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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July 24, 2021 ARDC Community Meeting introduces new members, reviews 2021 grants

ARDC held a community meeting on Saturday, July 24. 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 our 2021 grants begin at the [7:00] mark.

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

The July 24, 2021 ARDC Community Meeting introduced new staff members and brought the community up to speed on the grants that we’ve made so far in 2021.

After some housekeeping, new staff members – Grants Manager, Chelsea Parrága, KF0FVJ, and Content Manager, Dan Romanchik, KB6NU – introduced themselves [2:20]. Rosy, KJ7RYV, then mentioned that two other staff members will be starting soon: John Hays, K7VE, who will  join ARDC as Outreach Manager on August 2, 2021, and an Administrative Coordinator assistant will join us shortly after.

Dan, KB6NU, then discussed some of our latest outreach efforts [4:50]. These include:

  • participating in the Huntsville Hamfest August 21-22, 2021;
  • appearing on the June 28, 2021 Linux in the Ham Shack podcast; and
  • creating the new ARDC in the News web page, which tracks where we are out in the world.

Chelsea, KF0FVJ, then took over the meeting to talk about grants [7:00]. In the first half of the year, ARDC made 22 grants for a total of $3.1 million. Of these grants:

  • 9 grants (~$2.1 million) have gone to projects supporting amateur radio infrastructure and the growth of amateur radio,
  • 8 grants (~$436,000) have gone to education projects, and
  • 5 grants  (~$530,000) have gone to technical innovation projects.

After the grants presentation, there was a short Q&A session on grant making [15:20].

Following this, we had a short presentation from Antonios Chariton, SV2OIY, a member of  our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) [22:30]. In recent months, they have:

  • Studied the current usage of the 44Net address space,
  • Developed metrics to better formulas plans and measure success,
  • Identified major use cases and are developing an IPv4 management proposal, and
  • Begun work on a global connectivity strategy.

The final presentation discussed some of the results of the survey we conducted earlier this year [26:40]. The survey queried both 44Net members and the broader amateur radio community about  what they would like to see more of in amateur radio and how to solve the challenges that amateur radio faces. The complete survey results are available by going to bit.ly/ARDCSurvey2.

To finish the meeting, we had a spirited Q&A session covering a variety of topics. [34:00]. To learn about when the next one of these meetings will be, subscribe to our email newsletter.

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Community Meeting: Saturday, July 24, 2021

We’re midway through 2021, and it’s time for the next ARDC Community Meeting! It will take place on:

  • Saturday, 24 July 2021
  • 1700 UTC (10am PT / 1pm ET / 7pm CET)

In this meeting, we’ll cover:

  • Grants made to date in 2021, including our first grant made outside the U.S. to DARC,
  • Introductions of two new staff members:
    • Grants Manager – Chelsea Parraga, KF0FVJ
    • Content Manager – Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
  • Questions from our attendees.

The meeting will be held on Zoom. Info on how to join is below.

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

See you on July 24!

//

Zoom Info

ARDC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: July 24 Community Meeting
Time: Jul 24, 2021 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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ARDC Grants Support Amateur Radio Clubs

Key to ARDC’s mission is to support amateur radio, particularly the efforts of amateur radio clubs. So far, in 2021, we have awarded nearly a quarter million dollars to clubs around the U.S. for a variety of projects, including projects that expand and improve amateur radio infrastructure, demonstrate amateur radio’s unique capabilities, and teach new generations about amateur radio.

Grant allows Case Amateur Radio Club to replace towers

The Case Amateur Radio Club, the amateur radio club of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio, dates back to the 1940s. Today, the club enjoys a large and active student membership, plays a role in the engineering and English curriculum at CWRU, and supports NSF-funded research.

The key to their success is a combination of faculty support, integration with the curriculum, and research activity ranging from undergraduate projects through doctoral dissertations. For example, the club station, call sign W8EDU, is effectively a laboratory for radio frequency engineering classes and projects and gives students hands-on experience with directional antennas, support structures, and transmission lines.

To continue to serve the faculty and students of CWRU, the Case Amateur radio club realized that it would have to replace its aging towers and antennas.

To continue to serve the faculty and students, the club realized that it would have to replace their two rooftop towers and setup a maintenance schedule. The towers and antenna systems had been maintained informally by a cadre of club members, all long since retired. As a result, the antenna systems are now experiencing normal wear-and-tear failures, and the time is ripe to replace them with state-of-the-art equipment.

To enable the Case ARC to replace the aging towers and antennas, ARDC has awarded the club $81,763. The new towers will ensure that the club has high-quality HF capabilities and continue to attract new members and continued educational use. Additionally, the club expects the new towers and antennas to be used by the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI) Radiosport League, a working group that designs contests and other radiosport events to yield usable scientific data.

University of Arizona ARC reaches out to new students

The University of Arizona ARC hasn’t been around quite as long as the Case ARC, but they’re just as keen on reaching out to new students and improving its infrastructure. They requested $8,287 so that they could provide loaner radios to students. These radios allow the students to participate in the club’s weekly net, learn and practice digital modes, and become experienced in voice communications.

The club will also use the grant to improve the functionality, reliability, and safety of their club station, K7UAZ, by:

  • Purchasing a new satellite transceiver,
  • Replacing an aging FM transceiver and station computer,
  • Replacing a 25 year-old antenna rotator, and
  • Installing an effective lightning protection system, including PolyPhaser surge arresters, a lightning rod, ground wire, and multiple ground rods.

OH-KY-IN Amateur Radio Society improves internet connectivity, gears up for ARISS contacts

The OH-KY-IN Amateur Radio Society is one of the most active amateur radio clubs in the Cincinnati, Ohio, tri-state area. They operate multiple Yaesu System Fusion repeaters, including a repeater housed on the Channel 5 WLWT commercial television tower. This repeater hosts the daily Tri-State Amateur Traffic Net (part of the ARRL National Traffic System), and it is also used by Hamilton County ARES monthly net and the Amateur Radio Public Service Corps weekly net. They maintain two additional 2-meter repeaters, one housed atop a fire station to the west of Cincinnati and one on top of a hospital in Northern Kentucky.

Providing internet connectivity to the repeater sites is a real challenge. The terrain of the tri-state area and restrictions at the repeater sites make microwave links all but impossible. Instead, the club plans to set up cellular internet connections for the three repeater sites.

ARDC awarded the club $11,752 to purchase three computers, three commercial-grade cellular routers, two years of data service for those routers and two Yaesu WIRES-X HRI-200 interface boxes. This equipment allows them to accomplish three things:

  • Enable experimentation with WIRES-X at the sites,
  • Provide reliable remote computer access to allow the club to reprogram repeater controllers as needed, and
  • Enhance their ability to remotely operate a software-defined radio (SDR) at the sites as needed to assist with interference troubleshooting.

The OH-KY-IN Amateur Radio Society was also awarded $5,288 for a portable satellite ground station that the club plans to use for:

  • ARISS School Contacts at local and regional schools,
  • Demonstrate satellite communications at ARRL Field Day and Winter Field Day,
  • Demonstrate satellite communications as part of STEAM outreach at local and regional schools,
  • Demonstrate satellite communications by decoding weather satellite data and experimental satellite telemetry, and
  • Demonstrate Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications.

Rio Hondo Amateur Radio Club uses grant to get newcomers on the air

The Rio Hondo Amateur Radio Club (RHARC) got its start on the campus of Rio Hondo College in Whittier, CA, in 1976. RHARC is no longer associated with Rio Hondo Community College, but it carries on with the same sense of fellowship and purpose of action that the club had when it was formed. The club now operates three repeaters, one each on the 2 meter, 1.25 meter, and 70 cm bands. The repeaters operate under the club call W6KAT. The 2-meter and 70 cm repeaters are Yaesu System Fusion repeaters and operate in both analog and digital modes.

In May, ARDC awarded $4,454 to RHARC for three loaner radios to help get newly-licensed hams on the air. Before the newcomers are loaned the radios, they must show that they can change frequencies in the field, know how to adjust the squelch, can switch between FM and digital modes, and know how to pass traffic in a directed net. They are loaned the radios for six months and must show that they use the equipment regularly and participate in club events. In addition to purchasing loaner radios, the club plans to use the grant to replace their 1.25-meter repeater with a Bridgecomm BCR-220.

Santa Barbara ARC station is a window to unique coastal ecosystems

California’s coastal islands have a rich maritime history with strong ties to wireless communications dating back more than a century. Today, many of the islands are uninhabited and are either part of private land trusts, are part of the Channel Islands National Park, or are controlled by the U.S. military. Because the islands are so remote, they have unique flora and fauna, and as a result, have acquired the nickname “California’s Galapagos.”

To help them educate the public on California’s unique ecosystems, the Santa Cruz Island Foundation has invited the Santa Barbara ARC to build an amateur radio station at the new Chrismann California Islands Center in Carpenteria, CA.

To help them educate the public on these unique ecosystems, the Santa Cruz Island Foundation (SCIF) has invited the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) to build an amateur radio station at the new Chrisman California Islands Center (CCIC) in downtown Carpinteria, California. CCIC will be home to a museum-quality collection of artifacts from all of the islands off the coasts of California and Baja California, Mexico.

Using the volunteer-built amateur radio station, K6TZ, SBARC plans to offer visitors a glimpse of island life through island webcams, vessel, aircraft and wildlife tracking and other remote sensing technologies accessible over SBARC’s microwave data links and demonstrate amateur radio and wireless technologies in a modern and exciting way to visitors of all ages.

The station will be prominently featured on the gallery floor near the main entrance to bring the wonders of radio technology to the visiting public through an interactive display that includes a general overview of amateur radio communications. When the station is not staffed with radio operators, visitors to the center can interact with the station using a custom touch screen. This screen controls an interactive presentation on amateur radio and wireless technologies and their importance to mariners, aviators, scientists and explorers who visit the many rugged islands off the California coast. The presenation includes a demonstration of the station’s AIS (marine vessel), ADS-B (aircraft), emergency beacon (ELT/EPIRB), and amateur (APRS) tracking stations, and webcams and other data systems throughout the region riding on the Club’s microwave data backbone. The presentation will also show how club members and researchers use the information and data collected.

SBARC also plans to use K6TZ as a fully-functional club station for licensed SBARC members to operate analog and digital modes on HF, VHF, UHF, and microwave bands. Complete with a backup solar battery system and redundant fiber and point-to-point microwave internet connections, the station will be the nerve center for SBARC and SB Wireless. The Club also plans to host member events and allow SBARC members to operate the station for leisure and contesting. The station will also be available to Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members for emergency communications purposes. Remote operating capabilities will permit members to access and operate the station from their homes, and video conferencing capabilities will allow members to speak with CCIC guests even when the station is not staffed.

ARDC grant helps build Oregon HamWAN backbone

Major earthquakes are always a possiblity in Oregon. When one occurs, internet, landline, and cell phone communications are likely to be disrupted. These disruptions effectively cut communication between volunteers, first responders, hospitals, and government agencies at a time when communications is most critical.

This is a situation in which amateur radio can play a vital role. Unfortunately, voice communication is slow, and traditional digital communication modes, such as Winlink, have limited bandwidth. To get around these limitations, [Oregon HamWAN](http://www.oregonhamwan.org) plans to set up portable HamWAN nodes in affected communities, allowing emergency management agencies to communicate effectively via high-speed email using HamWAN.

HamWAN technology supports high speed Internet connectivity (over 100 Mbps between backbone distribution sites, and up to 10 Mbps to each client node) over amateur radio using the 5.8 GHz band. Since HamWAN requires line of site communication, an effective HamWAN network requires deployment of HamWAN backbone distribution sites on towers. HamWAN supports a range of up to 50 miles between towers.

The value of HamWAN comes from the ability of amateur radio operators to set up mobile or portable HamWAN nodes, which can be aimed toward the nearest HamWAN Distribution Site to provide emergency communication via Internet during disasters. Such a mobile or portable setup requires HamWAN equipment costing less than $100, as well as an inexpensive WiFi router and a 12 V battery.

To set up this network, ARDC awarded Oregon HamWAN $88,391. With this money, Oregon HamWAN plans to deploy 12 HamWAN backbone distribution sites between Portland and Salem, Oregon to extend the Puget Sound Data Ring, which currently extends from Vancouver, Washington to Seattle. When complete, the network will extend from Vancouver, Washington to Salem, Oregon. The grant also includes funds for equipment used for education and demonstration purposes.

ARDC is committed to clubs – and is always accepting grant requests!

ARDC is committed to making things happen. If you have a big idea that you’d love to make happen, apply for a grant! Round 2 submissions for amateur radio clubs are due on August 1, 2021. We also review grant proposals on a rolling basis. Learn more at https://www.ampr.org/giving. If you have questions or need help with your proposal, we’re here to help – reach out to giving@ampr.org. No inquiry is too small or too large.

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The Deutscher Amateur Radio Club e.V. (DARC) Initiates Grantmaking Effort to Support Radio Network in Europe thanks to a Grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

PRESS RELEASE
PDF (English)PDF (German)

Baunatal, Germany – June 1, 2021

The Deutscher Amateur Radio Club e.V. (DARC) is pleased to announce that it will be boosting and securing European HAMNET expansion by providing sponsored hardware for radio links to make use of the AMPRNet IP space in Europe.

This new DARC project is made possible by a grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), a California-based private foundation. The organization has been making grants since 2019; this grant is the first international one on their roster. “Amateur radio is a worldwide hobby, and ARDC has wanted to make international grants since day one” says ARDC President Phil Karn. “One way we can do that is by partnering with international 501(c)(3) equivalents who are able to make grants in their region. That’s exactly what DARC will be doing with this grant – and their region encompasses all of Europe. We look forward to seeing what they do, and to engage in similar partnerships with other organizations outside the US.”

“Partnering with an organisation like ARDC is a great way of pursuing the goals of DARC, particularly the promotion of Amateur Radio in Germany and Europe” says Christian Entsfellner, President of DARC. “Being able to do this based on the great work and in the spirit of the late Brian Kantor is a true honor. We are highly excited that with this grant we can give the European HAMNET project a huge boost.”

As the first non-US 501(c)(3) equivalent organisation to receive a grant from ARDC, DARC is looking forward to the continued collaboration on these and future projects.

To learn more about DARC, visit darc.de. To learn more about ARDC’s grantmaking efforts, visit ampr.org/giving.

Contacts:

Deutscher Amateur Radio Club e.V. (DARC)
Daniel Dibbets
Grant Manager
grants@darc.de

Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)
Rosy Wolfe
Executive Director
contact@ampr.org

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CVARC Uses ARDC Grant to Serve the Community, Promote Amateur Radio

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Last summer, the Chippewa Valley Amateur Radio Club (CVARC) had a problem: they had started working on a couple of club projects, including an upgrade of their repeater system and an emergency response trailer, when the pandemic hit. As a result, they had to cancel their hamfest, which they were relying on to fund these projects.

The emergency response trailer project was particularly ambitious—but definitely needed. The CVARC serves all of Chippewa County, WI, and the club estimates that up to 30% of the county has inadequate cell phone service. Should a disaster occur, large portions of the county could be without any communications at all.

Chip Eckardt (KD9OQI, CVARC Treasurer, center) watching John Lindberg (AA9JL, CVARC President, right) mounting dish to a post at the Lake Hallie Water Tower, tallest object in the area.

As they envisioned it, the trailer would provide communications in the field when needed. To meet this objective, it was necessary to get a hold of some equipment:

  • 7-ft. x 14-ft. tandem-axle trailer with an extended tongue for propane fuel tanks, a side window, and an RV-type side door with window.
  • 4-6-kW, dual-fuel generator, capable of using either gasoline or propane.
  • Solar power system, capable of running the trailer for three days
  • Yaesu System Fusion 2m/70cm repeater system
  • Yaesu FT-991A HF/VHF/UHF transceiver
  • Antennas, power supplies, and other accessories.

Finding the funding

When they cancelled their hamfest, the CVARC team–including John Lindberg, AA9JL, club president; Chip Eckardt, KD9OQI, club treasurer; and Wayne Johnson, K9WKJ–regrouped. They first sent a proposal to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), but were disappointed when FEMA was unable to provide the funding.

It was at that point that Wayne, K9WKJ, found an alternate solution. As the holder of several AMPRNet IP addresses, he’s required to report periodically on how he’s using them. When he visited ampr.org to do this, he discovered that ARDC was requesting proposals for amateur radio projects, such as the CVARC’s communications trailer. He consulted with both John and Chip, and club voted to send their proposal to ARDC.

CVARC club member Gary Mohr (KD9CIT) on the top of Lake Hallie Water Tower.

They were delighted when ARDC approved their proposal (see the end of this post for an explanation of the approval process). It only took a month, and has allowed the club to get the project started. They have ordered the trailer and begun purchasing the equipment that they need to build out the trailer.

More than just equipment

The club expects to have the trailer online later this summer or in the fall, but the CVARC team stressed that this project is about more than just the equipment. This project has fostered a real sense of camaraderie in the club, and many club members have volunteered to help. According to John, AA9JL, club membership has increased, and he attributes that to the trailer project. “They see that we’re really doing something useful, and want to be a part of it,” he said.

It’s a learning experience for the club members, too. The repeater will be a way for those who are interested in repeater technology to learn about repeaters. The HF capabilities will be a way for those who have heretofore only worked VHF to discover HF operation. And, certainly, the trailer project is helping John, Wayne, and Chip hone their project management skills.

Once complete, the trailer will serve a number of functions in addition to providing emergency communications. For example, the team expects to use the trailer to demonstrate amateur radio to schools and at public events. As such, it’s going to be a vehicle (pun intended) for public relations as much as it provides emergency communications capabilities.

It’s ARDC’s mission to help make projects like this a reality. Chip says, “We could not have dreamed of making this happen without the grant we received from ARDC. They were the miracle we were looking for. Now, we are looking at bigger things that we can do, such as providing amateur radio service across all of Chippewa County, that we had not even considered before we discovered the ARDC grant program.”

For future proposers: ARDC wants your proposal to be successful!

When ARDC receives your proposal, the first check is to ensure that your organization is eligible to receive a grant (at this time, 501(c)3 status is required!). Next, the proposal is sent to members of the Grants Advisory Committee (GAC) who examine it and make a recommendation based on their evaluation. At this point, the committee may contact you to request additional information before sending it to the Board of Directors for approval.

We want you to be successful when requesting a grant from ARDC! To have your proposal reviewed before formally submitting it, send ARDC an email: giving@ampr.org.


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Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) Makes Largest Donation to Date ($1.62m) to Save the MIT Radome

PDF of this press release may be found here

If you’ve ever looked at the skyline at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), you likely have noticed the giant white sphere sitting atop the 277-foot-tall Cecil and Ida Green Building which towers above the heart of the campus. That iconic shape is a fiberglass radar dome — or radome — enclosing an 18-foot wide microwave dish, and it was recently slated for removal following necessary renovation on the building’s roof. But the student-led MIT Radio Society (W1MX), with support from faculty in the Departments of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro), and Physics, saw an opportunity to possibly preserve the instrument for novel uses in remote learning and experimentation. Despite a tight timeline, the students rallied MIT alumni and community members in a crowdfunding campaign, and were able to secure a $1.6 million grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) to successfully meet their fundraising goals—and save the radome.

“Our philanthropic efforts are less than a couple years old, and this is by far our largest grant made to date,” says ARDC Director Dr. Bob McGwier (N4HY). “We are thrilled that this donation will support students and research at MIT for decades to come. We also hope this contribution helps get the message out that ARDC is excited to support amateur radio and digital communications projects of all sizes – including big ones, especially when the results will be so long-lasting.”

ARDC’s grant program, initiated in 2019, funds projects related to amateur radio and digital communications science and technology. Additionally, the program has funded over 120 scholarships through the Foundation for Amateur Radio (FAR) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Initially built in 1966, the MIT radome and the large steerable instrument it protects (fondly referred to by its users as “The Big Dish”), was used to pioneer research which led to the weather radar systems in wide use today. It fell out of use for a number of years before the MIT Radio Society adapted and upgraded the dish for their microwave experiments, most notably enabling its use for Earth-Moon-Earth or “moonbounce” communication, where signals are bounced off the moon to reach Earth-bound receivers at greater distances than radio communications sent on the ground. The large size and far-reaching capabilities of the dish make it a unique scientific instrument in an academic setting, presenting opportunities for potential creative new uses in cutting-edge research, like satellite communication. Further, the

dish can also support educational activities, like enabling remote radio astronomy experiments so the Physics Junior Laboratory (J-Lab) course could continue with minimal disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic .

“We were overwhelmed at first by the amount we needed to raise, and the short time we had before the renovation project needed to begin. We just had to hope that someone would see the same promise and potential in the dish that we did,” says Gregory Allan, a PhD student in the MIT AeroAstro who led ARDC grant submission efforts. “When we contacted ARDC, they were so supportive and willing to do whatever it took to make this happen. We’re really grateful to them for this incredible gift.”

To read more about MIT’s efforts to save the radome, visit http://w1mx.mit.edu/giving/ To learn more about ARDC’s grantmaking efforts, visit https://www.ampr.org/giving/.

MIT has also published a lovely article about student-led efforts to save the radome, which you can see here: https://news.mit.edu/2021/saving-the-mit-radome-0507

Contact:

Rosy Wolfe
Executive Director
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)
contact@ampr.org

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