Monday, March 16, 2009
Pleasant Grove 11-year-old acquires top ham-radio license
By James Davis
Published: March 15, 2009
PLEASANT GROVE — Most people know him as Adam Lee, but the 11-year-old Pleasant Grove boy has another identity: KE7UZK.
The Barratt Elementary School sixth-grader isn't a spy or secret agent. Adam is a ham radio operator, and KE7UZK is his call sign.
At BYU's Howard W. Hunter Law Library on Feb. 18, Adam passed the Federal Communications Commission's extra-class, amateur radio-licensing exam, making him one of the youngest ham radio operators on the airwaves. Extra is the highest of three U.S. amateur radio-licensing classes, and it gives Adam the privilege of operating any type of ham radio on any amateur band.
Adam said he caught the ham radio bug last year while working on the Boy Scout radio merit badge.
"I wanted to learn more about ham radio," he said. "So I got my technician (license) in July, and then I just kept going and got my general and extra."
Technician is the lowest license class for ham radio operators, and general is the middle class. Adam said the exam for the technician class focused more on logic, and the general- and extra-class exams become more technical.
For now, Adam is the man around the Lee house when it comes to radios. His dad, Sam Lee, only recently passed the technician exam.
"A lot of adults try to pass the extra," the elder Lee said. "And it's not an easy test to pass, so (other operators are) impressed that he's already passed the test."
For Christmas, Adam wanted an amateur-extra study manual full of technical information and practice test questions. Prior to taking the test, operators must understand radio-wave propagation, electrical principles, circuit components, signals and emissions, antennas and transmission lines.
From January until his test last month, Adam read the study book three times from cover to cover, evidenced by his book's worn corners, highlighted pages and bookmarks. Sometimes his father would help by quizzing the boy.
"Without even giving him the choices, he would know the answer," Sam Lee said. "He just knew this inside and out. It was amazing."
With new privileges afforded him thanks to his amateur-extra license, Adam has hopes to upgrade his radio this summer. Right now, he has a small hand-held device with a maximum range of about 400 miles. He said the most distant operator he's contacted was up in North Salt Lake.
"I'm saving for a bigger radio so I can go all the way around the world," Adam said, adding that he particularly wants to talk to radio operators in Europe.
Also on his wish list is a new call sign. Amateur-extra operators usually have a shorter call sign than the six-digit identifier he currently uses.
"Right now my call is KE7UZK, but when I passed my extra, I told them to change it," Adam said. "So I'm still waiting for the new call and my new license to come in the mail."
The oldest of five kids, Adam excels at school — especially in math. The young ham radio operator participates in Alpine School District's accelerated learning lab with classmates who learn at a faster pace than others.
School, Scouting and other activities prevent Adam from spending as much time radioing as he'd like — "probably once a week or maybe a little bit more," he said.
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Congratulations to Adam!
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