Tonight I participated in the ARRL Zoom-inar where three leaders described a new grant program where ARRL will be giving away grants in amounts between $5000 and $25000 to amateur radio clubs.

This gave me a little more time to think about what we at CI could do (and what we might need to do) to submit a competitive grant proposal.  This document captures some of the ideas that were kicking around my cranium.

Incentives for licenses

Have a budget line for an effort to create an incentive for students (and alumni) to pursue an amateur radio license.  [Could also consider an incentive to upgrade a license?]

For a student who takes and passes the Technician exam, the club would use ARRL grant funds to reimburse them for the cost of taking this exam.  This cost is about $50 and consists of a

  • $15 charge to the VEC for administration, and a
  • $35 charge to the FCC for processing a new license. The student can submit proof of passing the exam (e.g., a picture of the FCC form with VEC signatures) to the club treasurer, who can the submit a request for reimbursement to the student.  If we are concerned that reimbursements will take too long, a faculty member can write the student a check and the student can write a note validating that the faculty member should be reimbursed for the license-reklated costs.

The cost of incentivizing 20 licenses per year this way would be $1000.

If we include an ARRL ham radio mini log book for each new licensee ($7.95 + 7.24% CA sales tax), that brings the cost of a 20-license effort up to about $1171.

Speakers on Campus

If we wanted ot host speakers on campus, we could write into the grant a budget line for a small honorarium of $100 and we could cover the cost of a parking permit.  The per person cost would be $106.  If we have 15 speakers (one every-other week), this effort would cost $1,590.

Radio Resource Materials

Grant funds could be used to make up-to-date radio resources available to the CI community and the Camarillo community.  We could purchase a set of books in triplicate, where one set has the Radio Shack as its home, another set gets put on permanent open reserve in Broome Library, and the third set gets added to the collection at the Camarillo Public Library.  Perhaps the books in the Camarillo Public Library could have a ‘donated by’ plate in the front to draw attention to the University club?

Books to consider would include

  • The ARRL Ham Radio License manual, $32.95
  • The ARRL General Class License manual, $32.95
  • The ARRL Extra Class License manual, $32.95
  • The ARRL Antenna Book, $49.95
  • The ARRL Operating Manual, $49.95
  • The ARRL Handbook, $49.95 A set costs about $249 (+ 7.25% CA sales tax), so a three sets of these books costs about $802.  If we want to take it one step further, we could talk about getting a set for each of the high schools in the area:  Rancho Campana, Adolfo Camarillo, and Rio Mesa.  Those we’d definitely want to have book plates in the front that point attention to our campus club.

“Get On The Air” Station

During the Zoom-inar, someone mentioned the idea of a ‘Get On The Air’ station.  I interpreted this to be some sort of radio station that can located in an area with foot traffic so passers-by can be cajoled into coming over, picking up a mic, and saying something into the ether.  This sounds like a fantastic ‘get out the word’ activity for campus, and for other places.

I could imaging the club having regular ‘Get On The Air’ hours during the week were we take a station into the central mall and chat away with people around us and people on the air.  We could advertise the GOTA hours to the local ham community in the hopes that some of those folks would be out there, ready to rag chew with students.

What would a GOTA station look like?  It could be something in a go-box or multiple go-boxes, but a box hides components that might interest some people.  It might be more like a collection of things that we can keep sorted in a portable box but that are meant to be set up on a table under a canopy with the ‘Sushi Ham’ brand boldly printed across it.

A GOTA station could also be something that club members could set up in other locations around town to help the public take notice of amateur radio and what it does for the public.  It could be set up at

  • a library,
  • a school,
  • a park,
  • a farmer’s market,
  • a fair,
  • a campus open house or event (e.g., move-in day),
  • a shopping center, or any other place where there’s foot traffic where people might stop to ask questions about radio and show some interest in ‘getting on the air’ themselves.

If we had two or more GOTA stations, and if we deployed them at different locations in the county at the same time, there would be a guaranteed voice at the other end of their microphone to talk with.

Having a GOTA station would also provide a way for new club members to learn how to set up gear themselves, gaining confidence in the care and feeding of radio kit.

I guess it should also be said that the campus Radio Room we hope to occupy soon can also serve as a GOTA station, though an immobile one.  The club could (and probably should) maintain regular open door hours to welcome community members (mostly students, staff, and faculty) to see the radios and get a chance to talk into that microphone and make a contact.  Those hours could form the basis of a continual awareness/advertising campaign on campus that welcomes people to drop by.  When they drop by, we can invite them to join the mailing list and to a meeting.

GOTA on Santa Rosa Island

One unique experience we could offer is to set up a GOTA station on Santa Rosa Island near the pier or camp grounds.  If the radio team stayed over night at the research station, the GOTA station could be active for multiple days.  If our visit coincided with a Parks on the Air event, we could combine the public awareness work with amassing contest contacts!

There are any number of things we could do with and on Santa Rosa Island such as

  • testing UHF+VHF connectivity with campus,
  • testing AREDN connectivity with campus,
  • experimenting with a mobile repeater to support comms into Lobo Canyon,
  • Summits on the Air with peak W6/SC-336, and
  • playing with any HF/UHF/VHF go box. and having a GOTA station would enrich any of these activities.

Getting out to Santa Rosa Island is not cheap.  A round-trip, overnight ticket costs $120 per person.  A multi-day visit also has a nominal lodging cost of $15 per person if there is space in teh bunkhouse.  The alternative would be camping in the Park Service camp ground which costs about $10 per night per site.  This means a trip would cost $145-170 per person before accounting for food.  A line in the ARRL budget that would send 6-10 club members to the island for work would sum to about $870-$1700 before adding the cost of food.