All posts by David Merchant

Member Spotlight: David Merchant, K1DLM

Hello, everyone!  My name is David Merchant, and my callsign is K1DLM. I am proud to be part of the Nashua Area Radio Society.  I’ve lived in Windham, NH for 10-years with my XYL and have three children.  I was born just outside of Philadelphia, where I lived until age 7.  I moved around quite a bit growing up, and have lived in every state in New England, except for Vermont.

David Merchant, K1DLM, busy building an Elecraft K3 kit.

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had an intense interest in electronics, technology and how things work. I guess you could say it’s in my blood.  When I was very young, I used to experiment with scavenging parts from old TVs and radios.  As I advanced through school, I also started to get exposed to computers, initially in the 1970’s with a teletype attached to the town of West Hartford, Connecticut’s mainframe.  As PC’s came into the equation, I continued to soak up as much information as I could, becoming very familiar with Apple II computers and ultimately the Mac and Windows.

It wasn’t until High School that I had my first electronics class, which cemented my plan to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering (EE). I went on to earn an EE degree from the University of Hartford, SI Ward School of Technology in 1990.

  1. How did you get involved in amateur radio? 

I’ve been interested in Amateur Radio since a young age, but I had so many questions, and I didn’t have an Elmer.   I remember attending at a Scout Jamboree, and someone had set up an HF station using a Heathkit Radio.  He had a tribander at the top of an extension ladder and was making contacts all over the World.  I must have spent an hour listening to the QSO’s, but never got on the air.  I dabbled around with CB radio, scanners, and an old Halicrafters shortwave set from my Grandfather.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I finally obtained my General license at age 35 in July 2003.  I earned my Extra ticket about a year later, back when there was still a five wpm code requirement.

  1. What’s your background and what other hobbies do you have? 
David Merchant and Brent Norris (Graphics Designer) at Spirit Technologies, Summer 1995.

You might think that I would have pursued a career in engineering, but I never did.  While I was in College, I became an entrepreneur, starting two tech companies in the computer storage market.  This exposed me to many different aspects of business, where I determined that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day.  The job I enjoyed most was sales – traveling and being out in front of customers.  I enjoyed meeting new people, and every day brought a new challenge.  This became my career path, where I ultimately assumed various sales leadership roles in the telecommunications business.  I’ve worked at Siemens, Nortel, Juniper Networks, Fortinet, and currently for a telecom startup focused on cellular infrastructure.

I have a range of other hobbies including weather, boating/sailing, cooking, videography, home automation, and DJ’ing an occasional party.  I also enjoy traveling to new destinations, which is a lucky thing as my job demands a great deal of it.

  1. What are your goals in amateur radio? 
This is my primary operating position. It’s an SO2R setup.

Amateur radio is the primary way I stay connected to my technical roots.  Of all the aspects of the hobby, I enjoy station building and helping others.  I currently host a 2-meter D-Star repeater (KC1EGN) at my QTH and maintain an HF and Satellite station.  I enjoy the fusion of radio, computers, networking, and software-defined radios in particular.

In the future, my XYL and I plan to move up to the lakes region of New Hampshire.  I’ve already started dreaming about building a contest station up there for retirement, and have been gradually collecting some foundational components (hardline, rotors, antenna switching matrix, etc.).

  1. What do you like about being a member of Nashua Area Radio Society? 

I’ve enjoyed the new friends that I’ve made through the club.  The members come from a diverse set of backgrounds and life experiences.  As a result, there is always something new to learn.

I also volunteered to be the Field Day Chairman for 2017 and quickly gained an appreciation for how much effort is required on behalf of many individuals to pull off this event.  Field Day is the premier event for the Nashua Area Radio Society.  I would encourage everyone to take an active role, even if you’re a beginner.  As they say, many hands make light work, and you’re guaranteed to learn something in the process.

Dave, K1DLM

Harvard Amateur Radio Symposium – RSVP Required

Amateur Radio Symposium
On April 29th, 2017 from 9-5, the Harvard Amateur Radio Symposium (1st edition) will be held in historic Harvard Yard at the center of Harvard University. The symposium will be an opportunity for radio enthusiasts and experts at Harvard, other universities, and beyond to gather to hear speakers present on topics related to amateur radio, both historical and technical in nature. The symposium is being put on by the Harvard Wireless Club, W1AF (HWC), a Harvard owned, run, and sponsored amateur radio society dedicated to the pursuit of amateur radio activity, education, and volunteerism. The HWC has decided to hold this symposium as a means of celebrating our interest in amateur radio as well as to encourage and promote the continuation of the use of amateur radio in the future.
 Tom Gallagher, NY2RF
 CEO, American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
 Paul Horowitz, W1HFA
 Author, The Art of Electronics; Founder, SETI
 James Surprenant, AB1DQ
 1st Vice President, Yale University ARC, W1YU
 Flávio Jorge, CT7AQK
 Department of Electronics, University of Aveiro, Portugal
 Fred Hopengarten, K1VR
 General Counsel, Harvard Wireless Club
 Cambridge Univ. Wireless Society
 Via Videoconference Link
Free Admission – RSVP REQUIRED – Click HERE

2nd Field Day Prep Meeting Recap

I wanted to provide an update to all club members on our progress related to Field Day 2017.  We had our second field-day meeting yesterday at the Nashua Public Library.  I’m pleased to report that we have selected the Hollis Brookline High School for a 2nd year as our site.  Paperwork has been submitted to the school seeking formal approval.

Now that a site has been identified, formal station planning has begun.  Once again, we will be operating this year as a 7 Alpha, which means we will have 7-transmitters, plus a GOTA and a Satellite station.  We will setup the following stations:

  • 10/15/80m SSB
  • 20m SSB
  • 40m SSB
  • 10/15/80m CW
  • 20m CW
  • 40m CW
  • 6m VHF
  • A Digital Station
  • A “Get on the Air” GOTA Station
  • Satellite Station with computer-controlled Azimuth / Elevation rotor
  • A VHF/UHF “talk-in” station

As there are many new members in the group, I wanted to take a minute to explain the complexities of this type of setup.  Operating so many transmitters in close proximity is a recipe for disaster unless proper precautions are made.  We must do this right so all the stations will be able to operate without interference to one another.  If we don’t, it would be very easy to have de-sense or worse case physical front-end damage to a receiver where it would require repair.

To combat these issues, we are going to erect 3 towers this year, each separated by about 300-feet.  Each of them will have a tri-band HF beam antenna directed to the southwest and pointed perpendicular to the axis of the towers.  In addition, we will be using a device called a triplexer to separate the single antenna feed coming from the tribanders into individual 10m, 15m and 20m feeds to the radios.  Each of these feeds will be further protected with a band-specific Band Pass Filter (BPF).  This will allow 3 separate radios to transmit and receive simultaneously over a single antenna.

There will be several new concepts introduced this year, including the addition of a Wi-Fi Mesh LAN environment to connect all the sites computers together.  This LAN will provide shared internet access as well through a 4G cellular connection.

Field Day - WiFi Mesh Topology
WiFi Mesh Topology

We will be running the N1MM logger in network mode this year as well.  This will allow for real-time tracking of our combined score, with a “dashboard” being available in the public information tent.

Another new concept will be a remote radio setup.  Given the layout of the Hollis Brookline site, the third tower will be located remotely on a lower field.  Although it’s still within the 1,000’ transmitter perimeter allowed by ARRL, the third tower will be quite isolated.  We have decided to place two Flex Radio’s at the third tower for our GOTA and Digital operations.  The operators will connect to these radios over the Wi-Fi Mesh network, allowing them to be anywhere on-site.  The user interface for the GOTA station will be a Flex Maestro controller, which emulates a traditional “knob and button” radio.

Our primary objective is to make sure there is something for everyone.  We want to be inclusionary, and give anyone that’s interested an opportunity to participate.

We have established a regular bi-weekly planning meeting at the Nashua Public library.  Generally, the meetings are held on Sunday’s from 1 – 3 PM.  However, the next meeting will be on Saturday, April 8th from 12 – 2 PM due to lack of availability of facilities on Sunday.  We will resume the normal schedule on Sunday, April 23rd from 1-3PM.

I will be sharing additional details at club meetings and through N1FD.ORG as things progress.

Dave, K1DLM

Hashtags: #ARRLFD 

Field-Day Kick-off Meeting

I am really excited to be leading the field day effort for the Nashua Area Radio Club this year.  Since this is my first time, I will be relying on the club members to help me make this a success.

It is rapidly approaching, and with this in mind, I’ve scheduled an initial “kick-off” meeting for Sunday, March 5th at the Nashua Library in the Hunt Room from 1-3 PM.  I’d love to see all team leads from last year, as well as anyone interested in participating this year to please attend.  My intention is to identify a planning team at this meeting to start working through all the details.

The first item on the agenda will be to identify potential locations for this year.  With this in hand, we will create a site survey crew to evaluate the options and decide which site best fits our needs.  Ideally, the site will be centrally located to Nashua, and allow for public access.  In order to accommodate the towers, we will need a field between 600-1000 feet long North to South, and at least 120 feet wide.   A 1000-foot site would allow us to erect 3-towers.  It would also be ideal if there are restroom facilities, and potentially access to a kitchen / cafeteria.  This is especially important if there is inclement weather.

We also need to decide what type of station we should run this year, and what type of antennas are needed.  Last year, we erected a V-beam array for 40-meters which was very effective.  We may want to consider adding a second one.  Other questions remain open, such as should we have more digital operations, a VHF station, or perhaps an enhanced satellite setup?

We also need to determine what class and entry strategy we want to use this year.  In 2016, we operated as a 7-Alpha, as this seemed to be a sweet spot.

It takes a village to pull this event together, but as the old adage goes “many hands make light work”.   I hope to see you all on the 5th.

Dave, K1DLM

Hashtags: #ARRLFD #N1FD