Eagle Scout Weather Radio

Joshua Khor shows off an antenna he built for his Eagle Scout project. The antennas can be used on NOAA weather radios to increase range and strength.

It took little deliberation for Joshua Khor to decide how he wanted to approach his Eagle Scout project.

According to the Boy Scouts of America, an Eagle Scout project must positively impact a school, religious institution or community. In Tornado Alley, Khor saw an opportunity to help people stay safe by building antennas for NOAA weather radios, increasing their range and strength.

Khor said many weather radio stock antennas lack the signal strength required to function in storm shelters, hospitals and school buildings.

“When you’re in the middle of a school, a lot of the signal might be blocked out, and you won’t be able to get reception,” Khor said. “Of course you have cell phones, but in the event a cell tower goes down or cellular signal is low in a storm shelter, the antennas I built help boost that reception to get weather updates.”

The City of Norman Emergency Management Division is the beneficiary of Khor’s work.

David Grizzle, City of Norman emergency management coordinator, said Khor’s project allows the city to distribute external antennas to those having difficulty getting a strong signal, with an initial priority on city buildings and schools.

“This is a great project, and the community should be proud of his effort,” Grizzle said.

By building antennas for NOAA weather radios, Khor said he was able to take on a project that connects his interest in STEM projects with the community.

After picking up the amateur radio hobby from his father and the local South Canadian Amateur Radio Society, Khor knew he wanted to center his project on working with radios.

“I wanted to use my skills and passion on a project I love, so I landed on this project, which I think will encourage younger Scouts to consider unique projects based on their interests,” Khor said.

Building the antennas was a somewhat meticulous process, he said. Khor superglued RCA jacks onto the antenna and fed the copper wire through it. The process takes about 40 minutes for each antenna.

“It can get technical, because it requires a lot of soldering and using exacto knives to cut away at wire — things that sound simple, but took quite a bit of time,” Khor said. “There’s a lot of technical things, so I have had to build up knowledge.”

Khor said South Canadian Amateur Radio Society members were eager to offer assistance whenever and however they could.

He said while he was testing his first antenna, club members helped him fine-tune things and provided feedback on the the building process.

After the project’s completion, Khor went through a board review process that assessed the impact of his project. Now, he awaits application validation from the national office.

In addition to discussing his project, the board spoke to Khor about the responsibilities of an Eagle Scout.

Khor said his time as a scout has given him stronger leadership skills, a trait synonymous with Eagle Scouts.

“Whenever I did my board review, Eagle Scouts talked about when you wear that rank, you are expected to lead in many situations,” Khor said. “It also brings life skills, like how to administer first aid when needed.”

Twenty-four antennas later, Khor passed the project along to the radio society, so members can help other organizations in need. As part of the club, he can continue to help build new antennas.

Jeff Elkins covers business, living and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at jelkins@normantranscript.com or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.

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