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Re: [ScoutRadio] Running a JOTA event - Lessons Learned?

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  • Dan Scott
    Robert, We had good experiences with IRLP, although the reflector issue was noticed. For IRLP the person running it started working on schedules from
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 30, 2006
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      Robert,

      We had good experiences with IRLP, although the
      reflector issue was noticed. For IRLP the person
      running it started working on schedules from different
      parts of the world weeks in advance. Although we
      still had some random contacts through a reflector, we
      had mostly scheduled contacts with other JOTA groups.

      Personally, I think the high winds, 40-degree (F) temp
      drop could have come a couple days later. So with a
      JOTA camp-out, 200 Boy Scout and a few dens of
      WEBELOS-2, I think postponing the poor weather would
      have been nice.

      We worked only 20-meters on HF and had contacts
      world-wide, but we found it interesting that the
      scouts were as thrilled working the next state as they
      were with Greenland, South Africa, or where-ever the
      DX was. Although we went through the hastels us
      setting up a beam and tower, a dipole would have been
      fine.

      This was my 12th JOTA setup for the local BSA council
      and the person on HF-SSB has worked 11 of the 12 with
      me. As such, he is very aware of the importance of
      audio quality and (yup) using a larger HF rig. My
      FT-100 just is not impressive, but his older monster
      rig with a lot of nobs and dials makes a great JOTA
      showcase rig (plus the better audio tone and better
      audio filtering).

      We kept the noise level between stations down by
      running 3 stations seporated by 150 to 200 feet. The
      Digital station was based in a camper trailer. We
      should have had digital in with one of the other
      stations (VHF/UHF). The idea of the trailer was to
      show that many amateur radio operators are set up for
      quick deployment in the case of emergencies. The
      problem with having digital in the trailer was the
      limited number of scouts that could watch the
      operations and how the next group had to be educated
      from scratch. From past experiences we know that in a
      tent, the scouts watching would learn by watching the
      scouts doing and both groups learned by listening to
      the instruction given.

      All-in-all JOTA was a great success this year. We did
      get cut back from the scheduled 8 hours to only 4
      hours operations due to weather issues. The reduced
      operating was based on scout travel saftey issues and
      nothing to do with out setup. We cut back the antenna
      building hands-on and other activities too.


      73,
      Dan
      kb0ppm (aka K2BSA/0 for this JOTA)

      --- rcrice77002 <rcrice@...> wrote:

      > I organised a JOTA event for my Pack last year, and
      > did the same this
      > year. We had a MUCH large crowd this time, including
      > a large number
      > of scouts from packs other then our own.
      >
      > Now that I have the event past me, I'm curious what
      > lessons we all
      > collectively learned from the experience. What did
      > you do that worked?
      > What did you do for your JOTA event that did not
      > work? What do you
      > plan to do next year , to offer a better and more
      > exciting JOTA
      > experience for your scouts?
      >
      > What Worked for Pack 55
      > HF on 40M. I recruited a couple of ham friends to
      > run an HF position.
      > the two of them took turns running the radio and
      > talking to the
      > gathered crowd.
      >
      > I ordered JOTA package of literature from ARRL. The
      > cost was minimal
      > and the scouts and parents seemed interested in
      > having more informaton
      > about ham radio.
      >
      > What did NOT work for Pack 55
      > I used IRLP last year out of desperation. High local
      > RF noise levels
      > made HF impossible for me in 2005. So, I turned to
      > IRLP which saved
      > the day. Last year's IRLP experience was good, it
      > worked for us.
      >
      > This year it felt like the entire world was trying
      > to use IRLP - all
      > at the same time. It was total chaos. Clearly it is
      > not realistic to
      > try to use one of the reflectors during JOTA.
      >
      > My sense is that IRLP would work for JOTA, but only
      > for direct
      > contacts that do NOT make use of a reflector.
      >
      > ARRL Videotape. I ordered a videotape from ARRL
      > about ham radio and
      > the International Space Station and SAREX. Great
      > tape. Trying to play
      > the tape and work it into what were doing, just
      > didn't work for me.
      >
      > LESSONS LEARNED
      > Noise. With a large group you have to worry about
      > noise. My buddies
      > running the HF station were pretty loud where I was
      > trying to run IRLP
      > contacts in the next room. If you have more than
      > one operating
      > position at a time, you must think about noise
      > levels. Remember, hams
      > can mentally wade through static and competing QSOs
      > from the next room
      > - the scouts and parents can't do that easily.
      >
      > HF - be prepared to switch bands. Don't come to
      > JOTA with a plan to
      > operate only on a single band. We had orginally
      > planned to do 20M, but
      > conditions were not good. We were flexible and
      > switched to 40M which
      > worked great, until the band folded late in the day.
      >
      > IRLP/Echolink - Reflectors do not work, especially
      > popular reflectors.
      > Line up some direct node to node contacts so that
      > your kids will have
      > an easy time. We spent much time trying to find a
      > node where we could
      > talk to other scouts, or wasting time trying to get
      > a word in edgewise
      > on a reflctor.
      >
      >
      > I will be doing this again next year, so I'd be
      > interested in hearing
      > from others how their JOTA events went, and what
      > worked/didn't work
      > for them.
      >
      > Robert Rice
      > WB5PKN
      > Pack Committee Chair - Pack 55
      > Houston, TX
      >
      >
      >




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    • frank@fmaynard.com
      Barry brings up a good point with the CW decoder. I never thought I d use one because I don t need it, but it would be a great way to illustrate what they are
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 2, 2006
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        Barry brings up a good point with the CW decoder. I never thought I'd use
        one because I don't need it, but it would be a great way to illustrate
        what they are sending. I worked several stations on CW, a couple with Cub
        Scouts sitting next to me, and was telling them what the other op was
        sending. Unfortunately, I can't very well send and talk at the same time
        (no multithreading in that brain process!) so had to wait until the end
        of the exchange before I could explain.

        We had four stations and four antennas running: (a) 40m phone with a
        dipole; (b) 20m SSTV with a screwdriver-type antenna; (c) 20m phone and CW
        with a wire vertical; (d) multiband phone, mostly on 15, with an
        Outbacker-type antenna mounted on top of a playstructure. (We were at a
        city park with nice picnic shelters, but no water or bathroom facilities,
        yikes!). Small numbers of scouts, maybe 20 or so, but we put a good
        number of them on the air. Not much else in the way of displays other than
        maps and the standard array of ARRL literature.

        It would have been nice to be able to run the event at our Council camp,
        but they would have charged us to use the facility - even a picnic
        shelter, thus we have to seek out what we can get for free.


        --
        YiS,
        Frank Maynard, NF8M
        MC, Troop 407; CR, Pack 54; District Cub Training Chair & Roundtable Staff
        ...and a good old Bobwhite too! (C-23-04)
        Mighty Ottawa District, Clinton Valley Council
        Novi, Michigan
      • frank@fmaynard.com
        Forgot to mention - worked a couple stations QRP on 20 using my KX1 as well. Good wow factor from some of the other ops as well as the boys as to what you
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 2, 2006
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          Forgot to mention - worked a couple stations QRP on 20 using my KX1 as
          well. Good "wow" factor from some of the other ops as well as the boys as
          to what you can do with a simple lightweight backpackable rig.

          --
          YiS,
          Frank Maynard, NF8M
          MC, Troop 407; CR, Pack 54; District Cub Training Chair & Roundtable Staff
          ...and a good old Bobwhite too! (C-23-04)
          Mighty Ottawa District, Clinton Valley Council
          Novi, Michigan
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