Interview With Bryce, KB1LQC And Brent, KB1LQD Of RITARC | Part 2 Of 2
Their vision is bold and their commentary on the state of ham radio is noteworthy. We are, in their words, at a crossroad; one that is deciding the direction of our hobby into the middle of this century and beyond.
Who else but KB1LQC and KB1LQD, young men at the beginning of their careers, could deliver a message to those capable of creating required change?
What kind of ham radio related activities is RITARC involved in these days?
The RIT Amateur Radio Club is one of those clubs I feel is taking a different approach to the hobby. As I stated earlier, there is a difference between the traditional outlook on the hobby and the demands of the current generation of students in high school and college. K2GXT is very much into utilizing amateur radio for various technical aspects, not just operating.
The club has been promoting various uses to advance technology rather than simply operating HF or other bands. As a group we are also very good at promoting amateur radio along with our club to the student body as well as RIT administration. For the last two years straight we’ve won the RIT Clubs Showcase “Best in Show” award which pitches 10 clubs against each other to present themselves to RIT administrators who then vote for their favorite and most innovative club.
We know how to make our presence, effectively get our point across, and deliver a memorable presentation.
For example, we recently redesigned and constructed a 12 foot long RC blimp from scratch which utilizes ATV video on-board. Just search YouTube for some of the videos uploaded this past May! Brent is designing an optical communications system for long distance light transmission. So far he has obtained about 1/4 mile from his efforts. This may not be amateur radio but many techniques learned from the hobby have been utilized.
We just obtained the ability to design, etch, and construct our on PC boards right in our clubroom. Finally, this summer I hope to design a simple Software Defined Radio much like the softrock kit while here at RIT. Both the light receiver and SDR have the potential to become a K2GXT kit for promotional purposes.
We may be veering off from most college clubs but we are seeing a huge amount of interest from the student body. Next year may be a defining moment for the clubs’ membership. Today’s students just don’t seem to be impressed with long distance QSO’s or repeater contacts, at least initially.
Many of my peers might not truly realize that a cell phone is simply a radio. We are becoming quite an abstract society with the technology granted to us. Brent and I have found that by introducing the hobby through alternative methods such as projects and other technological advancements with amateur radio, we are able to grab the interest of younger people.
Tradition will never die, once in the hobby they are exposed to the numerous traditions of DXing, QSL cards, etc. I am excited to see where the RIT Amateur Radio Club is able to go with this next year.
What mode of operation is trending within the club?
RIT keeps most of us busy enough with its academic rigor combined with the quarter system (10 week courses, very fast paced) that we don’t get to operate nearly as much as Brent or I would enjoy seeing. The club did do a lot of operating during this past Fall (2009) and focused mainly on 20 meter SSB and PSK31. Many new club members did a fine job and were interested but unfortunately everyone got hit pretty hard winter quarter with school commitments, it’s a problem many organizations at RIT deal with, the quarter system has obtained a love-hate relationship.
This summer Brent and I are redesigning the clubroom which is located underground in the academic tunnel system to be much more operation friendly. It was setup a few years ago bye people with great intentions but not too much HF operating experience. We hope to make it really inviting to sit down and grab some DX!
What about third year varsity oarsmen for the NCAA Division 3 crew team?
First off, Brent and I no longer row for RIT. Brent obtained a rather bad injury in the beginning of his Varsity year (2nd year) and I had to leave this past year about halfway through my third year rowing due to academics. Rowing is one of those sports that few truly understand. It’s an intense commitment and being proactive, I decided it was better to leave the team than to let my grades suffer; I was going to bed at 4:00am and getting up at 5:30am several nights a week.
Very few people knew that the rowing season goes six days a week and from four to six hours a day from early September through late May. Rowing has been “grandfathered” into the NCAA so it follows the US Rowing regulations as opposed to NCAA regulations; simply meaning that we practice full speed all year.
I have learned a lot about pushing myself both mentally and physically from being on the team as well as how to manage my time. I thought I was busy in high school!
To put it in perspective, I’m not where near the normal height of a rower, most mistook Brent and I for coxswains! Perseverance, mental toughness, and having the ability to deal with a large amount of self-induced lactic acid pain allowed me to row for RIT. Since I am shorter than most rowers I had to push harder just to obtain the same speed as my peers who had more leverage on the oars.
A good analogy for what it’s like to row a 2 Km race would be to put 90 or so pounds on a leg press machine and do 225 leg presses in six or seven minutes without stopping. Crew will be one of those adventures in college that I will miss!
What are your goals after graduation?
Both of us are toying with the idea of Graduate school. Ironically or not, both of us are deeply interested in analog electrical engineering. We both have an interest in further studies involving the analog/mixed signal design field. If not, both of us are obviously RF geeks and want to do something with radio communications.
I have also found an interest in UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) and similar areas so maybe I’ll be able to find a job that blends the two together! Too bad NASA cancelled the constellation program… HIHI.
Where do you see ham radio in the year 2020?
This is a big one. I honestly can’t say for sure but I will say that the hobby is at a crossroads. I feel that many radio amateurs are committed to keeping traditional views of amateur radio the main course of the hobby. This includes things such as DXing, QSL cards, SSB, CW, etc.
Honestly, I don’t see the hobby grabbing the attention of a large majority of the coming generations if it stays on that course. Yes, we have small niches involved in building satellites, software defined radios, and other very technical areas but overall the hobby is very much focused on the same goals it was in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
I’d like to see the hobby as a whole take a step back, look at what the 15-25 year old generation is more responsive to, and go from there.
It is apparent now that mobile communications has been integrated with personal computers which have been further integrated with the Internet. The key word for today’s generations is “integration”, building a 40 meter CW rig may be neat but in the overall picture we have more people who could potentially be involved in amateur radio who are interested in much larger integrations of technology. As radio amateurs we have a critical advantage, spectrum. Use it or loose it as they say.
The engineering field itself is seeing declining interest, why can’t we become the “De-facto” hobby for students interested in engineering? Not just electrical engineers either. Aerospace, mechanical, software, and other engineering disciplines all have the ability to integrate one form or another of amateur radio into their projects. So what if it’s not DXing. Maybe they will become interested in that too!
When amateur radio first started in the early 1900’s think about what it was then. Radio technology was still in its infancy. A brunt of the hobby was involved in experimenting with technology for almost half a century; if you wanted to be on the forefront of communications technology then you got your amateur radio license.
Studying the early years of amateur radio has shown me that around the time-frame following World War II our current traditions were created. Think about it, radio technology allowed for easier communications around the world with surplus equipment. We must move on!
I personally feel we need to look back into our roots of experimenting and try to use the radio spectrum available to us for more technologically advanced applications. This should grab the interest of many high school and college aged people with an interest in technology.
I’ll end this with an analogy. Don’t try to sell a car to someone who isn’t interested in purchasing a car, it’s much more effective to sell a car to someone who is interested in buying one in the first place. Now tell me where amateur radio can improve its promotional campaigns?
73 from shack relaxation zone.