Things On The Air (TOTA) Launched

The Sundance Mountain Radio Association (Palmer Lake, CO) today announced the creation of the Things On The Air (TOTA) program. The radio association’s Need More Lists Committee spent the past year analyzing the effect of various “on the air” programs, including the Islands On The Air (IOTA), National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) and Summits On The Air (SOTA).

The overall trend is clear. The ham radio community used to be satisfied with the basic DXCC list (a list of countries that aren’t really countries so we have to call them entities). But over time, additional lists to be worked have been created. For example, the Islands On The Air (IOTA) was created in 1964. More recently, the Summits On The Air program was established in 2002. It seems that every year or so we hear of another “something” on the air program. Even the normally docile satellite grid chasers created a Walmart Parking Lots On The Air (WMPLOTA) event.

Unfortunately, this has created a miss-mash of programs with inconsistent and conflicting rules. The Need More Lists Committee concluded that the best solution to this problem is to fast-forward to the likely end state: pretty much everything can be put on the air. Inspired by the latest technical hype called Internet Of Things (IoT), the committee named this program Things On The Air (TOTA).

To be comprehensive and inclusive, the TOTA program is based on the existing Maidenhead Grid system. There are 324 fields defined (AA through RR), each having 100 squares (although they really are not square). Each square contains 576 subsquares indicated by aa through xx. So using the six-character locator results in 324 x 100 x 576 = 18,662,400 unique locators. Or, as the Committee likes to say, about 18 million locators. In North America, the six-character locator represents a rectangle about 3 miles by 4 miles. This raises the question of how many things need to be on the list inside a typical 3 x 4 mile rectangle. An in-depth study revealed there are a lot of things that might need to be listed in even a small area.

For TOTA to achieve the vision of being the “last list of things on the air”, it must accommodate an unlimited number of listed things. To start out a 15-digit serial number is appended to the 6-character locator to indicate a TOTA thing. As the program grows and new Things are added to the list, the 15-digit number can be extended indefinitely.

Here’s an example listing of some of the first TOTA designators:

Locator  Serial Number      Description
DM79nb   000000000000001    Walmart Parking Lot
DM79nb   000000000000002    Home Depot Parking Lot
DM79nc   000000000000001    Leroy's home QTH
DM79nc   000000000000002    Leroy's barn
DM79nc   000000000000003    The big tree behind Leroy's house
DM79db   000000000000001    Charlie's home QTH
DM78lu   000000000000001    Pikes Peak Summit
DN70di   000000000000001    Rocky Mountain National Park

When making a valid TOTA contact, the activating station must give a signal report and the TOTA designator: 6-character locator followed by the serial number (at least 15 digits but may be longer). The official TOTA list is currently be maintained on an Excel spreadsheet on Leroy’s computer but a HDFS database is under construction to handle the expected large dataset.

The Committee requests the help of all amateur around the world to submit additional entries into the TOTA list. Eventually, this process will be automated via the ThingsOnTheAir.com web site but for now submissions can be made in the comments field below.

The post Things On The Air (TOTA) Launched appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Things On The Air (TOTA) Launched”

  • Colin GM4JPZ:

    The only problem I see with this is the length of the exchange necessary to claim a point, being as it is considerably longer than simply 5NN. I had already thought of the AOTA program (Amateur On The Air) which would only require you to claim that an amateur was active at a given time to earn a point. No report exchange (or even contact) necessary. Valid activity would include seeing a callsign on the cluster, hearing a station being called by another station (2 points, one for the station called and one for the caller), and could eventually be carried out completely by computer while you sleep or go out to work. Extra points would be earned by spotting a station such as LZ2018BALONEY on the cluster as “SES” as there are clearly some amateurs who would not recognise this as a special callsign otherwise.

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