WMPLOTA is a special event and award scheme for amateur radio satellite operators that encourages the practice of portable operation in the ubiqitous and easily accessible location of Walmart parking lots.
The first ever WMPLOTA took place April 28 and April 29, 2018.
Be safe and operate in a way to that is in no way impactful to the Walmart store or its customers. Participation in WMPLOTA, just like SOTA, is at your own risk.
Follow us on Twitter @WMPLOTA and post using hashtag #WMPLOTA!
Get ready for a WMPLOTA Encore on July 2, 2018!
Brace yourselves. A one-day WMPLOTA Encore takes place on July 2, 2018 from 00:00 UTC – 23:59 UTC!
July 2 is the birthday of Walmart, with Sam Walton opening the first store in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962. July 2 is also World UFO Day, where people gather together and watch the skies for unidentified flying objects, just in case…
Click here for Scheduled Activations. Listen for additional popup activations on the air over the WMPLOTA Weekend!
QSL Cards for WMPLOTA are available. See here for details.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this for real?
Oh, yes! We are doing this event and awards scheme as described. How seriously the participants are taking it is perhaps another matter.
How do I participate?
Walmart Parking Lots on the Air begins at 00:00 UTC on April 28th. To participate in this scheme you do not need to register in advance or pay any dues. You simply need to operate an amateur radio satellite station, and then choose to be an WMPLOTA Associate (activator), who operates portable from any Walmart parking lot, or a Shopper (chaser) operating from another location and contacting Associates.
When making amateur radio contacts, it is common practice to exchange your callsign and grid square during the contact. WMPLOTA Associates are encouraged to simply mention “Walmart” or their Walmart Store Number on-air during the contact, which will be used by anyone participating in the awards scheme. The Walmart Store Number can be found on the store receipt or through the Walmart Store Finder online. We no longer recommend using the /wm suffix, as this was confusing entries into LoTW.
Associates, please take a picture of your operating location, including a branded shopping cart or a recognizable portion of a Walmart (or Sam’s Club) branded store. Selfies are encouraged, and extra points will be awarded for any operating picture that includes a Walmart greeter or security staff member. Big points and notoriety is yours if you operate shopping cart mobile /wm/m/p, but be careful and wear a high-vis vest!
Pictures and logs can be submitted for award credit. More to follow on this later.
What is the awards scheme for WMPLOTA?
Please view and also participate in defining the awards scheme on the WMPLOTA Wiki.
How did this all get started?
On April 14, Chris K7TAB operated from the EM99/FM09 gridline, which just happened to run through a Walmart parking lot in Morgantown, WV. When Chris posted this activation to Twitter, many other rovers in the amateur satellite community mentioned how they also had operated from Walmart parking lots across the country, which also happened to be conveniently located on gridlines.
Walmart parking lots make a decent portable operating location in general, especially when pressed for time, as the wide open space allows for working satellite passes of varying elevations without needing to drive into a more remote location in the countryside. Walmart stores also offer a location that is friendly to longterm parking, are a place where unconventional dress code and accessories like strapping on SSB radios and waving purple antennas at they sky are still considered inconspicous and unremarkable, and have the convenient availability of snacks and refreshments at everyday low prices.