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W2SZ Amateur Radio Club


Historical Note

The W2SZ Radio Club is one of the oldest continuously active radio clubs in the country. Originally, the station was formed as 2SZ at the Troy Y.M.C.A. in 1919. However, due to a lack of activity among Troy residents, the station was turned over to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1923. In 1924, under the new FCC rules of having to add a W or K to a call sign, the club officially became the W2SZ radio club. The club soon rose in popularity and in the 1930’s, they had forty active members, with more than thirty members having received licenses in radio operation. They focused on two-way radio communication, both locally and around the world, and sent out and received QSL cards, written contact confirmations. Within the first fifteen years of the club being active at Rensselaer, they received an official WAC, or “worked all continents” certificate, proving that their broadcasts were heard on every continent. In 1940, the radio club offered International Morse and Radio Code instructions as a result of the impending war, but membership dipped as most men enlisted for World War II. After the war, the club launched a new broadcasting station, WRPI, in the hopes of regenerating interest. While WRPI became immensely popular, W2SZ didn’t gain new members until the club started participating in contests. In 1969, the club participated in its first amateur radio contest, in which an individual or team tries to contact as many other amateur radio stations as possible, in a given amount of time. They must exchange a certain kind of information, and each contact is given a score. From 1971 to 1975, Rensselaer continuously won first place. By the mid 1970’s, the club became the first station in the United States to break one million points. The club also tests emergency preparedness, an effort which has certainly paid off. In 1989, when San Francisco was hit by an earthquake, W2SZ was able to pass around two hundred and fifty messages between local residents, family, and friends in the Bay Area. Outside of contests and testing preparedness, the club offers a wide range of activities, including prep classes for radio licensing, working with school children and teaching them about radio science, establishing good or neutral contact with other countries in time of war, or sending messages to loved ones who may be enlisted, bouncing transmissions off the moon, talking to the ISS, assisting organizers in large public events, and much more.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

W2SZ Amateur Radio Club records

 Collection — Records
Identifier: 2010-14

Ham radio QSL cards and other records of the R.P.I. Amateur Radio Club.

Dates: Created: 1924-1974

W2SZ Amateur Radio Club records

 Collection — Records
Identifier: 2000-12

Records of the W2SZ Amateur Radio Club at RPI.

Dates: Created: 1924-2000

WRPI Radio Station records

Identifier: AC 34

Records include fraternity and dorm proposals (1954); meeting minutes (1953-1972); correspondence (1958-1973); maintenance logs (1956-1961), editorials (1971-1972); technical notes (1971-1972); WRPI Handbook (1947-1972); report concerning Rho Tau (1955-1963); photos (before 1980); and audio recordings of WRPI radio broadcasts dating from 1985 to 1989.

Dates: Created: 1947-1989

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College students -- Social life 1