Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) has many student organizations well known for the technical skills they teach and utilize, namely their design teams. But one of Missouri S&T’s lesser known yet equally technical clubs is the local amateur radio station W0EEE. For those who don’t know, amateur radio is traditionally an old hobby for enthusiasts who get licensed from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to communicate on amateur radio bands and learn about the many aspects of radio technology. As the president - Thomas Francois - puts it, “Amateur Radio is a hobby best described as a petting zoo for radios”.
Most people tend to be interested in the “cooler” things amateur radio allows people to do; such as contacting stations across the globe, managing stations from servers, and even having conversations with satellites like the International Space Station (ISS). Some current projects W0EEE is working on include setting up a software based network between the schools in the University of Missouri System, fine tuning a system to contact satellites, setting up the antennas on Emerson Hall and Thomas Jefferson (TJ) Hall, and overhauling the repeater system on TJ’s roof for which members have TJ rooftop access during work weekends. For those that are more competitive, W0EEE also hosts two other types of events called Foxhunts and Sweepstakes. Foxhunts are local competitions where students try to find a broadcasting position with handheld radios and Sweepstakes are national or state wide competitions where stations compete to make the most contacts within a designated amount of time.
If you happen to already be in a design team, another selling point of W0EEE is how the skills practiced there are directly applicable to other teams. For example, one student used the skills learned from W0EEE in the implementation of a radio based tracking system to find the pyLoad after rocket launching for the rocket design team.
For people more into practical applications of amateur radio, W0EEE also has activities planned to begin helping electrical engineering students learn about radio frequency propagation. Likely to begin during the 2020 Spring Semester, students enrolled in certain classes will be given access to a handheld radio once they have their amateur radio license. While they have the handheld radios, students will have the opportunity to experiment with how radio waves behave when transmitting around corners, when the antennas are tilted, etc. Students will simply have to check the radios out with the club and return them later at the end of the semester.
W0EEE places an emphasis on independent exploration and allows its members to use the club’s equipment whenever they need to. Many consider this a good deal given W0EEE is easily one of the largest amateur radio stations in the country and consistently places first or second in every competition they participate in. The club meets every Tuesday evening for either a business meeting or an open shack night. To get started, simply contact the the club and arrange to get a technician's license. To do this the club offers test oriented classes and proctors the exam for free. Further details relating to the club can be found on MST Engage.
Image from Thomas Francois (Club President)