FYI. Here's my JOTA report for K2BSA/2. Don't forget to file yours
on the ARRL website. A copy goes to BSA HQ for inclusion in their
national report to WOSM. But share it here as well!
73 & YIS
Gary Wilson, K2GW
JOTA 2004 at the Central New Jersey Council Camporee
By Gary Wilson, K2GW
The Delaware Valley Radio Association has a long history of opening
its club station or setting up portable operations to introduce
Scouts to Amateur Radio through the annual Jamboree on the Air.
This year a unique opportunity existed in that JOTA weekend would
see the entire Central New Jersey Council holding a council wide
camporee nearby. This means that 2200 Scouts would be camping in
the same we've used for Field Day the past three years. A
significant portable operation was obviously inevitable!
The camporee featured a "Merit Badge Midway" with booths
highlighting various merit badges and offering opportunities to
complete one or two requirements for them. The midway was to be
located in the unused skating rink. We knew from past experience
that this area is one big echo chamber. Thus we decided to set up
an information booth there with hands on exhibits and a
VHF/UHF/EchoLink station, but also set up two HF stations in tents
just outside the rink entrance where things would be quieter.
We decided on three stations because of the number of Scouts
attending. We didn't want to have more than two Scouts waiting
because if one talks for five minutes, the others are just watching
for fifteen minutes and that exceeds their attention span. Also,
the kids get just as much a kick of talking thirty miles as three
thousand. JOTA weekend can get crowded on HF, so a VHF/UHF/EchoLink
station with club members standing by to talk to them provided a
An effort of this size requires planning and division of
responsibilities. The clubs three Radio Merit Badge Counselors were
the initial core. Alex Flinsch, AB2RC, is our JOTA coordinator and
took on the task of setting up his tent and the primary HF station.
Don Wright, AA2F (the ARRL Instructor of the Year) set up the Radio
Merit Badge information exhibit inside the rink. Gary Wilson, K2GW,
took on the paperwork aspects (liaison with the council, JOTA
participation and QSL cards, securing K2BSA/2, etc.), and provided
the portable HF antennas and the second HF station.
Since the operation was similar to our Field Day operations, two of
the clubs logistics experts were named to the committee. Dave
Martin, W0SNJ, provided the VHF/UHF/EchoLink Station at the inside
exhibit and handled power distribution. Steve Huston, W2SRH,
coordinated the tentage and was the operated the second station when
needed. In addition, Christian Ingerslev, AB2SN, was helping to run
the orienteering event on the other side of the park. He used his
HT from there to provide contacts for the boys using VHF.
Planning was done with weekly nets on the W2ZQ repeater. This
allowed us to keep each other in synch without spending a lot of
time in meetings.
A requirement for using K2BSA/2 is that you have to answer all QSL
requests. Commemorative QSL's for K2BSA/2 were printed using
WB8RCR's free QSLMaker software. It's invaluable for
runs of custom QSL cards.
We also made up our own JOTA participation cards for the boys. Ours
had space on the back for logging the details of their contact.
This became a Radio Merit Badge Partial completion form for
Requirements 7a2 and 8. Telling the boys that they get to complete
some Merit Badge requirements was a big draw.
We arrived at 7 AM to be ready for the 9 AM opening of the midway.
Everything was up and running by 8:30 AM. The weather was cool and
very windy, but the Buddipole at 16 feet for 20 Meters and the
inverted Vees on a DK9SQ mast for 80 and 40 meters stayed up without
incident. Our antennas were chosen for reliable US English language
rag chews and not weak DX exchange of signal reports. The NVIS
inverted Vee's did a great job of turning forty meter 1000 mile
contacts into armchair copy for the Scouts. About noon, the 20 knot
wind broke the tent frame at the back-up HF station, but we quickly
relocated that equipment to the other half of the primary station
tent and continued operation.
About 100 Scouts made leisurely on the air contacts during the seven
hours. We talked to 31 unique stations in forty separate QSO's.
These included four Scout camps, ten states and three countries on
40 meters, 20 meters, 2 meters and a 440 RF link to EchoLink.
About 200 other Scouts took literature on licensing and the upcoming
Radio Merit Badge day that we will be hosting with our sister club,
the David Sarnoff Radio Club, on January 8th.
The Merit Badge Midway closed at 4 PM and we were all packed up by 5
PM. Now it's on to Radio Merit Badge Day in January!
73 and thanks to all who helped!