JOTA 2016 At Belchamps

The 2016 JOTA (Jamboree On The Air) took place on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October. Several JOTA stations were active in Essex, and here’s a summary of the JOTA activities at the Belchamps Sout Activity Centre, near Hockley in Essex.

Essex Ham was proud to be asked to help support this year’s JOTA activity at Belchamps – a very busy event with over 200 youngsters visiting over the weekend. Rather than being an event for just one or two local scout troops, this was a significantly larger-scale event, with troops from Essex and Kent camping for the weekend. Activities started on Friday evening, with a campfire (and marshmallows!), ahead of the main activities on Saturday Morning. Activities included archery, pedal karts, an assault course, caving simulator and wall climbing, but the main focus of our attention was in the activity hall.

Belchamps, home of GB1BEL in 2016
Belchamps, home of GB1BEL in 2016

A number of activities were set out in the main hall, some laid on by Essex Ham, and some by the event organiser, Derek M0SCE. The following radio-related activities were in use over the weekend

2m voice station

Active across both days, an FT-857 was in use for the exchange of Friendship messages.Youngsters started arriving in the hall at just after 9am, resulting in a pileup around the 2m station. From our logs across the weekend, thanks to the following stations for helping with greetings messages: GB1HCV (Braintree Scouts), Steve M0SHQ, GB2CDS (Colchester Scouts), GB2CIS (Canvey Sea Scouts), Kristian M0SSK, Dorothy M0LMR, Frank G8ORV, Paul M0MXT, David M1ECC and Brian 2E0WHB.

JOTA organiser Derek M0SCE helping with some friendship messages
JOTA organiser Derek M0SCE helping with some friendship messages

In the first day, we were able to help with around 75 scout Friendship messages, and around 20 on the second day. The groups we helped included: 10th Southend, 1st Woodham Ferrers, 5th Prittlewell, 17th Medway, 1st Burnham Sea Scouts, 1st Great Notley, 1st Ashingdon and a troop from Rayleigh. Ages ranged from 6 to 12, and we managed to get some scout leaders to have a go too. Operators for the busy 2m station were Pete M0PSX, Nick M0NFE, Derek M0SCE, Sarah M6PSK and Kelly M6KFA.

Nick M0NFE, handling some friendship messages
Nick M0NFE, handling some friendship messages

HF Station

Focus of HF activity for the weekend was 40m, and Steve 2E0UEH was manning the HF station for the weekend. Contacts were a little thin on the ground, but one of JOTA activities was for the youngsters to tune a radio and put out a CQ call, so the HF station was kept busy. Rig for the weekend was the very strokable icom ic-7300.

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Monkeying around on HF for the 2016 JOTA in Basildon

Pi and Potatoes

Many thanks to Nick M0NFE for a very different table that certainly captured some attention. The ever popular “Your name in Morse” demo was set up, allowing youngsters to type a name and see it displayed on-screen and sounded out in Morse. A total of 172 Morse messages were sent on the first day. Also on display, a Morse oscillator running on a Raspberry Pi, with a screwdriver as the key, and a cluster of potatoes connected to a Pi that played musical notes when touched. A great (and at times noisy) demo that the kids loved.

Nick's Morse Key and Muscial Potato ensemble
Nick’s Morse Key and Muscial Potato ensemble

Other demos

Two basic Morse stations connected via Ethernet cable allowed the scouts to send messages across the hall, and on Saturday afternoon, we were joined by Myra M0MYR and David G3SVI, who brought along their CW key and oscillator.

DMR was active briefly, and a live display of worldwide QSOs (from PSKReporter) was running too. The RSGB’s 21st Century Hobby Youth Video, plus a video of the recent Tim Peake ISS contacts was also running, with Essex Ham and RSGB leaflets on hand for the youngsters and scout leaders. Also lots of discussion about our Foundation Online training, which may be useful to scout groups looking to encourage youngsters to consider taking Foundation.

Hamsphere was running on the second day, using a projector, allowing youngsters to play around with simulated HF. A video featuring numbers stations was also running for a few hours, and visitors could design their own QSO cards. Also popular, the Radio Hunt – a PMR-based team exercise across the campsite, and an electronics kit. The JOTA event was twinned with JOTI (Jamboree on the Internet), so the youngsters were keen to make use of the dedicated IRC chatroom to talk to other scouting groups around the world

How many Kellys can you count in this photo?
How many Kellys can you count in this photo?
Steve 2E0UEH, playing around with HF antennas (again)
Steve 2E0UEH, playing around with HF antennas (again)


A great, and very busy, two days. Thanks to Derek M0SCE for asking Essex Ham to support this year’s event at Belchamps. Also to the site staff for making us feel very welcome.

Thanks to Essex Ham members Steve 2E0UEH, Sarah (Author), Nick M0NFE, Sarah M6PSK, Kelly M6KFA, Myra M0MYR and David G3SVI for the hard work, as well as to Dorothy M0LMR, who was a vital part of the event to, handling around 45 friendship messages from the youngsters, and still finding interesting things to say in reply.

Thanks to the youngsters too, for making it all worthwhile, and for the awesome “Oggy Oggy” at the end of Day 2″

Hopefully, the youngsters enjoyed the experience, and will remember amateur radio when considering taking up a hobby with a difference.

Squirrels On The Air 2016
Squirrels On The Air 2016

Pete M0PSX

Interview with Derek M0SCE, the GB1BEL JOTA 2016 event organiser (5 mins)


For more interviews and features, check out Essex Ham’s online radio station – Essex Ham on TuneIn



Update – Thanks to the event organiser Derek for the following comment on Facebook: “One of the groups camping has booked for next year already! You guys were amazing with the young people attending, fantastic and a big WELL DONE!”

Image Gallery for GB1BEL 2016

Related Links


  1. M0LMR 17 October 2016 Reply
  2. 2e0ueh 17 October 2016 Reply
  3. Chester Chimp 17 October 2016 Reply
  4. M0SCE (Derek) 17 October 2016 Reply

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