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Mr. Siegel's Ham Radio Page

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 Ham Radio
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 in orbit, 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 the Amateur 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 here and here.

The Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge

One of the Merit Badges that a scout can earn is the radio badge. 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 merit badge.

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 here.

Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA)

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 of the 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 other areas.

More info about JOTA can be had here, here and here.

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 The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, also available less expensively at Amazon.com. 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 here.

Morse Code

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 here.

Last Modified: Tue Nov 10 23:03:52 2009