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Re: [scoutradio] JOTA Activity Notes

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  • Gary Thorburn
    Jeff Burns wrote... ... Wow Jeff, you ve got lots of good ideas. But even a small set of activities will be a challenge because most boys have absolutely no
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 12, 2001
      Jeff Burns wrote...

      > I am planning a JOTA event for this year, and have been making some
      > notes of my ideas. They are still preliminary, and I do not expect to
      > be able to implement all the ideas. . .

      Wow Jeff, you've got lots of good ideas. But even
      a small set of activities will be a challenge
      because most boys have absolutely no idea of
      what ham radio really is. You will need to spend
      LOTS of time bringing them up to speed about what's
      going on with any single activity.

      Here's a way to introduce CW: First, forget about really
      getting the boys on the air with CW. But you certainly
      can get boys excited about the code. This will be
      brand new to almost all of them. The code is not
      even mentioned in current editions of the scout

      I have learned that boys are so jaded by technology
      advanced communications that something that is dead
      simple and low-tech can have a dramatic appeal.

      Last fall, at the Knox Trail Council Camporee, which
      had an "Old Time Scouting Skills" theme, I set up a
      station where boys could come by and learn about
      Morse Code. I had lots of WORKING, HANDS-ON stuff:
      keys, antique telegraph sounders, simple code practice
      oscillators, a scout "telegraph set" from the 1950's,
      and a pair of Aldus WW2 vintage signal lamps.
      For radio, I had a VERY-qrp one-transistor transmitter,
      and a HF transceiver (used as a receiver).

      The point I wanted to deliver was that you can communicate
      over a wide variety of simple media when the
      communications protocol is extremely simple, like
      Morse Code.

      I can't tell you what a look of amazement came over the
      boys faces when they keyed up a breadboard transmitter
      consisting of about 5 parts and a couple AA cells, and
      heard it at a distance.

      At another Scouting event, I set up a $20 Ten-Tec regen
      SW receiver that my son and I built, with a wire antenna
      thrown over a tree. Again, there was a sense of wonder
      at what a tiny pile of parts can do; a sense of wonder
      that a FM HT cannot deliver. I'll never forget one
      Mom who asked me, after hearing the BBC on my little
      radio, "Wow! you can get all those internet radio
      stations without being on the internet!"

      Finally, to provide a competitive activity, I set up
      a box on a picnic table in the woods, containing
      a CD player repeating a SHORT, SLOW CW message
      indefinitely. I think the message was,
      "a scout is courteous ... a scout is reverent ...
      a scout likes pizza". The boys took a sheet with the
      code on it (copied from a 1944 handbook) worked to
      decode the message, and handed the paper in. Apart from
      one 13-yr old Ham, only a few boys worked it out.
      But there was tremendous interest in this.

      Anyway, good luck, I'm looking forward to reading other
      responses to your ideas.

      -- Gary KD1TE

    • Brian P. Mileshosky
      Jeff et. al., My comments are below...I ve snipped away some of the message, too. It s kinda long, but worthwhile. ... This would be an excellent idea,
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 12, 2001
        Jeff et. al.,

        My comments are below...I've snipped away some of the message, too. It's
        kinda long, but worthwhile.

        > JOTA Activity Notes
        > Family Radio Service for Logistics
        > Ask each patrol to bring at least one FRS radio. Patrols will receive
        > all their instructions over the air. A sheet of printed instructions
        > will be sent to each patrol before they arrive at camp. These
        > instructions will include a description of how each channel is to be
        > used and basic radio etiquette.

        This would be an excellent idea, however, some units may not have FRS
        radios. But this is a great idea to "train" the guys and gals how to
        operate not be mike-shy when the time comes to operate the REAL radios

        > HF SSB
        > This should be the centerpiece of a JOTA event. Enough stations should
        > be set up to allow patrol size groups to have at least a half-hour of
        > operating time - one hour is preferred. If possible, patrols should
        > have a second chance at the station at a different time of day.
        > Every effort should be made to make the experience at the station
        > exciting. It is important that the participants actually make contacts
        > rather than just listen to static. To facilitate this the best
        > possible station should be assembled. Amplifiers and good antennas
        > should be used.

        I agree. This is the mode in which everyone will relate to the easiest
        and know whats going on. Hearing someone even a state away is enough to
        capture the interest of the youth.

        > CW (Morse Code)
        > CW presents two big difficulties. One, most participants do not know
        > code. (It is not much fun to listen to a conversation in a language you
        > do not understand.) Two, youth that have cell phones and pager are
        > unlikely to see any use for CW.

        However, in my experience, while the youth are listening to SSB action,
        they will become fascinated with the sound of all those dits and dahs,
        regardless if they don't know CW. Hae some practice keys, and let them try
        to operate each other via them at their own speed. Also, back when the
        Signaling merit badge was around (I wish I would have gotten it before it
        went away!), have them send Morse code messages back and forth using a
        neckerchief tied to a pole (instructions are in an older Handbook). It's
        not really radio-related, but it is something to keep them occupied.

        > Show how HTs and Family Radios Service can be used in normal scouting
        > activities. Explain the difference between an amateur HT, FRS, and
        > GRMS radios. Explain when to use a radio instead of a cell phone.

        This is a plus for not only the youth, but for any adult leaders. Tell
        them just why they should be interested in Amateur Radio. For starters, it
        is fun. But also, what if they need to airlift someone out of the woods
        while on a backpacker and their slick trendy-looking Nokia cell phone
        doesn't have service out there? They can use Amateur Radio to plan things
        at the last minute between cars on the way to campouts. They can get the
        Radio merit badge. They can help their community in times of need, such as
        what the hams are doing to assist the floods in the Dakotas right now.

        > Demonstrate the difference in effective range for the different types
        > of radios. HOW CAN THIS BE DONE?

        Easy. Get a CB (handheld) or a FRS radio on an active channel and spend
        some time contacting someone as far away as possible. Then turn around and
        spend NO TIME getting ahold of someone just as far away (if not, further) on
        a local repeater or linked repeater system. Try a mobile CB and try
        contacting someone far again, then use a rig on 10 meters (only 3 MHz above
        the CB band) and work the world! If conditions are favorable...

        > APRS
        > ?????????????

        Why not? APRS is a neat tool, and we had it running at the last JOTA.
        We showed some saved maps from when I helped put trackers on 6 hot air
        balloons and 15 gas-balloons at the last International Balloon Fiesta. The
        tracks of them leading all the way from New Mexico to the Atlantic ocean
        impressed them.

        > Radio Direction Finding
        > If the resources are available a full fox hunt would be a great event.
        > A less demanding approach is to have two or three direction finding
        > stations spread out around the site. Scouts can visit the stations as
        > they move between the various venues. Bearings are taken at each
        > Direction Finding Station and plotted on a map. After visiting two
        > stations they can locate the transmitter.
        > Care must be taken when selecting the frequency to use for this
        > activity considering all the other radio activity taking place in the
        > area.

        T-Hunting is one heck of an activity to have at JOTA. I'm staffing at
        K2BSA during the upcomig National Jamboree, and you can bet I'll be bringing
        my DFing gear to show off. The Scouts just eat it up and love it. Just
        hide 2 or 3 transmitters (very low power...plus some attenuation inline with
        the transmitter if they are nearby) and walk them through it! Be sure to
        have the correct gear, too. Go to http://home.att.net/~wb8wfk/ which is my
        local T-Hunting group, and you will find a page with T-Hunting projects.
        The active attenuator is easy to build and is the best one I've used. Also,
        there is a link to build a 2 meter T-Hunting beam made out of PVC and
        tape-measure material! Cheap, and just as good as any beam you can buy.
        Build some of these, and off you go! Map and compass is also involved, and
        it is something the Scouts should know, or outta know. It compliments
        T-Hunting well. As for the frequency, use 146.565 MHz for at least one of
        the transmitters. This is the nationally recognized T-hunting frequency.
        Hide another on 145.565 and perhaps another on 147.565 (if they don't fall
        on any repeater inputs or outputs). Email me if you have any other

        > Satellite
        > Since the satellites are only available for a predictable but short
        > time it is difficult to have a venue were scouts go to work the
        > satellites. Instead it may be best to have amateurs prepared to listen
        > to the satellites with HTs. Just before a satellite pass an
        > announcement can be made on the camp net. Anyone near a satellite ready
        > amateur can listen for the satellite as it passes.

        UO-14 and AO-27 take around 15-20 minutes per good pass, and can easily
        be worked with a hand-held dual-band beam, and a dual-band HT running only 2
        watts. Not bad! And it impresses the heck out of the youth. Get some
        prediction software, and you are ready to rumble.

        > Merit Badge Instruction
        > ??

        Again, why not? I think that almost 4/5 of the requirements can be
        taken care of at an event like JOTA. But, as all adult scout leaders should
        do, make sure the youth KNOW the material (being able to memorize it in 15
        minutes and regurgitating it back to get the blue card signed should not be
        allowed in my opinion). But be sure each of the presentations (as well as
        the rest of JOTA) is exciting and woth-while to the youth. Program is key
        to everything. Be Prepared!

        To all the members of this list: Start planning your JOTA 2001
        activities NOW. Nothing is worst than a JOTA event that is not organized or
        exciting. The idea is to impress the youth and their adults, and hope that
        they will join our ranks as Amateurs. Why? How many youth do you hear on
        the air when you tune across 2-meters or HF? Not many. Perhaps none. Is
        this alarming? You bet it is, especially since the average age of hams is
        up in the 50s and 60s -- and is rising. The youth are the future of our
        hobby. And our hobby depends on Hams like you to insure its survival by
        promoting it to the young ones. JOTA is one of the tools used in doing this
        promotion, which is why we should make it one of the best youth-oriented

        Brian, N5ZGT
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