Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thoughts on Running an Effective Get On The Air (GOTA) Station for Field Day Part 1

This year was the first year that I ever participated in a Field Day. It was a lot of fun. I spent a fair bit of time around the GOTA station, and I had a lot of thoughts as to how it could be run better. This is still a work in progress, and I would love to have your feedback, but here's the start of a plan, and  a discussion, that I've started to have with my club, and I would love to have from you all. This is a rather lengthy subject, so I'm going to divide it in to parts, to allow it to be run a bit smoother.
In my opinion, there is a few key things that need to happen to run a GOTA station effectively. If this is done right, everyone will have more fun, people will not get frustrated, and more contacts will be made. I will break them out in to the following categories.

1. Signing up for the GOTA station.
2. Helping those new to Amateur Radio understand how to make a contact in a contest environment.
3. Helping the coaches know how to assist the person in the best way possible.
4. Keeping an orderly flow to the line, while keeping an eye on emergency situations.
5. Trying to make those 20 contacts from a single user.

Signing up for the GOTA station

The sign up for our group was confusing. There was a location to sign up for a primary operator, and a secondary operator, the same as at any other station. However, that was quite confusing for the most part, there wasn't a sign up spot for coaches. As a result, there was often either too many coaches, or two few. Furthermore, there was a large number of people who didn't sign up for an hour block, and wanted to make a contact, making the operator schedule useless. Given all of this, I would suggest doing something like this:

1. Sign up a coach for every hour of the block.
2. Have a designated block of time for new/inactive operators signing up, for those middle of the night time slots. For daytime hours, sign up a second operator who is qualified to run the station, who can assist with logging and take over the station in the event of no one waiting in the line.
3. Organize the people coming in as either a few contacts, or try to make the twenty. Keep the 20 people in mind, but be flexible for those just waiting to make a contact.

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