Ham radio presentation at a Men’s shed Group at Brassall, Ipswich
A few weeks ago, Don VK4AFE who is a member of the Ipswich and district radio club saw an opportunity to give a Ham radio presentation which including a live operating demonstration while operating in a portable mode. The men’s shed group consisted of mostly retired men who knew very little about ham radio; however there was a few that had experience with citizens band radio. Don already knew some of the members of the group so he asked if they would be interested in a working display of amateur radio operating portable within the grounds around the shed. They responded very positively so arrangements then had to be made to set a date and what function were planned for the three hour window we had. Further discussion followed with the leader of the men’s group and once agreed it was back to the Ipswich & district radio club meeting night to set the date and asked for some volunteers to help in setting up and to operate the transceivers. The day was a Wednesday which was a normal work day for most people so activity would probably be low. We managed to get five licensed radio amateurs, Bob (4RJ), Peter (4SIR), Glen 4FARR and Graham (4GRA). Don (4AFE) had already had connections with the men’s shed was then known as the team leader.
We turned up early on the day and first thing we did was to set up our gear while the shed members were arriving. They were soon keen to help so we delegated out instructions of what to do. This became sometimes a little difficult as we had to answer questions as to how and why it worked while we were engaged in setting up our transceivers. Eventually we had finally finished our setup and we started to tune the band for some activity. The time was about 0915 hours and Don was concerned that the noise level was starting to creep up, especially on forty meters. We were using two squid pole antennas that were built as a club project and were designed by Des 4LOT. Des had to do a lot of experiments and work hard to get it right. Depending on how you set the antenna up you can operate it on another HF band. Details of the home brew Squid pole are available on the Ipswich & District radio club web site http://www.vk4wip.org.au/vk4wip-
After we had completed our set up on the grounds then it was back into the shed so that Graham, Glen, and Don would give varies parts of a short talk about ham radio. This turned out to be much longer than expected as question time at the end took a lot longer than expected. We include some basic theory on propagation and radio frequency transmission and not forgetting Graham who talked on his gadgets which included APRS and Echo link etc. We also included a few words on occupational health and safety with reference to RF exposure. We explained that power levels and distance from a radiating element of an antenna play a significant role in RF exposure so they would have some idea that RF radiation can be dangerous to your health. Just to be on the safe side from an RF burn we kindly asked everyone not anyone to touch the radiating element wire of the squid pole antenna or walk on the earth green mats as they could be a victim of an RF burn.
After the talk and all the questions were answered as best we could we walked back outside to our equipment and turned on the transceivers. Don found that forty meters was still open and stations could herd from the north of Brisbane up to Mackay but there was quite a bit of noise. Don managed to work about three stations despite the fact that it was a working day and most of the activity would be between late noon and early morning for forty meters. He even had two of the men’s shed Guys talk as a second operator (under supervision) and to our amusement one guy was trying to talk and listen by holding the microphone to his ear. Don had to quickly get his second operator skills correct so the QSO could continue. Bob, about 100 meters away was using twenty meters on his squid pole and managed to work a station in South Australia with good signals both ways. Although he had some success there was just not enough activity to make it very successful. Graham on the hand was successfully using echo link via a local repeater with the final link being wireless in another country. Graham spent time explaining all the different modes of operation including the APRS system, antennas, and Echo link. Graham also showed and talked on test gear as well. It was a fun day in setting and up and pulling down three hours later. I believe it was enjoyed by all with the possibilities of gaining a radio club member or two.