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Magic in the Air: The BYU Amateur Radio Club

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Photo by Nate Edwards

Real-life applications of engineering principles are all around, even in unexpected activities. Amateur (or ham) radios are one of those applications. The BYU Ham Radio Club includes several electrical and computer engineering students who have found interest in amateur radio and the engineering principles that play an integral part in the radios’ function.

Bryan Redd, the vice president of the Ham Radio Club said, “Everything about the club [is related to engineering]: circuits, signal processing, RF engineering, and more. Signal processing is what got me interested initially because I took the class and they explained FM and AM. It’s magical that that could actually work.”

Moreover, Spencer Ammermon, the president of the club, said, “There’s so much crossover between the amateur radio and electrical engineering. Ham radio gives you a good sampling of pretty much every discipline in electrical and computer engineering. You’ll do everything from digital logic to power electronics to RF to signal processing to computer science things, everything. I always tell people who are interested in the ham radio club that they can take any interest they already have, and then find something within amateur radio that applies to it.”

The Ham Radio club is one of the oldest clubs on BYU campus. The purpose of the club aligns with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “not only advance radio communications and technical skills but also to enhance international goodwill.” (AARL)

Because of that directive, the club hosts weekly activities to accomplish those goals. Some weeks are focused on trainings and roleplays, while others include building projects, listening to experienced speakers, or contesting in local and national competitions. Last month, the club helped with Hike and Light the Y by sending important messages back and forth via ham radio.

Ammermon said, “Within the club, we do lots of different activities. Some include teaching and learning because there are different levels of license classes, so we’ll help each other study for the upgraded licenses. We’ll do building projects where we build our own antennas and receivers. Some include the actual equipment that’s in the Wilk, like the stuff that interfaces with the antennas on the roof, the repeaters that are there.”

As this year’s president, Ammermon would like to encourage club members to find their passion within amateur radio.

“I make sure that club members over the course of the semester or year or however long they’re in the club are able to find their passion within amateur radio because I don’t want it to be something where people just end up getting their license and radio and it just sits in a box, Ammermon said. “Honestly, coming to a club meeting once a week isn’t going to change that. It’s up to the individual to find their own passion within amateur radio.”

Members of the club who are from the Electrical and Computer Engineering program include Spencer Ammermon, Bryan Redd, Autumn Twitchell, Chad Beardall, Craig Bidstrup, and Austin Kerr.