Friday at Dayton Was Forum Day

  • Friday at Dayton was “forum day.” By that I mean that I attended a slew of forums and could have attended several more. That left little time to actually scour the flea market or visit vendor booths.

    I started out in the TAPR forum, but only spent a couple of minutes there. I quickly switched over to the ARRL Public Relations forum. There I got to meet Diana Eng (see previous post). I also:

  • learned about the PR resources on the new ARRL website,
  • received a “Talk on a Disk” CD that includes materials to help you prepare a presentation on ham radio for non-technical groups, and
  • received free materials from Gordon West, including an instructor’s guide for both Tech and General classes, and CD-ROMS with a number audio clips on a variety of topics.
  • En route to the Teacher’s Forum, I passed by the Antenna Forum, which looked to be very popular. There were guys standing out in the hallway trying to hear the presentation.

    The Teacher’s Forum has been moderated by Carole Perry, WB2MGP, for as long as I can remember. She always has good speakers. This year, the lineup included Gordon West and Bob Heil.

    One idea that I picked up is to use a flashing light or LED to demonstrate the idea of duty cycle. By hooking it up to a variable duty cycle oscillator, you could vary the amount of on time versus the amount of off time, and this would make a very good visual demonstration.

    This year’s presenters mostly talked about teaching kids. This fall, I plan to teach a class for seniors. If it goes well, I’m thinking that I could talk about that class at next year’s teacher forum.

    In the afternoon, I attended the Software-Defined Radio Forum. This forum was also packed. We first heard about the new FlexRadio 1500, which is a $650 SDR. Its output is only 5W, but this looks like a real bargain.

    Next up was Lyle, KK7P, from Elecraft. He gave us the Elecraft perspective on what an SDR is and what it’s not. It was interesting, but not very technical.

    After Lyle, the TAPR VP (whose name and call I forget) talked about developments with the SDR projects at TAPR. My initial impression is that while all of these developments are well-done, it’s still much less expensive to simply buy a Flex 1500. I haven’t checked the specs, though, to see if they are comparable.

    Finally, there was a talk on MacHPSDR, a native Mac implementation of a receiver for OpenHPSDR hardware. I wish that I’d been able to stay, as I am a Mac person, but I had to leave. Despite the availability of this software, you really do need to have a PC to run a software-defined radio. I don’t expect this to change in the near future.

    Well, that was certainly enough for one day. On Saturday, there were some equally interesting forums, including forums on RTTY, SSTV, antenna-modeling software, and the AMSAT forum. Despite this, I decided to not attend a single one and walk the fleamarket and visit vendor booths. More about that in the next post.

    Comments

    1. John K1ym says:

      I would argue with the statement that you have to have a PC to run the HPSDR radio. This is not true. I have a Atlas, LPC, Mercury, Magister (and Pandora box) HPSDR components. I have a intel powerbook running Snow Leopard. I am running fine with MacHPSDR. Currently you need a pc to set the firmware in the Reciever (Mercury) and transmiter (Penelope) but this can be done with Bootcamp on the mac. Jeremy plans to incorporate this functionality into the MacHPSDR. This is a fantastic system.

      This setup has better specs than the new FlexRadio 1500 and costs on the same order. It can show a band display from 100KHz to 60MHz. The analog direct conversion design in all the FlexRadios makes this impossible.

    2. David Brodbeck N8SRE says:

      The biggest problem with SDR projects, right now, seems to be that the field is moving so rapidly that by the time a design is mature and reproducible, the components for it have all been obsoleted.

    3. John K1ym says:

      The last talk (MacHPSDR) in the Dayton SDR session is on line at:
      http://www.nh6z.net/MacHPSDR/Dayton_Presentation.pdf

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