I have been having a lot of fun participating in the National Parks on the Air (“NPOTA”)event sponsored by ARRL. This event runs for all of 2016 and features hams and groups activating numerous parks, trails, historic sites, monuments and other sites managed by the National Park Service, which is celebrating its centennial this year. Since the event began on January 1, it has seen huge participation and activations of many NPS sites. The high excitement level currently being seen for this event suggests that there will be many activations of the more than 400 sites throughout all of 2016.
For those that are participating and want to receive credit for activating a certain NPS unit, or those who want to receive credit for working – “chasing” – the activations, ARRL’s Logbook of the World (“LOTW”) is the only way to officially receive this credit. ARRL is offering certificates for activator and chasers, but you have to use LOTW to log your contacts to be eligible for these certificates.
In the first few weeks of this event, we have seen a little confusion regarding the proper way for activators to upload their activation logs to LOTW with the appropriate park information. Without the park information in their uploaded logs, they will not receive activator credit, and the stations they worked will not receive chaser credit. I have now activated two locations (and plan to activate more), and went through the process of figuring out the proper way to “sign and upload” the logs for these activations. Following is a brief tutorial of the way to do this. This assumes you have already registered with LOTW and I will not cover that process here. If you have not registered, go to the LOTW site and sign up today!
Once you have registered with LOTW and received your LOTW certificate assigned to your call sign, you will install TQSL version 2.2 (the current version) on your computer. You can then use TQSL to manually enter log data, or you can interface it with many popular logging programs. Once you have this completed, you will be ready to upload logs to LOTW.
So, let’s assume you have activated a NPS site for NPOTA and have 500 log entries to upload to LOTW. How do you do this in such a way to ensure you receive credit for the activation? Following are the steps to do this.
First, with your logging software, make sure you have saved the log file in ADIF format. Your logging software help files will tell you how to do this. If you have created a paper log for your activation you will have to manually type each entry into a logging program or directly into TQSL. The TQSL help files will show you how to manually enter your log entries (I strongly suggest that you use a logging program to enter you log data in the field as you go. It will save you a lot of time and trouble).
Next, after you have saved your log to ADIF format on your computer, open the TQSL program. You will be greeted with this screen (click on the images for a larger format).
We are now interested in creating a STATION LOCATION for the park you activated. From the main screen, click on the “STATION LOCATIONS” tab.
Here, you will see all of your previously created locations on the left, and option buttons on the right. You want to select the top button on the right to CREATE A NEW STATION LOCATION.
Above is the ADD STATION LOCATION box that opened after you selected “create a new station location”. In this box you will see various options, but you are not required to fill in any of this at this time (your call should be pre-filled). You can fill in these other fields if you wish. Click NEXT at the bottom of the screen.
The screen above is where you will include the park information that is critical for NPOTA activation and chaser credit (NOTE: Only the activator has to do this. If you are a chaser, you do not have to sign your log with park information. The credit is solely derived from the activator’s log). On the screen above, use the dropdown boxes to select state, county and park. Note that once you select state, only the counties in that state will be selectable. Likewise, only the parks in that state will be available for you to select.
Above is an example of a completed screen with state, county and park information. After you have completed this, click NEXT at the bottom of the screen.
The final screen in the creation of the new station location will show you the location you just created (along with others) and will allow you to create a unique name for the new location. I suggest that you create a name that will identify the location by park location or designator so you will select the correct station location when you are ready to sign and upload your log to LOTW. Click FINISH and your new station location with park designator is complete!
Now that you have this new station location with park information, how do you use it to upload your log to LOTW?
Back at the main TQSL screen, above, you will see two options to get your log interfaced with the new station location you just created. First, you can select “SIGN A LOG AND UPLOAD IT AUTOMATICALLY TO LOTW”. This will allow you to select your ADIF file, sign it with the new location and upload it at that time to LOTW. Second, you can select “SIGN A LOG AND SAVE IT FOR UPLOADING LATER”. This allows you to select your ADIF log file and sign it with the new station location for uploading later when you are logged into the LOTW site on with your browser. Whichever option you choose, you will next see the following box.
Here, you will select your new station location with park information. This will then sign and create your LOTW log with the park information appended. If you chose the option to save this log for later upload to LOTW, it will create a file with a “tq8” extension on your computer. That is the file you will later choose to upload to LOTW (assuming you did not choose the first option to upload at that time).
That’s it! You have now created a station location for your activation and have successfully uploaded it to LOTW. You, as activator, and all of the chasers you worked will receive credit for that NPS unit in the NPOTA event.
There is a very good Activator Guide provided by ARRL. Check it our for more helpful information.
There’s also a You Tube video explaining this process, so check it out.
Have fun with NPOTA in 2016. I look forward to working many of you during the event!