Welcome to WS4FSM
This is the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group (www.wpbarc.com) club station at the South Florida Science Museum. This is part of a permanent Amateur Radio Exhibit at the Science Museum. Club members and other volunteer Hams in the tri-county area staff the station and exhibit on weekends, for school tours during the week, and during summer science camps. Many of the volunteers put in 30-40 hours a week of time.
Since opening in 2010 we have had thousands of youngsters, parents and teachers visit and hundreds have had the opportunity to Get On The Air and call CQ and have QSO's with hams around the US, other parts of North America, South America, Europe and Africa.
We had a 10-80 Alpha-Delta fan dipole as an inverted-V on the building roof with the center about 45 feet above ground level (which in South Florida is about 2-3 feet above sea level). But due to remodelling of the Museum that had to come down along with all the antennas we had on the roof. New antennas will have to be mounted to the sides of the building when remodelling is completed. The Radio Club of America (RCA) has donated some older equipment for our use and some station equipment is loaned by various club members for short term use. Mostly we have older equipment to work with that is not as functional in todays' RF challenged environment with a lack of DSP and variable filter settings but we do make some good contacts. Dell Computer has donated a new 64-bit desktop system for us to run Ham Radio Deluxe and demonstrate computer-radio interfacing which a lot of the youngsters are very interested in. PSK-31 is very impressive to the newcomers. Of course most of the time the radios lack full interfacing ability due to their age. So we use the "demo" mode in HRD a lot to show what can be done.
Of course our Group is open for 501c3 donations for this museum station project, both monetary and equipment (new or old). What we can not use diorectly for the kids gets cleaned up, tested and sold on eBay to raise funds we can use for them. We accept a;lmost anything electronic, except CRT monitors, and take books, magazines, test equipment, soldering equipment, etc.
In addition to learning some geography (finding where the Hams they QSO with are located) most of the kids learn to send their name in Morse code. Kids love code and it is very popular with them. We give them certificates for making QSO's and learning their names in Morse.
When funds permit we will add some interactive electronics and communications learning exhibits visitors can use on their own.
We do have 2M gear available, but most of the focus with the kids is on the HF bands. (Talking on a repeater is a lot like talking on a cell phone to them and we developed that technology a long time ago. It is very useful but not exciting or inspiring as is talkingt to someone in another State or Country.)
As a Group we have almost continual licensing classes all year and often have a lot of those under 18 in the classes. Our youngest member was 11 when he got licensed by us.
Our volunteer Hams really have a great time showing the hobby to the kids. And a lot of the kids are interested enough to come back multiple times and bring their parents (who can buy them equipment) back with them. And we have had a number of youngsters from 11 to 17 already get licensed and on the air. And some parents and teachers as well.
If you have worked this station please QSL as the kids really love seeing the QSL cards. And anytime you visit the South Florida Area, pay a visit and let us show you around, and meet some of the youngsters getting into ham radio.
The WPBARG and WS4FSM was featured on WPEC-TV Channel 5 along with the South Florida Science Museum for our ARISS contact on October 31, 2012. This event was broadcast live to approximately 180,000 students and 12,000 teachers in the Palm Beach County School District, carried live on the ETV channel 23, the PBS Channel 42.4, and on Comcast cable Channel 234 and streamed live on the Internet worldwide. We had a total live audienmce of about 260,000 viewers watching as it happened. Additionally an edited (to 30 minutes) version of the program has been rebroadcast on Channel 23 and Comcast channel 234 more than 10 times since the event date. And a more condensed version is on the clubs You Tube Channel.