Digital GOTA attracts the Youth

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If you are like many ARRL Field Day operations you have a Get On The Air (GOTA) station for guests.

We have done this every year I have been involved with my club’s Field Day and have had mostly good results. We usually have one Boy Scout troop stop by and make a few QSOs each. Also some technicians in our club like to operate the station during the late hours to get a chance to do SSB HF (yes we always have a control operator with valid privileges). Also it seems every year a new ham really enjoys the simplicity of the GOTA station without the concern over band sharing the other stations deal with.

Every year our GOTA is set up pretty much the same…

  • Icom 746
  • HF Antenna – Wire Dipole
  • Microphone
  • Key
  • Computer for logging
  • and that’s about it

Last year I posted observations about what the youth seem to enjoy most about our Field Day 2008…

For all our GOTA station offered, it was the Digital operations in one of the regular Field Day stations that really caught their eye. Like I mention in the post, they seem to think of it much like the texting they do with their cell phones.

Give the people what they want…

This year our GOTA station will include the following additional components…

  • Computer-Radio Interface – The Navigator from US Interface
  • A proper interface cable from the interface to the Icom 746
  • A very nice Begali two paddle morse code key
  • MixW Software (and maybe Digipan)
  • A powered USB port splitter to ensure the Navigator gets all the power it needs since the laptop USB port is sometimes weak

To put it another way, we are outfitting the GOTA tent with serious gear and features to ensure any and all possible modes including the many digital modes can and will be demonstrated.

We intend to capitalize on the similarity between our amateur radio digital modes and texting to draw some interest towards licensing.

My advice to you is to spiff up your GOTA station with better gear and prominently feature PSK31 and RTTY during the demonstration.

GL

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