R-MA Ham Radio Club Roundup

During the nationwide School Club Roundup Week held this past October, the Randolph-Macon Academy “Ham” Radio Club, WA4RMA, made contact with radio operators and clubs in 33 states, as well as Canada, Germany, Italy, and France.

Greg Butler, who assists R-MA Uniform Store Manager MSgt Stephen Pederson, USAF, Retired, with the R-MA group, explained that the point of the School Club Roundup is for students to get on the radio and contact as many other stations as they can within the week.

Ethan Mayo ‘21 added, “Since the radio bands are more crowded with operators in the afternoon/evening, the scheduled intramural time was perfect to hear about other radio operators and where they were calling from.”

Ethan went on to explain that there are two basic strategies in making contacts. “Most people find a frequency where other people are already talking and try to make contact there,” he said. “However, you could find a quiet part of the band and start calling for contacts. When you set up on an empty frequency, you are hoping that someone scrolling through the band catches you making a CQ call (asking for contacts) and contacts you. Operators typically start flooding into the frequency you are on after a few minutes of calling because they are looking for contacts as well. My team and I liked this method more because we could get more contacts in a shorter period of time than the other method. At one point in the competition, we were making back-to-back contacts with stations from around the world for a solid 45 minutes.”

The scoring for the event is scaled; for example, contacting other school amateur radio clubs is worth more than contacting an individual radio operator. Contacting a country outside of the U.S. and Canada is worth additional points. 

R-MA’s contacts for the fall included: 

  • 248 station contacts
  • 33 U.S. States
  • 2 Canadian Provinces
  • 3 Countries (Germany, Italy, France)
  • 1 Club
  • 14 School Clubs

The Academy’s final score was 27,280, which put them in sixth place out of 14 schools throughout the country. Scores ranged from a low of 76 to a high of 154,275.

“Part of what we hope to accomplish here is to not only bring up the next generation of amateur radio operators, but also give the students something that is both a lifelong hobby and could potentially impact their careers,” said Mr. Butler. He named several professionals who hold amateur radio licenses, including electrical engineers, physicists, and the astronauts on the International Space Station. 

“Overall, I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to participate in next week's school club roundup,” said Ethan, referring to the Winter School Club Amateur Radio Roundup, which will be held February 10th-14th. “Hopefully, we will place in the top three stations nationwide.”

Author's Note: Just before the Winter Radio Club Roundup began, MSgt Pederson shared an article from DVIDS about the relevance of Ham Radio technology in today's world.