Skills Night August 2015 Unofficial Wrap-up

Another very busy evening up in Danbury yesterday for the August Skills Night – Lots of new faces, and as always, a great opportunity to see new things, chat and swap ideas.

The August 2015 Skills Night in Danbury (Pic from Charlie M0PZT)
The August 2015 Skills Night in Danbury (Pic from Charlie M0PZT)

The night, hosted by the Chelmsford ARS Training Team, was slightly more quiet than recent months, partly due to holiday season and partly due to the threat of road closures on the A414 – Impressively, nearly 50 people turned up, including 14 folk at Foundation or Intermediate, and two potential new amateurs (Billy & Barry) looking to get started with the hobby.

Some DX visitors too: Terry, Pete and Jane from the MARTS club in Kent, John from South London, Robbie from St Albans, and John 9H5G from Malta (long trip). In fact only a small percentage of visitors were from the Chelmsford area, proving that the Skills Night is proving a hit with people from right across the region.

So, what was on offer this month? Here’s what visitors to the August Skills Night had in store…

Construction – Once again, a busy night for the CARS construction team – more Slim Jims and plenty of technical advice.

Laura M6LHT, with her LW Lightning Detector Kit at Skills (Pic: Trevor M5AKA)
Laura M6LHT, with her LW Lightning Detector Kit at Skills (Pic: Trevor M5AKA)

Well done to Peter M0PSD and Chris 2E0CUU for keeping the irons warm and the visitors busy!

Data Modes & Ham Goodies – Always a popular table, Charlie M0PZT was running a live data station on 20m demonstrating PSK31 and JT65. Also, radio programming for those looking get local repeaters programmed in to new purchases, plus a collection of  Ham Goodies – This month, Charlie was demonstrating his new digimodes interface kit – £10 for all the parts needed to get a connection between rig and computer to work data.

Charlie M0PZT's 20m data mode station in action
Charlie M0PZT’s 20m data mode station in action

Satellites – Thanks as always to Steve M0SHQ for bringing along his kit to help those keen to talk to orbiting satellites, and for passing out some information from AMSAT. On the subject of space, check out the BBC Horizon programme on the dangers of space junk: Horizon on BBC iPlayer

Steve M0SHQ - more on working satellites and some handy AMSAT info
Steve M0SHQ – more on working satellites and some handy AMSAT info

HF in the field – My thanks to Peter G0DZB for consistently finding new things to demonstrate. This month, as well as his Elecraft KX3 and other bits and bobs, his impressive MFJ HF antenna that had its first DZB outing earlier in the month at Shoebury East Beach – magically it’s a perfect 1:1 match on 40m and 80m. .

Peter G0DZB with antenna trialled at Shoebury recently
Peter G0DZB with antenna trialled at Shoebury recently

Morse and More – With many of the Essex CW Club regulars unable to make, thanks to Andy G0IBN and Oliver M0WAG for stepping up and running the Morse table. If you’re interested in learning CW, or improving your skills, Andy’s popular Morse classes resume in September – contact him for more details.

Essex Ham – It’s been a busy month for Essex Ham with the new Foundation Online training, and with so many keen to find out how it all works, I brought along a short video that outlines the course, plus access to a live classroom to let visitors try it out for themselves. Well done to Terry G3VFC for diving in and giving the course a test run, and to Paul G7BHE for offering to sign up and do some beta testing.

In the light of some unexpected comments on Facebook today, let me remind our readers that distance-learning is not a replacement for club training courses – it’s another resource available to those looking to study for their exam – we’re well aware that it’s not for everyone, but as highlighted at the RSGB Train The Trainers, it’s important to use modern training tools where appropriate, and to offer training in multiple formats, so learners can chose what’s best. How about we all work together and concentrate on getting people into the hobby? More on the course here: Foundation Online courses.

Essex Ham's Foundation Online training table
Essex Ham’s Foundation Online training table

Callsign Badges – Well done to Jim 2E0JTW and Glynis 2E0CUQ for their hard work making callsign badges.

The Quiz – Thanks to Mike G4NVT for supplying this month’s questions, and to compare Clive G1UEC for keeping order!

Clive, presenting the Skills Night Quiz
Clive, presenting the Skills Night Quiz

The guest antenna for the night was Andy G7TKK’s broadband portable HF antenna, which is based on the Tetrahedral Antenna designed by Alan Boswell G3NOQ. This impressive-looking antenna folds up into a small bag, and is resonant somewhere around the 10MHz mark. As per Peter’s comments below, when connected to Peter’s Elecraft KX3, this reached Hungary & Finland with 10 watts using CW. The antenna certainly raised some eyebrows with the locals in Danbury passing through…

Andy G7TKK with his Tetrahedral antenna
Andy G7TKK with his Tetrahedral antenna
Andy G7TKK's tetrahedral creation at the Danbury Village Hall
Andy G7TKK’s tetrahedral creation at the Danbury Village Hall

Final thanks go the unsung heroes in the kitchen – Myra and David for keeping the teas and coffees flowing in the kitchen.

I'm not quite sure what's going on here. Lee seems to be reading Sarah's instructions
I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. Lee seems to be reading Sarah’s instructions

 

My thanks…

The official CARS write-up can be found here: CARS August Skills.

I’d like to express my personal thanks to those who turned up to help make tonight’s event a success, and to those who continue to support the Essex Skills Nights.

These events continue to bring amateurs from around the area together in the spirit of friendship, learning and sharing. Thanks for making it a success

Events are free, and all are welcome regardless of which club they belong to. The next Skills Night takes place on Monday the 21st of September.

Thanks all, and 73,

Pete M0PSX

 

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar PeterO G0DZB 18 August 2015 Reply
    • Pete M0PSX Pete M0PSXAuthor 18 August 2015 Reply
      • Avatar G0DZB 19 August 2015 Reply
        • Pete M0PSX Pete M0PSXAuthor 19 August 2015 Reply
  2. Avatar M5AKA 19 August 2015 Reply

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