Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 BSA Jamboree on the Air

2012 Boy Scout Jamboree on the Air (BS-JOTA)

Link to Pictures:

The BS-JOTA was held on Saturday, October 20th from 8:30 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. at the Cub Adventure Camp, located in Maidens, VA.  The BSA Heart of Virginia Council's Cardinal District held a Cub Scout "Cub Olympics" during the weekend of October 19th - 21st.  Approximately 1,200 Cub Scouts and their families camped during the weekend.

I'd like to thank the following individuals and sponsors:

  • Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC)
    • Sponsored the BS-JOTA station
    • Provided HF equipment
    • D-Star repeater access
  • Richmond Amateur Telecommunication Society (RATS)
    • UHF IRLP repeater access
  • Cardinal District, Heart of Virginia Council
    • Provided facilities for the BS-JOTA station
    • Allowed the station to be part of the "Cub Olympics"
  • Volunteers (in callsign order)
    • KB4IQT - David Thomas - Troop 832
    • KK4DWX - Bob Kendig
    • N4CVA - Austin Thomas - Troop 832
    • WA1UQO - Armand Hamel
    • WA4SSG - Win Grant
  • Mac McNeer(K4YEF)
    • Use of the RARC Club callsign:  W4ZA

The BS-JOTA team set up an HF station, D-Star station, VHF/UHF station, and IRLP station over the day.  Contacts on HF were made all over the United States, Canada, and even over to Europe!  Austin Thomas (N4CVA), a Boy Scout was instrumental in showing the Cub Scouts how to make the "correct" contact - and MANY boys did make HF contacts throughout the day!  Austin did a fantastic job!

When large numbers of Cub Scouts showed up at the BS-JOTA station, Win Grant (WA4SSG) and David Thomas (KB4IQT) would take small groups a few dozen yards away from each other and they would use HT's to make contacts with each other.  Needless to say, a LOT of "local" contacts were made as well!

Armand Hamel (WA1UQO) brought one of the most fun instruments of the day - a key and code practice oscillator!  I believe Armand's key was the MOST USED piece of equipment - at least 100 scouts touched the key and the just LOVED making it squeak and squeal.  One "lesson" shared with the boys was teaching them how to say "HI" in Morse Code: ". . . .  . ."   The best part of having the boys learn to key "HI" was telling them that they could use their flashlights and do the SAME THING with the light - they could "talk" to each other in "secret code"!!  Big smiles, you could almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they figured out what they were going to do later that night.

The D-Star station was connected to the BS-JOTA reflector (REF033A) and occasionally to the Atlanta reflector (REF030C).  D-Star contacts were light as most of the operators were VERY busy helping the scouts talk either on HF or HT's in the small groups.  There were a lot of stations making contacts throughout the world on the BS-JOTA reflector:  Argentina, UK, New Zealand, and many others.  It was great hearing all the different countries and the accents of the stations were really interesting to the scouts as well.

As the afternoon wore on, the Scouts (and the operators) were getting tired!  The HF station was shut down and we linked the RATS UHF IRLP node to the BS-JOTA node (9091).  Scout after Scout after Scout made contacts primarily with other scouts in Canada and Texas.  At least 20 Scouts made contacts with other Scouts; and an occasional Ham as well - all over IRLP!

The day went great!  At least 50 - 60 Scouts made contacts with someone, mostly with other Scouts.  The day was beautiful.  The volunteers made the day go smoothly and were so generous with their time.  My final thoughts are these - I really enjoy ham radio and I also sharing my passion for this great hobby of ours with people who are open to new ideas!  We are the ones who make the entrance to our hobby "friendly" and "welcoming".  Get out there and "welcome" someone into your hobby today!

73 de KJ4WLH
Jim Bates, Troop 876, RARC Member, RATS Member