Catching Up

I can’t decide whether I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to blog much or whether I’m just slowing down. It’s probably a little of each. And doing so much creates so much blog fodder that it can be overwhelming. There’s so much to write about, you can’t figure out where to start.

So, what I’m going to do here is just report quickly on a bunch of things that I’ve been doing lately. I’ll come back to some and write more about them later. Others, I won’t.

More QSLs from Stations Whose Callsigns Spell Words
Sorry to bother you again with this, but for some reason, this fascinates me. Below, you’ll see the latest three that I’ve added to my collection: K5SEE, N4SHY, and K2DOT.

K5SEE QSLN4SHY QSLK2DOT QSL

I heard K7OIL on PSK the other night, but wasn’t able to work him. :(

Even more Boy Scouts This Year!
Last year, we had about 120 Boy Scouts attend the 2007 Radio Merit Badge Day. Man, that was crazy. This year was even more crazy. This year, more than 150 showed up! I got Michelle, KD8GWX, to capture some of the craziness on video, and I promise to edit that tape real soon now. Stay tuned for that.

This year, I was partnered with Mark, W8MP. Mark is a really great operator, and he’s great with kids. He convinced one guy, Paul, WA9URF, to stay on the air for more than an hour and talk to more than 40 of the Scouts. Thanks, Mark and Paul!

Thanks to all the other hams that helped out (in no particular order): Pat, W8LNO; Dave, KC8TQB; Ralph, AA8RK; Jeff, W8SGZ; George, K8GEO; Don, K0QEA; and, of course, Jack, WT8N, who really organized the whole thing (and paid for breakfast, to boot).

2008 General Class
For the past couple of months, I’ve been teaching a General Class license course. As always, this class was a lot different than the classes I’ve had in the past. For one thing, a lot of them dropped out this time. There were a dozen who started back in January, but by the end we were down to just five or six.

Life intruded for a couple of them—one student’s wife (or daughter) broke her leg, for example. For some, the material was just over their heads at this point. But, a bunch of them just quit coming. I feel kind of bad about that.

Like last year, a couple of them passed the test before the class ended. Congratulations, Arvid, KC8VGO, and Ian, N8SPE! Arvid was in my very first class five years ago, and he passed back then, but just couldn’t get the code. I’m happy that he finally got his General ticket.

One thing I did differently this time is to have a class project. Five or six of the students built the DC40A QRP transceiver. Building them has taken a bit longer than I anticipated. Even though the class is over, we’re still finishing up the kits. Even so, I think it’s been a great experience for the students.

Ham Radio at the Hands-On Museum
We’re still working on setting up a ham radio station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. One development is that we’re applying for a grant from the IEEE Foundation. We’ll also be applying to the ARRL Foundation.

The IEEE Foundation wants to give money to projects that promote engineering as a career. That’s our slant, anyway. We titled our project, “Kids Connect to Wireless Technology.”

That’s all for now. Gotta go rake the leaves off the lawn and fertilize.

Want to Get Your Community Involved in Amateur Radio? Get Involved in Your Community!

I often hear hams lament that their communities show little interest in amateur radio. While this may be true, these hams have to realize that community involvement is a two-way street. To get communities involved in amateur radio, amateur radio needs to be involved with the community.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Here in Ann Arbor, MI our amateur radio club worked with the local Red Cross and maintained a station there in the 1980s and early 1990s. For reasons too complicated to get into here, this partnership was severed in the late 1990s.

Even so, we often talked about what we’d have to do to re-establish the mutually beneficial relationship that we once had. Unfortunately, we really didn’t know who to talk to at the Red Cross, and the attempts we made to try to get back in their good graces were fruitless.

That is until I joined the Ann Arbor Rotary Club in March 2006. It just so happened that one of the guys that joined the club at the same time I did was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Red Cross. Not only that, but he was very interested in re-establishing an amateur radio capability at the local chapter.

The result is that our club is now working with them again. We have helped them install their 47 MHz radios at the chapter headquarters and in their emergency response vehicles. Having finished that project, we are now in the process of setting up the amateur radio station. While we may have eventually been successful without the contact I made at the Rotary Club, my guess is that this contact greatly accelerated the effort.

Another example is our work with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. This is a science museum that gives kids (and adults, too) some real, hands-on experience with science and technology. There are, for example, exhibits that help kids learn about electricity, springs, weather, electricity, and other topics in science and technology.

When the executive director of the museum spoke to our Rotary Club, the thought occurred to me that this would be a great place for an amateur radio station. I met with the director, who is also a Rotary Club member, and he was very enthusiastic about the possibilities. The result is that we are going to be operating a series of special events throughout the fall of this year, with a goal of setting up a permanent station at the museum in 2008.

I’m sure that my involvement with the Rotary Club was a big part of the enthusiastic reception they gave me and amateur radio. Membership in the Rotary Club, and other community service clubs, such as Kiwanis or the Optimists, give one, if not instant credibility, at least some measure of it. So, my advice is that if you want to get your community involved in amateur radio, perhaps you should first get involved with your community, and one way to do that is to join a service club.