Youth@HamRadio.Fun: 'Tis the Season, Ham Style!
W6S -- A Look Inside Santa's Workshop
Mickey has been operating as W6S every Christmas season for 37 years. "I do 60 rewarding hours as W6S, and enjoy every minute," he said. Mickey began using the W6S call sign in 1997, and since its debut, has become part of the ham radio Christmas cheer! But Mickey didn't always operate an elaborate event covering all bands -- he started out talking to local kids on 2 meters. The second year he operated, he deployed several of his elves (close friends) to a few hospitals and pre-schools so he could make sure everyone got a healthy dose of Christmas cheer. The third year, Mickey operated from Santa's Workshop and the tradition really took off: "My third year I used the lower bands 95 percent of the time."
The Amateur Radio community has been quick to embrace the operation. Mickey says that the first year operating as "Whiskers-6-Santa was a hit with the operators of all ages and their children." Mickey noted that most children are a bit apprehensive of talking over the radio, let alone to Santa! He said one of the most challenging parts of operating is when he hears "This one is shy and won't talk." That's not a problem for Mickey -- he says after a few warm-up questions (such as "Can you say hello to Rudolph?"), he can strike up a conversation that lasts a few minutes. He has even heard back that the parents weren't able to get the microphone away from the kids afterward!
Mickey said that one of his most enjoyable moments talking to a youngster on the air happened when he found out that he was speaking with "a child that was third generation of children I had talked to in the family in a 35 year time frame."
After spending more than 60 hours on the air each year, Mickey says that W6S has definitely become an important part of how he celebrates Christmas, and hopes it's the same for others: "It's a never ending story - it's like fishing, you never know what you will get! Amateur Radio has played a big part in the children's lives, and many of them have gone on to get their ham license."
Mickey has been in Amateur Radio long enough to have become a part of the bands. It is not uncommon to hear WO6T in pile-up or shooting the breeze with another ham. On Mickey's Web site, he says he has "an interest in many different parts of ham radio." He said he firmly believes that Amateur Radio is a community and that through goodwill and courteousness, we can become a stronger community and strengthen ties and personal relationships with others all over the world.
Teaching Amateur Radio is a passion for Mickey, he also enjoys studying (and using) antennas. His antenna farm for HF consists of a 75 meter rotating dipole, a 2-element 40 meter beam and a 13-element log periodic for 20-10 meters. Santa's Workshop is a very modern shack utilizing computers for all his satellite tracking, azimuth and elevation rotator control and logging -- and of course, the W6S webcam!
CQ WW SSB from YACHT -- The Young Amateur Contest Ham Team
CQWW SSB, possibly one of the most energetic and popular contests in Amateur Radio, and a group of young and old hams alike dove right in. The 2008 operation in October was sponsored by the DAR Boys and Girls Club of Menominee, Michigan. By the end of the contest, they had netted around 6000 points -- and a whole lot of fun! Members Hunter, K8MBI, and Neil, KC9MLD, took the lead with assistance from a few soon-to-be licensed members. But, contesting isn't easy, they soon found out -- it takes a lot of focus and effort; however, Jim Pearson, KS8O, has found the formula for success: "Pizza and pop were the primary energy intake for the contest." If you're interested in joining YACHT, you can visit their Web site for more information.
Group of California Homebrewers Request Youth Presence
The Foothills Amateur Radio Society (FARS) has put out a request for any youth experimenters or builders to attend their booth at the 2009 Maker Faire. Maker Faire is a big gathering for anybody who likes to build or tinker. The goal of the FARS booth is to show off Amateur Radio to a group of big Do-It-Yourselfers and hopefully recruit some into this wonderful hobby. What better way to represent ham radio than with faces of all ages? FARS is looking for everything from antennas to a code oscillator, so if you've built something yourself and would like to show it off, they would love to have you at their booth! For any questions or if you're interested in going, please contact Michael Pechner, KI6QNZ, via e-mail.
ARRL 160 Meter Contest
This is a great opportunity to operate the top band -- you don't need a big wire or vertical to get on the air for this contest; however, if you know someone that does, don't hesitate to ask! Most hams will jump at the opportunity to get younger hams on the air. This contest runs from 2200 UTC Friday-1600 UTC Sunday. The exchange is a signal report and your ARRL section. To find out what section you're in, please jump here.
ARRL 10 Meter Contest
You don't need a General class license to operate this contest! Technicians are licensed to operate from 28.300-28.500 MHz for phone, so if your parents or neighbor have 10 meter capability, make sure to get on the air and rack up some contacts using your own call sign! This contest runs from 0000 UTC Saturday-2359 UTC Sunday. The exchange for this contest is a signal report and your state.
I hope to hear some readers on the air for these contests. If you have any pictures from your operations, please feel free to send them to me via e-mail.
Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM, of Prairie Village, Kansas, is the ARRL Youth Editor. An 8th grader at Indian Hills Middle School, calls himself a "huge DXer" and has earned DXCC. He also enjoys weak-signal/sound card modes on HF and spends a lot of my time on PSK31 or RTTY. His favorite band is 15 meters. When not on the air, Duncan enjoys football, basketball, climbing, swimming, listening to music and just spending time with friends and family. He is a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 91 and is working toward Eagle Scout. He is also a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow: "I'm always looking ahead to see what's next in life and Amateur Radio!"
Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM
ARRL Youth Editor