An Introduction To Amateur Radio At The Academy For Science And Design

SPARK Day At The Academy For Science And Design

SPARK Day At The Academy For Science And Design

John Keslo, W1MBG and I (both members of the Nashua Area Radio Club) recently had the chance to visit the Academy for Science and Design (ASD) in Nashua, New Hampshire to provide an Introduction to Amateur Radio for the students there. ASD’s goal is to be a world-class school that specializes in science, engineering, mathematics and design for students in grades 6-12. ASD periodically holds SPARK (Symposium Promoting Advancement of Real-world Knowledge) conferences, which enable ASD students to learn about areas which might help them to develop careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math (STEM). The students at ASD are extremely bright and are highly motivated to develop STEM careers. We had about 45 students elect to attend the two sessions that John and I presented.

Introduction To Amateur Radio Video

Introduction To Amateur Radio Video

After some introductions and a little time spent by John and me to explain how Amateur Radio has led each of us to careers in Engineering, we showed the group a video entitled Discovering Amateur Radio. This video provides an excellent introduction to Amateur Radio and we have used it successfully in many settings include the Nashua Area Radio Club sponsored Technician License Training Classes that we have been doing.

Demonstration Station Setup

Demonstration Station Setup

John and I setup a portable HF Radio Station at the school to enable us to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the students. We used an Elecraft KX3 Transceiver with an outboard PX3 Pan Adapter and a KPA100 Amplifier (100W).

20m Vertical Antennas Using Buddi-pole Kit

20m Vertical Antennas Using Buddipole Kit

We also built a 20m Vertical Antenna with elevated radials outside the school. We used the Buddipole Antenna System to build this very effective antenna for the demonstration.

Amateur Radio Demonstration

Amateur Radio Demonstration

The students were very interested in the radio setup and antennas and asked quite a few questions about both the setup and how they could get involved in Amateur Radio. John and I were able to get on the air and make several contacts. The operators that we contacted spoke with some of the kids and shared their experiences with Amateur Radio which made the session great fun for everyone involved.

Maggie Hassan, NH State Governor, Visiting ASD SPARK

Maggie Hassan, NH State Governor, Visiting ASD SPARK

We were honored to have the Governor of the State of NH, Maggie Hassan visit our ASD SPARK session. The picture above shows John explaining  Amateur Radio and how we were using it to help forward the goals of ASD’s students.

It was very rewarding and a lot of fun for John and me to participate in SPARK day at the Nashua Academy for Science and Design. I hope the we’ll have a chance to do this again in the future.

– Fred (AB1OC)

Station Building Presentation At YCCC

Yankee Clipper Contest Club Logo

Yankee Clipper Contest Club Logo

Anita (AB1QB) and I are members of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC) and we had the opportunity to give a presentation Station Design and Building at the YCCC Meeting this past weekend. The meeting also included two other excellent presentations:

  • “How to be a better single operator” by Randy Thompson, K5ZD
  • “Field Day from a Sailboat” by Chet Slabinski, N8RA

Our presentation was well received and the YCCC is a great group of contesters who are quite technically advanced in our hobby. We’ve updated our Station Building Series to include some of the latest information on these topics as well as the latest version of our presentation which may be found here.

– Fred (AB1OC)

A Visit From Fred Lloyd, President And Founder of QRZ.com

Fred Lloyd AA7BQ, Founder Of QRZ.com

Fred Lloyd AA7BQ, President And Founder Of QRZ.com

We recently had the pleasure of a visit from Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, the President and Founder of QRZ.com. Fred is doing a series articles titled “QRZ Featured Shacks” and he visited us to take photographs and gather background information on our station for a future Featured Shack article on QRZ.com.

Fred is very well-connected in the International Amateur Radio community and he shared a great deal of very interesting information about QRZ.com and Amateur Radio in general. The story around how QRZ.com came to be and the scope of its user community is a very interesting one! QRZ.com has approximately 500,000 registered users of which about 300,000 are active on the site a regular basis. The QRZ.com user community averages approximately 60,000 visits to the site a day. The QRZ.com website is currently hosted on Amazon Web Services S3 and serves approximately 600,000 pages a day or 18 million pages per month – quite a high-scale website! Fred has a number of interesting projects going to enhance the QRZ.com services including some pretty major enhancements to the QRZ.com logbook and related services.

George W9EVT's Shack

George W9EVT’s Shack

One of the interesting stories that Fred shared with us was his experiences visiting George’s (W9EVT) station on Washington Island, WI. George has a collection of just about every Ham Radio ever made in his shack! You can read more about George’s station in Fred’s article titled “Washington Island’s HAM Radio Treasure” on QRZ.com.

Fred took many photographs and spent quite a bit of time learning about Anita’s (AB1QB) and my background, our Amateur Radio projects and experiences, and the design and construction of our station. He also took quite a few pictures as background for his upcoming article. Some of my favorites include a nice panoramic view of our shack:

Our Shack

Our Shack

and a great shot of our tower and antennas.

Our Tower And Antennas

Our Tower And Antennas

He also took quite a few pictures of some of the details of our station including this one of me (AB1OC) standing at the base of our tower next to the hard-line coax cables used to feed our antennas.

AB1OC By The Tower

AB1OC By The Tower

Anita and I really appreciate all of the time that Fred spent with us and the opportunity to have our shack be included in one of his upcoming articles on QRZ.com. I believe that the internet and websites like QRZ.com will continue to play an increasing important role in the evolution and growth of the Amateur Radio hobby.

– Fred (AB1OC)

Better Organization Of Our Blog

We have created quite a few posts (over 85) on our Blog to date. I think its important to make all of this information easier to locate and use so I’ve categorized each post and included these categories on the left side of our Blog pages (see the CATEGORIES section of the left of this page). You can click on a category such as “Antennas and Feedlines” and view all of our posts related to this topic. I also plan to create set of master posts which points to all of the information here on topics of broad interest to our readers. The first of these posts covers Amateur Radio Station Design and Construction. Other index posts are planned on Antennas and Contesting. We would appreciate your comments and suggestions as to the usefulness of the categories and master index posts.

– Fred (AB1OC)

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy (Courtesy NOAA)

As many probably know, the northeast was hit by Hurricane Sandy, a huge storm this past week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people who were effected or hurt by this tragic weather event. The pictures of the devastation in New York City and New Jersey, USA are unbelievable and saddening.

Several of our friends have asked how we and our station fared during this major weather event. We sustained only minor impacts due to some 50+ mph wind gusts – many branches down and the top SteppIR DB36 Yagi on our tower turned on the mast. We also experienced an early life failure in our K0XG Ring on Saturday prior to the storm. A power rectifier failed and left us unable to turn the ring. Fortunately, the ring failure left the lower of our two SteppIR DB36 Yagis pointed in a safe direction relative to the highest winds during Hurricane Sandy. We were without power for several hours on Monday evening but our generator covered for that nicely. The turned antenna and the failed rectifier were easily corrected after the storm passed and we are back to normal here. All in all, the new Antenna System came through the storm quite well. Thanks to everyone for their concerns for us.

– Fred (AB1OC) and Anita (AB1QB)