Essex Skills Night November 2015 Wrap-up

The final Essex Skills Night of the year finished on a high with an amazing 93 people attending – beating the previous best by almost 20. A truly amazing turnout, with people travelling from across Essex, Kent, Suffolk and South London for the regular social event at Danbury.

As ever, the evening was hosted by the Chelmsford ARS training team, and this month’s event saw 22 Foundation/Intermediate amateurs, 5 SWLs and 16 first-time visitors. Here’s Essex Ham’s summary of one very busy evening:

Skills Night November 2015 at Danbury Village Hall
Skills Night November 2015 at Danbury Village Hall

The mix of demonstrations, practicals and the chance to socialise continues to be a hit with so many people turning up to chat to friends, ask questions and try something new. Mrs Essex Ham (Sarah M6PSK) joked that some of the tables and representatives might start needing a ticketing system as queues to ask for help and advice are becoming common.

It’s still great too, to see visitors come from far-and-wide to visit the Skills Night. This month, we saw members of many local groups visit, including representatives from clubs including South Essex ARS, Thurrock Acorns, Harlow and District ARS, Colchester RAs, LEFARS and the Dengie Hundreds ARS and five members of MARTS in Kent. We were also joined by a delegation from Suffolk including Keith G7CIY (RSGB Suffolk DRM) and Steve M1ACB (RSGB Regional Manager for Region 12). Great to see so many friendly faces, as well as some first time visitors to Skills.

Record-breaking turnout at the Skills Night in November 2015
Record-breaking turnout at the Skills Night in November 2015

Here’s a quick look at the November Skills Night activities:

Skills Night November 2015 at Danbury Village Hall
Skills Night November 2015 at Danbury Village Hall

Digital Voice – A first for Skills – a table dedicated to Digital Voice with Paul G7BHE demonstrating both DMR and D-Star. Paul’s first time on Skills Night table, and with over 90 people passing his way – a baptism of fire!

Paul G7BHE demonstrating digital voice (DMR and D-Star at Skills Nov 2015)
Paul G7BHE demonstrating digital voice (DMR and D-Star at Skills Nov 2015)

D-Star & Satellites – Sticking with D-Star, Steve M0SHQ brought along his D-Star hotspot made from a Raspberry Pi – Knowing that setting up a demo is fraught with danger, he brought along the unit already powered up and working, just in case. Also on display, Steve’s satellite kit, as used to make contact with the new AMSAT FOX-1A satellite and the ISS.

Steve M0SHQ, demonstrating satellites and his Raspberry Pi D-Star gateway
Steve M0SHQ, demonstrating satellites and his Raspberry Pi D-Star gateway

 

D-Star Hotspot on a Raspberry Pi
D-Star Hotspot on a Raspberry Pi

Testing Ferrites at Skills
Testing Ferrites at Skills

 

Construction – Once again, a busy night for Chelmsford ARS training team members Peter M0PSD and Steve G4GHO in the construction room. This month, more Slim Jims, plus other various project work, and a selection of items on sale for those looking to get busy with a soldering iron. Plus, repairs on some training kit, and help diagnosing one visitor’s FT-857.

Construction at the Skills Night, hosted by CARS training team
Construction at the Skills Night, hosted by CARS training team

Testing Ferrites – Following on from an article in the October 2015 Radcom on testing ferrites, Peter G0DZB dedicated his table to the humble ferrite and EMC issues. Always a busy table, people gravitate towards Peter (who wasn’t sporting his festive jumper) for his friendly and no-nonsense advice on all aspects of getting out and enjoying our hobby.

Peter G0DZB, testing ferrites at Skills in November 2015
Peter G0DZB, testing ferrites at Skills in November 2015

Programming & Data Modes – The ‘Charlie M0PZT’ table is certainly one of the ones that could benefit from an electronic queue management system, as there was a non-stop crowd this month. As well as a range of Ham Goodies essentials and new items, Charlie was demonstrating data modes and logging, and was helping with handset programming. Also on display, the new RTL HF dongle, which is a cheap and impressive bit of kit.

Charlie M0PZT - Programming, ham essentials and heavy lifting at the Essex Skills Night
Charlie M0PZT – Programming, ham essentials and heavy lifting at the Essex Skills Night

Antennas – Andy G7TKK was back. No slinkie antennas with time, but Andy’s trusty laptop with antenna modelling software was in action, giving people ideas on homebrew antenna design

Essex Ham: Getting Started – This month, the return of the Software Defined Radio demo. The £10 Realtek SDR USB dongle, was alternating between a visual representation of a local commercial radio station, and a view of the upper part of the 2m band. With the help of Mike G1KOT, we were able to view and listen to a QSO on GB3DA via the SDR. As well as a range of free Getting Started handouts, the Linx 8″ Windows 10 tablet was on display, plus looped videos (played from a Raspberry Pi) of the latest episode of the TX Factor, the RSGB’s “Amateur Radio: A 21st Century Hobby” and some of Essex ham’s own promotional videos

Sarah M6PSK and Pete M0PSX at the Essex Ham table
Sarah M6PSK and Pete M0PSX at the Essex Ham table

Morse and More – A live 20m QRP CW and various bits of Morse hardware courtesy of Rob M0KCP and the team. Possibly a little too much QRM to make much use of CW this time around!

Essex CW table at the November 2015 Skills Night
Essex CW table at the November 2015 Skills Night

Chelmsford ARS – The CARS table was manned by Membership Secretary Chris 2E0CUU and Chairman Chris G0IPU. As well as allowing people to pay their society subs, a range of merchandise was on offer and for the first time, a promotional video (all the range these days!) was used, highlighting some of the society’s recent activities. Those looking for an update on the society’s activities could find announcements on the CARS easel.

Showing the spirit of inter-club cooperation, CARS Chairman Chris G0IPU helped South Essex ARS Foundation candidate Majbritt to complete two of her practical assessments and sign off her paperwork, ahead of her Foundation exam in December.

Chris G0IPU supervising Majbritt on her Foundation Practical Assessment
Chris G0IPU supervising Majbritt on her Foundation Practical Assessment

Callsign Badges – For those with new callsigns or visiting for the first time, Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ were on hand to make engraved callsign badges all evening.

Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ, taking a short break from making callsign badges
Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ, taking a short break from making callsign badges

The Quiz – Run by Chris G0IPU. Something different this month – “Which oscillator is this”, identifying mystery objects and a good mix of brain-teasers and ban plan questions.

Chris G0IPU, running the CARS quiz (Nov 2015)
Chris G0IPU, running the CARS quiz (Nov 2015)

My thanks…

I’d like to express my personal thanks to those who turned up to help make the November Skills Night a success, and to those who continue to support the Skills Nights at Danbury.

Finally, thanks to Myra, Ann and David for handling the catering for this hugely busy event (cups were something of a luxury commodity). Ann surpassed previous cake-making with a very yummy selection (which I missed out on – again!) Thanks too to Mrs Essex Ham Sarah M6PSK for her hard work and support across the very busy evening.

Sarah, Stella, Dorothy, Glynis and Lisa - the 5 participants of the first Essex Ham YL Net
Sarah, Stella, Dorothy, Glynis and Lisa – the 5 participants of the first Essex Ham YL Net

A reminder that there’s no Essex Skills Night in December, but we return on the 18th of January 2016.

Thanks all, and 73,

Pete M0PSX

 

November Skill Night Photo Gallery

Involved with a club and looking to hold something like a Skills Night? Check out Essex Ham’s Skills Night Formula for some suggestions

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One Comment

  1. Nigel G3YSW 17 November 2015 Reply

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