My friend Neil, WB9VPG is far too humble to boast about this but it made front page news so let me share the accomplishments of the Ham and his High School Ham Radio Club - he's the guy behind the mic in HAM TALK LIVE and a Ham who is getting new student-hams into the hobby and on the air - all winning in the process. Neil - sincere congrats and thank you for the effort to elmer the newcomers ! Keep up the momentum ! https://www.hoosiertimes.com/herald_times_online/news/local/k-sou-amateur-radio-operators-are-three-time-world-champions/article_b9a1664f-d787-54c5-b720-3c685d1cd1fa.html THE HERALD TIMES, BLOOMINGTON IN FRONT PAGE FEATURE: JANUARY 28, 2019 Once a week, the students of Bloomington South’s Amateur Radio Club head up to the school’s penthouse and reach out to the world. “Kilo-Nine-Sierra-Oscar-Uniform, CQ, CQ,” they call onto the airwaves, issuing an open invitation to other amateur radio operators to get in touch with them. Using a rotor and antenna to direct their signal and an amplifier to boost their range, the ARC members scroll through frequencies transmitting their call sign: K9SOU. The club’s work on the airwaves is paying off. On Jan. 1, the team received oicial notification that they’d won first place in the high school division of the American Radio Relay League School Club Roundup competition — for the third time in a row. And that’s not all: They also won first place overall, beating out college teams including Georgia Tech, Purdue University and Harvard, making them world champions in the School Club Roundup competition. The competition took place Oct. 15-19, and students were limited to a total of 24 hours in that time frame. They received their oicial notice of victory just a few weeks before the next competition, which takes place over the week of Valentine’s Day. In the roundup, which challenges amateur radio clubs to communicate with as many call signs as possible, the three current members of South’s amateur radio club made 746 contacts, reaching each U.S. state and 33 countries, including Canada and as far away as Algeria, Bosnia, the Canary Islands, Russia, Namibia, Svalbard and Portugal. “We try to talk to as many other schools as possible,” said Neil Rapp, the club’s sponsor. “That’s kind of the intent of the contest, is to get school clubs around the world on the air at the same time, so the kids can talk to other kids.” They talked to 44 schools in this year’s competition, but they don’t limit themselves to schools. “We also just try to contact anybody and everybody that’s on the ham radio, and try to cram in as many as we possibly can in that time.” The student radio club has been around since 1942, when it belonged to Bloomington High School. It’s been going on and off ever since, including a year during World War II when it shut down because the government needed all the radio frequencies, Rapp said. It had been on hiatus for some time before Rapp revived it in 2001. Notable contacts include the International Space Station in 2006 and an expedition on Antarctica’s Peter I Island. The club has had a few dozen members at a time. This year, after many older members graduated, the club is down to three members: Trevor Cutshall, Zach Kasper and Adam Terry. Certainly the club’s small size hasn’t hurt its world standing, but Rapp would still like to promote interest in the group. Ham radio operation brings into play several fields of science, not to mention geography and foreign language knowledge. “There’s all kinds of chemistry and physics there with how the radio waves work, how they bounce off the atmosphere, what causes interference on the radio and things like that,” Rapp said. “There’s a lot of connections to a lot of school subjects. This just reinforces what they’re learning.” It’s also a useful skill. During natural disasters or failures of cell towers, ham radio operators step in to provide an alternative means of communication. “It has the potential of being life-saving in an emergency situation,” said Michael Belanger, a ham radio operator from Prescott, Arizona. Belanger was on the air one recent Monday as Terry scanned the frequencies. After chatting with Terry for a few moments, Belanger agreed to be interviewed for the story. “If people don’t have power and whatnot, we can still operate our radios on battery power, or solar, or a combination of the above when necessary.” Depending on atmospheric conditions, they can broadcast their signals worldwide. “There’s not too many public service agencies that can do that,” Belanger said. Belanger has never had to step in for an emergency situation. Neither have Rapp or the members of South’s amateur radio club, though they have assisted with community events such as the Hilly Hundred bike race in the fall. They might never need to use their radio skills during a crisis, but practicing ensures that if the need does arise, they’ll be able to help. “If a person can’t practice their craft, they’re not going to know how to use it in an emergency,” Belanger said. Reach Brittani Howell at 812-331-4243.