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So, yesterday, I posted about ARRL Field Day. We went to the W5UMS field day operation, and had a great time.

Ben, WF5N, held a how-to session on how to solder. While my soldering skill existed before going, I would not say it was great, by any stretch of the imagination. My daughter had never soldered anything before.

Upon arrival at the Lafayette County Central Fire Station, we were greeted by numerous amateur radio operators, or “hams”, who were anxious for field day to begin. We made our way inside to the area Ben intended to lead his session.

Ben stepped us through the process of mounting electrical components to a printed circuit board. He took the time to show my daughter how to solder correctly, and we were off and running. Following a combination of the schematic, and Ben’s input, my daughter managed to construct a home made “home brew” Morse code oscillator.


I was extremely impressed with how quickly my daughter picked up soldering. She had nice, neat work, and was a stickler to making sure everything was neat on the board. Ben did an excellent job of teaching, and a great time was had by all.

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When we finished the oscillator, we moved over to the antenna station. We intended to construct “Tape Measure Yagi” antennas. Several of the members of the W5UMS club were assembling them while we were working on code oscillators, so by the time we got there, we had the benefit of their experience. I had my daughter do the bulk of the measuring, while I did the cutting. Everything came out as expected, and we got it assembled and tested relatively quickly.


As if the building of some cool home made tech wasn’t cool enough, my 11 year old daughter got to get on the radio. She made several contacts all over the country.


We would like to thank the folks of the W5UMS Amateur Radio Club, the Lafayette County Fire Dept., and all of the hams who made yesterday a great experience for everyone. I would especially like to thank Ben, who took the time to lug all his equipment and components to the site and set up, willing to work with us on our building projects.

All in all, this was project based learning at it’s best. Amateur radio offers many opportunities for students and adults alike to be involved. Take the time to do a little searching, and see who is around you who is a ham. Odds are, they are more than willing to help you and your students experience ham radio. Another fine resource is http://www.arrl.org, a site full of great information. Ham radio gives students not only the technical side of the hobby, but hams are big into public service as well, something we tend to miss out on in school all to often.

So, as we say on the radio,

73 (look that one up if you are curious 🙂 )