Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1. Is there a formal partnership between CNPOTA and Parks Canada for this event?

We have no formal partnership with Parks Canada for this event and no Memorandum of Understanding exists between CNPOTA and Parks Canada. However, we have been in communication with Parks Canada about the Canadian National Parks on the Air event since late 2015. We’ve worked with Parks Canada to ensure as many Parks Canada staff in the field as possible are aware of this event and there will be increased activity from Amateur Radio operators in Parks Canada Units throughout 2019.

2. Are activators able to use the CNPOTA logos on QSL cards?

Yes, logos are available for download from this website. The art work is free to use and is licensed under the Creative Common Non-Commercial license.

3. Why isn't this part of LOTW?

Several years ago, just after the NPOTA event we approached RAC and the ARRL to try to make this happen using LOTW. The estimates quoted at the time were very high and way beyond what we could afford with no budget.

4. Why didn't you make this a North American event with the USA and Mexico?

CNPOTA - stands for Canadian National Parks on the Air. Amateurs from USA, Mexico and anywhere else in the world are welcome to come to Canada and be an activator and operate from the parks and historic sites we list. Anyone from anywhere in the world can be a chaser.

5. Why does CNPOTA have its own web site?

We had no budget for LOTW, so in mid-2018 we struck out on our own. We acquired a server that had been used as an IRLP node and reached an agreement with a local university to host it. Then we set out to build everything ourselves, including the log upload, QSO matching analytics and the web site. A number of us have been working on the programming and web development for over 6-months now! Just because we love Ham Radio and feel Canada deserves an event like the USA had with NPOTA.

6. How much does it cost to use the CNPOTA web site?

The site is free to use. Registration is free.

We do not offer technical support for any logging program, or for any other computer software or operating system.

7. Do chasers have to upload logs?

Yes. This website is the only clearing house for CNPOTA QSOs. If Chasers do not upload log files, their QSOs will not be included in the Leader Boards.

1. How were the eligible Parks Canada Administrative Units for CNPOTA determined?

We decided to use the official list of Parks Canada Administrative Units. You can see a map of these units provided by Parks Canada on its web site. A Unit must be on our CNPOTA Parks and Historic Sites list to be considered for CNPOTA.

There are many places across the country which bear the Parks Canada logo but are not part of the CNPOTA program; such as sites on the National Historic Sites of Canada.

2. Can the number of eligible Parks Canada Administrative units change in 2019?

Yes, it is possible. There are several places that are being considered as new Administrative Units by Parks Canada. If they are added to the official Parks Canada Administrative Units list in 2019, they will immediately be eligible for inclusion in the CNPOTA program from their date of official inclusion.

It is theoretically possible an Administrative Units could be removed from the official list, but it is highly unlikely. Should that event occur, the unit will be removed from the CNPOTA list effective on the date provided by Parks Canada. All QSOs made with that Unit before deactivation would count as valid QSOs for Activator and Chaser Certificate totals.

3. Why is it just Canadian Federal parks?

We were trying to emulate the United States NPOTA event and decided the Canadian National Parks and Canadian National Historic Sites administered by Parks Canada was a close approximation.

4. Why didn't you include the Provincial Parks too?

Trying to include other entities such as Provincial Parks and conservation areas would have meant contacting and negotiating with many different jurisdictions and that would have quickly become unwieldy.

1. What bands may I use?

All amateur bands are permitted, except for 60 meters and 4 meters (4 meters is not available in Canada).

Cross-band QSOs, QSOs made through repeaters, digipeaters, Echolink, IRLP or any communications network that relays inter-station communication by non-amateur means do not count.

A specific exemption is granted for QSOs made through the Amateur Radio satellites and the International Space Station.

2. What modes may I use?

Any mode may be used. The log checking software (robot) will look at the mode reported and place it in one of 3 categories - CW, PHN (voice) and DIG (digital). PHN mode will include any voice mode such as SSB (USB, LSB), AM, FM. DIG will be any digital mode.

1. Can I activate a CNPOTA unit from a Visitor Center?

CNPOTA Rule 7 (i):
The Activator and all components of the Activator’s Amateur Radio station must be physically present on the property of the claimed Unit, or within 100 yards/meters of the gate, trail or site. Activations from parking lots, visitors’ centers and other property maintained by the specific unit are acceptable. Operations from public sidewalks (such as in the case of urban units) are not permitted.

2. Can I activate two Parks Canada administrated units at the same time?

Yes, we believe there are over 40 locations where this is physically possible. We call these "dual-activations".

At the time of activation, you must be in a location that allows you to be physically present on the property of both claimed Parks Canada units at the same time as outlined in the Rules section. Your over-the-air exchange must include both Parks Canada administrated unit identifiers.

As an activator, you will have an opportunity to enter both unit identifiers in the form used to upload your log file.

Chasers will not have to do anything special to get credit for both your reported units. Once their contact with you is confirmed they will receive credit for both units!

3. What about activating three units at the same time?

There may be several physical locations where this will be possible. These will be challenging and will be allowed for full credit.

At the time of activation, you must be in a location that allows you to be physically present on the property of all three claimed Parks Canada units at the same time as outlined in the Rules section. Your over-the-air exchange must include all three Parks Canada administrated unit identifiers.

As an activator, you will have to upload the same log file twice. The first time you upload the log file, treat it as a normal dual-activation and include the first two Parks Canada administered unit identifiers. Then, upload the same log file again and provide just the third unit identifier.

Chasers will not have to do anything special to get credit for your three reported units. Once their contact with you is confirmed they will receive credit for all three units!


4. How do I prove I was actually at the Parks Canada Unit I activate?

We reserve the right to ask for verification of any claimed operation from a Parks Canada Administrative Unit. As an Activator, you should secure as much documentation as possible to verify your operation was legitimate. Some ways to do this are:

  • A photo of yourself (and maybe station) in front of the Parks Canada unit’s main sign or distinguishing landmark.
  • Image of GPS latitude/longitude coordinates.
5. Would more than one activation at a Parks Canada site be permissible such as along a Canal ID from different areas (ie Locks) or would it be restricted to one activation along the full route?

More than one activation can take place simultaneously. This applies to all Parks and Historic Sites. Each simultaneous activation must have a completely separate station set up including radio and antenna. We expect this to happen in the larger national Parks and other sites such as along canals. Some sites will be very popular since they will be easy to access near population centers.

6. Do I Need a Special Use Permit to operate my Amateur Radio station in a Parks Canada Unit?

This will vary from unit to unit. A lot will depend on your operating style. If you plan on operating strictly from your vehicle with a mobile antenna on the roof, or with a small station in a campground, you may not need a special use permit. If you are planning a large operation with big antennas or want to operate from a Parks Canada unit deemed as “sensitive”, the odds you will need a special use permit increase dramatically. If you have any doubts, ask the Parks Canada Unit staff in advance.

7. How can I promote my activation, so people know I'll be at a park?

You can promote your activity in several ways:

  • The CNPOTA “On the Air” page lists activations planned for the next 15 days; add yours there.
  • Post your plans on the ‘cnpota’ Facebook page.
  • Post your plans on the ‘Parks on the Air’ Facebook page.
  • Post your plans on the ‘World Wide Flora & Fauna in amateur radio’ Facebook page.
  • Post on DX Summit and include the park or unit designator in the comments: "CNPOTA NS25," etc.
  • Tweet your plans using the hashtag #cnpota and include @cnpota @ractweets. Be sure to mention the Parks Canada unit(s) you will be activating and your schedule if known.
  • Include information about your activation on your page. Many active hams look up a station on QRZ after working them; it's the perfect place to list information about your CNPOTA activation. Be sure to include the name of the unit you will activate, the CNPOTA code for the unit (i.e. "NS22"), and how fast you will upload your logs to the CNPOTA web site. If all that information is on your QRZ page, you can refer stations there for complete information.
8. What does "as soon as practical" mean?

The Chasers you work will be waiting for you to upload your log, so they can earn confirmation for the unit you activate. Please don't make them wait long - a week or so at most from when you return home. If you are travelling and won't be able to upload your log for an extended period of time, it's best to set expectations ahead of time. You can announce on the air if your log upload will be delayed, or post information about your activation on your profile.

1. My QSO did not get confirmed. What happened?

Some possibilities:

  • The other party has not uploaded their log yet,
  • You did not report the date/time correctly in UTC,
  • You reported the wrong call sign or your call sign was reported incorrectly by the other party,
  • The band or mode you reported, did not agree with the other party.
2. What if the time reported by both operators is different?

All times must be in UTC. This is critical.

QSOs will only be confirmed if the reported times are within 10-minutes of each other!

3. How do chasers confirm the QSOs?

Both Chasers and Activators upload log files directly to the web site. We run a matching process periodically to compare the uploaded contacts. We’re looking for matching root call signs, bands, modes and UTC date and times. The reported call signs, bands and modes must match, and the date/time must be with 10-minutes.

The results of this matching process are fed to the leader boards. Initially these results are updated every hour. However, updates will likely be much less frequent once data builds up to reduce the load on our server.

You can find more information on the Cabrillo and ADIF file formats and what is required under the Logs menu on the web site; along with examples and a Cabrillo Template

4. I'm activating a Park. What happens if I make a contact with someone activating a different park?

First off, congratulations! We're excited to see radio amateurs adventuring out to enjoy the magnificent diversity of Canada's parks and historic sites!

You should just record the contact like any other. The log checking software (robot) will take care of everything to insure both activators get proper credit.

5. I'm using a prefix. Should it be added to the beginning or the end of my home call sign?

The log checking software (robot) will attempt to remove any prefixes and portable designators from your call sign to determine your home call sign for use in comparisons with other QSOs.

Prefixes and other designators must be separated from your home call sign with a slash character. Whether the prefix is added to the beginning or end of your home call depends on the requirements of the specific licensing authorities. Anyone operating under the authority of CEPT T/R 61-01 is required to place the prefix before their home call. In the case of the Canada-United States reciprocal operating agreement, the regulations in both countries require the prefix to follow the home call sign.

The CNPOTA log checking software (robot) will accept call signs with one or two slashes. If you include a second slash it must be /A, /M, /P or /AM or /MM at the end of the call sign. For example: VE1GPY/VE7 or VE1GPY/VE7/P.

Self-signing with text such as /QRP, /PARK etc. is discouraged.

1. Can I submit my logs to LOTW?

You can, of course, submit your log files to LOTW for other purposes. However, the Canadian National Parks on the Air event will only be administered through the web site. Only logs submitted to this site will be considered in the leader boards and for CNPOTA awards and certificates.

2. Will my logging program work with your CNPOTA site?

Probably! We don't require a lot from your file and will ignore anything we don't need. Your file will have to be in a valid ADIF or Cabrillo format.

For ADIF files, you may provide the Parks Canada unit identifiers as QSO fields but they will be ignored. For Cabrillo files, there are two possible formats: one with just RST; and the other with RST and Parks Canada unit identifiers. See the Cabrillo Template.

For both ADIF and Cabrillo files, we'll identify the correct Parks Canada unit identifier(s) when we match/confirm your QSO with a QSO reported by the activator.

In the first 4 days, we received log files created by the following programs:

  • ADIFMaster
  • DX4WIN
  • DXKeeper
  • FLE
  • Ham Radio Deluxe
  • Log4OM
  • MacLoggerDX
  • N3FJP's Amateur Contact Log
  • QRZLogbook
  • WINLOG32
  • XMLog
3. Will you accept paper logs or paper QSL cards for CNPOTA Certificates?

No. QSO credit for the CNPOTA will only be accepted through logs submitted to the CNPOTA web site.

4. What if I don’t use a computer logging program?

You’ll need to create a text file (using a program like notepad) and format it in one of the two supported formats: Cabrillo and ADIF. You can find more information on the Cabrillo and ADIF file formats and what’s required under the Logs menu on the web site; along with examples and a Cabrillo Template. We plan to add a ‘manual logs’ item to this menu soon to provide more guidance.

5. Should I upload just my CNPOTA contacts or can I send you everything

We’d really appreciate if you’d separate your CNPOTA QSOs and just send them! We’re not LOTW and we have limited resources. Any logs you send to us will have to be stored on our server indefinitely and will be included needlessly in our QSO matching process. Having 1000’s of your non-CNPOTA QSOs will slow things down for everyone!

We may disqualify anyone we find continuously and intentionally abusing this process.

1. For purposes of awards and certificates, what is a confirmed contact?

When the Activator and Chaser both upload their logs, and the QSO information (root call sign, date, time, band, and mode) in both logs agree, the QSO is confirmed. The date/time must be within 10-minutes.

2. For purposes of awards and certificates, what is a confirmed Activation?

A confirmed activation requires a minimum of five (5) confirmed QSOs completed during a visit to a Canada Parks Unit. Complete requirements are detailed in Rules 7(i) through 7(xiv).

3. What Certificates are available?

There are four certificates available:

  • Activator Award,
  • Chaser Award,
  • Nation Parks and Historic Sites Honour Roll, and
  • “Five Star Activator”.
For more information on these certificates, see the Certificates page on the CNPOTA web site.
4. When will Certificates be available?

Certificates will be available after the final deadline for uploading logs on January 31, 2020.

Certificates will be sent out electronically.

5. Are there plaques offered?

CNPOTA does not offer plaques, only certificates.

6. Will I be able to see Parks Canada Units I've activated or worked in my User Account?

We will not have this capability at launch but hope to add it to the CNPOTA web site soon.

On the leader boards you can see your total score which includes a count of the Units you’ve confirmed in various combinations of band and mode.

7. Do I have to pay for QSO credits?


8. Can I get CNPOTA Certificates if I don’t use the CNPOTA web site?

No. All CNPOTA Certificates are based on the CNPOTA Leader Board and Honour Roll.

The Leader Board and Honour Roll uses only data from confirmed QSOs logged on the CNPOTA web site. You will need to register to submit QSOs for CNPOTA and to see your progress on the CNPOTA activity pages.

1. Do QSOs I make while away from my home QTH count for CNPOTA Certificate credit?

As long as all QSOs are made in Canada or from your home DXCC country they will count towards your CNPOTA Chaser total.

2. Can I use a remote station?

Use of a remote station is permitted for Chasers but not Activators.

3. Do QSOs I make with a club call count toward my personal CNPOTA Chaser Certificate totals?

No. QSOs made with a club call count only toward the club's Chaser or Activator Certificate totals.

1. How can I find out what’s allowed/required in a Parks Canada unit?

We are not in the position to interpret Parks Canada rules or regulations. In addition, each Parks Canada Administrative Unit will have its own rules and regulations. CNPOTA Activators should review a unit's rules and regulations and contact the unit directly with questions before your visit.

2. Can Parks Canada provide power outlets?

We’ve been asked by Parks Canada to remind Activators that “they must operate independently. Parks Canada cannot provide power sources for their equipment nor be expected to allow them to do any kind of formal interpretation at any of Parks Canada’s Sites”.

Parks Canada has already received these kinds of requests.