This document is meant to pull together a few ideas the club might consider as focal activities or one-off topics of conversations at a meeting.

Ways to get on the air

This would be a topic for a meeting, and maybe it would be an annual topic for people who are new to radio.

Just beacuse you have a license doesn’t mean you know how to use the radio or know how to get on the air and talk with people. (Or listen to other people talk.)

We could talk about talking on simplex, using local repeaters, using linked repeaters, finding and participating in organized nets (e.g., our local BORED net).

An on-going aspect of this topic might include a regular club-run net on the local repeaters. We’ll call it the Sushi Net. We could encourage local folks to participate as regularly as possible, and if we timed the net right, (licensed) people on campus could participate in publice areas were passers-by could hear and participate.

SOTA incentives

Summits on the Air (SOTA) is a radio tradition where operators summit one of any number of heights (see for summits that are in play) with a UHF/VHF HT and make contacts from there.

To encourage club members to get out in the backcountry and to get on the air, we could run an internal competition for the number of SOTA contacts made by club members.

This activity might be appealing to those who like the out-of-doors, and it might encourage such folks to get licensed. Anyone with a technicians license could fully participate.

Local ‘summits’ include Satwiwa (aka, Round Mountain), Conjeo Mountain, La Jolla Peak, and 1370 W6/SC-452. On Santa Rosa Island there’s Santa Rosa Island W6/SC-336, which would be quite a hike from the Research Station. (I’m surprised Black Mountain isn’t on the SOTA list.). And of course there are tons of summits in the Los Padres Forest and in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Build a Go-Box

As a club, we could have building a go-box as a group project. We could work from design, construction, and deployment. Box variations could include

  • UHF+VHF box
  • HF box
  • UHV+VHF+HF box
  • AREDN box
  • repeater box And boxed could include digital communications options, too.

Boxes could be deployed for field days. New students could learn to use the boxes at micro-field days.

Boxes could also be deployed for other contests like Parks On the Air

This wouldn’t be a cheap project, but funds could be drawn from campus budgets when a box could be deployed to support faculty and student research in that department (e.g., ESRM work on Santa Rosa Island). Grants would also be a source of funds for a go-box project.

Fox Hunts

Using radios to locate the source of radio transmisions is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. This skill is useful, for example, when trying to locate a downed airplane by tracking its radio transponder.

One way clubs pracrtice this skill is through fox hunts. This appears to be a popular activity for folks in Southern California (in the San Diego direction).

This might even be an activity that doesn’t require an amateur radio license?

For us to support regular fox hunts as a way to get people interested in amateur radio, we’d probably need a cache of HTs to loan out.

California Big Shake-Out Event

Around October 20th of each year, California has a state-wide earthquake drill. The Ventura County ACS+ARES group tries to have special events on this day, and it encourages local amateurs to submit ‘Did You Feel It’ (DYFI) reports via Winlink immediately after a ‘simulated’ earthquake. They also encourage amateurs to send welfare messages to out-of-town friends and family; they also encourage reaching out to neighbors to offer to send simulated welfare messages to their out-of-town families as part of the drill.

The club could actively participate in these activities on campus to (1) practice their radio skills, and (2) raise the visibility of the club on campus.

Radios in the Backcountry

The SOTA activity above is one example of using radios as an excuse to get into the back country, but we could make up our own club game/contest that involved getting on the air and making contacts or sending messages from remote locations.

If we had the resources to do it, the club could offset some of hte cost of getting into the backcountry (or getting to a trailhead), for example if we had grant money that could be used in that way.

Morse Code

The club could support students who want to learn Morse code. There are local club-related activities that support new learners and other practitioners. The club could become actively involved with those.

And we could use CW in create ways on campus. For example, we could have an LED beacon the roof of Del Norte that could blink a message in CW relaying any number of things. Decode the message and enter a drawing for a prize? This could be something any student could participate in.

The above idea would require the creation of some mechanism for encoding and sending the message, but that should be easy enough to do with a Raspberry Pi or Arduino, right? Another club project.

Public Service

If we’re thinking about contests or if we have deep pockets, we could reward club members who participate in the club and volunteer for public service events by giving them their own HT. It might be a used club HT. Or it might be a gift toward the purchase of their own new HT.

A contest or reward system like this celebrates the joy of public service and may help students adopt volunteerism as a life-long habit.

As we broaden what we include in public service events to include support of social justice, an incentive program like this would help motivate students to participate.

Because a large proportion of the CI student body are Pell eligible and have significant financial aid, it’s reasonable to think that lowering the barrier to acquiring a radio will increase the likelihood that our students will explore radio and its uses.