Fall 2006 Issue

Radio Merit Badge Program
at Ham-Com 2006

For the third time, this year’s Ham-Com convention in
June featured a special Technician license class and
Radio Merit Badge session for Scouts. Here are the details of the
programs, along with the current Radio Merit Badge requirements.

By James G. Alderman, KF5WT

In this hands-on experiment, a signal generator is used to produce a sound wave. Then the frequency
is tuned ever higher until a radio wave is detected on a radio receiver set to the 80-meter band.
(Ham-Com 2006 digital photo by Barry A. Goldblatt, WA5KXX)

For the third year in a row, Ham-Com sponsored special programs for Boy Scouts, including a day-long Tech license preparation class and a half-day Radio Merit Badge (RMB) program.

The Tech class was taught by Allan Batteiger, WB5QNG, and Dick Raitt, WA5VKS, of the Plano Amateur Radio Club. The class consisted of 12 hours of instructional time. Although the class was open to everyone, Scouts in particular were encouraged to attend. The W5YI-VEC team offered free testing to Scouts, and four passed their Technician exams at Ham-Com 2006.

The RMB program was taught by James Alderman, KF5WT, and Richard Phillips, KB5YBQ. The course covered all of the required subjects for a Scout to complete the Radio Merit Badge. This year’s class served 57 Boy Scouts and one Girl Scout. To date, over 300 Scouts have received their Radio Merit Badges through the popular Ham-Com program.

Ham-Com spent over $3800 on youth programs, offering free admission to any Scout or leader who came in uniform, and providing free lunch to those attending the Tech and RMB classes. Any Scout who came to Ham-Com with a copy of a successfully passed practice test could also take the Tech exam for free.

What is the Radio Merit Badge?

In the Boy Scouts there are awards (actually patches) that boys can earn for proficiency in certain subjects and activities. These awards are called Merit Badges and are given for activities such as camping, swimming, first aid, public speaking, and radio, to name a few.
Each progressive rank in Scouting requires a certain number of core badge requirements, plus a certain number of electives. A total of 21 badges is required for the highest rank of Eagle. Radio is one of those elective subjects that any Scout can take and apply towards rank advancement.
Since amateur radio and Scouting both heavily emphasize emergency preparedness, the two naturally fit very well together. The Radio Merit Badge program is a wonderful way for ham clubs to share the excitement of amateur radio with the next generation, and many of the badge requirements relate directly to material on the new FCC Technician exam.
The purpose of the RMB class is not to make radio experts out of the boys within a half day. It is designed to give them a basic familiarity with what radio technology is all about, and give them some additional emergency preparedness skills they might find helpful in the future.

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