Posts Tagged ‘CHOTA’
Churches and Chapels on the Air (CHOTA) 2024 will be held on Saturday, 14th September, 2024. John G3XYF, organizer of CHOTA in the UK, has announced the date for this year. For a roster in an Excel spreadsheet of the churches in the UK and US that were registered in 2023, go to this link.
In 2023, I took a leadership role in promoting participation in this low-key event here in the U.S. John G3XYF welcomed this idea. We had about a dozen on this side of the Pond to join in the fun. For 2024, I’ve floated this idea to John for his review and consideration.
What if, at a specified time each hour, every church team QSYed to a specified 20 meter frequency and tried to work each other across the Pond? Of course, propagation and equipment will rule the day. But by incorporating this 10 minute or so period into the framework, it will continue to build a bridge between the two sets of ham operators, no? I’ll post later if this idea has merit with the organizer.
Consider fielding a team at an area church this year! I’ve had several inquiries that I’ve sent along to John G3XYF as the organizer of the event. This has been underway in some fashion since 1957 so isn’t it high time we got in gear on this? Pass this webpage along to other hams whom you might think would be interested.
My church Senior Pastor and Church Administrator quickly button-holed me after the event to please organize it again in 2024. It was a great activity with the stress-to-fun ratio definitely being in the operator’s favor! Food availability tends to draw a crowd…
I’ve included a previous story I published on the Vicksburg (MS) ARC website below so readers can see how it went at my church in Ridgeland, MS for the 2023 event.
Some of our members participated in the first annual special event of CHOTA in the United States. This was at the Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland, MS on Saturday, September 9, 2023. CHOTA is Churches and Chapels On The Air, an event of the World Association of Christian Radio Amateurs and Listeners. That organization began in 1957 in England by the Huddersfield South Methodist Radio Club. It’s been ecumenical since 1978. (See https://k4fmh.com/2023/07/12/chota-2023/ for details on CHOTA and planning for this event.)
The Jackson ARC managed the Welcome Tent uponr the invitation of event organizer Frank K4FMH and his church administrator, Larnie Shinnick. JARC invited members of VARC to attend, operate and exhibit satellite communications. Eddie Pettis N5JGK was joined by an area ham, Rick Largent N5ZNL to showcase this activity. All area hams were invited to attend the event through the dissemination of an announcement flyer and ARRL MS Section emails.
Four stations were set up to work Phone, CW, FT8, and satellites. The HF stations used wire antennas hung from trees on one corner of the church’s sixteen-acre campus. Stations were limited to these to avoid RF interference. The SSB and FT8 stations each had bandpass filters to help in this regard. VARC member Eddie Pettis N5JGK used his HT and Arrow antenna, as did Rick Largent N5ZNL, to work satellites. Mike N5DU used his Xiegu G90 station at 10 watts to work FT8 on 10 and 15 meters, reaching Europe, South America for several contacts that really excited TV reporter Walt Grayson in his story. Frank K4FMH brought his HF station built into a large Gator Case featuring an Icom 7300, Ameritron amplifier, MFJ ATU, Array Solutions Bandpass System, and BHI DSP speaker. Tom Brown AE5I brought his Yaesu FT-897 transceiver and CW bug where he and Mike Duke K5XU worked the meager options available on a very ragged 40M band. A total of over 100 contacts were made throughout the US as well as around the world. Two SSB contacts were with other activated churches in the US although those in England were not heard here.
The church provided a food truck on site and added ice cream. Both were free to those in attendance. We greatly appreciate Highlands Pres for being such a gracious host for this event! Truly, a good time was had by all in attendance.
The news media was present and gave great coverage of the event, including a front-page story in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger on Monday (see pic). The Clarion-Ledger has a gallery of pictures taken by reporter Ed Inman with a front-page story in the paper’s Monday, September 11th edition. Legendary TV news reporter Walt Grayson of WJTV Channel 12 in Jackson published a video feature story for the Monday evening newscast. Jim Armstrong AK5J said that for as long as he has been a licensed ham operator, he has not seen as much publicity for amateur radio as this event has received.
Here is the coverage by Walt Grayson of WJTV Channel 12 in Jackson:
Below are some additional pictures of the event for you to enjoy.
Recently I ran across an intriguing notice on the RSGB website. It was a notice to “prepare for CHOTA” back in 2021. CHOTA is Churches and Chapels on the Air, a product of the World Association of Christian Radio Amateurs and Listeners (wacral.org). That organization began in 1957 in England by the Huddersfield South Methodist Radio Club. It’s been ecumenical since 1978. Intriguing! Another institutional space for using amateur radio as outreach to the public. If you are a church member, it reaches out to the public who may be unaware of your existence.
I wrote to John G3XYF (jhwresdell (at) gmail.com), asking him about the prospects of my assembling a team to activate my own church in order to get the US involved in this long standing event. He quickly replied and encouraged me to do so. John only asks for activators to merely drop him a line with the call sign being used and the location of the church or chapel (or other religious institution) being activated. John will be using the call GB0LOW from his local church in the East Riding of Yorkshire. If you’re in England, contact John ahead of time for an SES callsign. And don’t forget to obtain your church leaders’ permission!
This year CHOTA is on Saturday, September 9, 2023. After contacting John G3XYF, who manages CHOTA, I learned that there has been no participation from the States in this unique event. With the dramatic rise in Parks OTA participation, getting churches on the air in a similar “non-contest” style would be enjoyable.
From the WACRAL website: There is an award available for working any CHOTA stations on the Saturday of the event – . Let’s hope the conditions are good! Those claiming the award must contact eight (8) or more CHOTA stations. Copies of the logs must include date, time, frequency, call sign of station and operators name and call sign. To claim your award, send this information to Alistair McGoff (2E0TGF) amcgoff4 @ gmail.com
This year CHOTA is on Saturday, September 9, 2023.
It’s not a contest but more of a POTA-style event.
Consider putting your church (or any church) on the air in September from here in the US. Not every one will be blessed with the space that my church has (see below) but we hams are creative in fitting our operations into the space that is available. Don’t forget to drop John G3XYF (jhwresdell (at) gmail.com) a note letting him know of your activation.
My moderate-sized church, Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland MS, sits on a 16 acre campus. In the Southwest corner, there is a small meadow with full oak and pine trees on a small ridge. It is directly across from the Township at Colony Park retail and residential complex. After doing a walk around, my church administrator and I saw it as a very useful space, both for CHOTA as well as future outdoor youth and young adult social events (think concerts, movies, and so forth). An aerial photograph illustrates the layout.
But would RF noise make it impossible on HF? I took my Icom IC-705 and a 40-10M EFHW antenna with me and threw the far end of the antenna up in a tree. There was almost no RFI detected on 20, 17 or 10 meters. That doesn’t mean that none might not suddenly appear but it’s a good omen, nonetheless. Here’s a snippet of the low noise floor I heard on 20 meters. It was very similar on 17 and 10 meters.
If we stage four tents with stations, that will give us one each for SSB, CW and Digital modes. A fourth would be a Visitor tent for those who stop by. The Jackson ARC has agreed to attend and manage the Visitor tent. The Vicksburg ARC has agreed to have Eddie N5JGK and Chris AF5OQ on hand to work satellites. Eddie is an old hand at working the Sats. He will provide us with anticipated passes in view of the ISS and other birds workable by a handheld with an Arrow dual band antenna so we can advertise the estimated times. Chris AF5OQ is President of VARC who will drive some of their members over to this event. This spot is a great spot for our planned activation with plenty of room for visitors.
My church administrator mentioned having a food truck on hand for the event. The JARC is now working with the Madison County Library System. Their adult and youth services director is dying to talk to the ISS. She can drive library patrons to the event. The options for wire and vertical antennas in the pictures below are readily available (even if we wanted to put up an antenna for 160M). See the pan-around video beneath them for a better view. Can you spot the bonus item we discovered in this video? Some of our young people are making the rounds on the recent disc golf course established on the church campus. One of them designed the course.
Did you spot the electrical meter and service panel left from a previous construction staging site? My church administrator is getting it reactivated. It will not only assist our CHOTA 2023 (and beyond) activation but be critical for other outdoor activities held in this beautiful space. While we operate battery and solar powered on our portable ops, having mains power will just make things easier for the whole event.
Food. Retail shopping across the street. Public officials. Library staff. Entire church invited, especially the young adult and youth groups. Get a successful satellite activation or two with area club members dropping by to participate and this could be an event!