Andy Siegel, a Troop 11 parent and committee member, has been an amateur
radio hobbyist since he was 15 years old.
Amateur radio, often called ham radio, is both a hobby and a service
in which participants, called "hams," use various types of radio
communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for
public service, recreation and self-training.
There are hams in just about every country, and even in outer
space -- the International Space Station has a ham radio
station on board and regularly makes contact with hams on the
ground. Hams also have several dozen
ham radio satellites
which are used to relay signals from one part of the globe to another.
Some hams enjoy experimenting with radio technology, some like
competing with other hams (called contesting), some like
talking to hams in foreign countries, and some just like chatting with
other hams, either nearby or across the country.
All radio amateurs around the world are licensed by their own
governments. Like all hams in the United States, Mr. Siegel is
licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, which administers
Radio Service. Mr. Siegel's call sign is N2CN.
Getting a license requires passing a multiple
choice test on radio theory and radio regulations.
Ham radio and scouting is a natural combination. Ham radio embodies
the scout motto, "Be Prepared". Hams work closely with both
governmental and volunteer organizations, drilling and preparing
for disasters, and are usually among the first emergency responders
in disaster situations, providing communication when all other forms
of communication have failed.
More information about amateur radio can be found on the web page of
the American Radio Relay League (ARRL),
which is the national membership association for Amateur Radio
operators in the United States. More details can be had
The Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge
One of the Merit Badges that a scout can earn is the
Requirements 7 and 8 of the radio merit badge require learning about
and visiting a radio installation in one these three categories:
amateur radio, commercial, or shortwave. Mr. Siegel is a radio merit
badge counselor and will help any scout in Stamford earn his radio
Note that you do not need to earn your ham radio license to
earn the radio merit badge.
More information on the radio merit badge can be found
The worldwide scouting Jamboree-on-the-Air
(JOTA) falls on the third weekend of each October. The JOTA
is an annual Scouting and amateur radio event sponsored by the
World Scout Bureau
World Organization of the Scout
Movement. Thousands of amateur radio stations around the world
participate. If the conditions are right, it is common to contact a
hundred Scouting countries during the weekend. In the United States,
Cub Scout dens and Boy Scout troops visit a local
amateur's "ham shack" during JOTA. Many districts and councils hold
events that coincide with JOTA, where amateurs set up stations giving
Scouts and leaders a chance to exchange greetings with Scouts from
More info about JOTA can be had
Radio Clubs in the Stamford Area
Their are two Amateur Radio clubs in our area. Stamford has the
Stamford Amateur Radio
Association (SARA), which meets on the first Thursday of each month at
the Stamford Government Center. In Norwalk, there is the
Greater Norwalk Amateur Radio Club
(GNARC). Both welcome new members and offer expertise and
help for new hams setting up stations and antennas.
Getting Your Amateur Radio License
Mr. Siegel can help you earn your ham radio license. The best way to
start is to buy a copy of
ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, also available less expensively at
You should also obtain a copy of the
question pool for
the Technician class license. This is a complete list of questions
that you would encounter during the licensing test. If you study the
license manual and/or memorize the question pool, you are very likely
to pass the test, and you'll be licensed.
The Stamford Amateur Radio Association gives
quarterly radio tests
in the Stamford Government Center building.
More information on Amateur Radio licensing classes can be found
Morse code, also known as CW (for Continuous Wave), is no longer a
requirement for obtaining a ham radio license, but nevertheless is
still a very popular communication mode on the ham bands. CW can
be heard when band conditions make voice unintelligible, and ham
radio rigs (transmitters and receivers) that work only with
CW are less expensive, smaller and simpler that those that are
capable of voice transmission. And even though getting the message
across with CW is a bit slow, it is Mr. Siegel's favorite mode of
ham radio communication.
If you are interested in learning Morse code, the ARRL offers training
CDs. They also have daily Morse code
practice on the air from their ham radio station, W1AW -- if
you have a radio receiver that can receive ham frequencies, you can
hear W1AW very clearly in Stamford at 3.5815 MHz. Mr. Siegel is also
very happy to work with any scout who wants to learn Morse code.
More information on learning Morse code can be found
here. Online code
practice files can be found