The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - 10

Feature

Electrical and Computer Engineering
and Amateur Radio
Dennis Silage, PhD (K3DS)
HKN Gamma Beta Chapter 1967

Undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students take courses with handson laboratories and exercises. Most also take a capstone project course in which they apply their
knowledge as a team to solve a design problem. In times past many of these ECE students (it
was called Electrical Engineering then) were amateur radio operators and their capstone projects
were in RF electronics, microwaves, antennas and the misty beginnings of wireless digital data as
well as amateur radio satellite communication. Today, many undergraduate students and even
a few educators may not have heard of amateur radio and the many benefits of bringing it and
ECE education together. Here we examine the role amateur radio once had and now can have
again in ECE education. Modern applications of amateur radio reviewed here include satellite
and high-altitude balloon communication, digital data networks, wide-area rover vehicles, digital
voice, microwave technology and weak signal data communication. How to initiate the operation
and maintain the activities of an amateur radio station in an ECE department is described and
encouraged because the professional rewards are certainly wideband!

What's It All About?
Design projects in ECE are an important
component of an undergraduate educational
process that synthesizes course material into a
relevant experience. Many undergraduate ECE
capstone design projects use embedded software
and hardware coupled with very limited range,
unlicensed wireless data communication for semiautonomous projects, e.g. UAVs and UGVs.
What is not used routinely though is an area that
at one time was quite significant in the technical
development of ECE students: amateur radio or, as it
is sometimes called, ham radio. The reasons for this
void are perplexing, since the use of amateur radio
in ECE education is without any major obstacles to
either undergraduate students or the faculty advisor.
A perceived impediment may be the requirement
for an amateur radio license, but a license is
required only for transmission. Other concerns may
be the resources for ECE education and whether
opportunities for design innovation are available to
the capstone design team.

THE BRIDGE

Amateur radio is a service administered by the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
(www.fcc.gov) and requires a license by written
examination. Although the technical and regulatory
questions of the examination remain, they are quite
reasonable for both the ECE undergraduate student
and faculty advisor. In fact, this exercise can provide
the student with a capstone design experience in
regulatory issues.
Amateur radio can provide the resources for many
other unique and interesting ECE capstone design
projects that resonate with industry. The Temple
University Amateur Radio Club (TUARC, www.
temple.edu/k3tu), using the callsign K3TU, has been
involved in many such undergraduate ECE projects.
The history and recent activities of a few of these are
reviewed in the remainder of this work.


http://www.amsat.org http://www.fcc.gov http://www.funcubedongle.com http://www.funcubedongle.com http://www.temple.edu/k3tu http://funcube.org.uk http://www.temple.edu/k3tu https://hkn.ieee.org/ https://hkn.ieee.org/

The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019

Contents
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - Cover1
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - Cover2
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - Contents
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - 4
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - 5
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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - Cover3
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2019 - Cover4
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