Nov 3

ARRL WEST COAST CONVENTION – “With A Little Texas Touch”

In mid July, Bob Hejl, W2IK, was approached via email by Per Brashers, KI6JJS, requesting permission to reprint several of his Emcomm and antenna building web sites to assist in presenting a RACES forum at “PACIFICON 2008”, which is also known as the “Dayton Of The West”. It is the major ARRL West Coast convention held in mid October and offers dozens of lectures, a swap meet, exhibits, demonstrations and even an operational JOTA station. To learn more, see:

Emails were exchanged and the request soon escalated into more than simple reprint permission. KI6JJS also requested assistance with creating his actual presentation script.

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Oct 24

JOTA - Canyon Lake DamBoy Scout LogoUnder the direction of Mike, AB5EB, a rather large contingent of boy scouts and cub scouts converged at Overlook Point near the Canyon Lake dam in Texas to see what amateur radio was all about. They got more than they envisioned as the diversity of amateur radio was revealed. The amateur radio operators, featuring Mike, AB5EB, Rich, N5RAG, Carlos, KE5DFK and Bob, W2IK, were ready and waiting with several stations that operated using several modes, such as voice, digital and slow-scan television.

Other events were offered such as two antenna building sessions where scouts built actual antennas from scrap materials and used them to make contacts.The most rewarding event was the merit badge class given by Mike, AB5EB. During the class, they learned quite a bit about radio communications, “Q” signals, etc and were each also required to make an actual ham radio contact.

JOTA - Canyon Lake DamAlso covered were basics in fox-hunting using a homemade “tape measure” antenna, PSK digital operating basics, viewing slow-scan television pictures being sent by other hams, MARS, Military Affiliated Radio Systems were explained and as added bonuses, several scouts assembled short wave radio kits using point to point wiring and in the afternoon a “geo-caching” hunt was held where scouts used GPS units, under the direction of a scout dad, to discover hidden “treasures”.

Also available were food and refreshments sold under the direction of scout moms and dads as a fundraiser. Next year’s event promises to be bigger and better!

Below are more photos from the event.  For more information about the sponsoring group, please visit them on the web at

Bob  W2IK

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Oct 21

The first “MacGyver” antenna building session held during the 2008 JOTA operation at Canyon Lake, Texas was so successful that in the afternoon several scout moms cornered me and almost begged that I run it again so the afternoon group could join in on the fun.JOTA - Canyon Lake DamWhat was the “MacGyver” antenna project?

The scouts began at a long table where I dumped the contents of a large popcorn tin, which was filled with wire, plastic pieces, odd metal parts, tools, two 12 foot measuring tapes, a spark plug wire and other useful and useless items along with a scrap of paper which had a hand-drawn diagram of a dipole antenna with just a series of total length per bands scrawled on the top.JOTA - Canyon Lake Dam

It was up to the scouts to find the proper pieces and share in the building of a simple dipole under the supervision and extensive verbal support, cheering and crying of the “MacGyver Special Assistance Team”.
JOTA - Canyon Lake Dam
The scouts measured and cut wire, stripped ends, put on PVC end insulators, a center connector was added, and put rope on each end. Imagine their surprise when we ran the dipole up the “flag-pole” masting and promptly made a contact to a ham in Oklahoma!

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Oct 20

JOTA photoOver 70+ Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts attended the JOTA event held this past weekend out at the Canyon Lake Dam.  Members of GVARC and other hams came out to support this event which turned into a mini-field day event.Scouts got to try three modes of communications, Voice, PSK31 and CW.  Only 20 meters was really working well, the other bands seemed unresponsive, at least thru the morning hours.JOTA photo w/ W2IK

W2IK was there with his boxes of antenna goodies, and he challenged one group of scouts to build something “MacGyver Style”.   He got lots of blank looks from kids who had never heard of MacGyver, until one scout popped up and asked “wasn’t that the guy who plays the part of the guy in charge of the teams on Stargate SG1?”Despite the generation gap, Bob was able to explain that in this large Popcorn canister, were parts. Lots and lots of parts, with some junk tossed in for good measure. 

The challenge was to build a working dipole antenna out of these parts.And the challenge was met after a couple of hours, and the first contact was from Oklahoma.

I’m expecting a full report from W2IK with photos since he was there the entire time, and I was only there about an hour around lunch time, since I had been working the Triathlon instead that morning.  I’ll correct any errors / discrepancies in this report at that time.


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