WD9BSA Bert C Johnson Memorial Amateur Station

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jota_2014_4KOur fall season at the station is fully under way.  We’re back to having our regular open hours the second Sunday of the month, after a summer off.  Last Sunday was our September open hours and our next will be October 12.  Be sure to check the Calendar Page on this site for our monthly activities.

In addition to resuming our regular schedule I’d like to remind everyone about Jamboree on the Air (JOTA).  This is an international amateur radio operating even held annually for all Scouting.  This year it’s held the weekend of October 19.  We’ll be hosting it at Camp Belzer again.  All are invited to come and participate.  From the chatter on our Facebook group it seems we may be assisting in some portable operations, too.  Last year JOTA coincided with a district camporee which brought in a lot of visitors.  We made many contacts on multiple bands, including a few DX!  Hope you all can come.

A last bit of info on new station accessories.  Thanks to Rex Harper W1REX and QRPme for the recent donation of  three QRP radio kits.  He included a Sudden Storm receiver, Two Tinned Tuna transmitter, and the very popular QRP transceiver Rockmite II.  We thank them for this generous donation.  These are basic radio kits that can be built by Scouts with our assistance.  Now to teach them some Morse code and get them on the air!  All for now, hope to see you next month at Belzer.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.