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8-year-old passes FCC’s amateur radio license exam

When southwest resident Dan Connell describes his son Zorion as “sporadic and chatty,” it’s not an exaggeration.

One minute the 8-year-old is conversing about Legos and toy guns, and the next he’s articulating math equations using Ohm’s law.

“The current flowing through a 100-ohm resistor connected across 200 volts is 2 amps,” Zorion said. “That’s so easy I can do it in my head.”

Zorion’s competent communication skills helped him pass the Federal Communications Commission’s amateur radio license exam in Las Vegas on April 5 at the Red Rock Search and Rescue Meeting Hall, 330 Villa Monterey Drive.

“He’s one of the youngest in the country to sit and pass the FCC exam,” Connell said. “We think he’s the youngest amateur radio operator in all of Nevada, but there’s no way of proving it because the FCC doesn’t keep a record of amateurs’ ages.”

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, can be practiced as a hobby or used as an emergency communication service, assisting in local fires, snowstorms and floods.

“A good (national) example is the bombings in Boston last year,” Connell said. “As soon as it happened, everyone grabbed their cellphones and crashed the cell system immediately. The only reliable communication was between the ham radio people and the Red Cross.”

Despite common belief, Connell said amateur radio is not declining. At the end of 2013, the FCC said more than 700,000 people held amateur radio licenses.

“In the past six months, we’ve averaged about 30 people per exam in Las Vegas,” Connell said. “There was about 23 people in Zorion’s exam and about 44 in the session before that.”

The 35-question exam covers topics such as radio theory, regulations and operating practices. Zorion scored in the 90th percentile, according to Connell.

“I only missed four questions,” Zorion said. “There were people there that took the test before and still didn’t pass. I got it on the first try.”

With the license, Zorion is authorized to talk over his handheld radio and use Morse code.

“He can do about 12 words a minute in Morse code, which I think is protege level,” Connell said. “It usually takes someone five or six years to get to 12 words a minute. He seems to have a natural talent for it.”

The third-grader at Steele Elementary School, 6995 W. Eldorado Lane, is no stranger to radio communication. He obtained his General Mobile Radio Service authorization and call sign WQNZ596 when he was 5.

Zorion was introduced to amateur radio through his father, who normally administers the license exams in Las Vegas.

“The Pahrump team had to come out and administer it this time because Zorion is my son,” Connell said. “They wanted to make sure there was no shenanigans going on. No one wants anyone to say that I helped him do this, which I did not.”

Zorion hopes to communicate with others via radio at least once a week.

“We talk about radios and the weather and what we’re doing,” Zorion said. “There are a billion things to talk about.”

When he’s not playing with radios, Zorion enjoys practicing the piano, riding his bike and playing video games. He said he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

“There are radio people who like the service and education side of it, like myself,” Connell said. “Then there are people like Zorion who just want to make friends and have new experiences.”

For more information, visit k7qqq.org.

Contact Southwest View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.

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