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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CQ NET, CQ NET

This is an open invitation to join the WD9BSA weekly Scout net.  Participation has been growing and is open to operators holding any license class.  Checkins begin at 7:30 PM local time Monday evenings.  Just tune your radio to the 443.000 MHz 70 cm repeater and set it for + offset and 100 Hz CTCSS tone.  The Scout net is a great place for new hams to learn net operation procedures and communicate with fellow Scouts.  Come say hello and make some new friends on the air!

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.

IMAG0231[1]

DOUBLE HEADER

This month’s station open hours was one of the most productive yet.  We hosted Tiger Cub dens from two packs for their Achievement 4G: Go See It!  In addition to the Tigers were also a couple Bears and some random tag-a-longs thrown in for good measure.  It was a lot of fun talking to all of them on the air with the HT’s.  I’m pleased to report that several boys expressed some real interest in the hobby.  Several parents also asked good questions about amateur radio.  Hopefully we’ll get some return guests to the station in coming months, and for our other special activities.

We were also able to pull in two runs of new LMR-400 coax through the conduit and out into the woods.  This allowed us to hook up the multi-band fan dipole and also a new 160m OCF dipole.  The fan dipole Randy built has been pretty productive in the past, and with the new coax should be even better!  The new 160m antenna was also built by Randy, and when stretched out is really long!  We haven’t been able to tune it up yet, but it’s hung in the trees and will be ready for next month.  The two new coax runs ate up the 500 feet roll we had but will surely be worth it.  Hopefully we can say goodbye to setting off the fire alarm now.

Of course, pulling the coax didn’t go without incident.  As with all antenna endeavors there was adversity to overcome.  The old coax came apart and much of it was pieced together and water logged.  This made it hard work to get the new in and the old out.  We also had to dig up some of the conduit as it had come apart underground, ugh!  It seemed to take a hundred tries to get the ropes shot up in the trees using Tom’s launcher.  What a long day, but happily we were successful on all accounts.  The weather really cooperated and there was very little weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now that we have the new station gear and the antennas and feedline all should be well.  I’m looking forward to getting the station back on the HF bands again and trying out some of the new radios.  We should really have a super station now and will also have a portable go-box station for any excursions we might take.  It’s nearly the end of the month now, so I better get this post published before the next big activity comes along.  Next month will be exciting, too, as we host another VE testing session at the Golden-Burke Scout Center and station open hours.  73 until then.

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.

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.