North Carolina Teen Named Recipient of ARRL’s 2011 Hiram Percy Maxim Award
Derek Brown, W4DTB, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was named the recipient of the 2011 Hiram Percy Maxim Award. Brown, who is 14, has been licensed since 2010 and holds an Amateur Extra class license.
Derek first became interested in Amateur Radio after reading an article in MAKE Magazine. “After I read the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, I went to the local club, the Orange County Radio Amateurs (NCOCRA) to take my Technician test,” he told the ARRL. “That same evening, I met my Elmer, Bruce Meier, N1LN, who inspired me to finish the next two tests. He helped me build a station, including my first radio that I bought at a swap meet. With his help, I put up a vertical antenna in my backyard. Unfortunately, a tree knocked down the antenna about two weeks ago and broke the mounting bracket, so I’ll be offline until after we get the replacement parts.”
Meier recalled meeting Derek when he first came in to take his Technician exam in September 2010: “Derek had just turned 14. He had discovered Amateur Radio and was starting to get involved. His interest quickly grew, and by November 2010, he had his General ticket and then in March 2011, his Extra. In February 2011, Derek and his father went to a hamfest and found his first rig. Since Derek lives in an antenna-restricted area, he started to research different stealth antennas. As he wanted to start to work on his WAS, DXCC and WAC awards, and potentially get in involved in contesting (he got exposed to contesting at my QTH), he wanted something beyond stealth. So because of the woods behind his house, he was able to put up a vertical antenna and not bother any of the neighbors. He was now on the air.”
Meier told the ARRL that Derek started out with SSB, but because of his skills in computers and computer programming, he became interested in the digital modes. “Derek modified his radio (by himself) and connectedan interface board to enable the necessary control signals, wired up a home brew soundcard interface and was then able to operate digital modes,” Meier explained. “He now operates PSK 31, RTTY PSK 63, Olivia 250, JT35 and even SSTV. Not bad for a 14 year old!” Derek is working on his CW skills, and recently earned his DXCC Award and only needs Vermont to complete his Worked All States Award. He also enjoys operating on the satellite modes, as well as developing software for his local HSMM Mesh.
Meier said that Derek competed with him and his team of operators in the 2011 CQ WW SSB contest. “We operated as a Multi/Two entry and were fortunate to place first in North America,” he said. “Derek has also operated from his own home in the CQ WPX SSB Contest, the ARRL Rookie Roundup and several other contests.”
Derek is also involved in public service activities. Meier’s wife, Laurie Meier, N1YXU, was the ARES Emergency Coordinator for Orange County, North Carolina (she and Bruce are now Assistant Emergency Coordinators). Through them, Derek became interested in public service activities and started to take the various ICS courses. He has now taken and passed ICS 100, 200, 700, 800 and IS-3. Meier said that Derek is ready to help with ARES drills, Public Service events and ARES activations.
Derek is an active member of NCOCRA and his local ARES® group. He has worked with the club’s public relations officer to revamp the club’s website. He is the founder of the Youth Amateur Radio Club of America (YARCA), which aims to further youths in Amateur Radio; one of YARCA’s initial target audiences is Scout troops. The site includes license test training and a Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge Workshop. Derek said he is currently planning for YARCA to hold a Badge Day for local Boy and Cub Scouts. He is also an ARRL Public Information Officer (PIO).
When not on the radio, Derek spends time as a Computer Science intern, where he is creating computer programs in a variety of languages. He is also a Lincoln-Douglas debater and will be travelling to tournaments across the country this year. He will be entering his freshman year at Durham Academy in Durham, North Carolina this fall.
The Hiram Percy Maxim Award is given to an ARRL member under the age of 18. It is intended to provide a tangible reward to those deserving young amateurs who contribute their time, skills and energies daily through their commitment to Amateur Radio. As models for their peers, and inspirations to us all, these fine young people are highly visible boosters of Amateur Radio awareness. The ARRL continues to recognize and encourage their hard work and contributions at every opportunity.