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JPII high school conducts its first radio camp

The first annual Pope John Paul II Amateur Radio Camp participants were Tom Alexander, K5RY, from left; Walt Wilson, KJ4VQ; John Morgan, N4CNY; James Rivette; Joe Henderson, N4CB; Jordan Wojcik, KM4CNP; and Bruce Chandler, WE4AU. Not pictured, Dr. Rob Suggs, KB5EZ. (CONTRIBUTED)
The first annual Pope John Paul II Amateur Radio Camp participants were Tom Alexander, K5RY, from left; Walt Wilson, KJ4VQ; John Morgan, N4CNY; James Rivette; Joe Henderson, N4CB; Jordan Wojcik, KM4CNP; and Bruce Chandler, WE4AU. Not pictured, Dr. Rob Suggs, KB5EZ. (CONTRIBUTED)

HUNTSVILLE – St. John Paul II (JPII) Catholic High School hosted its first annual Amateur Radio Camp on June 16-20.

JPII students James Rivette and Jordan Wojcik studied diligently under the instruction of Dr. Robert Suggs, KB5EZ, and John Morgan, N4CNY.

“We wanted to get some of the students licensed … and maybe spark more interest,” Morgan said. “I hold high hopes that James Rivette will pass his test.” The American Red Cross office in Huntsville administers the test, usually on the first Saturday of the month.

The camp was open to anyone interested in amateur radio and to all ages. “The ultimate goal is to have each student pass the exam and get a license to operate,” Morgan said. Last summer, he had a five-year-old girl pass the test.

Most of the week, Morgan led the class, with Suggs teaching during a one-day session on long-wave propagation and other subjects. At the end of the week, Joe Henderson, volunteer examiner coordinator, Bruce Chandler, Walt Wilson and Morgan gave the exam to the students.

“Jordan passed the exam and was assigned the call sign ‘KM4CNP’ by the Federal Communications Commission,” Morgan said.

Amateur radio is a hobby and a service. “The hobby involves experimentation and testing,” Morgan said. “Technology that developed the cell phone system came (mainly) from amateur radio operators, who wanted to do more with their system.”

As a service, ‘Hams’ (amateur radio operators) often provide radio communications when other services aren’t available. Morgan cited races, like the Cotton Row Run, bike events and natural disasters.

“Hams provided communications … following the tornado outbreak in 2011 for about two weeks, until other services could be replaced,” Morgan said.

Amateur radio builds knowledge in electronics (to the actual resistor, capacitor and inductor level) by allowing the hams to build their own systems, he said. Hams commit to help their community by providing communications to Huntsville, Madison County and North Alabama events.

Hams meet on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. at the American Red Cross Office on Washington Street.

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