One club on campus that many students may not know about is the amateur radio club.
HAM radio, also known as amateur radio, is the use of a spectrum of radio frequencies for recreation. It is used to exchange messages, experiment with the equipment, training and sometimes emergency communication.
The club has around 20 members, ranging from students, to faculty, to members of the community. People from all over Portage County come together through their love of radio.
The club is mostly for people to just have fun. Members can meet and connect with other people all over the world.
Travis Augustine, a club member, says he first was introduced to it by a friend in high school.
“The furthest contact I’ve ever had was a guy in New Zealand,” Augustine said. “I reached him from my backyard with my equipment.”
Members call up other people known on air by their Federal Communications Commission call signs. The club’s sign is WB9QFW.
Augustine states there’s no shortage of people to talk to. People are always chatting about anything from the weather to personal issues.
The airwaves are monitored by volunteers. This method of self-policing restricts the use of profanity. Anyone can listen in to two people chatting if they’re on the same frequency.
The club puts its knowledge to work in the community and helps out with events such as the Special Olympics, providing communications for the duathlon. They notify members at points along the course and radio ahead if anyone needs assistance. They also participate in weather spotting and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) program.
The group also participates in Field Day, which is a contest where amateurs show off their skills in emergency simulations. The amateurs have to make contacts within 24 hours to help out communications in the simulated emergency.
According to the club’s website, WB9QFW.com, the ARES consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, along with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur is eligible to apply for membership in the ARES.
A person can become an entry level operator in as little as a weekend. The first level is a technician, second is general and third is amateur. The more a person levels up, the more frequencies they have access to.
It’s not difficult to get a license and call sign and trainees get a guide to teach them how to operate the radios.
More information about amateur radio can be found at WB9QFW.com and the group meets in the George Stein building on the second Tuesday of every month.