K8YSU competes in School Club Roundup

Amateur Radio Club connects with people over the radio. Photo courtesy of Frank Sole

By Molly Burke

Youngstown State University’s Amateur Radio Club competed in School Club Roundup, a national amateur radio competition that took place Feb. 13 through 17. 

Students connected with people all over the world through YSU’s radio station, K8YSU. With each connection, the club scored points. Higher points were awarded for connections with other schools and places outside the United States. 

Frank Sole, the advisor for the Amateur Radio Club, said School Club Roundup is open to all schools in America. 

“Any type of school — grade school, middle school, high school, college, trade school — can compete on the air nationally,” Sole said. “It happens twice a year, it’s scheduled per semester. We have a spring semester and a fall semester.” 

During the October session, K8YSU scored over 67,000 points. Sole said this placed the team 4th out of 18 collegiate stations and 6th nationwide. 

“We had about six to eight folks up here operating … and you’re only allowed a total of 24 hours on the air, but we put in about 22 or 23 total hours on the air,” Sole said. “Out of all the stations that competed nationwide, we were 6th. We only had three college stations beat us, one grade school and one high school.”

Since fall, the club has grown its membership. Thirteen students participated in the February session of School Club Round, and K8YSU beat its previous score by about 1,000 points. The club will find out overall placing within the next few months. 

Freshman business administration major, Ryan Pribulsky, said he spent many hours on air during School Club Roundup. 

“About 1 o’clock every day, I would come here … turn all the equipment on … and get on the air, and just see what’s going on, see who’s out there, call ‘CQ’ as we say, which means ‘is anyone out there?’” Pirbulsky said. “The furthest contact we’ve made so far is New Zealand.” 

Despite the club’s success, the competition was not without its challenges. Pirbulsky said a coronal mass ejection interrupted connections Friday. 

“There [was] a coronal mass ejection, which is a solar weather phenomenon that disrupts our ability to communicate. It’s complicated, but basically the radio waves bounce on the upper atmosphere like a blanket, and it’s like they took the blanket off … It’s a bit of black out,” Pirbulsky said. 

Pirbulsky said his favorite part of School Club Roundup was bringing in new students.

“It’s wonderful to see new people in the hobby,” Pirbulsky said. “It is a service that is very important to the community at large, to provide communications, to study these things and to have people qualified and knowledgeable on operating these in case of emergency.”

Bao Su, freshman electrical engineering major, said he joined the Amateur Radio Club during the competition. 

“I thought it was really fun. I got the chance to learn about so many things I had not learned before — like about how frequencies work — and I got to talk to random people. It’s like internet before internet basically,” Su said. 

For more information on the Amateur Radio Club and K8YSU, contact Sole at [email protected]