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Youth@HamRadio.Fun: Dayton on Radar


Sterling Coffey, N0SSC, ARRL Youth Editor

One of the first things you learn in a southwestern state is to touch large metal objects often. If you don’t, you’ll find that your electronics will suffer. The dry air of New Mexico is presents no exception to this rule. So far I have ruined a keyboard, a USB port on my computer (along with the RTLSDR radio attached) and possibly a few good brain cells from static discharge. The biggest shock I got was when I grabbed the coax cable to my wire dipole in my backyard. A half-inch long lightning bolt reached from the center pin of the connector to my index finger -- and it wasn’t even storming! High winds kicked up a dust storm and the charged dust particles transferred several thousand volts to my antenna, which found a path to the ground through my finger. I still feel a little numb!

I discovered an easy way to prevent this from destroying my radios -- well, less easily than grounding the pin to the metal of my desk. Solder a few high voltage 10 MΩ resistors in parallel connected between the center pin and outer shield of a PL-259. This connects to a SO-239 T adapter, along with a cable to the radio and another to the antenna. The high impedance doesn’t interfere with antenna tuning, and slowly shunts the static charge to ground. Check out the article by Timo Hirvonen, OH7UG, that describes this quick fix.

What I’ve Been Up To

The New Mexico QSO Party was last weekend, and I took a 300-mile excursion to activate a few counties for the contest. I made around 60 contacts, and got very sunburned and well dusted from a few dust devils that flew over me. It was a lot of fun. QSO parties are a great way to get into contesting without any stress or hurry, and an easy way to get your Worked All States Award.

The New Mexico Tech Amateur Radio Club got back on the air after we fixed and erected its multiband vertical antenna. We didn’t make any contacts, but found the antenna was tunable to several frequencies. A few passers-by seemed interested, and some said they planned on attending the licensing Blitz session. This is by far one of the best ways to gather interest for your college radio club; fliers and e-mails only go so far. Actual operation in public fields and college quads catch the eye of many more potential hams and club members.

Young Hams in Are Boston Okay

Recent events in the news have been absolutely tragic, from the Boston Marathon bombings to the West, Texas plant explosion, to the shootout and manhunt at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A few hams in the area were caught in dangerous situations, but thankfully all made it out safe.

Jeremy Breef-Pilz, KB1REQ, was among of the volunteers for the Boston Marathon. After the explosion, he and the other hams accounted for each other and passed on the situational information to public safety officers. They complied with evacuation orders, while net control coordinated logistics and rescue operations in cooperation with local police and EMS. A group of young radio amateurs helped provide net control and on-the-field assistance before and after the bombing. An article on the ARRL website about Amateur Radio activities at the Marathon called the event “a tremendous learning opportunity for these young operators, from both an Amateur Radio perspective and an overall learning perspective.”

Erin King, AK4JG, a freshman at MIT, said that a shootout happened very close to her dorm, which was locked down. She listened to her scanner as the assailant moved off. Thanks to Don Wilbanks, AE5DW, for the information. Our thoughts will be with those affected by this tragic week.

Youth in the Second Century Committee

The 2013 Dayton Hamvention® is fast approaching! This will be my third year at Dayton and once again, I will be helping out at the ARRL Youth Lounge, located inside the ARRL EXPO area. The ARRL Youth in the Second Century Committee is planning to host a student hangout at the Little York Tavern in Dayton on Friday night. Here’s the report from Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF:

Next year, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the ARRL. The League is planning numerous events and activities to mark this special occasion; however, the ARRL is not looking to only celebrate the rich history of the past 100 years, but to actively engage the community to ensure the prosperity of Amateur Radio for the next century. Amateur Radio operators have a rich history of contributing to public service, education and technological growth. All of society -- not just the amateur community -- will benefit from this effort. With these goals in mind, the ARRL has created the Second Century Campaign to promote Amateur Radio during its second 100 years.

As part of the Second Century Campaign, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has created an ad-hoc committee called Youth in the Second Century. This committee of active young amateurs includes high school students, college and graduate students, and young professionals. The committee is tasked with providing the ARRL with recommendations for interesting and engaging youth in Amateur Radio. This is challenging, as the target youth demographic in Amateur Radio spreads from elementary school to young professionals. The committee believes that reaching out to each of these demographics is critical not only for Amateur Radio, but also for the growth of a technologically educated and engaged society.

The Youth Committee has discussed ideas for creating new youth-oriented leadership positions within the ARRL’s leadership structure, challenges and solutions for recruiting and retaining youth into the hobby, as well as a review of the League’s current youth activities. There have also been discussions about better ways of reaching out to teachers and youth organizations. The importance of community is a recurring theme in the Youth Committee’s discussions. As such, there will be a number of activities aimed at bringing youth together at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention. As in the past, there will be Youth Lounge during Hamvention hours to serve as a meeting place for young people. There will also be a Youth Forum on Saturday morning beginning at 9:15 and a youth dinner that evening.

In the past, many of these youth activities have been geared toward the elementary school through high school demographic. This year, the ARRL Youth Committee, together with the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association, will be hosting a dinner aimed specifically at young adult/collegiate ham radio operators. This will be held Friday, May 17 at 7 PM at the Little York Tavern in Dayton. Check out the event’s public Facebook page for more information.

For more information, or to ask questions about the ARRL Youth Committee or the Dayton Young Adult/Collegiate Dinner, please contact Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, via e-mail, or you can always contact me. We hope to see you there!

Sterling Coffey, N0SSC

Sterling Coffey, N0SSC, is a junior majoring in electrical engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, currently doing a co-op at the VLA in New Mexico. He has been interested in wireless communications from a young age, and welcomes e-mail from readers.



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