NPOTA Activation of St. Louis Arch (NM12)

It’s October and I’ve not made a single NPOTA activation or contact. :O

You can mostly blame it on the fact I live in an apartment, and have been doing lots of traveling this year, and also that it takes a lot of effort to do a NPOTA activation, at least in St. Louis. The guys who set up the Arch activation said it took almost a month to set up a permit to operate. I don’t have the time.

But luckily this past weekend, I did.

The Arch is officially called the Jefferson Expansion National Memorial, commemorated for St. Louis’s role in westward expansion in the 19th century (i.e. the Gateway to the West) as well as Dred Scott’s case for his freedom in the Old Courthouse just west of the Arch.

The famous courthouse, and little tiny us.
The famous courthouse, and little tiny us.

Kyle N0KTK, Scott ND9E, and Chris WX5CW invited me to operate their station set up on the southwest corner of the current construction. The NPOTA designator for the park is NM-12. As of this writing, it’s responsible for 12 activations and 736 QSOs. I was responsible for 118 new ones!

20m dipole and 40m Alpha Antenna loaded vertical
20m dipole and 40m Alpha Antenna loaded vertical were our antennas. We also had a backup 40m dipole. Nearby LED lighting was pretty loud!

They had 2 stations, and activated 40m and 20m on CW and SSB.

Let me tell you, out of every contest I’ve worked I have never heard such pileups. Even with our 20′ high dipole and 100 watts in the middle of a city…it was exhilarating!

I brought my camera with me and took video, but didn’t get any half-decent audio of the radio. The surrounding area was super noisy because of road and construction noise, so forcing an operator to take off his headphones wasn’t a good idea. But seriously. Imagine 20 or 30 people all screaming their name at the same time.

Kyle N0KTK orchestrated the whole event.
Kyle N0KTK orchestrated the whole event.

It was super fun. Altogether I made about 118 QSOs in an hour and a half. We had about 20 people ask us how to get to the arch, but a handful of hams and non-hams came up and chatted with us.

I really appreciate the impromptu opportunity to run the station there. It was a lot of fun! What have I been doing all year?!?

Read my archives to answer that question. 😁

School Club Roundup – October 17-21!

It’s October, time for School Club Roundup!

The fall School Club Roundup (SCR) is October 17-21, 2016. All educational institutions from grade to graduate school are encouraged to participate in the week-long on-the-air operating event. More information and rules is available at http://www.arrl.org/school-club-roundup.

The following logging programs support SCR:

Bonus points for using social media – Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and reddit to promote your school’s operation!

Jk, there’s no real bonus points, BUT that shouldn’t stop you from promoting your activities! You can also upload photos and text to the ARRL Soapbox.

Also, read this article by Scott Westerman W9WSW. Its a FANTASTIC to-do list for college clubs but can be applied to every ham radio club.

 
Arrows graphic in logo by Freepik from Flaticon is licensed under CC BY 3.0. Made with Logo Maker
 

Amateur Radio in College Leading to a Career – A Testimonial

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I got my extra-class license in 2007, at age 16. I studied for the tech, general and extra licenses in band class, in literature arts (where I also wrote a winning essay contest), and at every waking hour of my time away from school and other extra curricular activities.

I learned about trigonometrical impedance calculations (a.k.a. phasors), P-N junctions, oscillators, transistors, and some calculus and more all before my senior year of high school.

I applied for only a few colleges – Truman State and Missouri S&T (formerly University of Missouri – Rolla). Only one of these had a ham radio club. Can you guess which one I attended?

Missouri S&T(alone).bw

It was not until my junior year when I realized my college curriculum has taken me beyond the extra class license test. Although the classes were much greater in depth (and much more important for me to pass!), the Extra class license greatly prepared me for my studies in Electrical Engineering.

During my first week of college I joined the ham radio club, WØEEE. I spent all 4.5 years in an executive position, and taught myself circuit design and layout techniques and software, how to install a repeater (including a D-STAR repeater), and participated in contests, public service, and other clubs like IEEE, Solar Car, and the Mars Rover Design Team and the Satellite team where I designed telemetry and wireless networking systems.

Mars Rover electrical team and I making aggressive electrical modifications and repairs to Phoenix
Mars Rover electrical team and I making aggressive electrical modifications and repairs to Phoenix.
The 2014 Mars Rover "Phoenix" after having survived said modifications.
The 2014 Mars Rover “Phoenix” after having survived said modifications.
In my junior year, I was offered an internship at the Very Large Array Radio Observatory in New Mexico. I accepted, and spent 8 months there, installing antennas, studying RFI, learning about radio astronomy, and participating in the Socorro and New Mexico Tech amateur radio clubs. The Socorro, NM population is literally 10% hams, and the Radioshack is staffed by two hams and features a station behind the counter! See more of my VLA experience at my A Zero in Five Land blog.

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I participated in “SmartRock” research, which was to be a device that would record its position and movement underwater, and transmit that data back to the surface wirelessly – through up to 30 ft of water – to study and prevent erosion and scouring from destroying bridges. I studied all manner of ways to do this including ultrasonic, light, RF, and inductive coupling. I also was responsible for a power supply design using supercapacitors.

Then I got a job…before I graduated. Due to sensitivity I won’t say exactly what company I work for, but it’s a large aerospace company that builds very fast jets.
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I’m on a communication systems team that’s in charge of a huge number of avionics, including HF/VHF/UHF voice radios. The reason why I got this job, and the ones before it was that the experiences I had were listed on my resume. A resume-reading robot found the trigger word set for this particular requisition: ham radio.

Or maybe it was just radio…who knows, but as a part of the interview process, ham radio was mentioned a LOT.

My college and career goals was made possible by amateur radio, and that is the number one reason why I promote this hobby like I do. As a collective we are slowly realizing that ham radio is an excellent segway into a number of career fields (not always involving electrical engineering and radio), and there is huge potential energy in this hobby for young people, but there is not yet a person to push the ball down the hill.

That person may not be me, and it may not be just one person, so hopefully this story helps you understand the technical merits of ham radio and inspires you to be the energy in your radio club to do more for high school and college student amateur radio clubs.