Youth – Bringing in the next generation

Christine Duez KK4KJN – ARRL West Central Florida Section Youth Coordinator


What does Amateur Radio have for Kids and Teens? Plenty!

If you like FUN and EXCITEMENT Amateur Radio is for YOU!

March 3, 2020, I had the honor of visiting the River Ridge High School for an amazing nine and one half minute conversation. Two years ago, the school Media Tech, Linda Wells Nowicki, KN4TYA, heard about a program for students to talk with the International Space Station (ISS). A year later, she mentioned the idea to Steven Snow, the Aerospace Science teacher. Together they embarked on a mission – talking to the ISS. River Ridge High School has over 1,700 students, all were involved in the adventure. For the past year students have written essays, learned geometry and other math skills, painted pictures, studied space, and learned about many aspects of living and working in space. The nutrition class even sampled the dehydrated food the astronauts enjoy. Today their goal of talking with the ISS was realized.

Students waiting for contact with the ISS.

Many groups want to contact the ISS, but the application process is rigorous. RRHS signed up for a spot and were one of only nine schools in America to get a slot. Requirements were many, so they consulted with Kathy Lamont, from the Education Committee of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and David Jordan, AA4KN, Technical Specialist, ARISS, to get all the details right. For the equipment, they talked with Ralph MeCullough, WA3YFQ, and the Golf Coast Amateur Radio Club (WA4GDN). Here is a list of some of the equipment they used for the contact. Antennas, 2MCP14 from M2 Inc. and an ARX-2B from Cushcraft as a backup. The coax was LMR-400. There were preamps on both antennas, they were on loan from Drew Glasbrenner. (Thank you, Drew.)The rotor was a Yaesu G-5500 with Yaesu GS-232b computer interface. The radios used were a Yaesu FT-847 as primary with a Yaesu FT-991a as backup.

Nine students talking with Dr. Morgan on the ISS

The auditorium had a full screen map of the world with the trajectory of the ISS. Students could watch it’s progress. It was amazing, there were 1,700 high school students intently watching as the ISS approached. It was an electrifying moment when the first words of astronaut Morgan were heard. The transmission was perfect and the entire QSO went perfectly. The contact was made between NA1SS and WA3YFQ at 10:17 and was audible over the state of Florida and adjacent areas. Interested parties could listen in on the 145.80 MHz downlink. Nine students had the honor of asking astronaut Dr. Drew Morgan a few question during the 9.5 minute contact. Check out the entire program video on the Gulf Coast Amateur Radio webpage:

The school now has all the equipment they need and the students have great enthusiasm to start an Amateur Radio Club at the school!

If you are interested in starting a school club, we have printed information and videos that you can use. Please help us get the next generation started on this lifelong journey.

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More exciting avenues to explore:


Be a First Responder. Suppose a hurricane hits the West Central Florida Section? When all normal communication fails, ham radio gets the message through. You could be there to help. Youth Getting Ready for Irma


The Emergency Antenna Platform System (E-APS) is a tool you can use to turn any parking lot lamp post into and instant antenna tower. This is a great place to use showcase you skills and get a huge return in success and accomplishment. Many hams enjoy antenna building. It may be your favorite part of the amateur radio experience.


Get a HEAD START on the future. Being proficient at ham radio will build your confidence, help you make sound decisions, and give you solid experience for your résumé.



Some places you might want to investigate:

The phonetic alphabet – essential for accurate and efficient communications Phonetic Alphabet

Get an amateur tech license with your own unique call sign: All about ham licenses

Here is a simple book to explain ham radio: