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Youth@HamRadio.Fun: 73 from KG4IUM -- Youth Lounges Everywhere

06/23/2008

Passing the Gauntlet: Bittersweet

Many of you have noticed that it’s been far too long since this column has come out. That is because your column editor was staying busy with her first year of college at Georgia Tech. I am proud to say that I made it out alive -- with decent grades -- and will be returning for another year in the fall and many more to come after that!

Unfortunately, this also means that it’s time for me to give up some things in order to concentrate on school; my predecessor Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, said it best: “School comes first.” So, it’s time for me to pass on the gauntlet. This will be my last time writing the Youth@HamRadio.Fun column, but rest assured that a well-qualified individual with a fresh outlook and lots of new blood will be writing it in my absence; I am confident that this new author will improve upon the column and do an even better job with it than I have managed to do, especially lately. So, I apologize for the absence of columns over the past year and look forward to reading the columns of my successor on a much more regular basis.

I also believe that, once a ham, always a ham, so besides retiring as the writer of this column, I’m not “going anywhere.” I’ll be around to help my successor in any way I can or to answer any questions about youth in ham radio, so feel free to shoot me an e-mail if something comes up or say “hi” when you see me at a hamfest. I’ll also be involved in ham radio in other, new ways. I have been able to take a break from studying long enough to make it to a couple of Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club, W4AQL, meetings, and while I’m not technically “youth” anymore, I still help to coordinate youth activities as the Georgia Assistant Section Manager, Youth Advisor.

College Hams “Go to Mars”

Since starting at Georgia Tech, I’m also finding less traditional ways to involve ham radio in my life. In March, I was privileged enough to participate in the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station team, and my job was to coordinate the ham radio communications. This project meant spending two weeks in the Utah desert living in a small cylindrical habitat and simulating life on Mars.

While we were “in sim,” crew members were only allowed to leave the Hab in a full space suit. Best of all, since cell phones were not in range, ham radio was the primary mode of communications, meaning that my seven fellow crew members from Georgia Tech, ranging from undergraduates to PhD candidates, were also hams. During the two-week endeavor, we conducted research on a number of topics, one of which was communications. We set up a crossband repeater for voice communications and a digipeater for APRS tracking, allowing the Hab to contact all crew members on an EVA at any time and to see their track on a topographical map. Ham radio played a crucial role in keeping everyone safe in such an isolated area, much like it might do when we actually go to Mars.

Youth Lounges Everywhere

On April 12th, one hamfest in Raleigh, North Carolina (affectionately known as RARSfest) had its first Youth Lounge. A phenomenon that has been slowly but surely spreading across the country, a Youth Lounge is essentially a place for young hams and those young at heart to hang out and learn about ham radio. Youth leaders are on hand to assist youngsters with crafts and activities relating to ham radio -- among these are scavenger hunts, fox hunts, Morse code bracelets and QSL card decorating. The Youth Lounge has been a key feature over the past several years at the Alford Memorial Radio Club Hamfest in Lawrenceville, Georgia; the Huntsville Hamfest in Alabama and of course at the Dayton Hamvention in Datyon, Ohio. This year is no exception!

This year’s Youth Lounge RARSfest was a smashing success, thanks largely to Youth Lounge coordinator Robin Lane, KI4LEC. With only a little guidance from yours truly, she must have used her skills from years of experience an elementary school teacher, because she did a fabulous job of organizing, setting up and advertising the Youth Lounge. Dozens of youth of all ages showed up to participate in the many activities, and Robin did a fabulous job of recruiting volunteers to keep it staffed throughout the day. Special thanks to Courtney Enzor, KI4HOS; Alanna Conder, K4ACC; Lauren Conder, KA4LHC; Robert Conder, W4RPC; Allan Lauer, KI4PAJ, and Sam Freeze, KI4FUD, for all of their assistance in staffing the Youth Lounge!

Field Day is Just Around the Corner...

Do you know what time it is? It’s time to ride the waves! That is, if you plan to participate in this year’s Amateur Radio Field Day, June 28-29, 2008 at various locations across the United States. Basically, Field Day is where hams set up a self-sufficient radio station and contact as many other hams as they can in a 24 hour period, meaning they stay up all night! There’s usually all kinds of stuff going on, and it’s a great event for youth and new hams to attend. So if you’ve never been to a Field Day, don’t miss it this year! And, if you’ve been before, you know how much fun it is, so make it your goal to come back -- but this time with a friend! To find a field day near you, use the ARRL Field Day Station Locator.

Remember to...

• Try the ARRL Youth Sked Database to set up on-air schedules with other young hams.

• Visit the North American Youth Net (NAYN) voice net on Fridays from 2300 to 2330 UTC on 14.329 MHz and the NAYN PSK net on 14.075 MHz (near 1500 Hz) Sundays at 2300 UTC.

• Check into the World Wide Youth Net (WWYN) Saturdays, 1900 UTC on 21.305 MHz.

New to Amateur (Ham) Radio?

• Explore the Web site (this one!) of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio.

• Take practice Amateur Radio tests on the QRZ.com or eHam.net Web sites.

• Read previous Youth@HamRadio.Fun columns.

• Find a local radio club.

• Attend a local hamfest (Amateur Radio convention).

• But most of all, get involved. No excuses!

Final Comments

Thank you to everyone who has read and contributed to this column over the last several years. I have thoroughly enjoyed corresponding with each and every one of you: hearing your stories, seeing the pictures and being a small part of your lives. It is all of you -- the readers that make this column what it is, and I expect you all to continue to support the new column editor in the way that you have supported me. This is KG4IUM signing off one last time. 73, and I’ll catch you on the airways!

Editor’s Note: Nineteen-year-old Amateur Extra class licensee and ARES Member Andrea Hartlage, KG4IUM, resides in Grayson, Georgia, and is a rising sophomore at Georgia Tech, majoring in aerospace engineering. Her Amateur Radio activities include public service, kit building, hamfesting and operating SSB, CW and digital modes.

Andrea Hartlage, KG4IUM
Contributing Editor



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