Tech Night Topics Solicitation

Nashua Area Radio Society Topics In All Forums Elmering Forum Tech Night Topics Solicitation

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Joe Kagenski 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    Hi all. I’m trying to put together a list of tech night topics moving forward. I have a good start but really need your feedback and additional ideas. Afterwards, I’ll compile everyone’s ideas and we’ll figure out how things shake out. Please take the time to read post.

    1. Grounding: A few people have expressed an interest. I’ve also seen posts Tony, Fred, Greg, Dave, and others have contributed to. In fact, Dave (N1RF) posted 2 large pdfs all about grounding. I think it would be interesting for folks to have a separate night on it, learn a little theory, and see how noise levels can be dramatically reduced.
    2. Sunspot activity / ionosphere: I think we could do a combo here. We could start with a movie night and watch some scientific videos to learn about the ideas, and then have a follow-up where some folks have talks for the remaining time explaining how this applies to our hobby, what the widgets mean on the website. We could show the differences between 10 years or more ago to now, etc.
    3. Test-equipment kit night: People expressed to me interests on how to set up and use:
    • oscilloscopes
    • spec analyzers
    • SWR meters
    • antenna analyzers
    • network analyzers
    • signal generators
    • anything else that people might add to their shack
    I think folks would like a deeper appreciation for this. Maybe we could build and leverage off of material we had for the Extra class. I found that super helpful. But showing people how to do this stuff is key.
    4. HFTA: I think a lot of folks would like to understand a high frequency terrain analysis. I’m not sure if this would eat up 2 hours but I’m thinking if people are comfortable sharing their QTH coordinates, we could make plots of terrain and propagation around their home and then give them paperwork afterwards so they could go back home and see if anything needs tweaking.
    5. Follow-up to Jeff Millar’s talk: once the matching networks are built, it would be great to come back and revisit this.
    6. RTL-SDR dongles: I am thinking of buying one of these. It might be nice if 2-3 other people did, and we could all experiment with how they work and what can be done with them and GNUradio project. Personally I think this would be pretty darn cool.
    7. Revisit past tech nights: For the surface-mount soldering night, I wasn’t around. Others weren’t either. If we are going to bring new people into the hobby, it’s important to go through old topics sometimes.
    Any other topics? We’re really trying to just elicit some ideas. Don’t feel like any idea is dumb; it’s not. I likely have the same concern/question at least.
    Fred Kemmerer
    Fred Kemmerer

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for posting this. Your list is a great start! Here are some additional topics to consider –

    1. DC Power Supply Design and Construction – power supplies are easy homebrew projects and it might be fun to explain some of the common designs, when to use them and how to design a build a simple 13.8V DC supply for amateur radio use.
    2. Operating using Digital HF Modes – this would cover how to get on the air using digital modes on the HF bands. Topics would include HW and cabling, radio and SW setup. Wed want to cover the PSK, RTTY and JT65 modes. We might be able to demo some of these live in the room.
    3. Evaluating Antennas and Propagation via Reverse Beacon Tools and Networks – here we show how to use tools like WSPR, CW Skimmer, PSK reporter and others to evaluate your station’s performance in different parts of the USA and the world in real time. We would also cover how to go about setting up a station to contribute data to RBNs at your home QTH.
    4. PC Board Design and Construction with Eagle – here we’d show how to use free board layout programs (EAGLE) to design a PC board for a project. Topics would include circuit capture, board layout, trace routing and sizing, and steps to have the final board fabricated. We might tie this with one of the other topics like the power supply one and have boards made that folks could use to build their own PSUs.
    5. Arduino and/or Raspberry Pi Setup and Programing – this could be follow-on to the program that is coming up. Topics would include picking HW and SW distributions, installing OS and tools, and a simple programming example. We might be able to come up with enough HW to have 3-4 stations setup in the room for people to play with one of these platforms if there is interest.
    6. HF Operating Techniques – this would be a how to about operating on the HF band. Topics would include operating split, busting pileups, working DXpeditions, running a pileup, etc. We’d also want to cover the rig aspects of this. Examples – setting up split operation, how to use filters, how to use noise reduction and blanking, how to use notch filters, setting AGC, using compression, etc.
    7. QSLing 101 – How to Effectively Confirm Contacts – We’d cover direct/cards, LoTW, ClubLog, eQSL and QRZ. Topics would include discovering routes, how to avoid postal problems and theft, determining what to QSL, etc.
    8. DXing 101: How to Find and Work DX Stations – we’d cover sources of DX information (ex. DX newsletters, spotting cluster, alerting tools, most wanted lists, ClubLog Tools, etc.). We’d also cover how work DX from a modest station. Determining the best times, bands and modes, pileup busting techniques for little pistols and medium guns, equipment for DXing such as amplifiers and directional antennas, etc.
    9. Cool Smart Phone Apps for Amateur Radio – There a pile of cool apps for amateur radio. Some which come to mind include echoLink, CW practice tools, spotting cluster apps, repeater finders, SmithChart tools, County finders, Grid Square Finders, Antenna Calculators, Satellite Trackers, ….
    10. Popular Logger Setup and Use – the idea here is that we’d pick a popular logger or two (ex. DXLab, HRD, N1MM+) and ask folks to bring the computers and possibly a radio. We’d go step by step through the setup and help people to get things working. We’d also cover some of the more useful features of the logger suite in question. I’d suggesting doing DXLab or HRD for the first one. We could do this a second or perhaps even a third time to include other loggers.
    11. LEO Satellites: Building a Station and Operating through Satellites – this would be a more complete treatment of how to get on the air and operate using amateur sats. We’d want to include setups and operating for both FM “easy sats” and linear transponder birds. Topics would include, equipment and antenna choices, satellite pass prediction SW and how-to, operating including dealing with Doppler and tacking, etc. We’d also want to include an overview of the sats that are up and operational.

    Let me know if any of these sound interesting. Lets also figure out how we want to do the survey when we see each other at Tech Night next week.


    - Fred (AB1OC)
    President, Nashua Area Radio Society
    Visit us on the web at -


    Some thought from Dave Michaels (N1RF) based on an email thread

    A . Hardware & Stationn set-up
    1. Power supplies
    2. Voltage/Current station monitors & Power control point
    3. Transceivers
    4. Amplifiers (if used)
    5. Tuners
    6. SWR/RF power monitors
    7. Coax switching/grounding equipment
    8. Coax pass through options
    9. Grounding, lightning arrestors, RF switches

    B. Station Operating

    1. Computer interfacing/control
    2. Spotting bulletins (Dx Summit, etc)
    3. Propagation software (VOACAP, etc)
    4. Logging software
    5. Uploading to LOTW, eQSL, etc
    6. ARRL awards ( WAS, DXCC, etc)

    C. Antennas

    1. Wire Antennas; types and ways to string up
    2. Basic Directional Gain antennas ( overview of basic types, masting options from low cost to the BIG $$$ towers)

    For topics in A & B, I think having an actual operating station in the room would be a must for best value.



    QSLing is a good topic.

    Capturing the right Log data and up loading it is tricky. The merits and issues with direct, buros, eQSL, LOTW, and the whole green stamp issue took a while to understand. I donated a lot of “green stamps” and logged a lot of QSOs with near zero confirmations before figuring it out. My first 30 states were never confirmed.

    Some methods provide confirmations needed for WAS and DXCC awards (LOTW does, eQSL doesn’t ) and via tools like QRZ and DX Keeper you can see if someone has LOTW or are willing to send a card. A station may skip returning your call if they expect they will not get a confirmation. If I see I’ve worked someone several times before and I still do not have a confirmation I keep tuning up the band unless I’m just looking to rag chew or need a signal report.

    A few HAMs I know do not keep a log yet work Award nets, contests and QSO Parties and do not understand  the impact to the other station.

    Many haven’t experienced the advantage of using computer based tools like DXLabs, N1MM, or a Spotting tool. A OM with decades of experience saw  me operating using the mouse and keyboard and was amazed and excited it was just a free download away.


    Hamilton (K1HMS)
    Amherst, NH


    Joe Kagenski

    Do any of the equipment vendors have reps available to provide “dog&pony” shows?   Show off new equipment, etc…

    “decades ago” when I was an Apps Engineer w/ Tektronix, we used to do events like this.


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