October 20th I had the pleasure of helping the local scoutmasters and den mothers with introducing their troops to the wonderful world of ham radio. Our callsign for the event was WN4BSA. This was the first time that I had ever volunteered for such an event, but I am glad that I did, as I had a really good time showing off ham radio. I was sort of a last minute fill in as one of the local hams had to pull out because his wife was going into the hospital.
I teamed up with Dave Merrits, AE4ZR Friday afternoon before the event to get things set up. Not having ever participated in an event like this but having plenty of experience of my own in the field , I prepared a go kit full of everything from insulators to bug spray. I also brought my XYL's Icom V-8000, my 40 meter Rockmite QRP CW rig, and a homebrew co-liniar ladder line antenna for two meters. Dave told me that the Trident Amateur Radio Club had supplied us with a Yaesu FT-897D, a couple of manual tuners, coax, a 20 meter dipole, and a Kenwood 2 meter rig. The only thing we needed to get was some supplies for dinner and breakfast, which a quick stop at Wally World took care of.
Upon arrival an Camp Moultrie, we met up with the park ranger and found our way to our campsite which was located not far from Lake Moultrie. Dave, Murphy, and I worked feverishly until around 10 PM setting up the equipment and antennas, of which was not an easy task as we had some problems with on of the tuners and neither of us were familiar with the HF rig. Naturally, we did not have a book so it took some time to get through the menus and figure out how to run the rig. We also decided to use the Icom V-8000 for our 2 meter station. We finally got things up and running around 11 PM ate some dinner and hit the hay.
The scouts started arriving around 7 AM to set up their respective camp sites and we checked the equipment one last time and made some last minute preparations. Dave had brought along some of the wallpaper that he has collected to show the scouts, and I had brought along a stack of QSL cards from my contacts around the world. I also set up a demonstration with my Rockmite 40 meter CW QRP rig and homebrew end fed tuner that I had built for the kids to see and hear.
JOTA finally began around 8 AM at the camp, and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous doing the public relations thing. I was not used to talking to the groups of people but did ok once the stagefright went away. Dave and I took turns addressing the folks, and then we took volunteers to get on the air. . Everyone including the adults really enjoyed the QSL cards and wallpaper that Dave brought along as well. I think that the scouts favorite QSL card was hands down the one from NA1ISS.
We had mostly cub scouts but they did a really fantastic job making contacts with other JOTA stations. May thanks goes out to the hams who jumped in there and talked to the scouts as well, your participation was greatly appreciated! There was a huge interest in the Rockmite, I think that it got more attention from the kids than anything else. They really were thrilled to hear the CW stations on the air.
We had visitors from troops 725,453,750,737,409,737,and 700. In the end, we made six two meter contacts and 13 contacts with other JOTA stations on HF. Our scouts made contacts into Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ottawa,Canada. To see the pictures of JOTA at Camp Moultrie, click here....