Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) 2020 was a success. We usually use a hand mic and try to get the scouts on the air talking to other scouts. This year was different. We decided to setup for using digital modes. We weren’t sure how that was going to go. Ed’s limited knowledge of using FLDigi has been on 2 meters practicing using FLMsg with FLDigi to send form information. We were using FLDigi for QSOs using keyboard to keyboard mode for the JOTA station. That was a learning experience for us. We weren’t sure how well using a computer to talk to people over the radio would appeal to the scouts, but considering the Covid-19 pandemic, we felt it would be safer than passing a hand mic around. .
We want to thank Stan, N8BHL and the Delaware ARES group for letting us use the -145.19 CTCSS 123 Hz Delaware machine for Jamboree on the Air at Camp Lazarus. Ed had the radio tuned to the repeater and heard someone key up on digital. He wasn't sure what mode was being used, so he keyed up the mic and asked George, WD8KNC from Centerburg. Then through conversation asked him to use MT632KL. George was getting his equipment ready for an upcoming Diginet. Several scouts talked to him. He said he uses digital modes more than talking on a microphone. I think we may have surprised him being on 2m when he was getting his equipment ready for the Diginet. George was great for the scouts to talk to and we appreciated him taking time to have some good QSOs with the scouts.
We were also able to talk to John, KE8JHH just outside of Marysville on 2m simplex from Camp Lazarus using a Jpole mounted on a tripod on 5 watts using MT632KL and the control operator was able to coordinate with him using voice.
On the HF side, we used PSK31 on 20 meters. We talked to a station in Florida, California, and Colorado. The scouts seemed to really get into using digital modes.
We also had 2 CW practice oscillators. Bob, WD8NVN from the Madison County Amateur Radio Club worked with the scouts to send their name in CW. The younger scouts seemed to really get into using the practice oscillators and doing their best to send CW by looking up letters on the Morse code paper to send, not just using them to make noise!
Joe, K8JWL, and Jackson helped Ed setup the HF antenna and popups on Thursday. Bob, WD8NVN from the Madison County Amateur Radio Club worked with CW, Grant K8BCI from Marion helped out where needed. All three of us set up the tables, equipment and organized the handouts. Ed’s wife Jean, KE8JHM brought lunch over and helped out talking with the scouts and adult leaders. Ed’s oldest son Jackson (who isn't licensed) did a good job explaining how repeaters work, how HF signals propagate, and general over view of how how digital modes with FLDigi worked using a keyboard and sending/receiving text with a radio and computer to the scouts. Thank you to everyone that helped out with the JOTA station.
This year was different because there weren't anyone staying in the cabins at Camp Lazarus. As a result, there weren't as many cub scouts around during the day. We had fewer scouts stop by the JOTA station, but most were older scouts and a few groups were younger cub scouts. The older scouts were interested in radio and spent a fair amount of time having QSOs with PSK31 ON 20 meter and MT632KL on 2 meter. A couple scouts stopped by twice to use FLDIGI
We appreciate the opportunity Camp Lazarus and the organizers of the Monster Mash haunted night hike event gives us to set up a JOTA station there. It is always good to be part of a larger a scouting event when trying to get scouts on the air.