Blacksmith day. TechVent Style.

Now armed and usually only dangerous to themselves. No Venturers or Rovers were harmed in this event. Really.,

There’s a visit to a blacksmith shop, then there’s a TechVent blacksmithing day: 4 Venturers, 3 Rovers, 5 forges and 6 anvils.

We were hosted at Dave Brandow’s FireSword Forge in Guelph, assisted by blacksmith Miro Forest, with three additional forges from Miro and Scouter Stephen.

Blacksmith Dave showing how to heat treat a knife
Grinding and sharpening the blade.
Making a point. By hammering away at it.
Heating the metal in the forge. Blacksmith Dave is paying attention – to the other forge.
Waiting for grinding and sharpening.
Blacksmith Miro helping with twisting the knife handle.
Testing the finished product
Each youth made a coat hook, a knife and a chisel.

Big thank yous to blacksmiths Dave and Miro for their time, guidance and patience; and to Miro for hauling in two extra forges.

A special thank you to North Steel of Minden Ontario for their generous donation of the steel for the day.

Genuine Rovers. Not actors. But please give us our own TV show. We even have matching clothes and gloves!
See? We can even bring our dad on the show as a cranky old guest for arguments. Going at it hammer and tongs. Or tong and tong.

Oops – post corrected Oct 7 2019. We mis-identified a Rover as a Venturer. Maybe we need to label them.


An ambitious goal we announced at the start of the TechVent program is to get the youth their amateur radio certification to allow them to participate in emergency preparedness events.

We are pleased to announce that 8 Venturers and 2 Advisors completed their ham radio certification this weekend. There was some advance study, but most -and for some people, all – of the material was covered in our accelerated, condensed class that went Friday evening, all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday . At 4 PM Sunday, we stopped the training and did the exam.  We henceforth will refer to this program as the HAM CRAM. This is not to be mistaken with the normal Venturer ham cram, which involves ingesting large amounts of pork butt. Perhaps that should be the celebratory dinner.

We’ve spent the last 18 months trying different training methods, using the Venturers as human guinea pigs. Some things worked. Many interesting things were fun, but really didn’t advance the hard study required. The Venturers stuck with the program and worked it through, studying the material, and in the spirit of the Scouts Canada’s Canadian Path program, provided lots of feedback and suggestions.

A huge thank you to:

  •  Industry Canada certifified amateur radio examiner  John VE3IPS from the York Region Amateur Radio Club for coming in to run the certification tests
  • John VE3IPS, Geoff VA3GS and the other YRARC members who’ve helped us with hands-on radio nights and our JOTA event
  • YRARC member Ion VA3NOI for the donation of the HF transceiver and antenna tuner.
  • The ylab maker space for providing so much equipment, this web site, the HAM CRAM materials (they developed it) and all the other  tech activities on this site. They’ve made it all freely available to anyone who wants to use it.
  • The 8th Richmond Hill Scouts Venturer advisors and group leadership. This has been a team effort from the beginning.

YRARC HAM Radio/JOTA at YHW Skills Training Camp


For one day, the world revolves around Woodland Trails.

With the help of the York Region Amateur Radio Club (YRARC) volunteers, Woodland Trails became York Headwaters’ JOTA HQ during our fall Scouts Skills Training Camp.

(Learn how to make your own Azimuthal  map centered around your location here)

Since this is the 60th Anniversary of the first YHW JOTA and the first time in… heck, even Scouter Jim D. doesn’t remember how long… that YHW held a JOTA event, we went all out with a full radio activity rotation to go along with the knifing, axing, flaming and other activities.

YRARC brought out their Emergency Communications Trailer – fully self contained with backup generator, repeater and telescoping antenna. .

Scouts learned about Morse code, phonetic alphabet, and basic 2-way radio protocol.



We had two additional ham rigs. Scouts  communicated with other Scout groups and ham operators as far away as Germany and Arizona. Big highlight was hearing the Governor of Bermuda – who is also the Chief Scout of Bermuda and participating in their JOTA.

P_20171021_110945_vHDR_Auto (Small)We ran the radios on car batteries, but they didn’t last too long. Scouts were prepared, and we appreciate the loan of the generator.




Big thank you to: YRARC members Geoff/VA3GS and John/VE3IPS for organizing, bringing out so much gear, and sticking with us for the whole day, Steve/VE3UT for helping out and taking all these great pictures, and David/VA3DCY for trailer towing duties; all the Scout leaders who volunteered their time and equipment for all the other activities and great meals. All were rewarded with nothing but a lot of Scout smiles and enthusiasm… and a Scouts Canada JOTA/JOTI 2017 badge.

What will we do for JOTA/JOTI 2018? Dunno yet, but YRARC is offering to help out again.


Ready for 2017 JOTA/JOTI? Have your map ready?

2017 JOTA/JOTI is coming up fast. You want to try and reach some friends in other locations. Where do you point your radio antenna?

Check out our new entry on how to generate an azimuthal map for your location, then use a compass to find the direction of any place on earth.

Here’s the map we generated for our York Headwaters JOTA/JOTI event.

Map generated by

JOTA 60th Anniversay – October 20 – 22 2017 – LARGEST SCOUT EVENT IN THE WORLD

UPDATED Sept. 22 2017

  • 2017 is the 60th Anniversary of the JOTA – Jamboree On The Air, where Scouts around the world communicate with each other over amateur radio. The event now features JOTI – Jamboree On the Internet – where Scouts can reach out to each other with a web application.

This is the largest Scouting event in the world, with over 1 million participants in 2015.

This year, we’ll be participating with a radio activity rotation at  the York Headwaters Scouts/Venturers Skills camp at Woodland Trails. We’ve ordered crests for all participants.

Check out  the information on the worldwide JOTA-JOTI web site.

TechVent Year One Wrap-Up

Our first year is done – and we posted here a lot less than expected.

We’ve experimented and learned, getting our hands on Arduinos, breadboards, oscilloscopes, multimeters, wire strippers, crimpers, frequency generators, and, of course, radios. Vents climbed trees to hook up a high frequency antenna, and reached other ham operators in the southern US. We learned about what works and what doesn’t for teaching amateur radio, and keeping a balance between boring theory and interesting hands-on stuff.

With the summer break upon us, we’ll have some time to catch up and document some of the things we did. Maybe other groups can benefit from our mistakes experience.

We’re working on a radio certification weekend for end of the summer, before school starts, so we can hit the ground running for the 2017-2018 season. We’ll be using the tutorials and quizzes we developed.

Thank you to all the guinea pigsVenturers and Advisors who participated and helped out in so many ways.

Getting our TechVent group started

TechVents are go!

We’re working to get the group started for later this fall, and you can register for our information session on Monday, Sept. 26. Since this is a tech group, we’ve already created a calendar on the activities page, and you can register for the meeting here.

We’ve put together a lot of details to tell you what it’s about and what we’re planning. Check out the About Us page for the idea behind the group and how we want to run it, and the Membership page for what our expectations will be of the youth.

Stay tuned for more announcements!