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Final Preparations Under Way for Youth on the Air 2018 in South Africa


With just weeks to go until the Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) international event, YOTA South Africa 2018 gets under way. The South African Amateur Radio League (SARL) is hosting the event. A summertime gathering in the past, YOTA South Africa 2018 will take place during the Southern Hemisphere winter. The YOTA events team is wrapping up preparations for the 7-day program, August 8 – 15, in South Africa’s Gauteng region. Some 80 young radio amateurs — including 13-year-old Faith Hannah Lea, AE4FH, of Florida — are expected to attend and operate the ZS9YOTA special event station while there.

Last August, 80 young people attended YOTA Summer Camp in England, sponsored by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB). Two young radio amateurs from the US attended the 2016 YOTA Summer Camp in Austria.

“In addition to Amateur Radio, this week creates the opportunity to learn all about different nationalities and cultures, foster international friendships and goodwill, as well as learn new communication and technical skills,” IARU Region 1 Youth Working Group Chair Lisa Leenders, PA2LS, said in a statement.

Leenders said this year’s camp will mark the first YOTA event focusing on a “train the trainer” principle, with participants learning tips and techniques to start their own youth activities or programs when they return home. “With this [approach], we will reach a bigger audience on a national and local level, which [helps] more young people and newcomers get involved in Amateur Radio,” she said.

YOTA South Africa 2018 will offer participating radio amateurs opportunities to learn more about Amateur Radio, get acquainted with fellow amateurs from other parts of the world, and have a lot of fun with Amateur Radio and social activities during the weeklong camp.

SARL President Nico van Rensburg, ZS6QL, promised that participants would be greeted “with a traditional South African welcome.” He said campers can expect “a mild winter with sun-filled days” with daytime temperatures in the mid-60s. He called YOTA South Africa 2018 a “pseudo-summer camp.”

Highlights planned for the week include learning about software-defined radio (SDR) technology, building a mini CubeSat, and experience launching and tracking it into near space on a high-altitude balloon. They also will learn about Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) — essentially Amateur Radio on the move — and they will build a QRP (low-power) HF transceiver kit. The week also will include a visit to a game reserve.