Even though it’s nearly the end of January I’m just now releasing the last of 2013 blog posts. We’re only two weeks away from February open hours but the last two months have been busy with holiday activities and work.
Our station open hours are really just that–open agenda. The format changes from month to month depending on who comes to visit. We have everyone from Tiger Cubs on a Go See It! trip to visit a radio station to older, Boy Scouts working on the Radio merit badge. We’ve had an enjoyable year of activities participating in such events as University of Scouting, ARRL Field Day, Space Jam, and the BSA Jamboree On The Air. We’ve taught Radio merit badge, hosted numerous dens of Tigers, and enjoyed meeting many random visitors to the station. Our VE licensing team has newly licensed one Boy Scout and upgraded the license class of four existing radio amateurs.
One of the most important parts of amateur radio is to actually use the radios. This could be recreational or public service communication. It can be using voice or digital modes capable of communication with hams locally or over a long distance. But it can also be one way communications like radio direction finding. At the December open hours we assembled a tape measure beam antenna for hunting hidden radio transmitters. It was really fun and only cost about $12 in parts. There are plans all over the internet and numerous videos on Youtube.
The body of the antennas is made of PVC pipe. The pieces are cut and just slide into the fittings. No need for glue in this setup. We made the actual radiating elements from cut up pieces of a cheapo tape measure. This really aided in building the antenna. We used the tape measure to lay out the corrects lengths of PVC pipe and then cut it up for the elements. Regular hose clamps hold them onto the PVC. The best part is that this can all be made with regular had tools like tin snips, hack saw, screw driver. The last part to be completed is the electrical connection to the coax feedline. I’ll do this part at home with my soldering iron. This should make for a fun outdoor activity this Spring when the weather warms up. A radio hide and seek game for the boys! The leaders get to enjoy hiding the transmitter and watching the detective work by the Scouts. We have several of these transmitters available at the station and they can over many acres so the course could be quite interactive!