2023 will be celebrated by ARRL as “The Year of the Volunteer.” More information will be available throughout the year as the details are confirmed. However, the first adventure has been announced as a project called “Volunteers On The Air (VOTA).” Here we get ‘points’ for each contact made with another ARRL volunteer. So, if two ARRL members contact each other, they will each receive a point for that QSO. No special codes, sequence numbers, or section information needs to be passed. Make contact with a fellow ARRL member, and you each receive a point. Each of you must upload the contact to the Logbook of The World (LoTW), and your points are calculated when the QSO is matched. This could be an FT8 contact, a CW contact, a simplex 2M FM contact, an RTTY contact, or an SSB rag-chew.
To add more interest to the year-long operating event and help demonstrate the ARRL volunteers’ value, each level of volunteer activity has been assigned a point level, shown in the table at https://ok.arrl.org/vota/. For example, if you make a contact with Mark Kleine N5HZR, the Oklahoma Section Manager, you’ll get 175 points for that one contact. So, I’ll need to up my HF game to handle all the pile-ups coming my way in 2023. Maybe I need that 160M sky loop and an amplifier.
My mother has told me that whenever I did something ‘extra’ or for someone else, I would “get points for that.” I’ve heard those words for over 60 years, and I’ve not yet figured out what those points are worth. In this case, I’m hoping you will be able to get some certificates, or wallpaper, for your efforts. More details on this as they are fleshed out.
So, get your HF gear running, make sure your LoTW connection is working, and see you on the air!!!
VOTA Program Rules
I’m sure these rules will be extended or revised, so please return here to check for updates.
- This starts January 1, 2023, at 0000Z.
- This ends December 31, 2023, at 2359Z.
- You must be an ARRL member. You can join or renew at https://arrl.org/join/.
- All QSOs must be uploaded to the ARRL QSO matching system, Logbook of The World (LoTW).
- No repeater contacts are allowed.
- Contacts can be made on any band (except 12 M, 17 M, and 30 M).
- Contacts can be made on any legal mode of operation.
- You receive ‘points’ based on the volunteer level of the ARRL member you contact. Points range from 1 point for an ARRL member to 300 points for Rick Roderick K5UR. The point levels are listed at https://ok.arrl.org/vota/. (Your favorite Section Managers are worth 175 points.)
- Each QSO will get only one point value. For example, someone who is a member, a life member, and an Assistant Section Manager will be worth the value of the highest role, 35 points for the ASM role.
Logbook of The World (LoTW)
All of the reporting for this VOTA effort will be handled automatically by the ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTD) QSO matching system. If you already log your QSOs from your favorite logging software and it uploads them to LoTW, you will automatically be enrolled in the project. Your QSOs will be verified normally, and the callsigns of the people you work will be searched to find the appropriate points (table shown at https://ok.arrl.org/vota/) that you receive for each QSO.
But, if you aren’t set up to use LoTW, now is the time to set it up. The LoTW quick-start page is a great place to start, and the “What is LoTW Document” explains the whole process. You must authenticate yourself with the system by receiving a postcard mailed to your FCC-registered address. You’ll run a program called TSQL that is used by your logging program, N3FJP, N1MM, DX Lab Suite, or something else to authenticate and upload to LoTW. You can start the setup process now, and you’ll be ready on January 1st! Or, hold your logs until you get LoTW set up, and you can upload them when you get it all sorted.
If you need help setting up your LoTW account, watch some YouTube videos, contact your Elmer, or local club. If that fails, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll find someone to help you.
W1AW Remote Operations
As a part of the Year of the Volunteer celebration, the mystical callsign W1AW will be traveling to the corners of ARRL-land. ARRL members in each state/territory will be asked to operate their stations for two different weeks using the callsign W1AW/x where x is one of the local regions: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, KL, KH0, KH2, KH6, KH7, KH8, KP2, KP3, or KP4. For example, Oklahoma’s first week starts January 25, 2023, at 0000z and will run through January 31, 2023, at 2359z, using the callsign W1AW/5. Each state will coordinate the time/band/mode slots throughout the week and hams will be able to operate their stations.
Traveling W1AW rules include:
- Remember that each operator must follow the rules for their own license class. Stay in the sub-bands that you’re legally allowed to operate in.
- Operators do not need to be at the same site.
- Members that contact the Traveling W1AW stations will receive 5 points.
- Each band/mode combination can be activated simultaneously. For example, N5OP could be working 20 M SSB, N5OK could be working on 20 M CW, N5AZQ could be working on 20 M FT8, and N5HZR could be on 40 M SSB, all at the same time.
- The state weekly assignments are shown at https://ok.arrl.org/vota/ in the W1AW/ Schedule area at https://ok.arrl.org/vota/.
- State operations start at 0000z each Wednesday.
- State operations stop at 2359z the following Tuesday.
- Operations should not happen on the 12 M, 17 M, or 30 M bands.
- All logs for the week should be consolidated into one ADIF file so the folks at ARRL HQ can load them into LoTW.
Each state W1AW coordinator will make a schedule to optimize the on-air time for those interested in running the callsign.