MAYVILLE - The exciting world of ham radio has cut through the static to reach a new generation.
Rob Miles is an ordinary 9-year-old boy with an atypical hobby. He is a FCC-licensed ham radio operator, the result of passing a test at the age of 8.
"I first got pulled into the world of radio when my dad's friends held a 'Ham In A Day' event," said Rob, who is also a Boy Scout. "I decided that being able to talk on the radio would be a fun thing to do. I took one test and failed. I took another test and failed. I took a third test, and because three is the lucky number, I actually got (my license). What I love about ham radio is that setting it up can be very elaborate or as simple as threading a wire through a pole and hanging it on a tree."
Fellow scouts gather around as Rob Miles and his father, Aaron, operate a ham radio system on Saturday’s Jamboree on the Air celebration.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
His father, Aaron Miles, is a member of the Chautauqua Amateur Radio Service, which hosted the eight-hour crash course in ham radio operation that first caught Rob's attention. The influence of Aaron's involvement with CARS provided that first experience for Rob.
"I had a friend that was giving a 'Ham In A Day' class and I asked (Rob) if he wanted to go," Aaron Miles said. "It wasn't that I pushed him into it but he really enjoyed it. He gets on the radio and talks on 2-meter on the local repeaters and has a great time."
On Saturday, Rob's Boy Scout troop and CARS teamed up to celebrate the 55th annual Jamboree on the Air, a two-day event in which scouts and ham radio operators, referred to as "hams," from across the world surf through all available ham radio frequencies to make contact with one another.
"(JOTA) is basically an introduction to radio for the scouts," Miles said. "One of the merit badges they can earn is through radio communications ... and it's a great way to get scouts out here and exposed to ham radio."
The World Scout Bureau reported that in 2011, JOTA had nearly 750,000 scouts participating from more than 6,000 amateur radio stations. Scouts can receive information that can be used to fulfill the radio merit badge requirement.
"We keep a running log of how many contacts we make and how far we can get," said Laura Mueller, assistant section manager of Western New York. "So far we've reached Denmark, Germany, Russia and North Carolina."
This is the first year that the Chautauqua Amateur Radio Service, which was formed in 2009, has been able to participate in JOTA. CARS, which does broadcast local events and emergencies, meets at the Jamestown Prendergast Library on the first Saturday of each month and offers the amateur radio licensing exam.
For more information on the Chautauqua Amateur Radio Service and Jamboree on the Air, visit www.carsarc.com.