Suffolk RED Dec 2015 Skills Night Report

Wednesday the 2nd of December was the first “Suffolk Red” Amateur Radio Skills Night, and a small team of Essex Hams went along to support the first night.

The name “Suffolk Red” reflects that the event is about more than just amateur radio, with RED standing for Radio and Electronics Development. The venue for the first meeting was the Hallowtree scout centre in Ipswich, which is an excellent venue perfect for this kind of event.

First meeting of Suffolk RED - December 2015
First meeting of Suffolk RED – December 2015

The event is run as a joint venue between a number of local clubs and amateurs, with the support of the local RSGB teams. This approach has the advantage of making it inclusive to all amateurs without any one club or group using the event as an alternate club night, or a recruitment tool for new members.

As with the Essex Skills Night, the event is free to all, with optional donations for tea and coffee helping to fund the hire of the venue.

So, what was on offer?

  • CW Skills – A room dedicated to Morse, with the opportunity to test out Morse skills by sending and receiving short messages. A very popular room, and nice to be able to isolate CW from the main hall, allowing Morse to be heard without the background noise of the main hall.
  • Solder Workshop – For those new to soldering, or looking to brush up on their skills
  • Radio Programming – A laptop plus cables to allow various handhelds to be set up and configured for local repeater use.
  • Licence Questions – Those looking to progress to the next licence level had the chance to talk through their syllabus questions and to get help and advice
  • Military Radio – A demonstration of some military hardware and how to use it
  • Radio Astronomy – With bonus points for finding this demo, or getting a seat. Popular, and in a small room away from the main hall, so a few folk didn’t know it was there. By all accounts, a very popular presentation.
Dave G4HUP helping with soldering at Suffolk RED - Dec 2015
Dave G4HUP helping with soldering at Suffolk RED – Dec 2015
CW Skills room at Suffolk RED - Dec 2015
CW Skills room at Suffolk RED – Dec 2015

The evening was very well attended, with far more people turning up than expected – resulting in one of the team having to do a dash to the not-so-local shop to get some milk for the thirsty hams.

So, how does it compare with the very popular Essex Skills Night? Very well. In terms of attendance, about the same number of people turned out to the first Suffolk Red event as they did for the inaugural Skills Night in Danbury – a good sign! The venue is excellent, with several smaller rooms for quieter demos, more room to circulate, and ample parking just outside the door. There’s also a large area of grass behind the building, so Summer Skills activities have a home too.

In many other respects, the evening was remarkably similar to the monthly Essex Skills Night – a hall lined with tables, and people keen to share their aspect of the hobby. Also, the opportunity to socialise and catch up over a cuppa. Steve M1ACB, the RSGB Regional Manager, has attended several of the Essex Skills evenings in the past, and at the November evening, Steve, Keith G7CIY (the Suffolk DRM) and a small group from Suffolk came along to see the Danbury event in action. It’s clear they identified what works well in Essex, and have been able to replicate the good ideas, adding their own to make to work for their audience. We’re aware of two other groups in England looking to host their own version of Skills Night, and for anyone considering it, our Skills Night Formula is there to give you or your group some ideas on what works well.

Several familiar faces from Essex made the trip: Dorothy M0LMR, Richard G7OED, Chris G0IPU, Peter G0DZB, Jonathan G0DVJ and myself (Pete M0PSX), and it’s pretty clear we’ll be back for the next one!

A great evening, and we’d encourage those in the area to keep an eye on the Suffolk Red information page for details of the next event, hopefully in early 2016.

Well done to all involved in organising the night, and for sharing Suffolk’s amateur radio skills.

Photo Gallery

Big thanks to Dorothy M0LMR for providing some of the photos for our write-up


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  1. M0LMR 9 December 2015 Reply
  2. M6UHN 10 December 2015 Reply
  3. G0DZB 19 December 2015 Reply

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