Construction Competition 2017 Rules

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Soldering IronThe aim of this annual Spring contest is to encourage members to build either radio equipment or ancillary items which enhance their radio operations and to exhibit these to encourage others to follow their example.

Entries can include any radio-related equipment or software, for example, morse oscillator, test unit, QRP rig, computer/radio interface, PSU, Tx/Rx, linear, antenna, ATU…..

Entries can have been built at any time, but to be accepted as an entry, they must not have been entered in any previous SDARC construction contest.

If YOU have built something that helps you operate, why not enter it?  Remember it is not necessarily the most complex equipment that wins!

Provide sufficient details with your entry to help judges understand the purpose and operation of the entry….”Sell” the concept and its usefulness through your description, diagrams, circuits etc !

The contest will have five principal Product categories:-

Homebrew – This will be for equipment built completely by the club member. (If the equipment is a magazine project with a PCB available, then, the PCB may be used.)

Kit – This will be for equipment built from a kit. The kit should require some soldering to component level.

Hybrid – This will be for homebrew equipment which also contains one or more kits.

Antenna – This will be for special homebrew antenna systems. For this type of contest entry, the member will just need to provide photographs of the antenna together with a specification, a drawing and details of the construction. A list of countries worked with the antenna should also be provided.

Software – This category will be for radio-related software. This can be either, a new piece of “stand-alone” software, or a piece written to add extra features to some existing software.

In addition, three Constructor categories may be brought to bear:-

Novice – This will be for those members who have not previously built or exhibited any equipment.

GeneralThis will be for those members who have built and entered previously.

Professional – This may be awarded to experienced constructors whose work is of an exceptional standard.

The number of Awards will reflect the scope of entries and may include awards made to deal with tie-break situations.

The judges’ decisions on all the awards are final.

Talk: Manufacturing For The Masses, by Dr. Adrian Bowyer

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On Thursday, March 2nd we welcome Dr. Adrian Bowyer, the founder of RepRap Ltd (3D Printers), to our club.

RepRap, the REPlicating RAPid Prototyper was the invention of Adrian whilst he was a senior academic in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Bath University. His invention was the birth of low-cost 3D printers, started the open-source 3D printing revolution and the RepRap has been described as the invention which will start a second industrial revolution.

Adrian started the company in 2009 and finally retired from academic life in 2012. During his time at Bath, he invented (at the same time as David Watson), the Algorithm for the computation of Voronoi diagrams – this became known as the Bowyer-Watson Algorithm.

Adrian will be bringing along one of his 3D Printers to demo and will also speak of some of his experiments on 3D printing Printed Circuit Boards.

Home construction has always been close to the heart of amateur radio and with many radio hams still enjoying this aspect of the hobby, 3D printers will doubtless feature more and more within the home constructors workshops. The possibilities are endless – from making small project boxes, knobs, bespoke parts etc. to replicating those hard to find parts for the restoration of older equipment.

As the title suggests, Dr Adrian Bowyer has truly made ‘manufacturing for the masses’ a reality during the last decade and this will be a presentation not to be missed.

So please join us from 7pm on Thursday 2nd March at Pine Trees to meet Dr. Bowyer and see his presentation.

Thinking Day on the Air 2017 – GB1SGG

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Ken, Andy and James helped some Brownies and Guides with Thinking Day on the Air by running various radio related activities and a special event station where the girls could pass messages. We didn’t find any other Guiding group on the air but a number of amateurs were happy to accept their messages.

The girls were especially interested in CW which shows that the aging mode does still have appeal to future generations.

We closed the day by receiving a satellite pass of AO-85 which the girls also found fascinating as they heard stations from the UK, Italy and Belguim using just a handheld radio.

Thanks to all involved in making it possible including the hams who responded to calls from our special event station.

FREE Books in PDF Format

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Last week it was announced that two very popular books that had gone out of print have been made available electronically for free. This is great news!

NOSintro – TCP/IP over Packet Radio
An Introduction to the KA9Q Network Operating System
by Ian Wade, G3NRW

In NOSintro you’ll find a wealth of practical information, hints and tips for setting up and maintaining the KA9Q Network Operating System (NOS).

The book concentrates on KA9Q in a packet radio environment, but most of the coverage is applicable to dial-up use via a modem as well.

The emphasis is on hands-on practicalities. You’ll see exactly:

  • how to install KA9Q on a PC
  • how to set up the control files
  • how to check out basic operations before going live
  • how to use KA9Q commands for transferring files, logging in to remote systems, sending mail and so on.

Theoretical coverage is kept to a minimum – just enough to provide a framework for the hands-on sessions, so you get a good understanding of what’s happening without being submerged in a morass of superfluous detail.


The VHF/UHF DX Book, 2017 Replica Edition

‘The VHF/UHF DX Book’ was written in the early to mid-1990s by a team of experienced VHF/UHF DXers and equipment developers, in an effort to pass on our knowledge and stimulate further developments. But eventually the book went out of print, and information of lasting value became trapped on the printed pages.

To keep that information alive for future generations of VHF/UHF DXers, a digital replica of the Second Printing (1995) has now been released as a free download, by kind permission of the copyright owner TRPublishing and its proprietor Trevor Preece.

As with all older books, the challenge for the reader is to separate the parts that are of lasting value from other parts that have become dated. But we make no apology for that; even the outdated parts remain an accurate snapshot of VHF/UHF DXing in its heyday.

Talk: ‘The History & Development of the Transistor’ by David Dale

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This Thursday evening at Pine Trees we welcome David Dale along to speak about the history and development of the transistor. David, you will remember, is the chap who very kindly donated all those components and books to the club a few months ago.

David spent a number of years working for GEC semiconductors, leaving in 1998. Before retirement, he was on the Swindon committee of the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology – previously IEE) and gave this presentation to the IET in 2012.

The development of the transistor is a fascinating one and the component has revolutionised electronic design over the last 60 years or so, allowing smaller and cheaper designs to be produced.

David Dale has a wealth of experience in this field, so please join us from 7pm on Thursday the 9th February at Pine Trees to see his presentation.

Talk: ‘Sort it out Chief!’ by Peter Martin 2E0CYS (26th January 2017)

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This week at Pine Trees, Peter Martin 2E0CYS, will be coming along to give us another of his entertaining presentations of his time with the RAF.

Peter will need no introduction to most of course, being one of the regular attendees at our club nights.

Over the last couple of years, Peter has delivered several talks to SDARC, entertaining us with his stories of RAF life and speaking of the many aircraft he has had the privilege of flying in during his career.

On Thursday, he will deliver his final (surely not Peter!) installment entitled ‘Sort it out Chief!’, which will undoubtedly be as enjoyable as his other talks and one not to be missed.

Please join us from 7pm on Thursday 26th January at Pine Trees to see Peter’s presentation.

‘Show & Tell Evening’ – 19 January 2017

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This Thursday, 19th January, we will be holding a ‘Show & Tell Evening’ at Pine Trees.

The evening gives members the opportunity to bring along a piece of equipment, review an item or a piece of software or perhaps speak about their favourite aspect of the world of radio.
We have three speakers on the 12th, which are Jonathan – M0ZGB; Geoff – G3TPQ and Den – M0ACM.

Jonathan, M0ZGB
Jonathan is giving us a short presentation on his 1950s Ex RNLI lifeboat receiver, during which he will tell us about the original concept of the Type 97 radio set as well as his attempt to discover which lifeboat the receiver originally came from. He will also take us back to a time when tea & fried sausages were deemed more interesting than new-fangled radio sets!

Geoff, G3TPQ
Geoff will be speaking to us on the subject of British & German wartime civilian receivers and will be bringing along an example of each. We are doubtless all aware of the depth of Geoff’s knowledge on these subjects and he has also offered to end his talk with a short musical quiz!

Den, M0ACM
If you are still a breathing, well-read amateur, you WILL have heard of SDR transceivers… The new-ish fangled boxes with a computer attached to process the signals. Tonight, we will have a look at a new implementation of that concept – The ICOM 7300…

As there are three speakers on Thursday, we would ideally like to start the talks at 7.45pm rather than the usual 8pm, so that we have some time for questions and swap over.

Thursday night will be a good mix of the old and the new with regard to radio technology, so please join us from 7pm at Pine Trees to see our speakers deliver their presentations.

Christmas Dinner / Awards Photos

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Last Thursday was our club Christmas dinner and awards ceremony. I would like to publically pass my thanks to Den, M0ACM for not only organising the club competitions, judging them (with G4LDL) but also organising the meal from start to finish. Everything went smoothly and we had a great turn out as you can see from the below panorama.

We all met at Robin Farm near Blunsdon and were split off into our own private area. The staff were friendly and attentive and the food was fantastic and in quantities which far exceeded the expectations of most. Some people opted for the Christmas carvery whilst others chose directly from the menu which allowed everyone to have exactly what they wanted.

Once the meal finished the club competition winners were announced.

Well done to our winners. Hopefully if you didn’t win you will be inspired to participate in next year’s competition when it is announced.

Club Christmas Dinner

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Christmas Dinner
This week you will find that the Pine Trees building is not open to SDARC members due to our Christmas dinner at Robins Farm in Swindon. We are set to eat at 8pm so you should ideally arrive between 1930 and 1945.

If you didn’t book at pay in advance, fret not, as you can still join us! However, you will be given the normal menu (a carvery is still available I believe) and will pay at the bar.  The more the merrier.

The address is:
Robins Farm
Latham Road
SN25 4DL

Next week will be the last meeting of the year for SDARC and to celebrate we will be having the annual club quiz. You will make a small team with other members and answer questions on various subjects. Mince pies will also be available.

We will return in 2017 on January 5th.