After a gruelling hike up to the far reaches of campus, we arrived at a rather unassuming shack. Positioned in the hills on the edge of campus so as to get the greatest reception, the tiny building seemed distant and isolated. For all its isolation and lack of external decoration, the activity and equipment within were nothing short of amazing.
Here, the W2SZ team showed the fascinated freshmen the basics of amateur radio. Using an oscilloscope—a machine used to measure the signals carried by a wire—one instructor demonstrated how radio waves bridged the gap between two unconnected wires, so that the signal in one wire was detectable on another. Another enthusiastic club member wove a tale of radios in espionage, describing how spies transmitted brief tunes to one another to identify each other and make contact. Meanwhile, more freshmen learned about the concept of reflecting radio waves off of the moon to achieve a greater range.
The real task of the event, however, was the “foxhunt”—a search for hidden transmitters concealed across the RPI campus. Freshmen used PVC pipes and measuring tapes to construct an antenna that allowed them to hunt for and zero in on these hidden objects. The roving band was visible throughout the campus on Wednesday, searching for the elusive devices.