For the second year running, North Kent Radio Society members took part in the 1st Foots Cray Scout group’s Jamboree On The Air event at their HQ next to Foots Cray Meadows operating the special event callsign GB2FCS.
With the early gusts of “Storm Brian” approaching, Stephen G8JZT, Robin M0RJT, Peter M0PBR, Tony G4WIF, Frank G3WMR and Kevin G0MLO assembled at 9am and immediately got on with raising the 20/40m dipole on the incredibly easy-to-assemble mast supplied, as usual, by G3WMR. This year the shack was in a small room at one end of the main hall and whilst obviously much quieter from which to operate, there were no windows for the coax to enter nor room for the 2m station. The HF coax luckily could run under the outside door but the 2m station was instead set up in Frank’s camper van outside the building. We were also joined later by Dave G4YIB, making a passing visit.
There was a good attendance of probably around 100 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts throughout the day and they were treated to several forms of radio activity and experience which enabled them to earn their Communicator badge. First task for the students on entering was to fill in a sheet with their names using the phonetic alphabet and to give some thought to a question which they could ask over the air. There was a morse class led by Peter and Tony in which students could try both to decode and send some morse code to each other – it’s amazing how young minds can quickly take to something that many of us old people find quite challenging! Next was some “walkie-talkie” operating practice where messages and instructions were tested across the width of the HQ field, often resulting in some energetic chasing and humorous activity between the participating parties. Stephen and Robin bravely manned a very busy and warm HF station with a constant queue of cubs and scouts all too willing to send greeting messages across the airwaves. Frank’s aerial set-up continue to work well as the wind strength increased and many contacts were made across the UK & Europe with many JOTA stations.
The wet weather, muddy grass and the fact that the 2m station was outside meant that we didn’t actually use it for the cubs & scouts but Frank made several contacts including an interesting cross-band one on 18MHz/mobile phone with Andy G8MLQ who was operating the local club station out in Malta (with us not having the aerial transmit capability on 18MHz).
The other communications activity, and an amazingly absorbing one, was the use of Facebook and Skype apps on a laptop (with internet connection via a mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot) to talk live with other scout groups around the world. With the laptop screen projected onto the wall, we could sit/stand around, converse with and see, other scout groups in India, Australia, Malaysia to name but a few. Incredible stuff.
Our thanks go to the Akela at Foots Cray plus all her colleagues and those of the nearby scout groups for inviting NKRS along to what was a very rewarding day. The enthusiasm of the cubs and scouts was very refreshing and who knows, one or two of them may be part of the next generation of amateur radio.
Report by Kevin G0MLO
Stephen and Robin supervising JOTA in action
Stephen G8JZT and Robin M0RJT organising the HF participants
Tony G4WIF supervising the “walkie-talkie” exercise.
Peter M0PBR leading the morse practice sessions
Frank at the 2m station
Working an Indian JOTA station by Skype over internet
The antenna set up
Robin M0RJT assisting with the QSO