Tuesday, May 28, 2024

FBCS dials in for radio competition

Staff Writer | February 13, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Fully equipped with their own call sign and a student-built antenna, Forrest M. Bird Charter School students are ready to take on a national amateur radio competition.

“This is the first time Forrest M. Bird Charter School has done anything this big in this area before,” Mark Webber, academic intervention coordinator at FBCS, said.

During the “School Club Roundup” competition, which is hosted by the National Association for Amateur Radio, each team’s station may operate no more than six hours out of 24 and may not count more than a total of 24 hours of the 107-hour event. Clearly marked breaks of at least 10 minutes may be taken and are not counted toward total operating time.

An all-school assembly was held Feb. 7 to introduce the contest to students and community volunteers. Topics were introduced by Natalie Corliss, master of ceremonies and a ninth grader at FBCS. She also introduced community helpers from the Bonner County Amateur Radio Club and the Amateur Radio Emergency Services of Bonner County. These volunteers use their experience to help students learn how to speak on a radio. 

During the week prior to the competition, the school’s history of community class built an antenna array for the contest. The antenna, now located on the school's front lawn, is a center-fed fan dipole and works on two, 10, 12, 15, and 20 meters.

Last year, the school participated in the competition and placed ninth out of 17. Webber said the team has taken a few extra steps this time around. 

“This year we are broadcasting using our FCC school call sign, W7FBS, and are hoping to perform much better with the new antenna design,” he said. “The students are learning how to talk on the radio nationally and internationally. They are learning the ins and outs of using mathematics in the real-time construction of the antenna array, and most importantly they are having fun.”

The competition will last from Feb. 12 through Feb. 15. During the week the radio is expected to be fully operated by students with the help of community members from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day in the high school conference room.

    FBCS Students demonstrate a live radio contact during an assembly.