Saturday, June 18th from 2:00 pm until 8:00 pm the ARRL will be holding their Kid’s Day on the Air event! This year Fred (AB1OC) and Anita (AB1QB) are opening up their station for any youth (and their parents) to stop by and get on the air!
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?
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).
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.)
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.
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!
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)
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.
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!
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.
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:
- A Kenwood TH-72A Full Duplex 2m/70cm HT
- A Heil headset with a boom microphone to make using the HT easier
- A pair of 2m and 70cm Low-Noise RF switched preamps from Advanced Receiver Research
- A Mirage BD-35 2m/70cm amplifier (this amp produces about 25 – 35W out when driven by the HT)
- A Diamond SX-400 Watt Meter and an MFJ Dummy Load for testing and monitoring
- A RigRunner DC distribution block with voltage and current monitoring and a 4S4P A123 LIPO Battery Pack
- An Elk 2M/440L5 Dual-Band Log-periodic Antenna
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.
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.
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.
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.