Our January Visit to MakeIt Labs!

The highly publicized event — the event of the month — went off with a bang! On Jan. 28th, the Nashua Area Radio Club paid a visit to MakeIt Labs to promote Amateur Radio with maker folks. It’s a natural union, if you think about. Technologists/scientists/engineers/self-taught DIY’sters and amateur radio folk are essentially one in the same beast. So why shouldn’t they be interested?

Brian (AB1ZO) and Mike (AB1YK) discussing details of Mike’s homebrewed transceiver

We had a super great turn out from many in the club and those external to the club or from MakeIt Labs itself. Representing the Nashua Area Radio Club, we had Fred (AB1OC), Anita (AB1QB), Jamey (KC1ENX), Abby (KC1FFX), Connor (KC1GGX), Brian (AB1ZO), Mike Struzik (AB1YK), Bill (W1TWO), Mike Ryan (K1WVO), Mike Rush (KU1V), and Tom (AB1NS) (Forgive me if I forgot you).

Fred (AB1OC) explaining the nuances of digital operation to a young, budding HAM.

The idea was to set up the every-popular GOTA station, but also demonstrations of other amateur radio technology to hook the masses with. As a result, we had Fred’s digital amateur TV station, a table-top satellite station, and Mike Struzik brought along his homebrewed BitX20 transceiver complete with plans, schematics, and a demo keyer. (Talk to Mike for further details/websites. He’s awesome about answering questions and exposing people to what they need to do to get started.)

A view of the satellite station

We spent a solid 6-7 hours at the facility, even roping in some new interest from folks who happened to see our advertisements for the event both online and in stores/businesses around Nashua. It’s clear that word is spreading about the work that the Nashua Area Radio Club is trying to do; we are engendering interest slowly, but steadily. Essentially, the trend is upwards.

Close-up of Mike’s (AB1YK) homebrewed BitX20 transceiver

We hope that down the road, we can enjoy a lasting partnership with MakeIt Labs and encourage more members of our club to drop in, see the facility, hang-out for a bit, and explain to new folks about how this hobby is damn close to one of the best hobbies out there!

Fred’s (AB1OC) DATV station

So, until next time, and until my next posting (and hopefully that one will be a bit witty’er — didn’t have enough coffee today), make sure you eat, sleep, “repeat”! (That’s what my t-shirt says that my wife bought me)

Brian, AB1ZO

Our Latest “Tech Night” – A DSO138 Oscilloscope Kit Build

Our latest Tech Night became a Tech Day this past weekend. We got together on Saturday afternoon to build another kit – the DSO138 Oscilloscope. We had a great turnout with over 15 kit builders and helpers present.

Finished Scope Kit
Finished DSO138 Scope Kit in case

Brian, AB1ZO choose this really cool kit for us to build. Here are some specifications for the finished DSO138 Oscilloscope kit:

  • Analog bandwidth: 0 – 200KHz
  • Sampling rate: 1Msps max
  • Sensitivity: 10mV/Div – 5V/Div
  • Sensitivity error: < 5%
  • Vertical resolution: 12-bit
  • Timebase: 10us/Div – 50s/Div
  • Record length: 1024 points
  • Built-in 1KHz/3.3V test signal
  • Waveform frozen (HOLD) function available

The kit came with all Surface Mount parts pre-installed.

The kit included a very nice case to finish off the project. This was a pretty big project to complete in a single afternoon but quite a few of our builders completed their kits and got them working!

The gallery below contains more pictures from our kit build. Everyone was very focused on the building process as we all wanted to get our kits to work in the time we had together.

Some folks did not quite get their kits completed and are planning to finish them at home. The following are some links and videos to help.

Here are some videos which show the assembly of the kit and its enclosure and the operation of the completed scope. The first video shows the kit in operation.

 

 

 

 

I know that Brian is planning to do more kit builds throughout the year so be sure to keep an eye on our Tech Night page to see what is coming!

Fred, AB1OC

N4CPR’s Interview the 12 year old Faith Hannah AE4FH

N4CPR states, “My interview with AE4FH – Faith Hannah 12 year old extra class ham radio operator at HamCation 2017 Orlando, Florida. Faith Hannah was operating the ICOM-7300 with the Radio Wavz Barrett Hex Beam. She made a QSO with Light House USA-845 In Maryland. She will be at HamVention 2017 in Xenia, Ohio. Checkout her youtube channel: http://hamradio.world/

We need more young people involved in ham radio, help spread the news about young operators in the hobby. I hope you enjoy the video and share it with all your friends on social media. I have met the Lea family personally and they are a breathe of fresh air and a Blessing to the hobby and all who meet them.—N4CPR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2y_TXMxpzg

 

A Portable Satellite Station Part 1 – A Simple Station for AO-85

Our club has quite a few members who are interested in space communications. We decided to build a simple portable satellite station last year for our 2016 Field Day operation to learn about satellite communications and to create something new for folks to work with during 2016 Field Day.

Simple Portable Satellite Station
Simple Portable Satellite Station

Our 1.0 Portable Satellite Station was a relatively simple setup built around an HT, an Elk 2m/70cm satellite antenna, and some gear to improve the receive performance and transmit power output of the HT. All of the gear was mounted on a board to make it easy to transport and it is powered from a LIPO rechargeable battery. The gear in our 1.0 station is made up of the following:

Improved Satellite Antenna Support
Improved Satellite Antenna Support

Our first contacts with our 1.0 station were made using the Elk Antenna hand-held. Later, we created a “plumber’s special” setup with a camera tripod to make pointing the antenna easier. Note the angle meter from a local hardware store which measures the elevation angle of the antenna.

AO-85 (Fox-1A) U/V Mode FM Cube Satellite
AO-85 (Fox-1A) U/V Mode FM Cube Satellite

This setup worked great for making FM contacts through AO-85 (Fox-1A), a  U/V mode FM EasySat. We used the 1.0 station on multiple occasions including Field Day 2016 and several of our club members used it to make their first satellite contacts. The Full-Duplex HT allowed us to hear our own signal coming back from the satellite which was an important tool to help with aiming the antenna properly. The ELK Dual-Band antenna is also a good choice because it uses a single feed point and a single polarization for both the 2m and 70cm bands.

1.0 Station Team Operating Approach
1.0 Station Team Operating Approach

We used the team operating approach outlined above. This worked especially well for new folks who had not made a satellite contact before as it enabled each of the three team members involved in making the contact to focus on a specific part of the contact. We used orange plastic tent stakes to make AOS, Time of Closest Approach, and EOS to mark headings for each satellite pass. Small flashlights used at the stakes made them glow for night-time passes.

We certainly had a lot of fun with our 1.0 Satellite Station and I expect that we’ll continue to use it. As we gained a little experience with AO-85, we decided that we wanted to build a more capable Portable Satellite Station which we could use to operate with linear transponder satellites and which included a tracking system and better antennas. I know from experience with our home satellite station that DX contacts are possible using higher altitude linear transponder satellites like FO-29.

We would also like to be able to use APRS and other digital modes through satellites as well as receive SSTV pictures from space.

These goals have become the basis for building our Portable Satellite Station 2.0. More on the new station in Part 2 of this series.

73,

Fred (AB1OC)

Radio Amateurs Building Skills and Having Fun