By Michelle Sheldone
The Jupiter Courier
March 20, 2006
Joshua Heath doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, but for the time being he's happy as a ham.
"I've been watching my dad do it for years and years now, and I guess it just got me interested in it," said the amateur radio operator, 8. "I like talking to other people and getting into conversations about other radios."
The Beacon Cove third-grader's father, Scott, has been an amateur radio operator since 1993. Father and son were attending a February ham radio festival in Miami when Joshua decided to sit for an entry-level amateur radio operator exam.
"It wasn't really hard," he said, "but it wasn't really easy."
Adults who watched Joshua were impressed.
"I thought it was one heck of an accomplishment for an 8-year-old to get an amateur radio license," said Jupiter-Tequesta Repeater Group spokesman Al Moreschi. "There are a lot of technical questions and different frequency questions. It would take a lot of studying for anyone to pass it, let alone an 8-year-old youngster."
Amateur radio operators, known as "hams," are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and use their voices, computers and Morse code to communicate.
Many in the North County area are members of the Jupiter-Tequesta Repeater Group and the Community Emergency Response Team.
They assist with communications during parades and other community events and relay information during emergencies and disasters. Ham radio operators also participate in what's known as "nets," whereby several get on the air for a specific purpose.
"It enables us to reach out, to get together with people who have interests similar to ours," said Scott Heath, who works as a frozen-food manager at Publix.
Scott Heath said he was "overjoyed" when Joshua decided to go for his ham radio license.
"I see my son wanting to do what I do, and what father wouldn't be proud of that?" he said.
Joshua's routine ever since has included near-nightly amateur radio sessions -- after he does his homework.
"I try to get it done fast," Joshua said.
Joshua has applied for membership in the local Repeater Group, Moreschi said.
The Repeater Group is reviewing applications in the coming months and would waive its annual $30 membership because Heath is a student and he's under the age of 13, Moreschi said.
Heath would also be the youngest club member: The next youngest Repeater Group member is 14, Moreschi said.
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