Create Your Own OTA
We have spent a number of columns of late sharing some of the On-the-Air programs designed to get you out of your “shack” and get on the air. First, we will look at an unusual OTA program, Walmart Parking Lots on The Air (WMPLOTA, wmplota.org”. “Walmart parking lots”, you say? Why not. I can think of several reasons why not. First, everyone shops at Walmart. Second, since this is a satellite event, technicians have just as much chance as anyone. You will need a satellite antenna. Satellite antennas can be purchased or homemade. For amateur radio satellite operators to contact as many amateur stations operating from Walmart parking lots as possible during the contest period. The 2nd Annual WMPLOTA will take place starting July 6, 2019 at 00:00 UTC and ending July 7 at 23:59 UTC. This year also happens to be the 50th Anniversary of AMSAT!
All legal operating modes are permitted, but contacts must be made through an amateur radio satellite.
You must make a QSO, in which at least callsigns and two-way reports are exchanged. If possible, the Walmart Store Number should also be given as part of the QSO, but use your best judgement on FM satellites.
To participate in this program, you do not need to register in advance or pay any dues. You simply need to operate an amateur radio satellite station, and then choose to be an WMPLOTA Associate (activator), who operates portable from any Walmart parking lot, or a Shopper (chaser) operating from another location and contacting Associates.
We have just found a good video on Parks on the Air (POTA). It might be a good introduction for some. The URL is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhsyEB2fsZE&feature=em-uploademail. One thing about POTA is that the requirements are minimal. This video might answer any questions you may have about POTA.
Now, about starting your own OTA, why not? K8MRD in Michigan wanted to test his new antenna. He took it out on a frozen lake in Michigan and started calling CQ. After a fashion, He called out, “CQ Frozen Lakes on the Air”. Several people answered! This is not an official OTA program that I am aware of, but hey, he got contacts! You can see the video here:
It would be nice to see Gwinnett Parks on the air. Gwinnett County has more parks than most counties that I am aware of. Since they are all in VHF/UHF range, it would be great for technicians who would like to operate. It could be a lot of fun. The XYL (KN4EAZ) and I have been out to several parks having conversations between ourselves. Occasionally another ham would join us. It was and is great fun. GARS or an individual could set up some kind of award for activators and chasers. It wouldn’t be hard to do, and wouldn’t take up much time. Volunteers, anyone?
The whole idea of this series is to get hams, especially new hams, to get out with their radios and have some fun away from home. There are plenty of places where one can set up an amateur radio station in a public place and have fun making contacts. Portable operations are a test of your skills as a radio communicator. Whether your equipment is simple as a handy-talkie or complex as a portable digital operation, we all need to be able to know what to take and what not to take for outside operation.
If you get involved with any of the programs we’ve reviewed in the past several columns, or you make your own “OTA”, get outside and have some fun!