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Showing posts from December, 2012

Satellites, DeSTEMber, and Ham Radio

Continuing the DeSTEMber list of reasons ham radio might be cool for kids... Satellites Any ham radio operator can use amateur radio satellites to communicate with other hams.  There are lots of amateur radio satellites in orbit that pass over the United States every day.  Look at the picture below of the amateur radio satellites that will be radio visible over Austin , TX in the three hours after I wrote this post. Each yellow 'wall' is the path of a satellite.  The height of each wall indicates the altitude of the satellite. Besides the fact that it's just cool to use satellites, why would you want to use a satellite to communicate?  The small handheld radios used by hams operate at high frequencies in the range of 100 to 1000 or so MHz, (your FM radio listens to signals around 90 MHz).  At these frequencies, the radio waves move mostly in straight lines and don't bounce off the atmosphere.  So, if you want to talk to your buddy who lives over the horizon,

DeSTEMber, Maker Spaces, and Ham Radio

Continuing the series of posts on why kids might want to check out ham radio, the second reason is... maker spaces!  Make Magazine and the maker community have done a great job over the last several years of promoting maker spaces.  These are loosely defined as community accessible spaces where people of similar interests can go to use various tools to build things.  When I started in science fair, I read magazines with ideas for electronics projects in them and then hung out at the electronics parts store a few blocks away from the library trying to find and learn about the various parts that went into the circuit, (my first science fair project wound up being a light activated burglar alarm).  Had I realized that many ham radio clubs were essentially maker spaces, I would have scored big time! If you live in a town with a ham radio club, ( ARRL geographical listing of ham radio clubs ), then chances are that not only are there people that would love to talk to you about buildin

Ham Radio Scholarships and DeSTEMber

The Austin based organization has declared this month DeSTEMber and dedicated it to getting girls interested in entering the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, (STEM), fields.  They're adding a cool new science project to their web site every day during the month.  You can check them out on their website . When I was a kid, I got interested in electronics when my dad turned up with two giant ham radio boat anchors.  Ham radio is still a great way for kids to learn about electronics.  In a nutshell for those who don't know, ham radio involves communicating across the country and the world using often homemade radio transmitters and receivers.  In order to be able to do this, you have to get an amateur radio license from the FCC which means passing and exam involving  radio regulations and the theory of how radios work.  For way more about what ham radio is and what you can do with it, check out the American Radio Relay League's, (ARRL), website .  A