The strong winds and a sudden shower on Saturday did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 3rd Margate St Johnâ€™s Brownies for their Thinking Day on the Air event at the Monkton Nature Reserve. This event is an opportunity for the members of Girlguiding, from the youngest Rainbow to the oldest Trefoil Guild member, to talk to other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world via Amateur Radio.
The eight Brownies introduced themselves to the Hilderstone Radio Club using the phonetic alphabet, such as Mike, Echo, Golf, Alpha, November, Megan. The girls split up into pairs and the first activity was to send coded messages to each other using a Morse key. John Hibbert G3YCV showed them the correct technique of using the key and soon they were operating like experts with their headphones.A short or long flash of light from an LED to represent the dots and dashes of Morse code was the next activity, supervised by Bob Fidler M0ZRF. Again the girls delighted in sending each other a coded message with the challenge of decoding the signals. They didnâ€™t want to move on, they were enjoying it so much!
Using a radio is not the same as a mobile phone, so the next activity was to become familiar with operating a radio using a pair of business radios, similar to the ones used by the police and the emergency services. The girls soon learnt how to communicate, remembering to say â€˜overâ€™ at the end of each message, helped by Nick Parker M6NAR and Clive Widdus G1WCR.
The Brownies were then challenged to hunt a cunning fox, hiding in the undergrowth. He would send out an intermittent signal which the girls intercepted with a radio and a special aerial. By gauging the strength of the signal and direction they soon captured the fox with the help of Matt M0LMK and Kaz Payne M6WFY!
Finally the Brownies were given the opportunity of sending a message with the special event radio station. Ian Solly M0CAG, Len West G0GNQ and Bob McDonald 2E0ATZ helped them to contact other amateur radio enthusiasts around the country using the call sign GB1TBU, Thanet Brownie Units. Brown Owl Gill Goodwin spoke with Brown Owl Liz Jones M0ACL in Winchester who had organised the nationwide Thinking Day on the Air. Altogether it was a very successful morning for everyone and something quite different for the Brownies.