Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio at the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire   Leave a comment

UPDATE: Articles on San Diego’s First Maker Faire:

Inventors Show Off DYI Drones, Robots

Maker Faire Celebrates 100 Faires Around the Globe in 2013

Crowd Deluges San Diego’s First Mini Maker Faire: An Xconomy Slide Show

The First San Diego Mini Maker Faire Takes Off!

A Mini Maker Faire makes its debut in San Diego at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Despite the sometimes heavy rain, most all of the exhibitors (Makers) showed up. San Diego Mini Maker Faire organizers kept the weather forecast updates on a positive note: “…Forecast: 100% Chance of Great Exhibits” – an excellent promotional phrase.

There were around 5,000 tickets purchased, amazing for a first run in inclement weather. Another positive indicator of interest in San Diego area “Making” is the number of Learn to Solder kits that were made during the event – all 350 of the blinky LED boards were built on Saturday.

The San Diego Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio team

Dave WA6CGR (San Bernardino Microwave Society – SBMS)

Dennis W6DQ (SBMS)

Jason W6IEE (SBMS)

Kerry N6IZW (San Diego Microwave Group – SDMG and SBMS)

Walt (SBMS)

Wayne KH6WZ (SBMS)

In addition to visitors from our own radio clubs (Rein W6SZ and his XYL, Larry K6HLH and his XYL, Ed W6OYJ, Michelle W5NYV and Paul KB5MU) many other San Diego area hams stopped by. As in previous exhibits, there is a pattern: Those who have a callsign but are not on the air, those who have callsigns and are active on the FM repeaters but not much else.

But this is one of the reasons I developed the Maker Faire theme called Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio – I want to show something new to licensed (active as well as inactive) hams, and I want to expose those not familiar with ham radio to what some of us are doing with twenty-first century technology in our hobby – we are embracing and doing hands-on experiments with microprocessors/microcontrollers, GPS, micro- and millimeter-wave construction techniques and other exotic radio-related technologies. We are having fun while learning new skills and expertise.

I hope this idea spreads to other active ham radio groups in other locations – surely there are other hams like us who are doing something more interesting than just talking to strangers, friends and family, right? If you are a ham radio operator and are involved in doing something interesting, let me know and we should join forces to help each other increase interest and participation in this concept – since – as most all hams know – being a Maker is certainly not a new idea!

Here are some pictures from the San Diego Mini Maker Faire. I have two videos posted on my YouTube channel: Walt’s Radio Wave Demonstration and The Electric Giraffe

Map showing the KH6WZ APRS beacon location.

Map showing the KH6WZ APRS beacon location. The location is approximate, I had to simulate the GPS coordinates since signals were blocked in the steel and concrete exhibit hall.

Despite the rain, there was a constant crush of people in, near and around the Not Your Grandpa's Ham Radio booth at the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire

Despite the rain, there was a constant crush of people in, near and around the Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio booth at the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire

Not Your Grandpa's Ham Radio at the San Diego Mini Maker Faire - We were lucky there was a no-show next to us, so we combined the empty space with ours at the end of an aisle - good show!

Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio at the San Diego Mini Maker Faire – We were lucky there was a no-show next to us, so we combined the empty space with ours at the end of an aisle – good show!

A visitor (striped shirt and black hat) tries some of the hands-on microwave physics demonstrations made by Walt

A visitor (striped shirt and black hat) tries some of the hands-on microwave physics demonstrations made by Walt

Dennis brought his 10 GHz / 24 GHz dual band station with software defined radio and notebook computer. The "waterfall" display is used to visually indicate very weak to very strong signals across the receive band. The digital signal processing in this system can improve signal reception

Dennis brought his 10 GHz / 24 GHz dual band station with software defined radio and notebook computer. The “waterfall” display is used to visually indicate very weak to very strong signals across the receive band. The digital signal processing in this system can improve signal reception

Two more projects by Dennis - On the left, a transmit/receive sequencer, used to turn on or turn off circuit modules (or functions) in a specific order. To the right is a circuit under construction/proof of concept receive system using direct synthesis.

Two more projects by Dennis – On the left, a transmit/receive sequencer, used to turn on or turn off circuit modules (or functions) in a specific order. To the right is a circuit under construction/proof of concept receive system using direct synthesis.

Jason W6IEE brought his airplane IFF detector. I will get a better description of his display in a later update.

Jason W6IEE brought his airplane IFF detector. I will get a better description of his display in a later update.

Here's one of Kerry's gadgets - a surplus QualComm microwave diode being used to generate a wideband microwave signal. Intended to be used to detect a microwave signal to verify transmitter operation, it can also transmit a signal for voice communication - in this case, to my 10 GHz transverter system shown in the background.

Here’s one of Kerry’s gadgets – a surplus QualComm microwave diode being used to generate a wideband microwave signal. Intended to be used to detect a microwave signal to verify transmitter operation, it can also transmit a signal for voice communication – in this case, to my 10 GHz transverter system shown in the background.

Here are three of my projects. On the far left, is a microwave field strength detector, this is used to demonstrate vertical or horizontal polarization, the KH6WZ unit in the middle is an APRS beacon, transmitting GPS coordinates (this unit generated and transmitted the GPS coordinates used to generate the location on the APRS locator map at the top of this page) and at the far right is my distance record-setting 10 GHz microwave transmitter-receiver system.

Here are three of my projects. On the far left, is a microwave field strength detector, this is used to demonstrate vertical or horizontal polarization, the KH6WZ unit in the middle is an APRS beacon, transmitting GPS coordinates (this unit generated and transmitted the GPS coordinates used to generate the location on the APRS locator map at the top of this page) and at the far right is my distance record-setting 10 GHz microwave transmitter-receiver system.

Visitor's to Not Your Grandpa's Ham Radio at the San Diego event were able to see some vintage 1960s microwave ham radio units - like this "Synplexer" built by Ed Munn W6OYJ. A pair of these units were on display so we could demonstrate full duplex wide band communication on 2.4 GHz (2400 MHz)

Visitor’s to Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio at the San Diego event were able to see some vintage 1960s microwave ham radio units – like this “Synplexer” built by Ed Munn W6OYJ. A pair of these units were on display so we could demonstrate full duplex wide band communication on 2.4 GHz (2400 MHz)

Here's a closer look at the Synplexer

Here’s a closer look at the Synplexer

Who's that?

Who’s that?

It's great to see young ladies get excited about technical things. There's a San Diego area high school program that includes a robotics class and competition

It’s great to see young ladies get excited about technical things. There’s a San Diego area high school program that includes a robotics class and competition

Quadcopters seem to be trendy with Makers. Maybe this is where Jeffery Beezos got that idea for small package delivery?

Quadcopters seem to be trendy with Makers. Maybe this is where Jeffery Bezos got that idea for small package delivery?

MakerPlace - a place where fellow Makers can gather and make, share and borrow tools and ideas to make things. Funny, it sounds like what a good and active ham radio club should be

MakerPlace – a place where fellow Makers can gather and make, share and borrow tools and ideas to make things. Funny, it sounds like what a good and active ham radio club should be

Russell - the Electric Giraffe at the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire. Russell and its builder Lindsay, are San Diego residents

Russell – the Electric Giraffe at the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire. Russell and its builder Lindsay, are San Diego residents

The Electric Giraffe - This image may give you some idea of Russell's size - this is the "down" position, with head lowered for crowd interaction

The Electric Giraffe – This image may give you some idea of Russell’s size – this is the “down” position, with head lowered for crowd interaction

Links to More Information

Amateur Radio General Information

CQ Amateur Radio Magazine

American Radio Relay League (ARRL)

Polaplexer for 2.3GHz (2300 MHz) – a Vintage Microwave Transceiver

Another Polaplexer Article

APRS – Automatic Packet Reporting System -Beacons

Byonics – I Use TinyTrak Beacon Kits

Microwave Ham Radio Clubs in Southern California

San Bernardino Microwave Society (SBMS)

Microwave Group of San Diego / San Diego Microwave Group

San Diego Area Radio Clubs

Go here and search for ham radio clubs in your area

Russell the Electric Giraffe 

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