Monday the 20th of January 2014 saw the first Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society Skills Workshop. This new initiative is aimed at providing help and advice for those new to the hobby, allowing amateurs of all levels to try something new, and offering more experienced operators the chance to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of amateurs.
Forty-five ladies and gents braved the fog to show support for this first event, including one former CARS graduate making the trip from Sudbury in Suffolk, as well as candidates from the current CARS Foundation training course.
The first Skills Workshop was intended as a social get-together to run through some ideas of what areas upcoming events should focus on, and to whet people’s appetites, a number of demonstrations were on offer:
- An Echolink station manned by Jim 2E0RMI, using his homebrew Slim-Jim antenna
- A laptop showing live APRS packets being received on 2m, decoded and displayed on a map of Essex.
- Homebrew projects including a desk mic and a Digimode interface, brought along by Charlie M0PZT
- A collection of bits of hardware brought along by Andy G0IBN and Colin M1OCN, from the Essex CW Club
CARS Chairman John G1UZD kicked off the evening with a quick introduction on the importance of offering skills training, before handing over to the event’s co-ordinator Pete M0PSX to run through the evening’s agenda, introduce the team, and explain the thinking behind the workshops.
Pete outlined that a number of problems have to be addressed to keep amateur radio alive – helping newer licencees to stay engaged, helping M6s to progress, and making existing amateurs to stay engaged with the many aspects of the hobby. By running Skills Workshops that are driven by attendees feedback and questions, the team hopes to be able to offer demand-led demonstrations, mentoring, and support.
Monday Night is traditionally a Monday Night Net on GB3DA. A 2m station was set up at the venue (doubling as the APRS station), but with so many of the ‘net regulars meeting in Danbury (the home of GB3DA), the repeater was a little quiet. A couple of contacts were made on GB3DA from the venue, with Pete M0PSX working the net “/A” (for the first time. The net will be back, as normal, next Monday.
A new logging application was unveiled at the first Skills event – uLog, written by Chelmsford-based Charlie Davy M0PZT, offers a fast and no-fuss way to log contacts, and Charlie ran through the basics of the application for the audience – The ‘flexi-input’ was of particular interest, as you can type the QSO details into a single box, and the software intelligently works out which field to enter the QSO details. Download this free and fast logger at www.m0pzt.com/?ulog
A big thanks to everyone who turned up at this event – far more than was expected, and it was so good to see so many friendly faces. Thanks to the CARS training team, especially David G3SVI and Myra M0MYR for their hard work and support. Also to Jim 2E0RMI, Charlie M0PZT, Peter M0PSD and the Essex CW Club for bringing along things to show-and-tell, and to Sarah M6PSK for the help.
Take a look at the following video for more details:
It’s hoped that the second in the series of Skills Sessions will be held in mid-February, again on a Monday Night – To find out about upcoming Skills Workshops, register at www.hamskills.co.uk