Grant: Tower Replacement at W8EDU

Grant Date: May 2021
Amount: $81,763

W8EDU is the amateur radio club of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. their history dates back to the 1940s under the callsign W8URD. The club and its license grant have existed more or less continuously since then, and it became W8EDU in the 1960s. In 2009, the club re-formed under the school’s student government to reach out to interested students. The goal at the time was to get an automatic $50 per semester allocation for pizza money. At that time the club comprised a few faculty, staff, and alumni, with minimal student membership and very little overall activity. Today, the club enjoys a large and active student membership, plays a role in the engineering and English curriculum at CWRU, and supports NSF-funded research. The key to our success is a faculty-supported strategy of club involvement, curricular integration, and research activity ranging from undergraduate projects through doctoral dissertations. These levels of involvement build on one another, generating a varied and enthusiastic student membership. A little over a decade after the original 2009 pizza party, the club is well integrated into university life.

Tower Replacement at W8EDU
For some years now, it has been a goal of the club to replace their two rooftop towers and ensure a system of scheduled maintenance for their upkeep. Records indicate that their 68’ tower was last replaced in 1997, after a failure of a guy line causing it to topple from the building. The other tower does not appear to have undergone any alterations since it was erected in the early 1970s. In this time, the towers have provided the club with ample HF capabilities, and served to sustain the club as a strong contesting contender for many decades. In the club’s more recent role as a student laboratory of radiofrequency engineering, they have provided an educational example of directional antennas, support structures, transmission line, and the like. The towers and antenna systems were maintained informally by a cadre of club members, all long since retired. The antenna rotators have been experiencing intermittent failures, and the tribander is currently spinning with a failed brake. The cables have begun to suffer water and sunlight damage. University policy now precludes the club from maintaining the towers themselves, and, in light of the high degree of club involvement enjoyed at present, they’ve determined that the time is ripe to replace the towers with a new, state-of-the-art equivalent.

This grant supports the replacement of the tower infrastructure to secure the safety of club members in the future. New towers will also ensure high-quality HF capabilities, sustaining club membership and educational use. Additionally, the club expects that these capabilities will be of scientific use through the HamSCI Radiosport League. This working group, which originated in a discussion during the HamSCI 2021 Workshop, will focus on designing contests and other radiosport events to yield usable scientific data.

Find out more about W8EDU at