A tradition returned to campus in March with the
rededication of W2UC, the College's amateur radio
The station was rededicated in memory
of the late Ted Goble, professor of physics, who was
active in amateur radio most of his life and a strong
leader of W2UC. On hand was Goble's widow, Ethel, who
said “Ted would be very pleased” as she tried
out the new equipment.
The historical record of W2UC is a bit
sketchy, but there is little doubt that the static-filled
transmissions from the likes of Charles P. Steinmetz
nearly a century ago were among the first amateur radio
experiments in the country. The Union College Radio Club
was formed in 1915 (purchasing a complete Marconi
wireless set), and within a few months communications
were established with Cornell University, the University
of Pittsburgh, and the University of Michigan.
Station operation was limited during
the past decade, when equipment was housed at the
Schenectady Museum. Brian Macherone, a senior computer
systems consultant, was instrumental in bringing the
newest incarnation of W2UC back to campus and on the air
last December. Among the station's first experiments was
receiving a signal from a replica of Sputnik, which was
launched from the Mir space station in commemoration of
the satellite's fortieth anniversary.
“Amateur radio is many things to
many people,” Macherone says. “To some, it
represents public service, providing aid to disaster
victims and communications when traditional means fail
(W2UC has emergency power). To others it is an
opportunity for international cultural contacts. Others
prefer the cutting edge of technology, speaking with
space-based stations such as Mir or the shuttle
(To the uninitiated, ham operators
bounce shortwave signals off the outer part of the
Earth's atmosphere, or off a fleet of communications
satellites. Hams transmitting with less power than a
fifteen-watt refrigerator light bulb can often
communicate with people on the other side of the world.
The revival at Union reflects a growing national
interest. The number of licensed ham operators in the
United States has grown from 497,000 in 1990 to 670,000
today, and that are an estimated 1.8 million hams active
The newly-restored Union station, with
$5,000 worth of new and donated equipment, is located in
Room N106 of the Science and Engineering Center.
“The station will be the voice of Union around the
globe and into space as well as a point of contact for
the many licensed amateur radio operators among
alumni,” Macherone says.
Station trustee is Robert Leiden '70. A
number of students and faculty are in various stages of
the licensing process.
More information about W2UC is
available on its Web site, http://w2uc.union.edu.