Open tool boxes, orange and black drills, measuring tapes and rulers, copper pipe and wire, a soldering iron and even a wooden board lay scattered across the tables, as members of the Amateur Radio Society got to work building another antenna.
Justin Wilson, a member of the Amateur Radio Society and a sophomore studying computer information technology, picked up a Yagi antenna. Wilson said the name Yagi came from the name of one of the original creators, built from yellow tape measure lengths and white PVC pipe and pointed it toward the wall as he explained it is a directional antenna, so it can only receive and transmit signals in the direction someone points it.
This antenna is an example of one of the many different kinds of antennas the society has built. Gordon Walker, a sophomore studying financial economics, built another antenna that sends and receives a signal in a doughnut shape from the radio and increases the ham radio’s ability to receive or transmit at further distances.
These various antennas equip society members to achieve their ultimate goal of communicating with a wide variety of people.
“You get to meet a lot of really awesome people who are trying to do the same thing, build and learn and grow,” said Thomas Lake, president of the Amateur Radio Society and a junior studying computer engineering.
Society members have communicated with people from Japan, Washington D.C., Nevada and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Daniel Thomson, a sophomore studying computer engineering, said one of the things he enjoys most about the society is “that prospect of speaking to the international space station, or speaking to a dude up in Alaska, or speaking to someone on an island somewhere.”
Along with getting to know a variety of people from multiple places, being part of the Amateur Radio Society presents opportunities for service.
When a disaster strikes and regular communication lines are down, ham radios and the people with licenses to use them help. Lake said people can get on the radio and figure out who still has power and who needs it. The society has also helped with many of the running events around Rexburg, such as a run for refugee event last fall semester and the Teton Dam marathon.
According to the National Association for Amateur Radio, “Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the internet or cell phones.”
And the student society at BYU-Idaho is doing just that; building, learning, reaching out and serving by keeping tuned into the world of ham radio.