Amateur Radio Club de Trine back on the air | Republican Herald
ANGOLA – Although the COVID-19 pandemic limited student travel to Trine University this year, members of the university’s amateur radio club have still been able to establish worldwide contact with their radios.
Since its rebirth last year thanks to the generosity of Bill Becher, a 1950 Tri-State College radio engineering graduate, and his wife, Helen, members of the club have communicated with amateur radio enthusiasts, known as name of hams, as far as Europe and South America, as well as people across the United States.
Educational advisor Kevin Woolverton said the club has around 15 students from major disciplines such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer and information technology and math. He and the club members hope he will continue to grow as he gets more equipment, especially from non-engineer program members who may benefit from an interest in amateur radio.
Club secretary Marc Tuholski, a senior specializing in electrical engineering, said most of the activities are aimed at helping new members become licensed radio operators and build new equipment to access more radio frequencies.
Last semester, the club completed the installation of its long distance shortwave radio communication station inside Fawick Hall and built an antenna on the roof of the building. This semester, the club continued to build antennas, including portable versions that members used to participate in a fox hunt, an event where Hams attempt to locate a transmitter placed in a location people can find in Fort Wayne.
The club also hosts a weekly net, an opportunity for members and hams from the region to chat via radio.
“We are all very excited about these events and plan to continue to be involved in other activities, such as satellite communication or returning signals to the moon,” said club president Tim Mayer, a major in mechanical engineering.
Les Bechers offer a new start
Trine University had not offered a ham radio organization for some time when Bill and Helen Becher donated all of their equipment and provided financial support to re-establish the club.
“Without them it would not have been possible to start and continue,” said Woolverton.
Bill’s love for 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 suggested building a spark gap transmitter from a drawing given to him by one of his teachers. Although they completed it, it was never connected to an antenna, as spark gap transmitters had been banned due to the interference they caused with home radios.
Bill continued to study, took the government-required Morse code course, and built many radio theory projects, until amateur radio was banned during WWII and radio components were made. almost impossible to find and buy. He continued to read and study radio theory and enrolled in Tri-State College, where he was a member of the Radio Club and performed with surplus radios and war coins.
He said he chose Tri-State because he believed it was the only school that offered radio engineering.
“All the other schools I knew of only advertised electrical engineering programs,” he said. “I didn’t know they were teaching the same subjects, the only difference being that Tri-State had a few radio lessons on their schedule.”
He said the education he received at Tri-State was excellent, preparing him for a career that included successful industrial and academic research, teaching positions at schools such as the University of Michigan and the academic administration in several universities. At the University of Michigan, he revitalized an amateur radio club that had fallen into disuse.
Although he didn’t use his radio teaching professionally after graduating from Tri-State, Bill’s love for radio never faded. After retiring in the early 1990s, he and Helen studied and graduated in ham and continued the hobby until two years ago, when the retirement community they moved into two years ago. years did not allow the necessary antennas to continue.
However, the Chelsea, Michigan retirement community that he and Helen moved to a year and a half ago did not allow them to install the antennas needed to continue. Bill has remained connected to Trine University since graduating, serving on the Industrial Advisory Board for Electrical and Computer Engineering, so the couple donated their equipment to the university.
The Michigan Amateur Radio Club suggested that he and Helen help out with Trine’s club.
“Amateur radio is a good thing to have in school,” he said. “It gives you a lot of hands-on experience and you come out of school running and having a training that goes beyond reading books and doing lab experiments.”
Develop communication, electronic skills
Woolverton said the main goal of the reborn club is for members to learn and practice amateur radio skills, both how to communicate with others and to make sure the equipment is functioning optimally.
Mayer, whose grandfather was an amateur radio operator, said he had always been interested in radio but became addicted once he joined Trine’s club.
“The amateur radio community is great to get involved,” he said. “Anyone you meet live or in person is always excited to share their hobby with a 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 speaking live.
“I really enjoyed the process of learning how to transmit and communicate correctly over the radio,” he said. “Watching myself and the other club members go from being unsure of how to speak live to now where we frequently use the radio just to talk, has been great.”
In addition to presenting members with a fun, lifelong hobby, Mayer said, amateur radio offers an edge when interviewing for a job.
“Several members mentioned that they were a licensed ham operator during an interview and found out that the person they were interviewing was also a licensed hobbyist,” said the Mechanical Engineering major. “In terms of CV boosters, I think it shows a real interest in electronics, above what you might learn in class.”
Woolverton also notes that ham radio is essential in emergency situations.
“In disasters, when communication goes down, amateur radio operators are often used as lines of communication and to provide support,” he said.
Materials, donations welcome
The club currently has enough portable radios, operating at five watts and covering the VHF and UHF frequency bands, for each member to check out one for the semester. It also has high-frequency radios, one of which is a software-defined radio connected to the antenna on the roof that allows the club to send and receive signals from long distances.
Becher noted that Hams are constantly buying new equipment as technology updates come along, and the Trine Club is a good destination for older equipment.
“You buy these things all the time as 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. at an amateur radio event.
Anyone wishing to support the Trine Amateur Radio Club with donations of money or equipment can contact Woolverton at [email protected]
“As we expand our arsenal of equipment, we can begin to participate in more and more amateur radio activities,” said Mayer, the club president.