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Hello and welcome! I'm Dzianis, a licensed radio ham holding the callsign DD1LD. I love to take this hobby with me wherever I may roam. The blog "QTC de DD1LD" means "Messages From Me" and reflects my ham radio activities and projects. I barely have time to write everything down, so I blog occasionally, and mainly, for myself. You can subscribe to the blog below to receive updates when new posts are available. 73 and enjoy reading!

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GoGreen XOTA

GoGreen XOTA? What on earth does it mean? There are thousands of ham radio operating awards available, some of them offer a great way to...

Thursday, July 02, 2020

GoGreen XOTA

GoGreen XOTA? What on earth does it mean?

There are thousands of ham radio operating awards available, some of them offer a great way to take ham radio outdoors. You can hike a high alpine mountain or a local hill, go to a green park or to a sunny beach, visit a lonely island or your favorite castle and "activate" them to enjoy outdoor ham radio activities and apply for a corresponding activator award.    

I had the idea for GoGreen ham radio activities in my head for a very long time. The basic concept is pretty simple:
  • Activations should be done without using personal cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. (any vehicles with combustion engines, hybrid and electro vehicles), but on foot, by bicycle, e-bike or/and by public transport (bus and train). A GoGreen activation starts and ends at your QTH or at alternative QTH.
  • QRP is preferred, however, Low Power (100W) should be fine, too.
  • Solar and battery powered operations are welcome. Combustion engine generators should not be utilized.
  • Ideally, GoGreen activities should be incentivized by appropriate programs e.g. SOTA, GMA, WWFF, COTA, BOTA, etc. and, moreover, incorporated into associated award schemes.
The motivation behind the GoGreen idea would be to foster:
  • outdoor and /P ham radio activities in the fresh air,
  • homebrewing and experimenting, 
  • personal health and fitness,
  • flora and fauna conservation (less emissions, noise, damage, etc.), 
  • "green" thinking (less congestion and traffic jams, etc.).
The COVID-19 restrictions in Bavaria in March 2020 brought some urgency to get the idea on the way and try it out, as the exit restrictions in Bavaria still allowed sports and exercise in the fresh air. So, outdoor ham radio activities around the corner were allowed as long as social distancing was maintained. I was looking for what I can do... together with my family.

The most of SOTA (Summits On The Air) and WWFF (WorldWide Flora and Fauna) activities require driving decent or long distances by car, at least for me. 

I have been participating in the SOTA program since 2007. I was there from the start, so to speak. The SOTA program has not evolved over the last decade. OK, new associations and new folks joined the program, and that's it in general. In a nutshell, the main limitations are:
  • The scoring system is neither competitive nor reflecting an actual effort associated with an activation. The rigid scoring scheme doesn't offer any additional incentive to activators who climb high and challenging peaks or do GoGreen activations. 
  • There is no incentive to activate the same summit (around the corner) multiple times a year unless you are looking for a summit-to-summit (S2S) award. An activator is thus constantly forced to activate a Unique One in order to collect points for Activator Awards.
  • The references are given by SOTA Management Team to a summit with the highest prominence according to the P150 rule. The highest prominence and P150 rule don't always reflect a degree of difficulty and effort associated with an activation, and what is more important to me, the attractiveness of a mountain.  A lot of really beautiful mountains and hills have been removed from the list or not added to the list for this reason.
There have been a lot of discussions in the SOTA-reflector, but nothing has changed since then, and probably will not be changed under the current SOTA Management Team.
 
From this point of view, the GMA (Global Mountain Activity) program offers much more flexibility and indeed encourages green thinking. It is also much more family friendly as you can always do a quick activity with all of your family members and/or pets. And this is exactly what is important to me - spending more time with the family and enjoying activities together.
 
 
GoGreen activation of the Turmhügel hill, DA/AV-200 
together with my family on Sunday, June 28th , 2020.
Easy 15km by bike, 30 CW QSOs made by QRP in 35 minutes of uptime.  
My QRP station fits in the bike side pocket.

The GMA website has been created and maintained by Mario, DL4MFM. The program has evolved well over the past decade. You can submit or add a reference for a mountain or hill around the corner and activate it everyday by bike or by walk with your kids while still collecting some award points. The hill or mountain should have a name and height that appear on an official map. The prominence doesn't matter, but frankly, do you really need a P150-rule and a long drive to have fun? The GMA enables GoGreen activities, however, doesn't explicitly incentivizes them. This means that no additional points will be earned through any GoGreen activities. 

One of my after-work GoGreen activations of my favorite local hill, GMA DA/AV-198. 
A few QSOs in a few minutes are always possible.
Together with my son Kirian on June 3rd, 2020. 
 
The WWFF program has been designed around the IOTA (Islands On The Air) award scheme, all this was about activating and collecting references. Once activated or chased, there is no urgent incentive to do this more than once or twice. It requires a lot of traveling by car to get a New One. End of 2019 the WWFF Committee announced the upcoming launch of a new pilot award scheme for activators - the WWFF Activator Points Award starting in 2020. The new annual award scheme pursued two objectives - to encourage:
  •     longer activations (beyond the default 44 QSOs),
  •     return activations (more than once).
Points are awarded annually, as follows:
  •     For achieving the 44 QSO quorum at each reference,
  •     For achieving additional QSO quotas (multiples of 44) at each reference.
Additional points will be awarded for each DX entity (five points) that an activator activates from.

This means that you can activate your favorite WWFF park around the corner as many times as you like and collect up to 10 activator award points per year. In my opinion, this is a great idea, the only one variable missing in the equation is a similar award scheme for chasers. Similar to GMA, the WWFF program enables GoGreen activities, however, doesn't explicitly incentivizes them, since is doesn't make any difference if you operate from car or come by bike. Actually, the "Make Nature Your Shack" slogan implies green thinking, and the WWFF program and Committee should support GoGreen expeditions rather than entertain /M activations.

 
 "Make Nature Your Shack". Operating from DLFF-0642 on July 9th, 2020.
After-work GoGreen Activation. Live log and info at www.tnxqso.com
45km by bike, 180 QSOs made with QRP in ~3.5 hours of participation time.

I also had a look at the COTA/WCA program which is also very similar to the IOTA award scheme. You can activate some castles and fortresses around the corner, and there are many, so you're sure to find one near your QTH. So, you could easily Go Green if you like. The COTA/WCA program enables GoGreen activities, however, does not create a direct incentive as it is not based on points, and there are no award points to collect. Well, the world castles day and the world castles weekend might give an incentive to activate the same object twice over time or even several times, and earn a nice award and a participation certificate from the COTA/WCA group. 

I tried them all - SOTA, GMA, WWFF and COTA, and it is fun!  As soon as GoGreen activations are considered, the GMA and WWFF programs are my favorites, since they are sustainable and have a chance to embrace green thinking, create appropriate incentives and design GoGreen award schemes for activators like me. They are not there yet, but very close to. The number of GoGreen activators is still small but emerging, e.g. DF3MC, PA9CW, ON4VT, ON5SWA, RN3ANT, etc. Certainly the integration of the GoGreen option into the appropriate award schemes will create more work for the program owners and award managers, but there is nothing that cannot be managed.
 
The GMA Triathlon award scheme brought me to think about XOTA that means X-any On The Air, and, especially, about the GoGreen XOTA. You can activate whatever you want - mountains, hills, nature reserves, castles, light towers, islands, beaches etc. as long as you Go Green and have fun! Does it sound easy enough for you? Just try it! You also can undertake X-activations or cross activities by a single expedition, e.g. operating from a GMA/SOTA mountain which is located in a WWFF area. Or you can go out for a GMA activation of your local hill and, in parallel, chase some other SOTA/GMA or WWFF or COTA activators.

The GMA provides a great platform to track your XOTA activities and progress. It offers many tools to plan your ham radio mini expedition or anylize your logs. Martin, DF3MC summarized a great overview of the GMA platform.  All of this is more about your personal goals than the competition. For example, my personal goal for 2020 is to
while maximizing the number of my GoGreen activations and joint family activities.  And this will be my Personal DD1LD's GoGreen XOTA Challenge 2020.
 
 
 My GoGreen Activation of DLFF-0706 and GMA DA/AV-384 on May 24th, 2020.
40km by bike, 107 QSOs made with QRP in 2 hours. 
 
Well, why not to introduce a Green Medal in the GMA Triathlon or to award additional five WWFF activator points for a GoGreen activity? I know, the idea of GoGreen activations is revolutionary for any of those programs mentioned above, and will probably never be included in any of these award schemes... But who cares and who knows? The only thing that finally matters is outdoor ham radio experience, fun and personal health!
 
73, 44, 11 de Dzianis, DD1LD

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