Saturday, April 1, 2023

Three Florida parks install permanent antennas for POTA

Fire tower or vertical antenna? Both!
In an effort to attract more visitors to its parks, the Florida Parks & Wildlife Department recently announced that three parks in the state will be testing the idea of having permanent antennas installed for use by POTA operators.

According to Maria Frolicworth (callsign pending), head of Florida P&W's Central Region, POTA ops account for 12% of all visitors to the parks.

"We'd like to accommodate this very substantial demographic - and even increase it if we can!" Maria stated, with unbridled optimism.

"We've seen it all - wires in trees, kite-borne wires and RV's galore - bedecked with whips, wires and loops. Somewhere along the way, we thought, "We can do better'".

One of the three parks currently hosts a 135-foot (41m) fire tower surrounded by a wire fence. Or, in ham terms, a vertical antenna surrounded by elevated radials.

Although this equates to a 1/4-wave vertical for 160m - a rarely-used band for POTA activations - we learned that it can be impedance-matched to provide a very workable antenna for the more common bands used by these wizards of RF.

The idea evidently came from a frequent POTA operator who was seen attaching his radio gear to the

fence wire.

"We didn't know if he was mentally stable but decided to approach him anyway to ask the purpose of his wire attachment.

What followed was an explanation of RF ground as it relates to efficiency, radiation resistance and vertical polarization in the far field. Or something like that. Diagrams drawn in the sand made the concept clear to us. Clear as mud.

But thanks to this amazingly handsome man who has a '5' in his callsign, we realized that we already had half of an antenna already in place."

Further correspondence with Florida park officials made it clear that, with very little effort on the Parks Department's part, a total of three parks already have infrastructure that will allow antenna usage:

  • One is an existing tower whose guy wires are the perfect length to serve as a 20m inverted V with an apex at 70 feet. A 450-ohm open-wire feedline is being extended from the apex to ground level lfor POTA operator's convenience.
  • The 3rd park started out as an alligator-deterrent light system along a marshy boardwalk with six 17-foot poles set 34 feet apart in a SW-NE configuration - perfect for a 6-element vertical array directed at either Europe or VK/ZL. Alligators have been re-located and partitioned from the area. Feedline and RF ground system have been added to convert this lighting array into an antenna.

The new pilot program is scheduled to begin today, April 1.




  1. News got out: Maria Frolicworth* is now known as W0OF. She's the XYL of AD0G. Her first DX QSO on LotW is with B4RK (often busted a B4RF). That's actually a UK expat who previously signed as G0OOD/B0Y.

    Now off fishing. I only bait the line once a year...

    *These lame references won't work if Frolic isn't a brand known in the US of A...

    1. I'll inform Maria of the European connotations associated with her name, although doing so may negatively impact the Park/antenna program... ;-(

  2. Forgot todays date, and was totally taken in, until I started to read the comments... Good one...

    1. The tip-off should have been the "POTA ops account for 12% of all visitors to the parks" - it's clearly 80% or more!