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.

A CALL TO ARMS

Seems there has been much buzz lately in the Council regarding the WD9BSA station.  That’s an especially good thing when it’s of a positive nature.  There have been several requests made of the station regarding potential amateur radio exposure to Scouts and the public.

We’ve been offered a chance to setup a station at the Indiana State Fair this summer.  I know the Council has a display/presentation area there every year.  This would be an excellent PR opportunity for bringing the ham radio message to both Scouts and the public.  At this point I don’t know details of how many days we would be obligated to attend or how many hours each day.  This is an item definitely worth discussing among the members and other friends of the station.  Of chief importance would be having Scouts participating and operating there, not just adults.  I believe logistics would be another concern.  Many of us are still working full time jobs and may not have days off available then.  Scout volunteers would also need parents to transport them to the fairgrounds if they’re not driving yet.

A second request had been made to support two different BSA summer camps.  Another opportunity to show off the capabilities of amateur radio as a public service, emergency preparation tool, intro to technology, and a hobby.  Again, I can’t offer specifics regarding how many days we would be obligated to.  Same concerns as before, I would think.  Although this would probably be mostly adult presenters as the Scouts would actually be attending camps, etc.

So, give this some thought.  This info has also been posted over on the WD9BSA Facebook Group and there’s already been some suggestions and discussion.  I think this could be a real PR gift for the station, but we need all-in participation commitments to pull it off.

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!

FALL SEASON UNDER WAY

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.

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.

PRESS RELEASE

Dateline Lawrence, IN

For immediate release…our new 2014 activities flyer is now available!  Thanks to Tom for designing a colorful new flyer for the WD9BSA club station.  All of our major station activities are included with brief descriptions and dates.  We have a full calendar of events planned.  These can be viewed by month on our Calendar page.  The 2014 flyer is PDF format so it should be easy to view on any platform desktop or media device.  It can also be downloaded or printed off to distribute to any interested parties.  So, take a moment to check it out and maybe even make a couple copies for your friends!

WD9BSA 2014 FLYER

SKYWARN CLASS REVIEW

Skywarn classOur first every Skywarn training class went off as a big success.  I counted 17 total guests in attendance last Saturday.  We had hams come from as far as Winchester, IN to see the presentation.  Dave Tucek, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, did an excellent job of presenting material that was very interesting and relevant to both radio amateurs and Scouts.  It was good to see many members of the WD9BSA club in attendance.  What also impressed me was the number of non-hams in attendance.  I counted about 5 Cub/Boy Scouts in the audience.  There were also multiple adult Scout leaders and one full-time staff member from Camp K.  Part of our mission is to bring amateur radio to Scouts, but we’re also bringing useful information of  to others in the process!

The presentation covered four main points.  History of the NWS, the duties of the NWS, weather hazards, and education required to enter a weather-related career.  The NWS key mission is:  Protect Life and Property.  Severe weather generates three very dangerous conditions:  wind, water, and lightening.  Flooding is weather’s number one killer.  When encountering flood waters remember the quote, “Turn around, don’t drown!”

Weather’s number two killer is tornadoes.  Contrary to popular belief, they can occur in all 50 states, at any time of the day, and in any season of the year.  More people are injured by the flying debris than the actual physical effects of the tornado.  They can be identified bye hook-shaped echoes on doppler radar and wall clouds forming below the local cloud base.  The safety quote to remember here is, “Get in, get down, and cover up!”  Walls offer layers of protection, so keep as many between you and the outside as possible.

The final dangerous weather condition covered is lightening.  It’s weather’s number three killer.  When determining distance from lightening, count seconds from the visible strike to the sound of thunder.  Every five seconds is one mile in distance.  The suggested safe time to wait before resuming outdoor activities is 30 minutes after the last witnessed lightening/thunder event.  It normally forms from shelf cloud that hang low and parallel to the ground.  Many people use the popular Weather Bug app on their smart phones.  One of the features it included a lightening warning.  David recommended  this app.  The safety quote to remember for lightening safety is, “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

I hope this brief review of the Skywarn training has been informative and helpful.  Dave said he’d definitely be interested in doing a presentation again.  I could tell that he is very passionate about his occupation.  Thanks for your time and enthusiasm, Dave!

SKYWARN TRAINING

skywarnThe WD9BSA Scout Radio Station is pleased to announce that we are hosting a Skywarn weather class.  David T. from the National Weather Service will be presenting weather training material that’s specifically tailored towards Scouters.  As Scouts we spend a lot of time outdoors in all weather conditions.  This class should help us learn to identify some of the potentially dangerous weather conditions we might encounter in our activities.

The date is this Saturday (3/22/14) in the Camp Belzer Activity Center upstairs.  The presentation begins at 1:00 PM and should last about an hour.  It’s available to all , but with a preference to Scouts and volunteers.  No  pre-registration is required.

We’re hoping for a good turnout of Scouts and club members.  Following the event we have permission to do some work on the station downstairs.  We have the new 500′ roll of coax and many newly-donated items from the family of Joe Lobraico K9OOA, SK.  If weather is permitting we may be able to do so station spring maintenance.  Looking forward to seeing everyone at important and informative even.

NEW STATION DONATIONS

The WD9BSA Bert Johnson Memorial Scout Radio Station has recently become the beneficiary of multiple complete radio stations and several additional pieces of related amateur radio gear.  This gear will go a long way towards improving our fixed Camp Belzer radio station and also provide enough pieces to assemble at least one portable field station. This is something we can take out on location to various Scout events within the council.  The new gear will really aid us in our mission of making amateur radio available to all Scouts and also creating general awareness of amateur radio and how it fits into Scouting principles.

K9OOA, SKWe are very thankful to the family of Joe Lobraico K9OOA, now an SK.  As he was a brother ham we share in their loss and greatly appreciate their consideration of our station in providing to us this gear.  I understand he was a friend and mentor to our own members Tom and Dave when they were Boy Scouts some years ago.   They grew up with Joe’s sons Mike and Joey, and his daughter, Mary (also a ham).  Joe was a Boy Scout leader of Troop 173 along with our station’s namesake, Bert Johnson.  He and his wife Betty K9OOB hosted the free Broad Ripple Tailgater Hamfest at his own home in Broad Ripple, IN.  His YL must be more understanding than mine!  From all the kind words I’ve heard, his reputation certainly preceded him as a true ambassador of ham radio.

Since we’ve built the WD9BSA station entirely through donations, it’s always exciting when we receive some new equipment.  I’m not going to include every individual piece included on the list, but some of them are highlighted below.  This way we can check out some of the manuals online (there was also a big bag of manuals included with the gear) and get familiar with the items before installing in the station.  Many of these manuals have already been uploaded to our Facebook Page.  Joe owned some very nice equipment and we’ll sure be proud to carry on his devotion to the hobby with this gear!

HF Radios

Yaesu FT-100

Yaesu FT-847

Kenwood TS-440S

HT Radios

Icom ICZ1A

Icom IC-W32A

Icom BC-119N

Power Supplies

Astron RS-70M power supply

Astron SS-30M power supply

Radio Shack 25 amp power supply

Misc

Yaesu FC-30 auto-tuner

Yaesu YS-60 SWR & Power Meter

West Mountain Rig-Blaster

MARCH OPEN HOURS

Last Sunday brought us some warm weather and a good opportunity to inspect our coax runs out to the antenna.  We currently have two runs out into the trees to the south our station.  In February we set off the fire alarm twice and it got us to wondering about the condition of the coax.  Evidently the alarm system likes 40m as well as we do!  This was curious because we hadn’t had that problem in quite awhile.  We took advantage of the warm weather and did some troubleshooting.  Our suspicions were confirmed–at least one of the runs is waterlogged.  We were able to switch to another run that fared better, but only a little.  The winter has been rough on the antenna, too.  We spied a rubbed spot on one end of the antenna where it’s been across a tree.  Spring time is definitely a good time to plan some maintenance.  Tom’s antenna analyzer greatly helped with the troubleshooting process.

As we’ve been building the station, we’ve taken advantage of whatever was available.  The coax runs are made up of several pieces spliced together.  We’re looking forward to receiving a 500′ spool of LMR- 400 equivalent coax soon.  Now we’ll be able to improve our signals quite a bit.  Our other plans include tweaking our current multiband fan dipole to be more up and in the clear.  We also plan to do some trimming so the resonance points are in better locations on each band.  Our Spring 2014 plans include not only this, but also adding more antennas to the Camp Belzer antenna farm.

All work and no play is no good.  Even with our marginal antenna situation we were able to make some contacts.  Two DX contacts to South America and several stateside contacts were made on 10m.  Jacob was able to operate the club station using his personal callsign.  He’s the first Boy Scout to earned his license by testing with our VE team.  He’s well on the way to DXCC and WAS with his Tech privileges and hopes to upgrade to General Class soon.  We also assembled part of an am/fm radio project kit and performed a few electronics experiments, too.  We’re looking forward to a lot of fun Scout Radio activities this year.

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