Winter 2010 Issue

The VHF-PLUS classroom

Elmers: A Vital Part of Ham Radio Education

By Miguel Enriquez,* KD7RPP

One of the Elmers who has been supporting
the Pueblo ARC for years is Ron Phillips, AE6QU, from the West Valley Amateur Radio Club
in Sun City, Arizona.

Last year was a very good year for the members of the Pueblo Magnet High School Amateur Radio Club. It was a year that saw new members, new licenses, new activities, and, most importantly, new Elmers. It was also a year that culminated in the creation of a ten-year design and development program to construct and launch a CubeSat satellite for digital amateur television and audio communications.

As a mathematics teacher and ARC sponsor, finding new projects and locating the resources to complete those projects is a constant challenge. Getting the students interested in doing the projects is the easy part of this endeavor. With the help of the ARRL’s Education & Technology Program, the Pueblo ARC has a “patron saint” of sorts that provides wonderful possibilities to stimulate students’ imagination and creativity. Building directional antennas to use in fox-hunting radio activities required one set of skills. Building a 5-watt QRP rig and getting it to work required a higher skill set. However, designing, developing, constructing, testing, and launching a CubeSat satellite will require skills that are far beyond the present level of Pueblo ARC members.

That is where Elmers become the critical part of this success formula. Since the Pueblo ARC began making presentations to parents, teachers, administrators, and ham radio club audiences informing them of the very ambitious CubeSat satellite program, many amateur radio operators have offered their assistance. The first to step up to the plate was Mark Spencer, WA8SME. Mark is the ARRL’s Education and Technology Program Coordinator. Mark’s support was the first datum that suggested our ambitious project is attainable. Larry Brown, W7LB, was equally supportive and pledged whatever technical assistance he could provide. Jack McGowen, AD7NK, the newly elected president for the Green Valley Amateur Radio Club, was, and has been, equally supportive. Lloyd Miller, N7GV, also from the Green Valley Amateur Radio Club and our venerable technical problem solver, was quick to join the ranks of volunteers again.

These Elmers have been supporting the Pueblo ARC for years now along with Ron Phillips, AE6QU, from the West Valley Amateur Radio Club in Sun City, Arizona and Bruce Betterley, WA1BZQ, from the University of Arizona Amateur Radio Club.

Bob Frett, KE7YTF, is one of the newest Elmers to join the CubeSat satellite project. Bob was also responsible for getting his brother-in-law, William Creek, and his wife Elisha from Apache Junction, Arizona to donate an ICOM IC-718 to the Pueblo ARC. William and Elisha have not been bitten by the ham radio bug but have made their contribution to the CubeSat program because they saw the value of their investment for the students, for the school, for the ham radio community, and for the U.S. Technically, the moniker “Elmer” would normally not apply to them, but we are making an exception.

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