On the weekend of Nov 30, 2019, we finally ran this year’s final HAM CRAM certification weekend, with 2 Venturers and 4 leaders surviving the weeknight meetings and making it to the final mad dash to the finish line.
We took over ylab’s maker space at the City of Richmond Hill’s David Dunlap Observatory for the entire weekend from Friday at 7 PM to Sunday at 7 PM. They only went home to sleep and maybe scream in agony.
Participants ingested a massive amount of study material, lame jokes, stories, junk food, sugary snacks and soft drinks. Laps were run around the building to fight off the dozies. Horrible weather on Sunday didn’t stop us.
Industry Canada Certified Radio Examiner John plowed his way over through the storm on Sunday afternoon to administer the final tests. John is a great friend of 8th Richmond Hill Venturers and Scouts, helping out every year to run the JOTA and any other time we ask him. He even went through a PRC.
We are proud to announce that all participants in the final ham cram passed the final test. Please join us in congratulating all six newly licensed amateur radio operators – Venturers Rishi and Zack and leaders Mark and Sandi from 8th Richmond Hill, John from 1st Markham MedVents, and Chris from wherever he hangs his hat. They are all licensed for life. They never have to go through this misery again.
To keep up with what is now our tradition, we celebrated on Wednesday December 4 with the other ham cram – in this case, cramming down a 10 lb ham.
Special thank-yous to examiner John for all the help and cool freebies he donated to the participants; and to ylab and the City of Richmond Hill for allowing us into such an amazing building for our work with the Venturers.
In what’s become a tradition, our TechVents who’ve achieved their amateur radio certification get to volunteer at Anime North, handling the communications desk to relay and co-ordinate radio communications between the Medical, Operations and Security groups. This year it was held on the May 26 2019 weekend.
We’ve been doing this on-and-off since 2016. It’s privilege and a lot of fun to work such a big event – this year with over 30,000 attendees.
Great work by Venturers Adam, Andrew, Ethan and Jonathan.
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.
Congratulations to new hams Andrew, Davis, Jonathan, Kristen, Maitland, Max, Owen, and Steve.
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.
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. .
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.
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.
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.
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.