The club supported the annual Jamboree on the air (JOTA) Boy Scout event on October 21, 2017 this year. The day dawned pleasant and I headed out for the Cabrillo Youth center about 7:30 AM.
After getting detoured around road construction, I arrived to find I was still the first club member on site. I was joined shortly by Heidi KG0GGY and Richard kJ6CBA. We unloaded the truck and laid out the hardware around the patio area. Curtis, our Boy Scout JOTA contact, arrived shortly and assisted with the setup. He did most of the collecting of tables and chairs and helped set them up. First, we set up the VHF/UHF transceiver to be used for the 440 MHz link on the right patio area. After assembling the mast and beam, we hoisted it and pointed it in the proper direction.
After laying out the power cables and assembling the power supply, cables and transceiver, I attempted to contact Jerry KJ6JJ at his home in Garden Grove. We made contact with a bit of tweaking. Jerry maintained this link throughout the day, allowing us to make EchoLink contacts to troops all over the world.
Curtis and Heidi setup the HF rig on the left hand balcony location. We all pitched in to assemble and raise the HF antenna and route the cables. We also set up Joe’s WB6MYD portable 2-meter rig on a center table with the 2m Ringo Ranger antenna. We were completely ready to provide radios to the scouts by 9:30.
We had fewer scouts this year than in the past, and they came through in spurts. We had several packs of Cub Scouts who expressed interest, but many were hesitant to take the mic. Some groups initially had just one Cub Scout willing to take the mic, but when others saw how easy it was they also gave it a try.
Many of the Boy Scouts took the mic and chatted with other scouts from around the United States and Canada. Jerry spoke with a few scouts when there were no Scouts on Echolink. We did have one Scout going for his HAM merit badge. He got to chat with a Scout in Australia for quite a while and was very pleased with the whole experience. Heidi and Curtis worked the HF station and made contacts with the East coast and as far away as Australia. Alex KD6LPA and Jim W6IVW showed up in the afternoon to help out.
The number of scouts slowed down around dinner time, so we decided to break down and pack it in. Having more help loading, we were ready to leave by ~6:00 PM.
The weather ended up being very pleasant all day. All and all, it was an excellent day with several Scouts making their first QSOs and many more getting an initial look at ham radio. We made around 30 contacts and presented the Scouts with an excellent initial exposure to the hobby. It was a long day but very satisfying to see the young Scouts have fun on the air. I think more than a few will be back and maybe even get their license someday.
K6CSH – Chuck