Report on the YOTA Activities of the Association Amateurs Radio Algeriens
After the Annual YOTA gathering that took place in Bulgaria in August 2019, the ARA has tried to follow on the same spirit in order to acquire more youngsters into the activity. Thus, we have looked into a source of youngsters that would already be motivated by radio communication, electronics and a community life.
The ARA considered two fronts, the first one being the ARA headquarters in Algiers 7X2ARA, and the second is the Radio Club 7X3WPL in the northern border to the Sahara Desert 400 km south of the capital in the town of Laghouat. The choice makes sense since these are the only two radio clubs that are active at the moment.
In the north, we focused on three nests that were promising, the first one being the Boum community that is located in the town of Boumerdes 45km east of Algiers. This is a community of around a hundred of youngsters having different activities from technical to art related activities, we contacted them and some of them were keen to follow along the train of ham radio.
The second nest is the National Polytechnic School, it is one of the best engineering universities in Algeria, they deal primarily with telecommunication and electronics which made them quite an interesting target within our reach.
The third nest is the University of Bab Ezzouar or USTHB, and more specifically the electronics and telecommunications departments.
In the south, in the Town of Laghouat, there are two nests, the first one is the University of course, and the second is a private school, called ADI School that teaches languages and technical skills. This school was chosen because it is a hub of English speaking people that are more or less attracted to all that is technical and the manager of the school was quite interested to show her students a new activity that promotes languages and respect of the other.
With all that in mind, let us dive into the activities that were undertaken for the youth in both regions (north and south). The activities are in chronological order from the oldest to the newest.
24 August 2019 Boum Community Ham Radio Introduction and Training
Afif 7X2RO has brought a group of youngsters from the Boum community and explained to the hobby as well as doing some QSOs. Rayane also did a course on radio electricity to help them fathom the matter. This has been done to prepare future candidates for the candidates for the Ham Radio Certification Exam.
30 August ARDF Test with the Boum Community
After discovering the ARDF activity in the YOTA summer camp in Bulgaria, we thought of implementing it in Algeria in a few steps, this activity was the first among those.
Afif 7X2RO, Mohamed 7X3TL and Rayane (Call sign coming soon) have gathered a few members of the Boum Community in order to try ARDF and understanding how orienteering works. The ARA has 10 ARDF receivers on 80m but no transmitter to go with, so we brought the TS480 along with a car battery and CW Keyer, we set the frequency and put the worst antenna we could find in order to have a weak signal to work with. Then we sent the youngsters to get far from the radio and asked them to come back following the signal they hear. After that, we explained the ARDF competition guidelines and why it is important for search and rescue. They were mesmerized by the activity.
18 October 2019 JOTI JOTA in Sidi Fredj’s Scout Camp
Of course, the ARA could not miss the JOTI JOTA event, thus, Afif 7X2RO and Mohamed 7X3TL and Sifou (Call sign coming soon) went to Sidi Fredj in the scout camp to meet with a hundred scout coming from every part of the country and explained to the Ham radio hobby in all of its activities: Ham operation, Electronics, ARDF, SSTV through Baofengs, Morse code….
The event was a great success, but, it is to be understood that scouts in Algeria have drifted very far away from Ham radio, that it is why it is quite complicated to get them back to it.
19 October 2019 JOTI JOTA Setif Scout Camp
Because we cannot be in two places at the same time, we organized a second JOTA the next day in Setif 300 Km east of Algiers, where we met a second scout company where we did the same activities as the day before, but the number was quite the double as we met with 200+ scouts over there.
21, 23 October 2019 ADI School
In Laghouat, we have found a private school that was ready to open its door to us to do demonstration and explain what the hobby is, so taking that opportunity, Mohamed 7X3TL has taken a good amount of equipment and showed the three classes studying Communicative English what the hobby is about and what we do. The students were discovering this for the first time and were quite interested.
07 December 2019 HF Electronics Workshop CLS Boumerdes
After understanding that a lot of youngsters are attracted to electronics more than radio operation we thought of organizing electronics workshops which deals with HF, thus, the first workshop was organized in Boumerdes with the great help of the aforementioned Boum Community in the Scientific Hobby Center.
There were 50 participants from the three nests, the Boum Community, the Polytech School and the USTHB University
We explained to the participants the Ham Radio Hobby and how it relates to electronics and telecommunications, then, we gave them components and a circuit board and asked them to solder a simple 6 components ultra QRP CW transmitter, after they finish they tested their transmitters with the TS480 that we brought for the event.
We also took the opportunity to operate with 7X2YOTA, the QSOs count was very low due to the low position of the antenna (no high place to put it on).
Also, the date of the event was very close to the national elections, and all activities for clubs and associations were to be stopped, thus, we tried to keep the event as quite as possible.
21,22,23,25 December 2019 Certification Training and Exam
In order to prepare the candidates for the operator certification exam that was to be organized on the 25th of December 2019, Afif 7X2RO and Rayane (Call sign coming soon) did a three-day training on Radio Procedures and Radio Electronics for the aforementioned candidates.
14 Candidates took the exam for certifying ham radio operators on the 25th of December 2019, as of the date of this report, the results were not yet given and we are waiting.
26 Dec 2019 Field Day Zemmouri by the Sea
We took the opportunity of the coming of Abdel 7X2TT/M0NPT to Algeria, to have a field day in the beautiful beach of Zemmouri 60Km east of Algiers. With the help of the Boum Community we gathered 12 youngsters (what 4 cars could take) in order to show them the hobby from a new perspective, Abdel 7X2TT/M0NPT brought equipment to use the Satellite Es’Hail as a repeater to make DXs, as well as, other satellites. We also used a small CW beacon from those we made in the aforementioned electronics workshop that we hid under the hood of a car and pulled a long thin wire from it on the ground and asked the participants to find it with the ARDF receivers. It was a fun task because nobody could imagine the location of the beacon.
We also explained what a beacon is and had some demos with a Raspberry PI doing the transmitting with RPITX.
A beautiful day like that one had only one way to end and that is by a mega pizza that we shared together.
28 December 2019 – 2nd January 2020 Cap Sigli Low Band DXpedition.
To end the year, in collaboration with the Tunisian ARAT the ARA organized a DXpedition to Cap Sigli 200Km east of the capital, there was 2 youngsters from ARA and 2 others from ARAT on boy and girl from each country. The focus of the event was activating 7X7X in the low bands when possible and switch to other bands when there is no propagation.
The ARA and ARAT team shared knowledge and experience in different areas, it was a fruitful event for both, especially for the youngsters for whom this is the first expedition that they participated to.
The youngsters made many QSOs from which a lot of them were DXs, they were really proud.
7X7X was active on SSB, CW, Satellite (QO-100 and others), FT8.
We ended the year on a great barbecue that was enjoyed by everybody.
December YOTA Month in 7X3WPL
During the whole month of December, a full training program has been unraveled by the team of 7X3WPL in the south for younsters.
Driss 7X3DL explained the operational part with SSB, Satellite and Digimodes.
Hamid 7X3DA who is a pioneer of the CW in the country, did some CW training sessions.
Mohamed 7X3TL Did a 4 days electronics training and explanations to culminate in the making of a CW ultra QRP mono frequency transmitter that they tested with the TS480Sat of the club.
We also had the visit of Dr. Boutte Aissa a researcher in the Algerian Space Agency who did a presentation about Nano Satellites and the possibility of making our own.
We also had the visit of Professor Abdelkader Abdellaoui who spoke to us about space and what it represents for the Ham Radio Hobby.
The December month in 7X3WPL was a full view of all that is related to ham radio that the youngsters who were present really enjoyed. The long event ended by a ceremony in which everybody went home with a certificate of participation and a big smile.
Where are we from the 2018 planning for 2019
Assembly of transmitters for ARDF practical training for young academics
This has been done with great success twice in Boumerdes and Laghouat (7X3WPL), even if it was their first time doing so. They built the first part of the transmitter, i.e. the oscillator. The remaining pieces to the transmitter (amplifier and auto keyer) were not built because of lack of budget.
Conferences within universities and high schools
This has been done for universities as we have discovered that for high schools, the studies are too condensed for the students to have extracurricular activities within class time or after those.
Import of kits (UBTX) organization of several sessions practical work for the assembly of these kits
The original plans were to get sponsorship from the US embassy, but we had no reply from those regarding this project.
Participation in the JOTA jamboree on the air as every year
The target was beaten, because it was done twice, in two places with two different scouts associations.
Organization of a field day for young YOTA people (the event will take place in a forest or mountain)
We have organized three of these, on in a forest and another on the beach and the third was in Cap Sigli.
Organization of one or two ARDF competitions
The transmitters were not ready in time because of budget issues.
Organization of IOTA with YOTA people
Done in Skikda July 2019.
Planning for 2020
Participation in the 2020 JOTI JOTA
Participating with a greater experience and understanding of scout youngsters.
Participation to the 2020 YOTA summer camp
As it was a great experience in Bulgaria in 2019, we wish to send a few participants to YOTA 2020 summer camp to acquire more knowledge and motivation.
Organize a 2020 Emergency Communication Fieldday
Organizing an Emergency Communication Fieldday and getting involvement of more youngsters.
Involve more youngsters with the certification exams
Training and exam taking, the goal is 3 to 4 exams in the whole year.
Low band YOTA Expedition
After the great success of the event that was co-organized with ARAT by the end of 2019, we wish to repeat the experience and give the world the opportunity to contact a 7X station on 80m and 160m.
Sub-regional YOTA Camp
If we acquire the right budget, we wish to organize a gigantic sub-regional camp in Algeria with 100 participants from Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger and Occidental Sahara. These countries were chosen because we have students here in Algeria of these countries. We are still waiting for the subvention of the ministry as well as looking for other sponsors to cover the immense cost of such an event.
Participate and organize SDR camps
Since SDR is the cheapest way a ham radio can start operating, we wish to push youngsters into this discipline. Thus, we have Rayane that will go to the SDR camp organized in Paris, and with the experience acquired she can coach candidates to participate to the SDR camp in Tunisia to then be able to lunch our own SDR camps in Algeria.
Open New Radio Clubs
We wish to open new radio clubs where it is possible to do so, i.e. having the right young power to drive the club and take it in charge. This is because it is true that the Algerian radio club coverage is very weak.
Organize a Dexpedition IOTA with Youngsters
If we get the right authorizations, we could organize an IOTA Dexpedition.
Plan for more events with ARAT
Since our great experience with the Tunisian Association ARAT, we wish to rejoin our efforts in order to organize more events together.
We wish to organize ARDF competitions in Algeria if we get the funds to procure equipment such as transmitters and receivers.
ATV Field Day
We wish to organize a field day using ATV with F4COX, we will see how that goes.
Organize electronics workshop
As our recent experiences showed, electronics is a great way to attract youngsters that are studying in the field of Telecommunications and Electronics in to the hobby, thus we wish to organize continuous electronics workshops.
Difficulties that we encounter
The main difficulty that we encounter is a budget one, it is to be understood that in Algeria Ham Radio is not very well known by the authorities, thus they give very little or no money to the association. We are trying as best we can to push but to almost no avail. Ham Radio is a hobby after all and some activities should be partly paid by participants, but it should also be understood that in a country where the best case engineer gets a monthly salary of 400 euros, it is really hard to buy anything that is imported and not subsidized by the government, the question becomes like this, do I eat for a month or do I starve for a few months to get a transceiver.
Adding to that the strict laws that consider ham radio equipment as dangerously as firearms, a lot of youngsters get into despair when facing such issues, we try our best to find circumventing solutions, but, it is said that what we are doing is very hard and it is not to be compared with other European countries with more relaxed laws and budgets.