WD9BSA Bert C Johnson Memorial Amateur Station

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VERY SUCCESSFUL TEST SESSION

Last Saturday (May 14, 2016) the WD9BSA VE team held our second licensing exam of the year.  We had ten people attend the test session at the Golden Burke Scout Center in Indianapolis, IN that morning.  Fortunately, we had nine VEs present to administer the tests and handle the other various duties required to pull off these events.  This is a pretty large group for us, but word is getting around that our exams are free through the Laurel ARC VEC.

A total of eleven exams were given with 100% passing rate.  Here are the results:

5 new Technicians

1 new General (passed element 2 and 3)

3 upgraded to General

1 upgraded to Extra

A hearty congratulations to all the new ham and those with new privileges.  Many thanks to the VE team who volunteered their time on a Saturday morning:  KB9BVN, W8ISH, KJ9B, KA9ZYL, W9THR, NF9K, W9FG, AC9HP, and K9WTH.  Until next time, 73.

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BIG NOV WEEKEND

This past weekend (Nov 8-9) we had the opportunity to bring Scout radio to many new people.  In order to accomplish this we had to split up the WD9BSA regulars.  The activities started Saturday morning.  Our VE team assembled to conduct the last scheduled licensing session for the year. They were pleased to report that Brian N9BSW successfully upgraded to Extra Class.  They also have plans to assist with licensing at the conclusion of  a couple upcoming Scout Technician Class license classes.  This has been a successful year for the VE team with 31 people attending our free testing sessions.  We presided over six test sessions and issued 33 element exams, of which 27 were passed.  22 of those tested were Scouts or leaders.  Many thanks to all those who’ve volunteered with this effort.

IMAG0229[1]At the same time that the VE team was preparing for the test session we had an away team headed up to Cary Camp in Lafayette.  This camp is part of the Sagamore Council and was host to the Area 6 Venturing Crew conference.  There were Crew members there from all over Indiana and as far as Cincinnati, OH.  Think of this as a camporee for Venturing Crews.  We estimated there were at least 50 kids in attendance.  The first order of business was to erect a mast and prepare to check-in to the annual Simulated Emergency Test using the local ARES repeater.  Some of the kids helped Tom accomplish this task.  I was still driving at the time so I was able to check-in as mobile.IMAG0230[1]

The Crews were all split up and to form three groups.  This allowed them to intermingle and make new friends as they competed in their activities–something different than what I’ve been used to at Boy Scout camporees.  The amateur radio demonstration station was one stop on their way through the various activities.  Tom provided several battery powered field stations to display and also had the mobile command unit (aka big red truck) to show off.  After lunch we raised a short windom-style antenna to make some HF contacts.  We had several adults and kids come back through to check that out, too.

IMAG0227[1]We were able to get a lot of good feedback and information for the future Venturing Crew we hope to start.  Two boys expressed interest in joining it.  I think we hooked them when we put them on the air with a station in Venezuela!  We also made a few other stateside contacts but limited our contacts so as to save batteries for the whole day.  Our next order of business will be to have an open house where we can hopefully recruit enough kids to charter our own crew.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could be Crew 7373 or some such!IMAG0228[1]

Our final activity was the monthly station open hours held on Sunday from 2-7 PM.  We hope that this can become a regular meeting time and location for the Crew.  Our next open hours will be held December 14.  The upcoming open house is still TBA.  We’re looking forward to finishing up an excellent 2014 at the station.  Be sure to spread the word anytime you can about the station.  Our success in 2015 will rely on it.

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TESTING AND ANTENNA SUCCESS

At the close of 2013 we were pleased to say that our VE team had tested and upgraded many hams.  Of specific interest is that one of them was a Boy Scout.  I’m pleased to say the Jacob KC9ZYV is still active on the radio and in his community.  Our May 10 testing session added three new Boy Scouts to our rolls of Techs.  Our total results for the day was  two General upgrades, one person who passed Tech and went on to pass General, and three new Scouts passing their Tech.  These are in addition to several others who we tested at a special licensing session at Our Lady of Greenwood.  It sure is nice to see so many Scouts and leaders becoming interested in amateur radio.

The next day at our May station open hours we had a couple of the Scouts and parents attend.  We were able to get them on the air using their Tech privileges on 2m simplex.  We talked a little about how to conduct a proper contact on the radio since it was  a new opportunity for them.  Our job doesn’t end after licensing is over.  It’s also our mission to help get the Scouts on the air and assisting them in the proper ways to conduct themselves.  I know they’re planning on setting up nightly nets at summer camp to practice their skills.  This would be a very useful experience.

Another project we worked on was re-adjusting the antennas.  One had come down partially and required shooting a new line up in the trees.  Initial tests of the 160m windom were promising.  There wasn’t enough time to do any real testing with the analyzer but it easily tuned with the FT-900 auto tuner.  Several contacts were added to the log, included one of the W1AW portable stations celebrating the ARRL Centennial.  Another change we made was to pull the Alinco 2m and Kenwood TS-530 out of the right hand operating position.  Both of these radios have exhibited some intermittent issues in the past.  We now have a Kenwood TM-721 dual bander in there and an SGC SG-2000 for HF.  The SGC is really neat as it can operate from a remote head unit and was manufactured more like a piece of commercial radio equipment.  I think it’ll make a nice addition to the station.  We now have two complete operating positions at our station with radios for HF, VHF, and UHF; and antennas we won’t have to share back and forth.  Looking forward to watching the station grow.

FEBRUARY RECAP

2014 has been a banner year so far for the WD9BSA station.  The month of February, in particular.  We’ve had some great participation in spite of record cold and snowfall.  The month of January kicked off with the monthly open hours and a presentation at the University of Scouting leader training event.  Hopefully this will bring more awareness to our station in the coming months.  Our VE team had a full house at Golden-Burke for our quarterly license test session.  After the end of the weekend we’d tested eleven individuals for various licenses and upgrades.  In attendance were Scouting youth, adult leaders, and Purdue students.  We were pleased to have one of the Purdue students from the W9YB Purdue Amateur Radio Club who is an Eagle Scout.  The crew made a long trek down from W. Lafayette!

Our Sunday open hours was awesome!  We had two dens of Tiger Cubs visit to earn their Achievement 4G:  Go See It!  This activity is all about communications and requires the boys to visit a newspaper, TV, or radio station.  What better place than the Council amateur radio station.  The young Scouts have so much energy and enthusiasm.  I hope this little bit of exposure to radio and technology will pique their interest in the future.  These young boys might be the future of our station just a few years down the road.  I think we really made a positive impression on them.  They sure enjoyed taking on the radios to each other.  A new activity for us was operating D-Star.  We were able to link up with a distant reflector and let the boys talk to a ham in another state.  And, as usual, we had a lot of visual aids for all to look at.

Finally, we look to the future.  It’s still cold outside, but we really have some antenna maintenance in store for the spring.  The old gremlin of setting off the fire alarm has re-surfaced.  This may be contained to the 40m band, but it’s still an issue we need to resolve.  I think it’s been over a year since we’ve had this problem.  Future plans include new outside antennas up on the hill and away from the building.  We also suspect that some moisture has gotten into our feedline in some of the various connections.  This is likely the culprit, however, the alarm company hasn’t really done anything to better protect their system from stray RF.  We’re in the process right now of securing 500 ft. of new LMR-400 type coax so we can make new, continuous runs out to the antennas.  These two items should make a great improvement.

Let’s all think warm thought for March.  If anyone has blog ideas or wishes to be a blog contributor let me know and I’ll setup credentials for this site.  Let’s all stay radioactive!

BIG NOVEMBER WEEKEND

WP_000339With the exception of the recent Jamboree On The Air operating event held just last month, this past weekend may be our second biggest weekend for the station.  The WD9BSA VE team hosted our second amateur radio licensing session Saturday morning at the Golden-Burke Scout Center.  It was well attended and we were able to upgrade a General class to Extra, and two Techs to General class.  A hearty congratulations to these hams for their hard work and eager attitude.  Our primary team leader, Brian, stepped back this time as his son Andrew had come to upgrade to Extra.  That made for a nice family activity.

Sunday was our normal monthly station operating hours.  We hold this event the second Sunday of every month from 2:00-7:30 PM in the basement of the Camp Belzer Activity Center.  This is a non-regimented activity for individual Scouts, Packs, Dens, and even whole Troops to visit the station and get on the air.  We had a family of Scouts visit who included parents, a Webelos, and Boy Scout, and their daughter who is a Venturing Crew member.  We made contact with a couple hams who were nice enough to take the time to speak with each of them.  The second ham we spoke with was even operating bicycle mobile down in Huntsville!

Later in the afternoon we hosted a Den of Tiger Cubs.  Did they ever have some enthusiasm!  They were there to earn their Achievement 4G: Go See It!  We discussed all manner of communications from commercial broadcast to FRS walkie talkies like you pick up at the department store.  We put them on the air with real amateur radio 2m HT’s and were later able to put some of the boys on the main HF station to speak with a ham in Alberta, Canada.  We looked up the station’s callsign on QRZ.com and also used maps to point out geographical locations.  Of course all manner of props for the boys to handle made for a lot of fun.WP_000338

Near the conclusion we were able  to perform another licensing session for a Scout who wasn’t able to attend on Saturday.  We’re pleased to announce that Jacob F. is now our VE team’s first licensed Scout.  He’s a Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 753 in the Sugar Creek District.  Congratulations to Jacob on earning the Tech class license.  As time goes on we hope to license more Scouts and charter an amateur radio Venturing Crew at the station.

Amateur radio and Scouting really compliment each other perfectly.  The mission of both activities promote the STEM activities, preparedness, volunteering, social and geographical awareness on a local and international scale, and participation in new activities.  WD9BSA is happy to provide these opportunities to the Crossroads of America Council.