WD9BSA Bert C Johnson Memorial Amateur Station

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.

JOTA WRAP-UP

With the Jamboree on the Air now now in the books it seemed like a good time for a wrap-up blog post.  The second year for JOTA at our Camp Belzer home station went very well.  The dismal weather Saturday morning didn’t kill the spirits of the volunteers or the Scouts.  By afternoon sunny skies had broken through the chilly and damp conditions.  In addition to the permanent station located in the Activity Center basement we also had a portable station setup out on the deck.  A convenient flag pole made an excellent fixture for raising the DXCC antenna.  Tom had his complete mobile field station setup for demonstration, too.

One of the reasons for our success this year was that it coincided with the Del Mi District Fall Camporee at Belzer.  There was something on the order of 200-300 boys in attendance.  Some wanted to get on the air and others were just interested in watching.  Between all three stations we must’ve had 50-100 Scouts come through and participate in the activity.  We used the portable stations for some demonstration, but mainly just to attract attention.  Once some boys were rounded up they were sent downstairs to the main station to make contacts on the air.  This was an interesting sidelight to the several other activities they had scheduled for their camporee.

Here are the highlights as I see them:

  • Record attendance for our JOTA operation
  • Good networking opportunities with Scouts and leaders to raise awareness about the station
  • Not only did most of the boys make stateside contacts, at least one spoke to DX in France
  • A couple boys were able to complete their last requirement for Radio merit badge by making a live radio contact
  • I was so busy I didn’t even have time to take any pics of the boys in action

Many thanks go out to Del Mi District, Camp Belzer staff, and the many hams who took the time to speak with the Scouts on the radio.  Our club members that attended were Randy, David, Tom, Jeff, and my buddy Nick N9SJA.  There are already visitor confirmations for the November station open hours.  Let’s hope year number two is even better than the first.

LET’S GET READY FOR JOTA!

cropped-jota_2013_4k.jpgThe weekend of October 19-20 will be the second year we operate JOTA at our station home in the Camp Belzer Activity Center.  This year it coincides with Del-Mi District Fall Camporee.  We have an excellent opportunity to display amateur radio in action to possibly 300 scouts!  This could potentially be our biggest PR event to date so we’ll need all hands on deck.

Our JOTA event this year will be a full weekend event with continuous operation through the night if there are enough operators.  Our setup will begin around 11:00 AM Saturday morning and continue through teardown Sunday afternoon around 2:00 PM.  Camping will be available for those of us who might wish to stay onsite.  This event will be open to anyone in the Crossroads Council, so we could see additional visitors as well.  Listen for us on or around the the suggested JOTA operating frequencies as band conditions and activity permit.

Moorea

We had three leaders attend the October station open hours.  Unfortunately no Scouts this month.  As the season starts to approach Fall and Winter I expect there to be more activity.  Band conditions this weekend were excellent.  Those of you who weren’t there missed an excellent 10m band opening.  We put the station on the air and promptly worked a ham in Arizona participating in the AZ QSO Party.  With this success we tuned down just a bit to 28.410 and made contact to the French Polynesia island of Moorea.  We traded signal reports of 55 both ways using the FT-900 and Randy’s homebrew fan dipole that was installed in September.  Thanks to Phil FO4BM for picking us out of the pileup.  I’ll definitely be sending off for this QSL card so we can proudly display it in our shack.  Hope to see everyone soon.

UPCOMING FALL ACTIVITIES

Radio scoutingBy now everyone is back to school again.  The fall season is nearly upon us and soon the clocks will get turned back until spring.  Boy Scouts troops have completed a summer full of camp and high adventure.  Cub Scouts packs are busy with fall recruitment.  We’re getting to my favorite time of the year for ham radio.  Summer is just too busy, but with cooler weather creeping in I find more time available to hang out in the shack.  While the higher bands will start to close earlier, the low bands get a little quieter and easier to manage.

Activities for the WD9BSA station are also ramping up.  We’re continuing to have station open hours on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00-7:30PM.  This is an excellent opportunity for unlicensed Scouts to stop by and learn more about ham radio.  You can get on the air and make contacts with the assistance of the club members.  The station is also available to Scouts that are already licensed but may not have access to a complete station of their own.  We’re available to teach Radio merit badge to the older boys and can also fulfill the requirements of Achievement 4G:  Go See It! for the Tiger Cubs.  If your unit is interested in either of these or would like to schedule a group visit please contact us by email so we can be sure to have enough materials and leaders to accommodate you.  We can be reached at wd9bsa@crossroadsbsa.org.

JOTA_2013_4K

Coming up soon is the annual Radio Scouting operating event known as Jamboree On The Air (JOTA).  We’ll have the station open for this fun event as well.  JOTA is an event where Scouts all over the world are encouraged to get on the air and make contacts with each other.  Sometimes these contacts are from boys at various camps and outdoor activities, or even adults that enjoy fond memories of Scouting in their youth.  When conditions are favorable international contacts called DX (short for distant) are possible.

The WD9BSA club is also preparing to administer our next amateur radio license testing session in Nov.  We have a team of certified volunteers who are authorized to administer the exams.  We then submit them to an organization called a VEC who will validate them and submit to the FCC.  We are affiliated with the Laurel ARC VEC and offer these exams free of charge.  Please see the Licensing tab on our webpage for further details.

For dates and times of all our events please check out our club calendar.  There’s a Calendar tab on our webpage for your convenience.  We have two complete operating stations and would love to have both seats filled.  We would also love to have enough interested Scouts to start an amateur radio Venturing Crew.  The Crew would probably meet once a month and learn amateur radio operating skills, project building techniques, and many different modes of operation.  They would also take over leadership and general operation of the station.  If you’re interested in this or know a Scout that might be interested please let us know.  So don’t miss out on these fun activities.  Stop by and operate when you can.

THE RESULTS ARE IN

VE team

The VE team bright and shiny.

I’ve condensed the follow up briefing from our VE team leader Brian Murrey (KB9BVN).  Last Saturday morning we officially completed our first FCC amateur license exam session.  Our success rate is 100%!  We were pleased to take part in the upgrade of a Technician class ham to General class.  Of the three scheduled to attend we had one show up.

The testing took place in Wilmeth Hall at the Golden-Burke Scout Center.  We have this same room reserved for future tests and it should accommodate around 10 exam applicants.  Our VE team is up to ten now, but we’re always looking to recruit more…especially Extra class.  Our main priority will be to serve Scouts as that is the mission of the WD9BSA group.

Brian has assembled a VE box with all the necessary paperwork and supplies.  Soon we’ll also have badges to wear identifying us as VE team members of the LARC-VEC.  I think that’ll add a nice professional look when applicants arrive.

Congrats

Our excited new General.

TESTING…THIS IS ONLY A TEST!

The members of the WD9BSA Scout Radio Station are excited about the upcoming FCC licensing test this Saturday.  The test site is the CAC Scout office,  7125 Fall Creek Road North.  Several of us have become accredited VE’s with the Laurel ARC VEC.  This Saturday will be the first opportunity for our VE team to administer the exams.  We’re scheduled to hold the testing sessions on a quarterly basis.  Future dates can be found by checking the calendar page on this website.  Also look for tweets on our Twitter feed.  We have one or two people already confirmed so this should be a good learning experience for us.  We offer these testing sessions free of charge as a service to the BSA and also amateur radio.  We don’t want any monetary issues to be an impediment to getting licensed.  This exciting hobby needs many new faces…and voices on the air.

AMATEUR RADIO AT THE SUMMIT

The National Jamboree officially kicks off July 15-24.  This will be the first year for the event to be held at the BSA’s new location Summit Bechtel Reserve.  Amateur radio station K2BSA will be on the air at the Jamboree operating several radios at the demonstration station and also teaching the Radio merit badge.  K2BSA is the official station of the BSA National Council.  This will be an opportunity to demonstrate amateur radio to an expected 40,000 Scouts.

Scouts will be operating the station primarily on voice and digital modes.  There’s also a scheduled satellite contact to the ISS!  In addition to this there are also several repeaters on site.  One of them is even D-Star capable.  These will allow Scouters to keep in contact with just handheld radios.  Other radio ops will be able to make contacts through the D-Star gateway from far away.

K2BSA will be on the air every day on or near pre-established frequencies on several bands.  Check out the frequencies Live from the Jamboree to guide you where to listen for activity.  If you work K2BSA you’re eligible for a nice color QSL card.

WD9BSA TO HOST ARRL FIELD DAY

This year the Indianapolis Radio Club will be holding their ARRL Field Day activity here at Camp Belzer.  This is an annual event that’s held “out in the field” where we setup portable stations and antennas that can simulate an emergency environment.  It’s an enjoyable activity that’s part contest, part public relations, part practice and preparation, and a whole lot of fun!

The event begins Saturday afternoon and runs for a full 24 hours.  There will be many radio stations and antennas setup on the property for making contacts all over the country and hopefully even beyond.  We also plan to have the WD9BSA station open and operational for visitor tours as much as we can.

In the future we hope to hold our own station Field Day activity so this will be a good experience to work with the members of IRC.  All are welcome to visit whether licensed or not.  We especially encourage non-hams to come by and get on the air.  This is a great opportunity to see amateur radio in action.  Visitors should plan to arrive starting early afternoon so as to avoid interfering with the boys leaving day camp.  See you there!

RADIO SCOUTING PRESENTATION

I found this video via the K2BSA Twitter feed that I subscribe to.  At 30 minutes it’s a fairly long video to watch but there’s a lot of good information in there about Radio Scouting.  It’s presented by Jim Wilson K5ND who works for the BSA national council.  He offers a little bit of history of how amateur radio has been involved in scouting and how the K2BSA station came to exist.  A couple of the primary points are how to have a successful JOTA, amateur radio at the Nation Jamboree, and the patches that can be worn on the scout uniform.

I was able to watch part of the presentation in the Icom booth when I was at the Hamvention this year.  It seemed fairly well attended with onlookers.  I think most of us know that Icom has partnered with BSA to promote amateur radio.  It was nice to see just how far they have come since the announcement.  I was able to see one of the ten go stations they’ve provided to the cause.  I guess they’ve also donated one 7600 and two 9100’s as well.  I suspect those will stay at the Summit location of the Jamboree.  They’ve also installed three repeaters at the site, one of which is D-STAR.

Here’s the link for the Radio Scouting Presentation.  Sorry, I couldn’t embed it in this post as that feature is disabled for this video.

RADIO SCOUTING AT DAYTON

May 17-19 I went on location to the Dayton Hamvention and I’m bringing back a report to the WD9BSA family of my findings.  I scoured the flea market looking for deals on everything under the sun.  Any item even remotely related to ham radio and electronics could be found.  I even managed to sell enough of my own junk to finance the journey to radio Mecca.  If you zoom in on the map you can see all the flea market activity.

After taking in all the ham radio goodness in the flea market it was time to head inside the Hara Arena to see what’s new with the commercial vendors.  All the top names were there…Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Flex Radio, Elecraft.   The American Radio Relay Leage had their usual location complete with a youth lounge where the kids could get in on the excitement.  I met Sterling Coffey N0SSC, the ARRL Youth Editor as he was greeting and entertaining the youth.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the Icom booth.  None other than Jim Wilson K5ND, Director of Communications Services with the BSA.  was there giving a live presentation on Radio Scouting at the National Jamboree and also Jamboree on the Air (JOTA).  His work with Ray Novak N9JA of Icom was instrumental in developing the memorandum of understanding between Icom and BSA.  They also had on display one the Icom go boxes that can be shipped out to units across the nation for amateur radio demonstrations.  It was very neat and drew quite a crowd.  I had trouble even squeezing in to get these pics.
Presentation Go box

The Baofent UV-5RA is a dual band HT that has a Scout-friendly price tag.  I found one in the flea market for $46 with a drop-in charger and USB programming cable.  It was a show special deal I couldn’t refuse.  Even regular price is just over $50 so it’s an an affordable way for newly licensed Scouts to get on the air.  Several of us adult leaders own them.

Baofeng

There were a lot of Boy Scouts walking around the show.  It was nice to see them making a presence there.  Every ham should try to get to Dayton once.  There’s so much to see, it takes days to truly take it all in!