Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BSA Announce "Interpreter Strip" for Morse Code

The Boy Scouts of America have just announced a new
"Interpreter Strip" for Morse Code.  An "Interpreter Strip"
on the uniform means that the Scout or adult leader is able
to communicate in a particular language.  

Those older Scouts and former Scouts among you may remember
the Boy Scout requirements that said a Scout had to learn
Morse Code or signal flags to send and receive a message.
And, even though that requirement has disappeared and Morse
Code is no longer mandatory to get any amateur radio license
in the United States, the BSA is reviving Morse Code as a
"language" worth learning.

You can probably credit Jim Wilson, K5ND, for getting this
one from concept to reality.

He's the BSA's "Jamboree on the Air" organizer and the
volunteer chairman for the next K2BSA operation at the 2013
National Boy Scouts Jamboree at the Summit in West Virigina.

Wilson works at BSA headquarters in Texas and is a big
promoter of amateur radio in Scouting.
So much so, Wilson says he organized a national Radio
Scouting advisory committee last year to get stronger
support in the amateur and Scouting community for JOTA.

Earlier this year, Wilson says a member of that committee
made a suggestion about getting some additional Scouting
recognition for amateur radio.

Wilson says there were some ideas that eventually evolved
into exploring the "interpreter" strip worn on the Scout
uniform to show a Scout has some ability to speak a certain

Wilson admits he came up with the idea for "Morse" on the
strip - but in the letters of the language - dah-dah, dah-
dah-dah, di-dah-dit, dit-dit-dit, dit."

Wilson says he quickly moved the idea over to the BSA's
national awards committee where it got a favorable reception
and approval within months.

So how does a boy earn it?

Wilson says there are three requirements, the first....

"It's carrying on a 5-minute conversation in Morse Code at a
speed of at least 5 words per minute," Wilson explains.
"And, then the second one, copying correctly a 2-minute
message sent in Morse Code at a minimum of 5-words-per-

"And, copying of course means writing the message down as
it's received. And, then, three, sending a 25-word written
document in Morse Code at a minimum of 5 words per minute."

Wilson says Scouts can be certified by their Scoutmaster or
maybe even a ham who's an adult Scout leader.

Wilson says the idea is to further cement the bonds of
brotherhood between Scouting and ham radio operators. And,
of course, Wilson is....

"Eager to increase participation in amateur radio to provide
an opportunity for Scouts to get involved in a fun hobby, a
hobby that promotes communicating with lots of Scouts and
others around the country and around the world," Wilson
says. "And, it's science, it's technology, it's engineering,
it's math - the stem items that are of enormous interest
right now and frankly have been in Boy Scouting for quite
some time."

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The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 1 to 6 is BEST
  • 7 to 9 is OK
  • 11 or more is BAD

Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.

A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]

  • 70 NOT GOOD
  • 80 GOOD
  • 90 BETTER
  • 100+ BEST

The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.

Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

K index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 0 or 1 is BEST
  • 2 is OK
  • 3 or more is BAD
  • 5 is VERY VERY BAD

The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.

A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

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