Just like in 2007, Wellington VHF Group assisted with the Scouts "Jamboree On The Air" (JOTA) this year. A combined effort on the part of the Paparangi and Newlands Scout Groups, the Wellington VHF Group team lead by Mark Foster ZL1VMF and ably assisted by Tom Clarke ZL2TDD and Bruce Packer ZL2ABC, led the guys and girls in pursuit of Radio Knowledge and a bit of fun. The special callsign 'ZL2JOTA' was ours to use for the event.
The Paparangi Scout Hall in northern Newlands. Our base for the event.
The first order of business for the Scouts was to erect the poles required for the HF Dipole. The same Dipole as last year meant that the guys and girls knew what to expect - but this year the aim was to get higher! And the results were good:
First Image: A lashing we will go! Second Image: The centre-pole, with a scaffolding pipe lashed to a piece of pioneering timber providing some good altitude for the centre of the dipole. The ATU is sitting on the chair at the base.
Once the Dipole was erected and the ATU/Coax cables run into the Hall, a briefing on some radio fundamentals was held for the Scouts. The 'Radiowaves' kit made explaining the basics of radio (and how we use it, channel it and affect it) straightforward. After the briefing, lunch was put on and once fed, Activities kicked off in earnest.
First Image: A scout ponders his next over talking to Australia on 80 Metres. Second Image: 'Foxhunting' was again a hit, using low powered 70cm Foxes and a simple DF'ing Yagi provided by ZL2AMJ.
The HF Dipole was cranked up and immediately contact was made with ZL3MF in Christchurch on 80m. We also made contact using the Climie Repeater's IRLP Node, with VK4SML near Brisbane.
Contacts were made in fits and bursts throughout the afternoon. The Scouts interspersed their participation in the Radio side of things with their own programme, which consisted of the construction of an improvised campsite outdoors; the scenario being an emergency situation and the need to quickly set up a campsite using equipment easily to hand.
The Foxhunting kit was an interesting distraction, providing a hands-on practical demonstration of the impact of polarisation and directionality in antenna systems. ZL2TDD was also able to demonstrate the art of 'null finding' with his own 2M low powered DF demonstration.
First Image: "Did we find it??" Second Image: Tom ZL2TDD demonstrates his ARDF equipment for Tony, the Paparangi Group Leader.
Dinner (Cooked on portable gas stoves as well as in the small Kitchen) was followed by Phonetic Alphabet Practise and more outdoor games.
Meanwhile the radio contacts continued, care of both 40 metres (which was very busy with VK and ZL stations).
First Image: Dinner Prep. Second Image: Bruce ZL2ABC supervises a contact into Australia over IRLP.
Overall it was an excellent day, with the Paparangi Scout Group looking after the radio operators involved very well during the course of the day, and Scouts appear to have had a great time. (Big thanks to Tony and his team for Paparangi for their support during the day, and to the Scouts for being such great sports.) From a radio perspective, the bands were quiet cooperative in terms of performance, though noise levels varied throughout the day; the biggest dissapointments were the foreign non-JOTA stations monopolising the published JOTA calling frequencies. At least one Amateur graciously 'moved on' when he noticed what was going on, but others were not so courteous. Still, on the whole, it was a great event and at various stages there were pileups of JOTA stations from across VK and NZ on the 40M calling frequency.
A big thanks to ZL2BRF for making his HF and VHF equipment available for use over the weekend, and for helping coordinate in the early stages. Also a note of thanks to ZL2HD for stopping by with additional kit and to ZL2AMJ/ZL1TYF for the ARDF equipment.
Finally, a big thanks to Tom ZL2TDD and Bruce ZL2ABC for helping out during the day, this was very much appreciated and things would not have gone anywhere near as smoothly without your assistance.
A successful event, looking forward to JOTA 2009!
Mark Foster ZL1VMF
WVHFG JOTA 2008 Coordinator.