ANGOLA – Although the COVID-19 pandemic has limited student travel to Trine University this year, members of the university’s amateur radio club are still able to make worldwide contacts with their radio stations.
Since his rebirth last year, thanks to the generosity of Bill Becher, a 1950s graduate of radio engineering at Tri-State College, and his wife, Helen, club members have interacted with ham enthusiasts known as hams all the way to Europe and South America. and the people of the United States.
Kevin Wolverton, a teaching advisor, said the club has about 15 students majoring in electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science and information technology, and math. He and club members hope to continue to expand as he receives more equipment, especially from members of non-engineering programs who can benefit from interest in ham radio.
Club secretary Mark Tuholski, a senior electrical engineer, said most activities are aimed at helping new members become licensed radio operators and building new equipment to gain access to more radio frequencies.
Last semester, the club completed the construction of its long-wave shortwave radio station in Fovik Hall and built an antenna on the roof of the building. This semester, the club continues to build antennas, including hand-held versions that members have used to participate in fox hunting, an event in which hams try to find a transmitter placed where people can find it in Fort Wayne.
The club also hosts a weekly network, an opportunity for conversations between members and surrounding hammocks on the radio.
“We are all very excited about these events and we plan to continue to get more involved, such as satellite communication or bounces from the moon,” said club president Tim Meyer, who specializes in mechanical engineering.
Bechers give a new beginning
Trine University has not offered an amateur radio organization for some time, with Bill and Helen Becher donating all their equipment and providing financial support for the club’s restoration.
“Without them, it would not have been possible to start and continue,” Wolverton said.
Bill’s love of radio dates back to his childhood in the late 1930s, when he and a friend used flashlights to send Morse code messages between their homes. Later, a friend of his suggested that they build a transmitter with spark discharges from a circuit he received from one of his teachers. Although completed, it was never connected to an antenna, as spark transmitters were banned due to interference caused to home radios.
Bill continued to study, attending government requiring a Morse code class, and building many radio theory projects, until amateur radio was banned during World War II and radio components were almost impossible to find and purchase. He continued to read and study radio theory and enrolled at Tri-State College, where he was a member of the radio club and played with radio stations and parts with unnecessary wars.
He said he chose Tri-State because he believes it is the only school that offers radio engineering.
“All the other schools I was aware of only advertised electrical engineering programs,” he said. “I didn’t realize they were teaching the same subjects, the only difference being that Tri-State has several radio classes in its program.”
He said the education he received at Tri-State was excellent, preparing him for a career that included successful industrial and academic research, professorships at schools, including the University of Michigan, and academic administration at several universities. At the University of Michigan, he revived an amateur radio club that disappeared.
Although he did not use his radio education professionally after graduating from Tri-State, Bill’s love for radio never disappeared. After retiring in the early 1990s, he and Helen studied and obtained their ham licenses and pursued their hobby until two years ago, when the retirement community they moved to two years ago did not allow the antennas needed to continue.
However, the Chelsea, Michigan retirement community, to which he and Helen moved a year and a half ago, would not allow them to install the antennas needed to continue. Bill has been associated with Trine University since graduating, serving on the Industrial Advisory Board for Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the couple donated their equipment to the university.
The Michigan Amateur Radio Club offered to help He and Helen help Trine’s club.
“It’s nice to have a ham radio at school,” he said. “It gives you a lot of practical experience and you leave school running and having an experience that’s not just reading books and doing lab experiments.”
Building communication skills, electronics
Wolverton said the main goal of the reborn club is to allow members to learn and practice ham radio skills, both how to communicate with others and make sure the equipment works optimally.
Meyer, whose grandfather was a radio amateur, said he had always had an interest in radio, but got hooked after joining the club in Trine.
“The amateur radio community is great to participate in,” he said. “Everyone you meet on the air or in person is always excited to share their hobby with the younger generation and share tips and stories on how they set up their stations or built antennas.”
Tuholski said club members gain confidence by learning to build transmitters and talk on the air.
“I really liked the process of learning how to broadcast and communicate properly on the radio,” he said. “Seeing both ourselves and the other members of the club become very insecure about how to talk on the air, now that we often use the radio just to talk, it was great.”
In addition to introducing members to a fun lifelong hobby, Meyer said, ham radio gives an advantage when interviewing for a job.
“Several members mentioned that they were a licensed ham operator during an interview and found that the person they interviewed was also a licensed amateur,” said the mechanical engineer. “As for resume boosters, I think that shows a real interest in electronics, beyond what you can learn in class.”
Woolverton also notes that amateur radio is crucial in emergencies.
“In disasters, when communication disappears, ham radio operators are often used as lines of communication and support,” he said.
Equipment, donations are welcome
The club currently has enough five-watt portable radios covering the VHF and UHF bands so that each member can check one for the semester. In addition, there are high-frequency radios, one of which is a software-defined radio connected to the roof antenna, which allows the club to send and receive signals over long distances.
Becher noted that the buttons are constantly buying new equipment as a technology update, and that the Trine Club is a good destination for older equipment.
“You buy these things all the time like ham, and then the other thing becomes something you don’t need anymore,” he said, noting that college clubs can either reuse the equipment or sell it on an amateur basis. radio event.
Anyone who would like to support Trine’s amateur radio club through cash or donations can contact Woolverton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“As we expand our arsenal of equipment, we can begin to engage in more and more amateur activities,” said Meyer, the club’s president.