 on an FT-891, a very popular and common radio. Great start Dmitry!


Getting registered on QRZ

Secondly, Dmitry was trying to get registered on, a popular site to look up the details of your contacts and a free on-line logbook. I was not aware that you first had to be logged on by an existing QRZ account holder to start your account. I did so for Dmitry and he is now on-line.

~ John VE7TI
   SARC Course Coordinator


So many radio choices


Here are some hints

Our new class is well into the course now, and no doubt pondering your radio and antenna options. I thought I'd pass along some thoughts and suggestions.

Your initial foray into ham radio will almost certainly be VHF or UHF. If your goal is a radio for communications while hunting, off-roading etc then perhaps simplex (line of sight) contact with friends in the back country is what you're aiming for. A cheap Baofeng or even a Motorola GMRS may be all you need.

If your goal is something more ambitious like logging onto Nets or making contacts over 10, 20, 30 or more kms then you'll want a radio that can reach repeaters. The cheap Boafengs, like the GT-5R with a stock antenna probably won't do the trick. Baofeng GT-5R 5W Dual Band Radio [Upgraded Legal Version of UV-5R]– Radioddity claimed to be fully FCC certified without the previous UV-5 ‘issues’. YouTube review: Casler checked out the GT-5R. It is restricted to the 2m/70cm band frequencies, and he found that it had significantly reduced spurious emissions. US$25.

Save yourself some grief. Spend a bit more and look at the tri-band Jianpai 8800 - review:

You'll want to upgrade the antenna as well with a 1/4 wave whip, an RH770 telescopic, or a j-pole that you can make in John VE7TI's antenna workshop.

Here's some links to help you get started. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Here's an excellent comparison by Reg VA7ZEB: Radio Comparison.

A nice intro to buying your first radio by the ARRL:

Off-road and other outdoors use

Now if you are on off-roader your ham radio may not be enough. As soon as you mention communicating with logging or other commercial vehicles, such as Resource Road and LADD, you need an approved radio, not a ham radio. It is all explained in a video that John VE7TI has put together at:


A Vancouver area dealer for commercial transceivers (that will also take ham frequencies) is: RH Electronics in Richmond: rhe.pdf (

And for back country use you will want to invest in a 5/8 wave antenna for a better signal.


Larry Bloom VE7LXB
New Ham Coordinator

Surrey Amateur Radio Communications

Working POTA - A beginner guide & video

  SARC in the park! We had an interesting workshop on Saturday, September 16, 2023.  'SARC in the Park' was a presentation by Dmitr...

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