Archive for the ‘10/24 GHz SDR’ Tag

Meet the Makers Event, Discovery Science Center   Leave a comment

Discovery Science Center – Advanced Ham Radio on Display at the Meet the Makers Event

Signage at The Discovery Cube announces the Meet the Makers Event

Signage at The Discovery Cube announces the Meet the Makers Event

Dennis Kidder (W6DQ), Walter Clark and I demonstrated our Maker Faire ham radio projects at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana on June 29 and 30, 2013. We used my TinyTrak APRS beacon to indicate our location during the event. In case the plot is removed or expires, here is an image of the map showing our location. KH6WZ is indicated by the eye icon near the Interstate 5 freeway in Santa Ana.

This is a screen capture showing the KH6WZ APRS beacon data from the Discovery Science Center - Meet the Makers event.

This is a screen capture showing the KH6WZ APRS beacon data from the Discovery Science Center – Meet the Makers event.

This was a great opportunity to expose people to today’s technology Amateur Radio, and continued along my Maker Faire theme, “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio.”

Dennis brought his dual band 10 GHz and 24 GHz transverter, controlled and interfaced to his software-defined radio (SDR).

Walt brought his polarization demonstration units, which helped people visualize how radio signals propagate and change as they travel through the air. Here’s how Walt explains his demos:

Two demonstrations show the structure of radio waves – in this case microwaves.

One

The structure of a radio wave in angle around the direction of travel: This is called polarization. A spinning bargraph that has a receiving antenna that also spins will reveal the way radio waves “look” to a receiving antenna. The lesson here is that the receiving and transmitting antennas have to be oriented to the same angle.

Two

The structure of a radio wave along the direction of travel: When a receiver is arranged to look exactly in [or along] the direction the radio waves are going out, reflections can be measured; just like in radar. The reflection off of the hand or the chest of a person causes the speaker to be loud or quiet depending on the exact position. It cycles from loud to quiet every 1.5 cm whether inches or many feet away. The lesson here is that with this equipment, you can picture in your mind the wavelength and especially note that the wavelength is the same no matter how far the radio wave travels.

We did not establish any goals for this event, but there were several memorable visitors to our little table display, including teachers, Maker Faire participants, some current and ex-ham radio operators, many engineers and retired engineers as well as engineering students.

This “Meet the Makers” event was a double treat for me, since this was the first time I visited the Science Center, and I had a blast talking about the new technologies being used by today’s  ham radio enthusiasts.

Here are some pictures of this event . . .

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Bequi Howarth, of the Orange County Mini Maker Faire, who introduced us to the Discovery Science Center.

Links to More Information

Byonics (TinyTrak APRS and Weather Units)

Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana, CA

Orange County Mini Maker Faire, University of California, Irvine (UCI)

Maker Faire

Make: Magazine

American Radio Relay League (ARRL)

CQ Magazine

San Bernardino Microwave Society (SBMS)

Wayne Yoshida LinkedIn Profile

Report on Maker Faire 2013   Leave a comment

IMAG1436

Maker Walt discussing something fascinating with Jeri Ellsworth, aka “Circuit Girl.” Photo by Tony KC6QHP

Here is a report on the 2013 Maker Faire by Tony Long (KC6QHP):

Another great Maker Faire is in the books, amateur microwave radio was well represented!

Thanks to the coordination efforts of Wayne KH6WZ, Brian W6BY, the 50 MHz and Up Group, the SBMS, and UC Davis, the “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio 2” booth at the Maker Faire was a great success.

This year we shared a booth with UC Davis whose impressive student projects ranged from a radar demonstration, to video processing, audio sequencing, and mechatronics.  Along with that, we had a  10/24 GHz SDR setup courtesy of Dennis W6DQ (on a big screen courtesy of Brian), some of Brian’s homebrew gear, Walt’s EM field demos and transceivers, and some of my stuff including a 10 GHz radio and beacon.

LA Times says that about 165,000 people were expected to attend this year, so at a minimum 10,000 people passed by our booth.  Our raspy voices are an indicator that a great deal of talking was done!  I personally interacted with a number of people who are really interested in amateur microwave radio and if even a fraction of them get involved or raise general awareness, I think it is a success.

Walt’s demos, owing in part to their elegant simplicity and visual nature attracted a lot of attention and interest.  On Sunday night he took them to a post-fair get-together with the who’s who of the hardware hacking scene (Jeri Ellsworth, Ben Heckendorn, Diana Eng, Alan Yates and many many others). All were impressed!

Something I see very encouraging in the “maker” scene is a real interest in RF.  This crowd includes a good deal of embedded systems engineers, talented software people, etc.  There’s a real opportunity to make connections with this crowd and get more activity on the microwave bands.
As Software Defined Radios decrease in cost and become more open source, I predict massive interest in RF and likely in the microwave bands because of their large bandwidths.  While they may not be interested in SSB mountaintop to mountaintop contesting (there will be those who are certainly), an increase in use of our bands will only help to further the cause of maintaining our spectrum to help further the state of the art.

I posted a gallery of pictures on Flickr:  http://goo.gl/cAy3p

Tony KC6QHP”

Thanks for the report, Tony!