Essex Skills Night Oct 2016 Wrap Up

Monday the 17th of October 2016 was a busy Essex Skills Night. With just shy of 60 people signing in, it was the third busiest Skills Night this year in terms of attendance, and the busiest in terms of planned activities. The evening was hosted by the Chelmsford ARS Training Team at the Village Hall in Danbury

Although there was a slight drop in the number of M6/2E visitors, there was an increase in SWLs, including at least three studying towards Foundation (two using our Foundation Online course), and poor George who’s waiting patiently for his pass to be confirmed by RSGB/Ofcom, so he can get his callsign.

Some of the attendees at the October 2016 Skills Night
Some of the attendees at the October 2016 Skills Night

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

Kits and SMD:

Thanks to Dave G4HUP for returning with his collection of kits and accessories. As Dave pointed out – every product deliberately has at least one part that you’ll need to complete yourself, to give you that sense of achievement. For Dave’s full range, see www.hupRF.com.

Dave G4HUP's impressive stand of kits and bits at Skills Night Oct 2016
Dave G4HUP’s impressive stand of kits and bits at Skills Night Oct 2016

Icom ic-7300 & 4metres:

Many thanks to Selim M0XTA for agreeing to bring along the very strokable Icom ic-7300 – great to see one in the flesh at Skills Night. Selim was also offering advice on 4m, and was able to promote his new weekly 4m net, which pulled in 8 participants plus many SWLs on the first night – not bad for a first net on a band that a good percentage of amateurs don’t have access to.

Selim M0XTA at the Essex Skills Night in October 2016
Selim M0XTA at the Essex Skills Night in October 2016

PC Data Connectivity:

For the first time, we were joined by Paul M0CNL, who not only showed his modified version of the Easy Digi interface board (handy for data modes as SSTV), but also brought along some kits to allow people to make their own cheap interface for data modes. Also on Paul’s table, his UV kit for printing PCBs. Paul very kindly donated one of his kits to the Chelmsford ARS, which will be the star prize at an upcoming CARS social evening at Oaklands Museum.

Paul M0CNL - UV PCBs and low-price data mode kits
Paul M0CNL – UV PCBs and low-price data mode kits

Digital Voice:

By popular demand, more on DMR and D-Star this month. Paul G7BHE returned with demos and advice on D-Star, DMR and Yaesu Fusion digital voice modes.

Paul G7BHE - getting you on-air with digital voice
Paul G7BHE – getting you on-air with digital voice

D- star Hotspot & Satellites:

Sticking with DV, Steve M0SHQ demonstrated his Blue DV personal hotspot for use with D-Star (and DMR). The allows connectivity from a handheld over Bluetooth to an existing Wi-Fi or 4G connection. The unit can be powered from a 5V mobile phone battery pack, offering a truly portable D-Star connection over RF without the need for a repeater.

Steve also attempted a live QSO via the SO-50 satellite during the 7pm overhead pass – sadly contact couldn’t be made (I blame the drizzle), but some QSOs were audible, and the gathered crowd could see the process and kit required to make a satellite contact.

Steve M0SHQ, fighting the drizzle to make contact with SO-50
Steve M0SHQ, fighting the drizzle to make contact with SO-50

Testing, Testing:

Well done to Steve G4GHO for getting quite a pile-up on the testing table. Steve brought along various bits of test equipment including a network analyser, ‘scopes and a signal generator, with quite a bit of interest.

Steve G4GHO - A pileup at the Testing station
Steve G4GHO – A pileup at the Testing station

Constructing from bits in the box:

Melvyn 2E0DNS brought along a few examples of how to make use of components from odd sources to make other things. Hopefully, visitors got a few ideas for novel ways to make use of obsolete parts.

Construction Help and Antenna Construction:

Under the guidance of Alan M0IWZ and Chris G0IPU, some Slim Jim antenna construction took place in the smaller of the two Skills rooms.

Apologies to those who may have had to wait – due to an incident beyond our control on the night, Chris was not able to get to his hotseat in the Construction Corner as early as planned.

Slim Jim antenna construction in progress
Slim Jim antenna construction in progress

Getting Started with Essex Ham:

A busy evening meant that it wasn’t possible for me to run any live demos this month, but the usual mix was present – Getting Started leaflets, the Raspberry Pi Zero running the latest promotional videos, details on the online Foundation training course, the event’s wi-fi, and copies of the latest Radcom and PW for browsing.

Essex CW Club

Rob M0KCP, Dean G4WQI and Oliver M0WAG were active on the Essex CW Club stand running a live station (making contact with Finland, if I recall), and helping to promote and encourage use of the Morse mode.

 

Callsign Badges:

Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ engraving callsign badges on demand – a great service offered at Skills.

CARS Quiz

Another tricky batch of 9 questions, plus an anagram that baffled everyone, “Mr Island Fold”. Questions courtesy of Murray G6JYB and lovingly presented by Chris G0IPU. Fancy writing some questions for next month? Get in touch!

About to start the October 2016 Quiz...
About to start the October 2016 Quiz…

Logistics (!)

As always, a big personal thanks to Myra and David for their continued logistical support, and also to Ann for the amazing cakes (including lemon curd tarts this month). Thanks also to Sarah, who after the piece in this month’s Practical Wireless, is officially the “Dedicated Greeter”…

Extract from the Nov 2016 Practical Wireless article on Skills Night
Extract from the Nov 2016 Practical Wireless article on Skills Night

Hopefully, everyone enjoyed the evening, despite some IT issues with the Quiz laptop, and some unplanned ‘activity’ in the foyer. Thanks again to everyone for their continued support of the event.

The final Essex Skills Night of the year is on the 21st of November. Skills remains a free event that’s open to everyone regardless of licence level. No need to be a member of any clubs, and everyone’s welcome.

Thanks all, and 73,

Pete M0PSX

Event Photos

Related Links

2 Comments

  1. Avatar M0CNL 21 October 2016 Reply
  2. Avatar Dave 21 October 2016 Reply

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