Interview With Bryce, KB1LQC & Brent, KB1LQD Of RITARC | Part 1 Of 2

I met Bryce, KB1LQC through Twitter and immediately connected with his CollegeARC project. There are visionaries and leaders, when the attributes of both combine, the result is innovation in addition to a map into our future.

Bryce and Brent, KB1LQD who are twin brothers, are on the adventure of a lifetime while chartering unknown territory toward the middle of our century.

Share with us how you got your start in ham radio?
We both became involved in amateur radio during our Sophomore year of high school in the Fall of 2004. Prior to that Brent and I were constantly tinkering with things and fascinated by mechanical and electrical systems.

Brent obtained a Gordon West study guide for the technician class exam around 2003 however we never got around to using it to obtain our license. My dad who was licensed a year or so after we were with the call sign KB1MGI is a firefighter/EMT. Consequently, throughout our whole lives we have always been around fire/police scanners which instilled an interest in radio communications to some degree.

Then in the summer of 2004 we met our neighbor, W1XH, who gave us a few QST’s and some inspiration. After that my dad bought us the ARRL Technician study guide and a CW key with a practice oscillator. That Fall I had my Technician class license with a CSCE for code credit and Brent had his Technician license (CSCE for code credit came a month later for him). Both of us upgraded to Generals the following December and one year to the day of my call sign being issued, I was awarded an Extra class radio amateur licensed in the Fall of 2005.

So yes, I managed to do all three in exactly one year!

Tell us about your high school amateur radio club experience?
Amateur radio is not our only hobby. In fact, Brent and I are avid mountain cyclist and pretty active members of the New England Mountain Bike Association, NEMBA, when we are home in Massachusetts. Brent and I resurrected the Chelmsford High School Mountain Bike Club during our Sophomore year of high school, just as we were getting into amateur radio. One of the advisers for that club was David Steeves who teaches physics at CHS. Long story short, after riding with him he also became interested in the hobby and he too got his license around 2005 obtaining the call sign KB1MKW.

Starting fresh in the Fall of 2006 Brent and I were working with Dave as our advisor to start the Chelmsford High School Amateur Radio Club (CHSARC). Shortly thereafter the club was awarded the call sign KB1NAY and operated with our own personal equipment for several months. We obtained and won the ARRL “Big Project” grant in 2006 which gave our club several thousand dollars worth of equipment including a Yeasu FT-897, Cushcraft R-6000 vertical antenna, and some other odds and ends to make the station work.

The least I can say is that the ARRL “Big Project” was an amazing opportunity for the club.

Brent and I ran the club until we graduated in 2007 and headed for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). KB1NAY is still operating to this day but with the vanity call sign N1CHS which I helped them obtain in the Fall of 2009. I am proud to say that after visiting the school during breaks from RIT, N1CHS had about 10 members in the 2009-2010 academic year.

One of the most important aspects of starting the high school club was being able to adjust from the traditional outlook on ham radio to a point of view of the hobby from a perspective more in line with today’s high school mentality. We adjusted to catch the interest of the students and it worked. We’ve since taken those ideas to RIT and they also seem to be working quite well.

One of the reasons N1CHS is still going strong, besides being managed by Dave KB1MKW, is that neither Brent nor I lost communications with the club. We attend meetings when we are home and always check in to see if they need something.

Who influenced your zeal for home brewing equipment?
Home brewing equipment was the main interest in obtaining our amateur radio licenses. Both of us would constantly be taking things apart though we had no idea how to put them back together at the time but that didn’t matter. I vividly remember having an old rototiller where the engine had died when I was really young. My parents let me take it apart. My dad literally gave me some tools and I just took the one piston four stroke engine apart. It may not have been electrical but I was absolutely fascinated by seeing the parts move and understanding that all those parts made up a much larger system which propelled the machine.

My first contact in amateur radio was made on a home brewed CW transmitter for 40 meters. It was a design called the “Michigan Mighty Mite” and was simply a Pierce oscillator attached to an antenna. It operated in the Tech-Plus CW band and put out about 500 mW.

I used a borrowed Icom receiver from one of my dads fire/EMT radio friends. I laugh at it today but at the time we didn’t even have coaxial cable. I used a CAT5 LAN cable with all eight wires soldered together as transmission line to the antenna. Oh’ the novel days of being inexperienced! Furthermore, Brent and I always joke that we didn’t obtain access to a VHF rig or any repeaters until after we had our General licenses. We just couldn’t afford it at the time.

What factor(s) propelled your decision to obtain a degree in electrical engineering?
Hands down it was amateur radio for both of us. Without being given the opportunity to build a radio or related electronics and then using it to make a contact I doubt the field of electrical engineering would have caught my attention. Being able to tinker with electronics in the hobby was a defining experience for both Brent and I. We also met numerous engineers in the hobby where we were able to obtain a better understanding of technical fields.

I must joke that neither of us will claim to be good at math, neither of us are one of those students where the guidance counselor in high school suggested to go into engineering! Quite honestly every time we walk into the cooperative education office here at RIT and show them our resume they always ask us why we are not Electrical Engineering Technology majors.

The difference being that both of us have an incredible amount of experience with hands on aspects of electronics. Amateur radio even helped us obtain an internship in the microwave engineering field during high school. We may struggle at the math but no matter how tough it can get, both of us are passionate enough to never give up.

Electrical engineering is what we want to do.

Tell us about your role as Vice President of the Rochester Institute of Technology Amateur Radio Club?
As Vice President of K2GXT I am responsible for odds and ends that they President (Brent) needs to get done as well as serving as the projects manager. Honestly, Brent and I work closely together so the lines between President and Vice President are often blurred between us since we both operate on the same wavelength (pun intended!).

During the 2009-2010 academic year I decided that the club should put a huge effort into the Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival which was held on May 1st 2010, it was a huge success for K2GXT; we had an incredible amount of interest in amateur radio from a large number of the 32,000 visitors to the event.

Mind you, 32,000 people attended the festival at RIT from just 10AM until 5PM. It is safe to say that we were busy!

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

P.S. Part two will follow sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Scot Morrison, KA3DRR, is a regular contributor to and writes from California, USA.

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