What makes a good proposal?

Some pointers for making your proposal stand out.

As ARDC grows, we’re getting more proposals than ever before, and the way we evaluate grant proposals is evolving. Of course, we’re still looking for proposals that support and promote amateur radio, advance education, and advance the state of the art in amateur radio and digital communications. What’s different is how we evaluate the proposals: we now have quarterly review cycles and a ranking system that uses consistent criteria. Given this new framework and increase in competitiveness, here’s how to improve your chance of success.

Credit: Pexels.com

First of all, make sure that your proposal meets ARDC’s goals. These include empowering individuals and small organizations, benefitting the widest community possible, inclusion of under-represented groups, and preservation of the individual’s right to innovate. Projects that we fund must also be accessible and usable by all. If a project is a development project, the hardware, software, and documentation must be open source so that others can use and learn from the work.

Next, we’ll look at how your project is structured, including its key objectives. Your proposal should clearly state what you intend to accomplish and why. We’ll also look to see that you have a project plan that outlines the steps you plan to take to accomplish your goals. The plan should include a list of the people who will be working on the project, the expertise they bring, and the amount of time you expect them to work on it.

As part of this process, we’ll look at the budget. Your project’s budget should be appropriate for the results you want to achieve. We encourage grantees to use the most modern technology available—although we recognize that in some cases older technology may be the most appropriate choice. If that is the case, please provide an explanation supporting your technology choice. We also encourage grantees to choose high-quality equipment, but we don’t want to see unusually high-dollar expenses without an explanation for why it is needed. Similarly, use volunteer labor when appropriate, but hire professionals if you don’t have adequate experience on your volunteer team.

Making an impact

There are other factors that will affect the success of your proposal. For example, when appropriate, please tell us how the project’s outcomes will be maintained and continue to have an impact beyond the lifetime of the grant. We also look favorably upon projects that will be regularly used and maintained, even if they are designed for a specific event.

If your project is designed to benefit a particular community, your proposal should show that it has community support. This can be in the form of financial support, donated equipment, or volunteer time. If a project supports or becomes part of city, county, or state infrastructure, it is important that those applications include letters of support from those government agencies.

Having said all that, we’re also looking for projects with some special sparkle. In the spirit of innovation and flexibility, we may fund exceptional projects that don’t perfectly align with our stated criteria or categories.

You’ll find more information about how to submit a grant application on the Instructions for Submitting an ARDC Grant Application page. If you still have questions, email us at giving@ardc.net to set up a time to talk. Our staff can answer questions about our process or give you advice on if we think a proposal for your project is likely to be successful before you begin. If you need technical assistance with your project, please describe what it is you want to do and the type of help you need in your email. We may be able to connect you with a volunteer to help, or may refer you to another resource.

Good luck with your application!

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Code of Conduct survey results are in!

We want ARDC—and amateur radio—to be a harassment-free zone that is inviting to everyone, so having a code of conduct is important to us. And, since we want it to reflect the values of the ARDC community, we conducted a survey and asked for your input. Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts.

Overall, 56 of you responded to the survey, which ended April 30, 2022. When asked how you were affiliated with ARDC, 45 (80.4%) said that they were 44Net users or mailing list subscribers and 10 (17.9%) said that they were ARDC volunteers. Other participants included members of ARDC staff as well as a few  grant recipients and one grant applicant. Five clicked the “other” box, with one of them identifying themself as an “innocent bystander.”

The respondents were overwhelmingly male. 45 (out of 53 who answered this question) identified themselves as male (see graph below). Most also identified their race/ethnicity as white or Caucasian. Several identified themselves as simply “human,” while one fellow said he was a “white old male.”

A few of you had concerns about these questions. One asked, “Why does this matter?” Several replied, “Not relevant.” While we understand where you’re coming from, we asked for this information to help us better understand our community.

You say that having a code of conduct is a good idea

It was heartening to us that the majority of respondents think that having a Code of Conduct is a good idea. When asked if they agree with the statement, “I think ARDC should have a Code of Conduct,” 41.1% strongly agreed, 30.4% agreed, and 7.1% agreed somewhat. Only 12.5% disagreed.

 

In addition, nearly 80% thought that codes of conduct are an effective way to prevent misconduct and harassment:

Here is what you said about why it’s a good idea:

  • “I applaud and appreciate the effort to create a code of conduct, and I look forward to seeing it! Thank you!”
  • “I can’t wait to see this!”
  • “CoCs are something that have been widely adopted by younger generations, and thus are important for bringing younger generations (as well as women, POC, and LGBTQ+ folks) ino amateur radio and 44net.”

Of course, there were some negative comments as well:

  • “ARDC should stick to its already-tough job without detouring into a rat’s nest of writing and enforcing political correctness legislation.”
  • “I believe it will drive people away rather than welcoming people in. And even the process of trying to draft one is having that effect. I believe that if actually adhered to, Codes of Conduct would politicize ordinary discourse, fracturing the community.”

To see the complete report, go to the survey website or download this PDF.

Drafting our code of conduct

To help guide us in drafting our code of conduct, we asked what you think should be included in the code of conduct and for examples that you like and think are effective. We received many good suggestions, including:

You also gave us some advice on how to write the code of conduct. For example, several mentioned that it should be “short and sweet.” One respondent noted, “I suggest you err on the side of simple and easy to understand, not long and verbose.”

There were some concerns, though, and we will certainly take these into account as we draft our code of conduct. These concerns include:

  • That enforcement is fair.
  • That the code of conduct not drive people away.
  • That the code of conduct not be U.S.-centric.

On all counts, we hear you. We aim as always to be as fair and inclusive as possible.

Next steps

We are currently working on the code of conduct internally, and will likely have our first draft available in the next couple of months. When it is available, we will publish it and ask for comments, as was requested in the survey. Once we review those comments, we’ll finalize the document and make it live!

Thanks again for participating in this process. With your input, we feel that the ARDC Code of Conduct will be the best that it can be and serve us well.

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ARDC working on Code of Conduct – give us your thoughts!

ARDC is currently developing a code of conduct. A good code of conduct not only sets the benchmark for professional behavior, it also clarifies an organization’s values and principles. Having a code of conduct is important to us because we want ARDC to be a harassment-free zone that is inviting to everyone and to have a clear path for dealing with misconduct on our mailing lists, forums, and other events.

To help us discover what is important to you, our community, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to complete this online survey. Your answers will help our code of conduct be the best that it possibly can be.

THIS SURVEY IS NOW COMPLETE! Thanks for all your input. To see the results, click here or download this PDF.

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2021 Annual Report Now Available

We’re excited to announce the publication of the ARDC 2021 Annual Report. Highlights include:

  • 5 new staff members.
  • A new values statement.
  • Grants amounting to more than $8 million USD, including:
    • $3.7 million for amateur radio infrastructure and development projects
    • $4.1 million for education projects, including 1.5 million for scholarships
    • $1.2  million for technical innovation projects
  • A report on our efforts to reach out and engage our communities.
  • A look ahead to 2022.

Note that one of the slides for the January 2022 Community Meeting says that we made 61 grants in 2021, while the Annual Report says that we made 77 grants and gifts. The reason for this discrepancy is that we did not include gifts in the community meeting slide. The dollar amount is the same in both documents, with the amount rounded up to $9.05 million in the annual report.

Download our annual report and contact us if you have any comments or questions.

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January 29, 2022 Community Meeting Looks Back at 2021, Ahead to 2022

On Saturday, January 29, 2022, ARDC held its first community meeting of the year. Below is a recording of the meeting and a recap. In the recap, times are included in square brackets, so that you can quickly fast forward to a particular topic. For example, discussion of staff and volunteer updates begins at the [3:10] mark.

A PDF file with the slides presented can be found here.*

After some housekeeping, Executive Director Rosy Schechter, KJ7RYV, launched into a recap of 2021, noting, “Last year was the first year that we had actual employees….including me!” The big news of this portion of the presentation was that ARDC Treasurer Bdale Garbee, KB0G, has come on board, at least temporarily as Accounting Director [5:10]. Bdale has been doing this as a volunteer, but it’s been so much work that it just made sense that he receive some compensation.

Rosy then discussed some of the changes to the Grants Advisory Committee (GAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The highlights here are that Bob Witte, K0NR, will be taking over as chair of the GAC, and that we’ve increased the size of the committee. We also have new TAC members, and Pierre Martel, VE2PF, will be the new chair.

Next, Grants Manager Chelsea Parrága, KF0FVJ, took the floor to discuss our 2021 grants [9:50]. The big news here is that we made 61 grants, totalling more than $9 million, and reached 55,682 people. This included:

  • 29 grants ($3.7 million) for the support and growth of amateur radio
  • 22 grants ($4.1 million) for education, including scholarship
  • 10 grants ($1.2 million) for research and development projects

A number of grants were highlighted, including grants to:

After this review, Communications Manager Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, discussed how we engaged with our community in 2021. For example, since Dan came on board in June 2021, we’ve appeared on several podcasts and YouTube shows, including Ham Nation and Linux in the Ham Shack. He’s also published several press releases that have garnered mentions in the press of our grants, and he’s revived our presence on social media, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

Board member John Gilmore (left) gets axe-throwing tips from Grants Manager Chelsea Parrága.

Last but not least, for 2021, we shared some highlights of ARDC’s first-ever in-person meeting between board and staff. We not only discussed some weighty issues, such as how we envision ARDC making amateur radio better in the future, but also took some time to have fun. Who would have guessed that Chelsea would be such a killer axe thrower?!

Looking forward to 2022

We then turned our attention to 2022 [24:45]. First on the agenda was publication of a new values statement. Our values are:

  • Curiosity
  • Experimentalism
  • Respect
  • Accountability
  • Openness & Transparency
  • Inclusiveness
  • Fairness
  • Generosity & Gratitude

We urge you all to take a look at the values statement.

Next, Dan announced our upcoming hamfest schedule. This includes Hamcation (Orlando, FL, February 11-12, 2022), QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo (March 12-13,2022), and the Dayton Hamvention (Xenia, OH, May 20-22, 2022).

The next announcement was about changes to our grantmaking process [26:40]. The short version is that in 2022 there will be four deadlines for grant applications:

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022
  • Sunday, May 1, 2022
  • Friday, July 15, 2022
  • Saturday, October 1, 2022

After these deadlines, applications are grouped into categories and applications in those categories are evaluated together. We feel that reviewing grant applications in this way will be fairer and streamline the process.

Rosy then discussed some other items that we will be working on in 2022 [30:00], including:

  • Our vision statement and code of conduct,
  • Expanding grantmaking capabilities to individuals,
  • Focused outreach, especially internationally and to digital communications groups,
  • Piloting (and hopefully launching!) a new grant management platform called Hypha,
  • Launching a new portal for 44net and updating documentation, and
  • Re-launching our website so that it is mobile friendly.

The meeting ended with a spirited Q&A session [34:00]. Rosy and the rest of the staff fielded the following questions:

  • Can applicants include overhead costs in grant applications [34:30]?
  • What’s been going on with the Technical Activities Committee in 2021 [37:15]?
  • Does ARDC fund emergency communications trailers and vans [40:45]?
  • What is ARDC doing in diversity, equity, and inclusion [43:00]?
  • What progress has been made on the 44Net portal upgrade [45:30]?
  • What are the reporting requirements after a grant has been made [46:00]?
  • Does ARDC have any plans to promote amateur radio to the general public [49:05]?
  • Does ARDC give grants to individuals [53:30]?

Please see the video for the answers to these questions.

* The PDF slides here have been updated since the video call to address two corrections: Merideth’s call sign was incorrect. Also, our grantmaking number has been updated to include some small gifts at the end of the year, totaling about $22,000. As noted in the video and elsewhere, the most exact numbers related to our finances will be provided in our 2021 audit, which will be made public as soon as it is complete and submitted to the IRS.

 

 

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Community Meeting: Saturday, January 29, 2022

Interested in what ARDC has been up to in 2021 and will be up to in 2022? Then join us for the next ARDC Community Meeting. 

  • DATE: Saturday, 29 January 2022
  • TIME: 1800 UTC (10am PST / 1pm EST / 7pm CET)
  • PLACE: Zoom (see Zoom info below)

Topics will include:

  • Introduction of new GAC and TAC members
  • Looking back at 2021
  • Looking ahead to 2022
  • Questions from our attendees.

This meeting is open to all interested parties, so please tell your friends!

See you on January 29!


Zoom URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87882963306?pwd=aXdpY3B1cmFwWlNSVDJFMkpLanIyQT09
Meeting ID: 878 8296 3306
Passcode: 72396

To join by phone, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcXKMi0QGv to find your local phone number.

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Youth essays enlighten us on how amateur radio can evolve in the age of the internet

The Intrepid-DX Group is a not-for-profit corporation organized to conduct scientific and educational projects related to amateur radio, including DXing and the introduction and promotion of amateur radio in developing countries. This year, ARDC helped fund their Youth “Dream Rig” Essay Contest. The contest was open to all U.S. licensed radio amateurs age 19 or younger.

Contestants were asked to submit a two-page essay answering the question, “How can amateur radio evolve to remain relevant in the age of the Internet?” First prize was an Icom IC-7300 HF/50 MHz transceiver; second and third prizes were a Yaesu FT- 65 VHF/UHF Dual-Band FM Handheld Transceiver.

Below are the winning essays. Congratulations to the three winners. They offer some advice we all might take to heart.


First Place: Silas Davis, W3SED

At nine years old, I was first exposed to Ham Radio at the home of a family friend. Little did I know that “Mr. Brian” was an Amateur Extra License Ham Radio Technician, an Elmer and fluent in CW for over five decades. Buttons, lights, gadgets, cords plugged everywhere and the ability to communicate to people in so many places and areas around the world was very exciting. Asking questions brought to light more about the intriguing programs, applications, and ability to communicate even if one does not have phone connection or internet access. Every visit to N3IQ’s home with my family, our visits would be peppered with more questions, and new exciting information I was eager to learn. After taking a few classes and much mentoring from N3IQ, and other experts I was able at age nine to successfully pass my Technician Ham Radio License. Now age 10, I am working hard studying and preparing to take my General Ham Radio License Test. This essay desires to state why Ham Radio will continue to remain relevant in the age of the internet because first it inspires and creates community, second it can help those in danger, emergency, or conflict, and finally it is fun!

Ham radio is relevant in the age of internet because it inspires and creates community. When you are on the air, interesting friendships often spring up as the weather, different people’s equipment, interesting events, discussing what new ideas one can learn during transmitting, and many other interesting topics of conversation occur. As months turn to years, deep and long-lasting friendships are built and continue to inspire one another. Because it takes work and discipline to be able to attain a License, Ham Radio draws a vastly diverse demographic and community that is unique from any other type of activity. Ham radio both inspires and creates community!

Ham radio is also relevant in the age of internet because it can help those in danger, emergency or conflict. One of the unique and distinguishing factors of Ham Radio is that you can use it without phone or internet connection. In the first world, this is often seen as a fun hobby, but in the third world or in natural disaster this can be used as a vital tool of communication. Ham Radio has been known to be used in critical ways and times all over the world in war, natural disasters, tornados, hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and many more times of danger, crisis or challenge. This is undeniable resource for fellow man and country. Ham Radio does and will remain relevant in the age of internet because it helps those in danger emergency or conflict.

Finally, Ham Radio is relevant in the age of internet because it is fun. Ham radio has lots of very fun elements including contests, scholarships, and worldwide field day. One of the popular contests Ham Radio Technicians enjoy doing is competing how many contacts you can make in a time frame, or region of the world. Another fun contest that is popular amongst Technicians is activating rare grids. Rare grids involve new frequencies that would normally not work in typical weather or atmospheric pressure. It can be exciting to be involved with new rare grids. While I have not received any of these myself yet, I have heard that those who are diligent and hard working in the Ham Radio community have a chance to apply for scholarships for further learning and academic degrees that can be useful for equipping them for being a good and productive citizens. This is a special resource for young Ham Radio Technicians! Ham radio is also fun because of worldwide field day. During worldwide field day almost every HAM Technician is on the air creating amazing opportunities to make contacts and deepen knowledge and community. It also can be fun for a young person like myself because you get permission to stay up into the early hours of the morning! Ham Radio is fun!

This essay desired to state why Ham Radio will continue to remain relevant in the age of the internet. I believe it will remain relevant because first it inspires and creates community, second it can help those in danger, emergency, or conflict, and finally it is fun!


Second place: Olivia Lee, KD2UYX

Ham Radio is a hobby I never expected I would appreciate but now I do immensely. Before joining my school’s radio club the only time I heard about it was when the tv show Stranger Things mentioned it in an episode. In my freshman year of high school, I wanted to join a new club after school and I noticed a sign for amateur radio club in the hallway. I decided that it looked interesting and that I would try it out. After going to the first meeting I realized there was much more meaning to be found in it than I previously thought. I got to connect with people from other countries, learn about the science behind it, and get more people involved at my school. Ham Radio is a unique hobby that deserves to continue but it is getting less popular because people do not see a need for it in the age of the internet. People wonder what the point of using it is if they communicate so easily with more modern technology. Ham Radio can evolve to stay relevant in a multitude of ways. People involved can use the internet to raise awareness about ham radio, and people can realize why sometimes ham radio is better than the internet.

Ham Radio helps to implement unity and community within the world that is not always available with the internet. Even though it seems like the whole world is connected through the internet this is mostly an illusion. There is much division in the world because of social media and many people do not want to listen to different opinions. The internet amplifies extreme views and hatred through posting and sharing in a never-ending loop. This is where Ham Radio could come in. A huge aspect of Ham Radio is making contacts with people and trying to find unique ones from other states and countries. You can talk directly to people from other countries and hear what they have to say. You can find out what their culture is like and what they are like as a person. This allows for a much better understanding of people who are different from you and you can share your own perspective as well. Furthermore, even though the people you talk to are different from you there is the common ground of being a member of the Ham Radio community. Ham Radio has an instant connection to people all over the world like the internet without the negative repercussions. With this being said the internet can still be used to raise awareness of Ham Radio.

Most teenagers nowadays know about TikTok and are excited to try all of the latest trends. If Ham Radio had more of an internet presence I think that more young people would want to get involved. Say there was a Ham Radio TikTok account that made Ham Radio look cool and trending. The account could show videos of people talking to other states or countries. If it was popular on social media people might be more inclined to join it in school or even start their own club because they see the benefits of it. On social media, there could also be explanation videos about the technology in a bite-sized, accessible way. This would help people be more open to the sometimes difficult technology of it. Once they get down the basics they can move on to more advanced topics through books and ham radio websites.

I think it is extremely important that Ham Radio continues for generations. It is a hobby that provides a sense of community, skills, friendships, and learning opportunities. Ham Radio may not be able to compete with the internet’s technology and communication but I think if people find ways to integrate and use the internet to its advantage instead, people will see its own uniqueness and it can stay relevant in the age of the internet.


Third place: Isaac Schmidt, K6IAS

HI, I’m Isaac, K6IAS I have been fascinated by radio communication my whole life but the only way that I had heard of it was in the form of FRS radios and never really knew anything about how they worked or what made 1 radio transmit farther than another. During a trip this last summer I was exposed to off roading for the first time. Upon arriving home, I dug deeper into off roading and I heard a guy mention how he used ham radio to communicate with his off roading friends and that it could transmit a lot farther than the CB radio that was more commonly used. Me having never herd of CB radio or ham radio I chose to dig deeper into the one that he said was better and I was hooked. I went on to study for my technician license and took the test and got my license a week later. Looking back, I wish that I had dug deeper into radio communication or that someone had told me about it at an earlier age, and that’s what I think needs to change about amateur radio to keep it relevant in the age of the internet. We need more young people so that the hobby can stay around for the future generations to enjoy.

I am fortunate to be at a wonderful engineering high school that has an awesome radio club, and that has been fun for me and has done a great job of introducing so many people to this fun hobby. These clubs are an awesome opportunity, and they are fun to. It is an awesome time to hang out with your friends and get to know new people while talking about radio. I always look forwards to Wednesday morning when we meet, and it is often the highlight of my week. Its just a shame that there aren’t more of these clubs in more high schools and middle schools. I think that a great step to getting more people interested in ham radio is to have it as accessible as possible to people, and what better place to have it then school.

Another problem is even if you are fortunate enough to learn about ham radio and get you license it can be a quite expensive hobby to get into especially for a high schooler with a tight budget, and that can drive someone away from the hobby when they find out that they need an expensive radio to get on the air. For that reason, I think that a all in 1 affordable starter kit for ham radio would be an awesome thing. Something not like a handheld but something that could get out there. Something that could spark someone’s interest in the magic of how a radio wave that is basically just another color of light that we can’t see can bounce of the atmosphere allowing them to contact people far away. Now I know that this wouldn’t be the best radio, but it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to be something accessible, something purely to get someone hooked on amateur radio that can lead to deeper interests later in life. A devise like this would also do a great job competing with the internet. With the internet being such a large thing, it is quite cheep and that makes it more accessible but who knows maybe a nice cheap radio would do good competing against the internet

Another thing that would be great for getting new young hams would be more opportunities to get on the air. Now this could come in the form of someone with a radio set up in the park just showing it to people, or someone at an event like a camp out or something just with a lot of people that can talk to people about how it works and let them experience it for themselves. I’ve had my general license for a few weeks now, but I haven’t been able to get on the hf bands due to not being able to afford an expensive radio. I think that more frequent opportunities to get on the air would do a wonderful job of helping new hams to stay interested in the hobby. And that is what would do a good job of keeping ham radio relevant for future generations to enjoy.

As a new ham myself I know that it can be quite scary to get on the air. In a lot of the nets that I have listened in on everyone seems to know what to do and there isn’t much instruction to what to do if you don’t know. I think that more nets that are focused on giving new hams a safe space to get on the air and talk to people like themselves would be awesome. I think that this would be great for getting those that are new to the hobby more comfortable with it and keeping them around.

Another way that we can make ham radio more accessible to new hams and people who aren’t yet hams is just making the information about the hobby more apparent. A lot of the things that I have learned about radio have come from me digging around on the internet and coming across them. and even once you do come across them these resources can be confusing and hard to look at. So, I think that putting more time and effort into the recourses that we put out about ham radio would go a long way for teaching new people about it. Just a lot of information that is in 1 spot on a well-designed website that gets the idea across without being too wordy.

In the end I think that the only way for ham radio to stay relevant in the age of the internet is to get more young people interested in the hobby. And I know that my response seems awfully like last year’s question, but I truly believe that the best way to keep ham radio around is to get more young people interested in it. Because Afterall the young people of today will be running the world in 50 years and we need them to keep this wonderful hobby going for future generations to enjoy.

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Now accepting applications for Grants Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee

The deadline for applying for these positions was Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, and the new committee members have been selected. Thanks to all that applied.

We are now accepting applications from those wishing to serve on our Grants Advisory Committee (GAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). These are volunteer positions, with a term of one year. These committees usually meet twice a month for at least an hour. There is also email correspondence and reviews that happen between meetings. Estimated level of effort (LOE) is about 2-3 hours/week.

An amateur radio license is not required to serve on our committees; a technical degree or experience in digital communications is necessary. In addition, in service of broadening representation in amateur radio, we are looking to broaden the representation within these committees.

We are also interested in working with academics involved in communications research and people who are outside the U.S. Please note that a good command of the English language is needed to participate effectively.

Grants Advisory Committee (GAC)
The Grants Advisory Committee reviews and advises the Board on eligible proposals and helps identify potential grant-making opportunities. In 2022, we estimate that we will receive 150-200 grant applications for quality projects.

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) advises 44Net technology, architecture, and policy. In 2022, the main task for the TAC will be to oversee development of the 44Net Point of Presence (POP), but the committee will also:

  • oversee Portal improvements,
  • improve address allocation policies and responsiveness, and
  • investigate and instigate next steps toward making IPv6 usable in the Amateur Radio Service.

This committee may also be asked to help with technical evaluation of active grants, particularly large or complex projects.

How to Apply
If you are interested in joining either of these committees, please send a resume and brief cover letter to contact@ardc.net by Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, with the name of the committee you’d like to join in the subject line. We’ll review all applications and seek to make a determination by Wed. Dec. 16, 2021, with terms for new committee members. Meetings will begin ideally by mid-January and no later than the first week in February 2022.

For more information about the roles and duties of these committees, you can read the Advisory Committee Policy in full here.

Please direct any questions to contact@ardc.net.

We’re looking forward to seeing your application!

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ARDC Scholars Point the Way to a Bright Future for Amateur Radio

These days, many hams are worried about the future of amateur radio, bemoaning the lack of young people in the hobby. One of the ways that amateur radio organizations are working to attract younger folks to the hobby is by offering scholarships. ARDC, for example, awarded the ARRL Foundation $400,000 for scholarships for the 2021-2022 school year. This grant funded one quarter of the 120 scholarships given out by the ARRL Foundation this school year.

That these bright, energetic students are also amateur radio operators bodes well for the hobby. Here are the stories of two ARDC scholars: Frances Bonte, KE8HPA, and Mason Matrazzo, KM4SII.

Getting started

Mason, KM4SII, got started in radio after his grandfather showed him a SW radio he was 9. He is now studying wireless engineering at Auburn University.

Mason got his start in radio when his grandfather showed him a shortwave radio when he was 9 years old. He doesn’t remember the make and model, but he does remember that it was big and had a lot of tubes. His grandfather also showed him how to tune in international shortwave broadcasters.

For his next birthday, Mason got a Grundig SW radio and a copy of the World Radio-TV Handbook, which allowed him to explore the HF spectrum even more. Although neither radio could receive SSB signals, Mason discovered some hams operating AM on 75 meters one evening. By searching for their call signs on the internet, he discovered amateur radio. He obtained his Technician Class license in the spring of 2016, upgraded to General that summer, and got his Extra Class license in 2019.

Frances also credits her family for getting her started in amateur radio. Her father, Troy, AC8XP, rekindled his lifelong interest in amateur radio with a trip to the Dayton Hamvention in 2016. He brought along his son, Seamus, who shortly thereafter got his first license, and is now KE8GTT.

Her father and brother were having so much fun with ham radio that Frances decided that she wanted to get in on the act. Her experience at the Delaware (OH) Amateur Radio Association Field Day in 2017 cemented her interest in amateur radio. Under the tutelage of Bob, W8ERD, Frances operated the GOTA station and made a bunch of contacts. She enjoyed that experience so much, she decided that amateur radio was the hobby for her. She obtained her Tech license shortly thereafter, and upgraded to General in 2020.

A variety of interests

Frances is majoring in both materials engineering and dance at Case Western Reserve University. As she told me, she knows the difference between a balun and a ballerina!

Despite a relatively short career in amateur radio, Frances has already been involved in a number of projects and presented several papers, including:

She was also an invited youth presenter at the 2020 QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo.

In addition to the technical projects, she really enjoys the opportunity afforded by amateur radio to meet new people. For example, she attended this summer’s Youth on the Air (YOTA) camp and met people who were “doing a lot of new stuff.” She is also president of the Case Western Reserve University Amateur Radio Club.

Mason, on the other hand, likes to operate, and is heavily involved in contesting and DXing. His highest score in a contest so far is 1,350 contacts in 48 hours in the CQ WPX CW Contest. In addition to working contests on his own, he has been a part of several multi-operator teams, including WW2DX, which was a fully remote multiple-operator/multiple transmitter station in WPX SSB, 2020. This team not only won the contest, but set a new U.S. multi-operator record.

Mason is also big on DXing. He is close to achieving DXCC on 8 bands, and has operated from all over the world, including Curacao, Iceland, and Guatemala. In addition to his own DXing activities, he has also been a “pilot station” for the VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition in 2018, and the VP8PJ South Orkney DXpedition in 2020.

Like Frances, Mason values the connections and relationships that amateur radio has allowed him to make with people around the world. He also attended this summer’s YOTA camp and is a member of many different amateur radio clubs.

When asked what they would like to do more of in amateur radio, both mentioned that they would like to improve their CW skills. So, be sure to listen for them down at the bottom of the bands.

A bright future

Not surprisingly, both Mason and Frances are pursuing technical degrees. Mason is attending Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where he is studying wireless engineering. This is a unique program that combines the fields of computer engineering and software engineering.

Frances is pursuing a degree in materials engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Among her academic interests are batteries and how improvements in materials have an impact on society.

Both students are more than just tech geeks, though. Frances is also pursuing a degree in dance, and was involved in cheerleading in high school. As she puts it, she “definitively knows the difference between a balun and a ballerina!” Mason was a competitive swimmer in high school, and has a love of the outdoors and photography.

ARDC is happy to help these two young hams pursue their dreams. For the 2022-2023 school year, ARDC will be awarding even more scholarships. Not only will we be funding scholarships through the ARRL Foundation and the Foundation for Amateur Radio, but also through the Society for Women Engineers and some historically black colleges and universities. For more information on these scholarships, get in touch with the organizations listed above. For more information on how ARDC might help fund your scholarship, email giving@ardc.net.

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Fine Time Online at the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo

QSO Today Virtual Ham ExpoOn Saturday, August 14, 2021, and Sunday, August 15, 2021, ARDC participated in this summer’s QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. Despite the modest attendance, we were able to connect with several people – many of whom ARDC may be able to help.

The Expo attempted a virtual event back in March, but it had an issue: the conferencing software did not work as smoothly as expected. This time, however, once the Expo got started, most of the kinks seemed to have been worked out. 

Like past Expos, there was a strong lineup of speakers: 91 presentations overall on topics ranging from antennas to satellites to RFI exposure regulations. The videos of these presentations are currently online for registered attendees, and will be available to the public after September 13, 2021. 

Eric Guth, 4Z1UG, reports that there were 5600 registered attendees, and that 3600 were actually in the Expo at some point during the event. The average number of attendees participating at any given time was about 800. The ARDC booth was visited 3,524 times by 1,108 unique visitors. 232 visitors watched our video, 72 entered the lounge at some point, and there were 79 total clicks on our links.

While many lounge visitors were simply interested in more information about ARDC, we did talk to several people who were all working on interesting projects. One newly-licensed ham, for example, wants to start an amateur radio club and CERT team in Syracuse, NY. Another currently maintains an astronomy website for educators and would like to expand into radio astronomy. 

Overall, we had a very good experience at this summer’s QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. It was exciting to talk to folks about their projects and how we might be able to help them. If you didn’t get to visit our booth, please watch our introductory video or contact us directly. Let us know how an ARDC grant might be able to help you.

 

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