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YOTA South Africa 2018

YOTA ZS 2018 Blog #2

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With barely enough time to recover from the intercultural evening, the second day was kicked off with a presentation about South Africa, giving us an overview about this amazing country that we are barely able to witness otherwise, due to all the other activities planned!

Next up was the BACAR payload building. The five teams that everyone was split into yesterday came together for planning the project, selecting the components, building the payload, and modifying the software to fit their needs.

After lunch then came the first highlight of the payload building: The drop test. To ensure that all payloads survive the landing, each team had to drop their cube from several meters high onto hard ground. Fortunately, all team’s cubes survived that test, with only minor problems uncovered, which could fixed right after.

With the drop test sorted out, it was time for the second, important test: The shake test. Attached to the end of a broomstick, the payloads were swung and shook around, ensuring that both the ropes attaching them and the cubes themselves survive the possibly very violent wind conditions that can occur during their journey. As it turned out, the biggest bottleneck uncovered during the test was the connection between the broomstick and the ropes, sending some cubes flying through the room.

In the afternoon, we were given a presentation about South Africa’s first amateur radio satellite, Kletskous 1, including an explanation of both the transponder and stabilisation design. The current transponder prototype will also launch with the balloon on Sunday! To finish off the afternoon, there also was a presentation about how to actually work the satellites that are already out there circling our planet.

To finish off Friday, we had another session of the “Train the Trainer” theme. This time, we were sent off rather early, to catch some sleep for the big day coming up.


To start off the BACAR day, we all had to get up to 4AM, so we could arrive in Secunda around 6AM. When we arrived, it was literally freezing outside. When we were told before the camp that it was going to be 5 degrees outside at night, we definitely were thinking about +5!

After some warm soup and the sun coming up, some people made final preparations for the payloads, while the rest watched the balloon being set up and filled with hydrogen. When the balloon was filled up and started wobbling around due to the strong winds, the payloads were already lined up, so the balloon could be attached and let go, speeding off and almost hitting bystanders with the long chain of payloads hanging off of it.

Without losing time, we drove to the base station, the Secunda Radio Club clubhouse. From there, we tried to receive the signals from the various payloads, working through a list of exercises given beforehand. Even though some of the hardware on the balloon failed, there were still plenty of signals left to chase after with out antennas and radios.

With the payload landed and the chase team still underway, we had some time to fill. Armed with the antenna from Thursday and the knowledge from Friday’s presentation, we took chase on the satellites that happened to come by. Those transponders sure were kept busy during that time.

During the downtime, we were also given a practical demonstration of RaDAR – Rapid Deployment of Amateur Radio. Within a few minutes there were several antennas set up, and used for making QSOs with a portable rig.

In the early afternoon, the chase cars came back, with the payloads in the trunk. This meant that the time for enjoying the sun was over, and we went back to work, trying to get the data collected during flight, as well as preparing the presentations for later. Unfortunately, it turned out that none of the teams had GPS data from the complete flight, and one even lost their complete flight data due to an unknown issue.

YOTA ZS 2018 Kicked off (Blog #1)

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Today the YOTA event kicked off!

We started the day with an early breakfast, and had the first presentation at 8:30,
this was about the the current status of the radio station.

After a 15min break, the SDR workshop started, everyone got a free DVB-T dongle so they can do some basic SDR receiving, the workshop helped youngsters install SDR# software, gave short introductions to APRS/AX.25, weather sat decoding, SSTV and satellite tracking.

The next workshop was even more hands on, building a 2m/70cm dual-band handheld Yagi, with injection moulded supports and CNC cut fixing holes, it was so hands on the organizers had to threaten participants with lions to get the participants back to their seats for the next presentation.

Train the trainer is all about how to get youngsters in the Hamradio hobby,
the main ideas are:

  • ARISS contact
  • SOTA
  • Amsat
  • Social media
  • Basic license classes
  • workshops
  • contests
  • SOTA
  • Starting youth club
  • Fox hunting
  • youngsters camp
  • CBers, BOS paramedics
  • Construction of stuff
  • Scouts/field days

After lunch, we had a nice presentation about the preservation of Cheetahs, and even had one visit us!

A short break later, we were introduced to the BACAR (Balloon Carrying Amateur Radio) project, which is a whole story in itself, so we will come back about this later.

After dinner, it was time for the intercultural evening, where all the countries provide food and drinks from their country following camp tradition.

A few weeks to go!

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With only a few weeks to go to YOTA 2018 in South Africa, the SARL Events Team is hard at work to conclude preparations for a 7 day programme filled with a range of amateur radio related activities, excursions and lots of fun!

The event will be held in the beautiful central region of Gauteng at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre easily accessible from the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

All teams and participants will be met at the airport with a traditional South African welcome and be transported to the venue.
Being in the Southern hemisphere and August in Gauteng, it will expectantly be a mild winter with sun-filled days with day time temperatures in the low 20 degrees C and will be a “pseudo-Summer” camp for the overseas visitors.

The week will offer many opportunities to learn more about amateur radio and getting to know fellow amateurs from various other countries.
Highlights planned for the week include learning about SDR technology with your own SDR dongle, build a mini CubeSat and experience launching it as well as tracking it into near space on a high altitude balloon. Learn about Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) which is in essence amateur radio on the move and build a QRP HF transceiver kit.

A visit to a game reserve to view the Big Five including some cultural experiences like a traditional braaivleis in an open-air boma and operate the ZS9YOTA special events station.

The theme of “Train the Trainer” will be explored, to enable participants to return to their home countries, equipped and inspired to organize and promote radio amateur activities to other youth groups or ultimately starting a youth group.
Should you have any specific questions about travel arrangements, documentation or any other specific information, please do not hesitate to ask, we are happy to assist: [email protected]

The Events Team will keep participants informed in the next newsletter to be released soon. In the meantime bring your laptop, and if a licensed radio amateur your hand held radio and a copy of your amateur radio license.

We are looking forward to welcoming all teams in August this year!

YOTA ZS 2018

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The most prestigious event on the International Amateur Radio Union Region One (IARU -R1) youth calendar is the “Youngsters – on – the – Air “(YOTA) Summer Event. This year, South Africa and the South African Radio League (SARL) are honoured to host this international event.

This is a first for Africa, and a first for South Africa to host this major youth event. Eighty participants aged from 16 to 25, and from over 30 countries have been invited to attend a fun-filled week of Amateur Radio from the 8th to the 15th August 2018.

This annual event brings together young people from various IARU R1 member societies in Africa and Europe for an entire week. This week creates, in addition to amateur radio, the opportunity to learn all about different nationalities and cultures, foster international friendships and goodwill as well as learning new communication and technical skills.

It will be the first YOTA event which will focus on a train-the-trainer principle. In the week itself the participants will get tips&tricks to start own youth activities or youth programmes in their member society. With this, we will reach a bigger audience on national and local level, which makes it happen that more young people and newcomers can be involved in amateur radio.

The event will be held in the beautiful central region of Gauteng, providing participant’s access to South Africa via O.R. Tambo International Airport.
This event is organised by the SARL Youth Working Group and supported by a dedicated events team.

SARL to host the 2018 Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) Summer Camp

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The League received a positive response from Lisa Leenders, PA2LS, the IARU Region 1 Youth WG Chairman, following the acceptance and approval of the SARL proposal to host the 2018 YOTA Summer Camp by the Region 1 Executive Committee. As it will be held in the southern hemisphere, it will be the YOTA Winter Camp!

This annual event brings together Young people from the Region 1 Member Societies for an entire week to create, in addition to amateur radio, an opportunity to learn all about different nationalities and cultures, foster international friendships and goodwill as well as to learn new skills.

Work started in early November 2017, when a working group was established to perform a realistic assessment of our ability to host the event in August 2018 and to compile a proposal for the League Council’s approval and subsequent submission to Region 1.

The SARL and the South African YOTA Working Group are delighted with the response and we are looking forward to hosting a successful YOTA 2018 event as an unforgettable African experience that will be remembered for many years to come. Dr Gary Immelman, ZS6YI, has accepted the role as patron of the event.

The SARL President conveyed his sincere appreciation to the YOTA working group for their successful proposal and stated that this is a golden opportunity for the SARL and amateur radio in South Africa to make their mark in promoting amateur radio amongst the youth, locally and in Africa, in hosting the 2018 YOTA Winter Camp.