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4295Re: [ScoutRadio] Ice Breakers: Radio Merit Badge

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  • Scott J (Kd5mhm)
    Feb 5, 2013
      Thanks so much for you posting of Ice Breakers: Radio Merit Badge.  While I had done things similar later in the class when we get to call signs and propagation, I like your approach much better.  Also, I get them to quit calling it a cell phone, and get them to call them a handy-talkie or walkie-talkie, stressing that it is a radio hooked to a phone “system” just like a “mobile auto-patch” might be.  They also love calling it a handi-talkie!
      While I had been using WWV and WWVH in both call sign and propagation sections, I didn’t know we could call the phone number.  I had used 2 local numbers and shown them that these systems had the same time and were sync’d to WWV...  I also bring in an “atomic clock” to show WWV being received via “propagation”.  I think that you introducing the phone number is better.  I will use the phone call to WWV to show how the “atomic clock” is matching it perfectly – but that my watch is off!
      Again, thanks for the inspirations in your post!
      From: cheryl b
      Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 10:10 AM
      Subject: [ScoutRadio] Ice Breakers: Radio Merit Badge

      Good Afternoon All,

      Some things I have done for BSA Radio Merit Badge Events.

      1) At a non-camp event, generally the boys will have cell phones out and will be discussing something / an app / or song.  I will "thank them for coming prepared with their own radio's!!"  :)  And explain that Cell technology started with, and uses, Radio.

      They generally think that is pretty cool that they are being congratulated already!

      - if they don't have their cell phones out, I will ask if they have one, take it out - "thank you for coming prepared (as above) - and them take this opportunity to keep the phone turned ON for the class :)  To be prepared."

      Seriously, they love this, it is very empowering.

      "However, Common Cell Phone courtesy applies, please set your phone on vibrate, if you absolutely MUST take an emergency call or answer a text, please step out of the room until you are done so that you don't distract the class."

      2) As an ice breaker activity and to open the Radio course, I assign call signs to the scouts for the duration of the class.

      Supplies distributed while folks are arriving for class

      81/2 x 11 blank paper 1 for each, w/ spares

      Markers - colorful

      Handout of the Phonetic Alphabet

      I will introduce My call sign and write it on a Placard and Wall Board if one is available.  Using an 8 1/2 x 11 blank sheet of paper, fold it once the long way to create a tent.  We are assigning your call signs & making Name Placards! 

      Based on either the meeting QTH or the camp QTH determine the first letters and number.  Then let them use their personal two or three initials to create a vanity call sign. (always, someone will ask for 4 initials - nope sorry, 3 is the limit)

      This introduces the concept of Call Signs and what they are used for (your name / identifier)

        Then read off some of the Scout call signs phonetically.  AND introduces phonetic alphabet all at the same time

      Going around the room, have the boys read their own CallSign out loud, phonetically, so everyone can compare call signs and make sure we have no duplicates.  Duplicates are not allowed.  Each is unique and make adjustments as necessary


      Then I will roll into Broadcast Call Signs:

      "How many listened to AM/FM Radio today?". 

      "Which station did you listen to?"

      "What is it's call sign?"

      Eye's will LIGHT UP!!  Yup, Broadcast Radio are assigned Call Signs also!  Introduce the K for West of the Mississippi and W for East of the Mississippi.

      Invariably SOMEONE will know a Station for which this does not apply (even if it's an adult) to which I will ask if they know why that is??  (generally will get an "um no") Even if no one knows this I will let them know that there are exceptions:

      Such as KDKA in Pittsburgh and WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth, but these are historical artifacts from a rule change in the 1930s

      Another exception to this is that all time broadcasting stations have a three or four letter call sign beginning with WWV. The three current government-operated time stations, WWV and WWVH, are located in Fort Collins, Colorado and Kekaha, Hawaii, respectively, both of which would normally use call signs beginning with K.

      Ask everyone what time it is.  There will be differences.  Some will check a watch, most will pull out a cell phone.  "How can we all get on the same time?"

      Since they have their phones out - ask the boys to program a phone number into their cell phone:  303-499-7111 (for WWV).  This gives them a physical action to tie in this information AND they can follow up or listen again after they get home.

      While they are doing this I use MY cell phone to call & put it on speaker phone to let everyone listen.  If it's a big group, have them gather in close.  (get them up, moving & that blood circulating)

      "Since each Call Sign must be unique - who controls the assigning of Call Signs?"

      Introduce the FCC & ITU  - as the Entities that oversees Radio Communications and assigns Call Signs to all - Amateurs, Broadcast, TV stations, Air Traffic Control, Marine....  But they do much more than that.  Who else needs Radio Frequencies?


      If I keep the energy up and keep things moving, with a group of 20 boys I can cover this material in 20-30 minutes.  Take a break & stand up while handing out a handout of a detailed Band Chart and moving into the next batch of activities.


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