Last year (in October 2015) I conducted a Poll on the WWFF Australia Yahoo group which was entitled…….
“Why don’t you participate as an activator in the World Wide Flora Fauna program?”
The purpose of the poll was to seek some input on how to attract more amateurs to participate in the WWFF program as activators. Although there is a very large number of WWFF park hunters, there is only a relatively small group of regular and dedicated WWFF park activators. The Summits on the Air (SOTA) program seems to experience the same issue, with often the same ever keen SOTA activators being heard regularly from a peak.
A total of 27 VK amateurs took the time to participate in the Poll, and I thank you all for your time, thoughts, and participation.
The questions asked, and responses were as follows…….
- I do not have a suitable transceiver (1 vote)
- I do not have a suitable antenna (1 vote)
- I don’t have a suitable portable power source (0 votes)
- I don’t have the confidence in setting up a portable station (0 votes)
- I dont have the time available to go portable (8 votes)
- The WWFF program does not interest me at all (1 vote)
- I am happy just being a Hunter (3 votes)
- The 10 QSOs required for VKFF is too high (0 votes)
- The 44 QSOs required for WWFF is too high (1 vote)
Mike VK6MB also added the following……..
- I do get out there (12 votes)
The results clearly show that a lot of amateurs struggle with sufficient time to become involved as activators. This is by far the most apparent issue. There is no doubt that most of us live very busy lives with a lot of other commitments.
Amanda VK3FQSO stated…..”For me personally, I have a young family who easily get bored if we are out and about for longer than an hour or so in parks (or doing SOTA) and so they dictate how much activating we can do…there is only so much tree climbing, exploring and geocaching that will keep them amused”.
I thought that more people may have commented that the 44 QSO threshold was too high. But the response there was very low. It seems that with the ever growing popularity of the WWFF program, that many activators are now reaching the 44 QSO’s required to qualify the park for the WWFF global program. I recall in the early days of WWFF here in Australia, that I often struggled to even get the 10 QSOs. However, with the program now increasing in popularity, it is not uncommon for me to receive logs from activators with upwards of 100 contacts.
A small number of amateurs commented that they did not have a suitable transceiver or antenna to take part in WWFF. I guess that a few hints need to be thrown out for the Christmas stocking.
Mike VK6MB added the comment ‘I do get out there‘. And it was interesting to see that a further 11 responded in the affirmative to Mike’s comment. Quite appropriate that the percentage for this comment worked out to be 44.
Rob VK4FFAB stated….”I would go every weekend if I could“.
Liz VK2XSE also suggested that ‘the hunters aren’t there except on weekends‘ and that ‘propagation isn’t good this year‘. Liz is correct with regards to propagation. It has been extremely challenging at times, particularly with regards to local contacts. I’ve found that late afternoon and evening activations have proved to be very successful, compared to morning and middle of the day activations.
There is no doubt that there are more hunters around on the weekend, but from vetting and uploading activator logs, it is apparent that many VKFF activators are reaching the 10 QSO and 44 QSO thresholds during weekdays, thanks to the many dedicated park hunters. But it is all about timing your activation and promoting your activation (e.g. parksnpeaks, Facebook, Yahoo groups, word of mouth, etc).
Above:- John VK5BJE, operating from the Warby Ovens National Park, VKFF-0742. Image courtesy of VK5BJE.
Warren VK3BYD, whose choice of mode is CW, stated….”For me it’s the difficulty in getting the Hunters to work me on CW.” Warren reported that he generally operates from a SOTA summit within a park and that it was a rare day that he could ‘get ten in one go’ (referring to the 10 QSO threshold for VKFF). So there is a challenge for all. Dust off your keys or paddles and give Warren a call. Warren made a good suggestion that perhaps a weekend should be organised for non-ssb VKFF activity. A great idea Warren, which I will definitely look at introducing.
Above:- the shack of Gerard VK2IO in the Kamay Botany National Park. Image courtesy of VK2IO.
Bob VK5FO made the comment that ‘Logsearch does not accurately reflect the activators-as we all understand the time that it takes to do the log extracts into the required format…………The whole logging requirements are in fact a big constraint to reflect the actual activity within WWFF‘.
There are two issues which arise from Bob’s comments. Firstly, the issue of putting a WWFF log together. This can either be done by providing an ADIF file or by using the CSV template. On a personal level, I use a paper log in the field, and when I return home I enter the QSOs from the activation using the Fast Log Entry (FLE) program which is an extremely easy and rapid way to enter contacts and create an ADIF file. The ADIF file is then uploaded to Log Search, and also my own personal electronic log, which is MacLogger DX. Putting WWFF logs together and the WWFF Log Search system is a subject all in itself, which I will cover in another post.
The second issue is that of activators providing their logs. I am not sure what the percentage is of park activators who provide logs, compared to those who don’t. But I would suspect that it is quite low. I am generally finding that the vast majority of park activators are now providing their log/s to me for upload to WWFF Log Search. This includes many of the SOTA activators who are conducting combined SOTA and Parks activations.
There are however a number of SOTA activators who may activate a summit which is located within a park, from whom I do not receive a log. Their primary focus is the SOTA program, and they do not participate in WWFF. I often receive emails from park hunters, wanting to know why VK5… has not provided a log, and could I chase the log down. This is often the reason for a log not appearing on Log Search. But please remember, this is a personal choice for the activator.
Amanda VK3FQSO also made a very valid comment regarding personal safety. Amanda stated….”The other problem is my own personal safety being in a remote area activating as a lone female also makes me feel slightly uncomfortable“. In light of recent events in a State Forest in Victoria, and the incident in the Coorong National Park here in South Australia, Amanda raises a very good point.
Interesting that there was one vote for the question ‘The WWFF program does not interest me at all’, despite the fact that the person is a member of the WWFF Australia Yahoo group.
The WWFF program is progressing nicely here in Australia. Since March, 2013, I have now issued over 800 certificates for the VKFF program. But we could always do with a top-up of VKFF Activators. If anyone has any ideas on how we can attract more WWFF activators, I would be very happy to hear from you. Please make any comments here, or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org