Essex Skills Night Apr 2017 Wrap Up

Thanks to everyone who came along to support April’s Essex Skills Night. This busy event took place at the Danbury Village Hall on the 17th of April 2017. Here’s our summary of the evening’s event.

The evening was well attended, with a great mix of people. For those interested in stats, we had 55 people along to this month’s event, including a few first-time visitors and people from outside Essex

Essex Skills Night April 2017
Essex Skills Night April 2017

The rather busy evening consisted of the following demos and activities:

10GHz demo:

Graham G8HAJ joined us last November to demonstrate the Hellschreiber data mode, and kindly returned this month with 10GHz SSB setup with a simple low-cost 3cm receiver using a standard satellite LNB and an SDR dongle.

Terry G3VFC, checking out Graham G8HAJ's 10GHz demo
Terry G3VFC, checking out Graham G8HAJ’s 10GHz demo

 

Digital Voice / Raspberry Pi

This month, Steve M0SHQ took a break from satellites to show us his personal D-star Hotspot running on a Raspberry pi3 via a Dv-mega board with Blue stack. Thanks for another great demo, and one that was requested in March’s Essex Skills Night survey.

D-Star hotspot running on a Raspberry Pi 3, with thanks to Steve M0SHQ
D-Star hotspot running on a Raspberry Pi 3, with thanks to Steve M0SHQ

Radio Direction Finding

Thanks to Roy G4JAC for bringing along some RDF kit to encourage some fresh air radio direction finding activity in 2017. For more details on DFing and upcoming events in Essex, go to www.forjac.co.uk/df/multitx

Radio Direction Finding with Roy G4JAC
Radio Direction Finding with Roy G4JAC

Simulation

Sadly, we’re about to lose Steve G4GHO from the Essex Skills Night, as he’s moving away from the area. For his final appearance at the Essex Skills Night, he ran a “Getting started in simulation” session. Steve favourite apps include LTSpice, QUCS and Microwave Office for analogue, and MMana or 4NEC2 for antenna simulation.

Steve G4GHO, running some simulations at the Essex Skills Night
Steve G4GHO, running some simulations at the Essex Skills Night

 

High Altitude Balloons

Many thanks for Chris Stubbs for coming along to demonstrate High Altitude Balloon Tracking. Pete M0PSX also ran a rolling demo of decoding RTTY HAB signals using FL-Digi. Alex M6IPI also brought along his HAB project, to get Chris’s advice and guidance before the payload’s first trip into the air

High Altitude Balloon Demos, with thanks to Chris M6EDF
High Altitude Balloon Demos, with thanks to Chris M6EDF

 

Construction Corner:

Alan M0IWZ brought along the project he’s been working on most recently – his SWR analyser. This used an Arduino at its core and when complete, will be a low-price alternative to an expensive antenna analyser.

Alan M0IWZ's SWR Bridge project
Alan M0IWZ’s SWR Bridge project

Essex CW Club:

Thanks to Dean G4WQI from the Essex CW Club for supporting the Morse mode this month.

Dean G4WQI manning the Essex CW Club's table at the April 2017 Skills Night
Dean G4WQI manning the Essex CW Club’s table at the April 2017 Skills Night

Test Kit & Oscillator

Mike G4NVT returned with his spectrum analyser for testing antennas and handhelds. As something a little different, a working Colpitts Oscillator was assembled and tested, using cardboard packaging from a Snickers Easter Egg box. Well, why not?

Mike G4NVT with a cardboard-mounted Colpitts oscillator
Mike G4NVT with a cardboard-mounted Colpitts oscillator

 

Getting Started with Essex Ham:

On the Essex Ham table this month, a demo of High Altitude Balloon Tracking (but Chris’s was better), the RTL SDR dongle and FL-Digi. Newcomers and first-time visitors could take away copies of the Getting Started guides, and there was a rolling video of Essex Ham’s recent activities playing on our Raspberry Pi Zero video player.

Balloon Tracking and Getting Started Guides from Essex Ham
Balloon Tracking and Getting Started Guides from Essex Ham

 

Callsign Badges & Pens:

Skills Night regulars Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ were on hand with their engraver to create callsign badges and gold-plated engraved pens on demand.

CARS Quiz:

This month’s quiz was hosted by CARS Vice President Murray G6JYB – just for fun, and with an Easter theme.

Other Highlights

We were joined by the UK’s youngest Full licence holder, George M0UKK, plus his dad Remus M0UKL. They live in South East London, and George passed with the help of the Cray Valley Club, as well as LEFARS. We’re proud that Remus joined Essex Ham in 2016.

The UK's youngest Full licence holder, George M0UKK at the Essex Skills Night
The UK’s youngest Full licence holder, George M0UKK at the Essex Skills Night

A big thanks too to Terry M6IPK for responding so well to a recent Monday Night conversation. The classic Tony Hancock show used amateur radio to call up a tray of bread pudding, which Terry kindly emulated. Thanks Tel!

Thanks to Terry M6IPK for the tray of bread pudding!
Thanks to Terry M6IPK for the tray of bread pudding!

Logistics

As always, a huge personal thanks to Myra and David for their continued logistical support in the kitchen providing the free tea and coffee. Also, to Essex Ham’s Sarah M6PSK (the event’s “dedicated greeter”).

Thanks all, and 73,

Pete M0PSX

Event Photos

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