CARS Skills Workshop Feb 2014

Thanks very much to everyone who came along to the February 2014 Amateur Radio Skills Workshop, held by the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society.

Monday the 17th of February 2014 saw over 40 people meet at the Danbury Village Hall, for the second in the new series of Skills Workshop evenings – This new initiative is intended to help local amateurs to meet, share knowledge and try something new. The evening consisted of lots of show-and-tell, demonstrations, people offering advice and an update on a few things to come.

CARS Skills Night, February 2014 in Danbury
CARS Skills Night, February 2014 in Danbury

Data Modes

At the first ham skills night in January, questionnaires were given out asking what attendees would like to learn about most, and data modes came out top. Accordingly, the theme for the night was ‘data’ with different data activities.

For many, PSK31 is a popular choice when starting out with data, and Charlie M0PZT set up a PSK31 demonstration in the room next to the main hall. Here, people could see how the computer and radio are connected, and look at PSK31 QSOs on-screen. Charlie is the author of EssexPSK, which is a free PSK31 decode application ideal for beginners.

Charlie M0PZT, busy with his PSK31 demo at the Skills Night
Charlie M0PZT, busy with his PSK31 demo at the Skills Night

For more on PSK, see our PSK31 Getting Started Guide, and download Charlie’s free EssexPSK PSK31 application.

Pete M0PSX also brought along a demonstration of another popular data mode, the weak signal JT65 mode, together with the kit needed to connect the radio and a laptop together. Rather than the traditional “sit down and listen” format, the style for the evening’s demos was a much more personal hands-on-and-ask-questions arrangement

Laptop showing a JT65 data mode demo
Laptop showing a JT65 data mode demo

Antenna Q & A

After data modes, the second most requested topic was “HF Antennas”, and CARS president Carl G3PEM was on hand to answer questions. His corner generated lots of interest, with many asking what type of HF antenna would be most suitable for use at home, with Carl using a whiteboard to sketch out some options. His props included baluns, different types of cable, and some examples of things to try to get out on HF in the domestic environment. We’ve already had requests for Carl to appear again and answer more questions.

Carl G3PEM answering your antenna questions
Carl G3PEM answering your antenna questions

High Altitude Balloons

Another very popular hands-on demo that gathered a crowd, was courtesy of Chris M6EDF on the subject of high altitude ballooning. Chris brought along a selection of balloon payloads, plus a laptop running the FLdigi tracking software to shows what’s involved in decoding the 10mW signals from a balloon mid-flight. Lots of interest in this, so it’s hoped that Chris will be back. Chris was also able to help explain the answer to Question 10 of the evening’s informal quiz!

High altitude balloon tracking demo
High altitude balloon tracking demo
Chris M6EDF, showing his high altitude balloon kit
Chris M6EDF, showing his high altitude balloon kit
High Altitude Balloon payload, from Chris M6EDF
High Altitude Balloon payload, from Chris M6EDF

Live Echolink Demo

Back by popular demand, Jim 2E0RMI brought along his Echolink kit, and again, this proved to be very popular – he saw lots of interest from licence holders unable to use HF where they live, learning how to make contact with other countries via the Internet and local Echolink gateways. Jim’s demo seemed to have quite a queue for most of the evening. Let us know if you’d like Echolink to return!

Jim 2E0RMI with a live demo of Echolink
Jim 2E0RMI with a live demo of Echolink

Licence Condition Quiz

As something of an experiment, a short quiz was put together to stimulate some discussion around licence conditions, band plans and callsigns. Those interested in answering some quick questions could scribble down their answers to test their knowledge, and the handy band plans and copies of the licence helped a few people get a couple of extra marks.

If you want to try the quiz for yourself, the questions are here: Licence Conditions Quiz

CARS Skills Night Quiz - Feb 2014
CARS Skills Night Quiz – Feb 2014
CARS Skills Night Quiz Answers - Feb 2014
CARS Skills Night Quiz Answers – Feb 2014

Thanks

A big thanks to everyone involved in the evening’s get-together – as well as the names mentioned earlier, thanks to David G3SVI, Myra M0MYR, Jim’s wife Ann (nice cakes!), Clive G1EUC, David M0HBV, John G1UZD (the whistle), Sarah M6PSK, and the many other CARS members who helped out.

A big thanks to everyone who turned up too, and took the time to comment on the evening on the way out – great feedback that we’ll be acting on at the March evening (Monday the 17th of March)

Thanks also to M6VKH and Phil M0IMA, both in Kent – unable to make it, but Pete M0PSX/A managed to grab a quick QSO for a very short Monday Night Net on GB3DA, about 100 yards away from the Skills venue at the Danbury Village Hall.

Show and tell at CARS Skills Workshop Feb 2014
Show and tell at CARS Skills Workshop Feb 2014
Bruce M0XBS with his show-and-tell mic
Bruce M0XBS with his show-and-tell mic

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More Information

For details of upcoming events, and to sign up for email updates, go to www.hamskills.co.uk – Hope to see you at the next one

For details of other CARS activities, including the March 2014 Intermediate course, www.g0mwt.org.uk

Pete M0PSX

7 Comments

  1. 2E0FTX Jakub M6HRT 18 February 2014 Reply
  2. patrick g8jlm 18 February 2014 Reply
    • Pete M0PSX Pete M0PSX 18 February 2014 Reply
  3. Pete M0PSX Pete M0PSX 18 February 2014 Reply
  4. Chris M6EDF 18 February 2014 Reply
  5. Dave M0HBV 18 February 2014 Reply
  6. 2E0RMI Jim 19 February 2014 Reply

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