BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It’s been less than two years since Bloomington High School South student Padraig Lysandrou became interested in amateur radio.
But in that short time, Lysandrou has gone on to receive the highest amateur radio license possible and has made the cover of one of the top ham radio magazines in the country.
“I never, ever would have thought that this would have happened,” Lysandrou told The Herald-Times. “I’m just very happy.”
Lysandrou’s interest in ham radio started out simply enough.
In the fall of 2011, his mother, Carolyn, who was interested in shortwave radio, encouraged her son to join Bloomington High School South’s Amateur Radio Club.
“I didn’t really know what it was, but I said, ‘I’ll join,’ ” Lysandrou recalled.
It didn’t take long for Lysandrou’s interest in amateur radios to blossom.
He blew through the Technician and General Class license tests, and in January of last year became the only member in the history of South’s club to receive an Extra Class license, the highest license possible. He is also now the president of South’s club.
Then Lysandrou’s teacher and club sponsor, Neil Rapp, showed the “Peter I Island DXpedition 3YOX,” which really sparked Lysandrou’s interest and encouraged him to do his own DXpedition.
So when Lysandrou’s family took a trip to Cyprus in June of last year to visit other family members, Padraig and his mom started their own DXpedition.
With three bags of just the “absolute necessary” gear, Lysandrou and his family set off for Cyprus.
Throughout the two-week trip, Lysandrou met with a local school’s amateur radio club and he and his mom set up stations in Protaras, Fig Tree Bay Island, Troodos Mountains, St. George, Paphos and Akamas Mountains.
During that time, Lysandrou made contact with almost 100 people from dozens of countries, including Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Spain.
His favorite contacts? Kuwait, Malta and Bosnia.
“The reason I had favorites was because those specific guys that I talked to were really cool and I had conversations with them other than just giving a call sign and signal. . . . Those guys were really interesting people, very nice and very friendly,” he said.
He also collected dozens of QSL cards, which denote contact confirmation between two radio operators. He calls those cards his treasures.
Being in a location where he could reach people from so many different places was what made the trip so special for Lysandrou.
“Cyprus is really a great place to do this – you can make contacts in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, really anywhere you want to,” he said. “While in the United States it’s cool to make a Canadian contact or a Caribbean contact, it was just really, really cool. Over there, I’m sure that’s normal for them, but for a kid that’s 15 and lives in the United States, that’s really cool.”
Although it’s been almost a year since the trip, Lysandrou is still celebrating his success. He and his DXpedition recently made the cover of QST magazine and he will make a presentation on his trip at the world’s largest ham radio convention, in Dayton, Ohio, on May 18.
For Lysandrou, getting in the magazine is “crazy and amazing.”
“This is big,” Rapp said. “That’s the largest ham radio publication in the world, and this is the largest ham radio convention that he’s going to in the world.”