Archive for the ‘Jeri Ellsworth’ Tag

The Original Makers   Leave a comment

Anyone interested in young people education has probably heard of the Maker movement and the Maker Faire. Or, at least, they may have seen a copy of Make: magazine on the newsstands. Many educators understand the connection between science and technology education and how this Maker movement can be used to make learning fun.

Well, I have to say this is a lot of successful marketing hype – since so many people worldwide think this is a new and wonderful phenomenon. Here’s some news for everyone: This is not a new idea. Amateur radio operators (“hams”) have been among the original Makers since the early 20th century.

In case you have not heard about Makers, here is a brief description: The Maker movement is about making something rather than buying something, fixing it rather than throwing it away, pre-cycling or recycling instead of throwing it away and modifying something to make it work better or different.

This “making” refers to anything you can think of, from clothing and costumes and computers to bicycles and cars and aircraft. And for ham radio operators – it’s making or modifying radio communications equipment.

A Personal Passion and Mission
Since ham radio has been and continues to be one of my passions, I want to make sure people understand that today’s ham radio is not an outdated, dying hobby that no one uses any more. It is not necessarily a hobby for old retired engineers talking to strangers from their basements and closets. The Amateur Radio Service is much more chic and many of us are using today’s technology and applying it to ham radio activities. And as a science and an educational tool, ham radio has a lot to offer.

A Timely Showcase
The Bay Area Maker Faire is at the end of May each year. Sponsored by Make magazine, the Maker Faire website describes this event as, “A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness and a celebration of the Maker movement.”

When you actually get there, you may describe it as a giant playground for everyone where science, art, food, clothing, bicycles, fire, machines, lasers, steam, electricity and music all crunch together into one giant gathering. And I can insert ham radio into this cornucopia of educational fun.

In 2012, my ham radio friend Dennis Kidder had some free passes to the Bay Area Maker Faire. Since the tickets were a great bargain, we had to make the all-day drive to the Silicon Valley to see this thing. We had such a great experience that year we decided to create our own display to show off our ham radio projects. Besides, we got to meet Grant Imahara from the Discovery Channel show “Myth Busters,” and a famous female hacker named Jeri Ellsworth. Adam Savage, also from the Myth Busters show, is the Maker Faire emcee.

Amazingly, Maker booths are free. Considering how much commercial exhibitors pay for booth space, electricity, water, compressed air and cleaning for tradeshow booths, this is an incredible deal.

For 2014, my Maker Faire theme, “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio!” continues for the third consecutive year. Our displays include a wide range of experiments, demonstrations and practical wireless communications equipment using a mixture of traditional and the most modern techniques. Here are some examples of our projects from previous Maker Faire events…

 

Ramsay Electronics KH6WZ Laser Communicator

Ramsay Electronics KH6WZ laser communicator

 

W6DQ - Dennis 10 GHz transmitter-receiver with software defined radio (SDR)

W6DQ – Dennis 10 GHz transmitter-receiver with software defined radio (SDR)

 

79 GHz transmitter-receiver system by Tony KC6QHP

79 GHz transmitter-receiver system by Tony KC6QHP

 

Antenna positioning system by Brian W6BY

Antenna positioning system by Brian W6BY

 

See more stories on my LinkedIn pages. . . 

 

 

Maker Faire Projects from the Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio Booth   Leave a comment

Announcing San Diego Mini Maker Faire 2013 - Visit the Maker Booth called "Not Your Grandpa's Ham Radio"

Announcing San Diego Mini Maker Faire 2013 – Visit the Maker Booth called “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio”

Here’s a quick overview of Maker Faire projects from past “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio” exhibits. . .

The KH6WZ 10 GHz transmitter-receiver unit on display at the Orange County Mini Maker Faire  on the UCI campus

The KH6WZ 10 GHz (X-band) transmitter-receiver unit on display at the Orange County Mini Maker Faire on the UCI campus

A vintage Helium-Neon (HeNe) laser communicator by Dennis W6DQ

A vintage Helium-Neon (HeNe) laser communicator by Dennis W6DQ – from the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire

An audio frequency test station with an oscilloscope, signal generator and audio amplifier. A microphone inserted into the amplifier input became a popular function for kids and adults - Speak into the microphone and see what you sound like!

An audio frequency test station with an oscilloscope, signal generator and audio amplifier. A microphone inserted into the amplifier input became a popular function for kids and adults – Speak into the microphone and see what you sound like!

KH6WZ-5 APRS beacon - active and sending position data at the 2013 OC Mini Maker Faire at UCI. The beacon message included the Faire's URL.

KH6WZ-5 APRS beacon – active and sending position data at the 2013 OC Mini Maker Faire at UCI. The beacon message included the Faire’s URL.

Maker Faire 2012-1 030

Morse Code reader/sender with wireless keyboard and radio interface by Brian W6BY. This setup uses Ham Stack modules available from Sierra Radio

"Space Ball" azimuth-elevation antenna positioner, with wireless remote control and iPhone interface, by Brian W6BY

“Space Ball” azimuth-elevation antenna positioner, with wireless remote control and iPhone interface, by Brian W6BY

 

 

KH6WZ APRS beacon sending out the Discovery Science Center location

KH6WZ APRS beacon sending out the Discovery Science Center location

 

2012 Bay Area Maker Faire - Left to Right:

Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire team – Left to Right: Brian W6BY, Dennis W6DQ, Wayne KH6WZ, Tony KC6QHP, and Mike Lavelle K6ML

Jeri Ellsworth - aka Circuit Girl - at the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire. She's playing her 8-bit bass key-tar.

Jeri Ellsworth – aka Circuit Girl – at the 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire. She’s playing her 8-bit bass key-tar.

 

More projects coming soon, so stay tuned!

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!

Type 65 Coupe Update: E-Brake Handle, Fitting the A/C and More IRS – and Maker Faire 2013 Application   Leave a comment

I got tired of fiddling with the IRS so I did something different this weekend. Here is a picture of the E-brake ratchet handle that comes with the Complete Kit. Since the parts are plain, un-finished steel, I decided to paint it to prevent rust. The exploded view in the instructions make assembly very easy. I wish The Factory would include an exploded view for the IFS as well as the IRS – makes things go so much better. The finish is white and black appliance epoxy from Rustoleum.

Here are some pictures. . .

kh6wz-3-10-13 002

kh6wz-3-10-13 001

I am not sure if I like the location of the E-brake handle, it is on the passenger side of the transmission hump. A popular modification is to use a Pontiac Fiero unit and re-locate it closer to the driver. We’ll see if I want to change this setup. (The sharp-eyed people will notice the e-brake handle is backwards. . . . . . )

Here are some images of the air conditioner and a cardboard aided design (CAD) templates I am making. This requires some cutting of the dashboard and firewall, so I want to mock everything up before I start cutting. I have some very sturdy aluminium plates for the A/C baseplate, and some sheet aluminum for the enclosure. A CAD version will be made first, then transferred to aluminum.

kh6wz-3-10-13 015

kh6wz-3-10-13 013

kh6wz-3-10-13 012

kh6wz-3-10-13 009

kh6wz-3-10-13 010

kh6wz-3-10-13 009

Moving back to the IRS, I received some advice from the veteran builders, and so here is what I did to the lower control arm mounts. The shims (thin black steel washers) F5R supplies are slipped into place and some adjustment is done by placing shims here and there. However, it makes more sense to limit the toe and camber adjusters so that the tweaking can be as simple as possible. By “fixing” one side of the control arm, and limiting it to one adjuster for toe and one adjuster for camber, alignment is simplified and less time consuming.

Currently, this stage is to just “eyeball” the adjustments, and continue the build process. Wheel alignments – both front and rear – may be done after the wheels and tires are mounted. (Probably can be done at the “go kart” stage, when the chassis is complete and the engine, drivetrain, electrics and brakes are installed and running.)

Here are some pictures. As this step gets closer to completion, I will add more details for future reference.

kh6wz-3-10-13 007

kh6wz-3-10-13 004

Above left: The Type 65 Coupe IRS lower control arm mounts. One shim on the front side of the mount, six shims on the side toward the rear of the car. The heim joint is threaded on so that 5/8-ths of an inch of thread are showing.

Above right: Here is the trick I use to install slippery washers, shims and spacers onto things – Use a punch or some other tool to poke through the stack of parts together, thus aligning the holes of each part. Then . . .

kh6wz-3-10-13 005

kh6wz-3-10-13 006

. . . push the fastener – and the punch – through the stack of parts. Wiggling, pushing and pulling will help. Sometimes a quick-clamp can help, too.

Maker Faire 2013 Update: Application is In!

I turned in an application for Maker Faire Bay Area 2013. Our Maker name is “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio 2” and we will continue the theme my team entered last year. We will have some new projects on display, and we will bring some of the more popular items from last year. Here is a look at some of our projects from last year – as well as some other interesting and amazing things I saw last year.

Maker Faire 2012-1 027

Maker Faire 2012-1 036

Maker Faire 2012-1 049

Maker Faire 2012-2 010

Maker Faire 2012-1 076

Maker Faire 2012-1 073

Maker Faire 2012-1 072

Above – One of the most interesting exhibits at Maker Faire 2012 — The Electric Giraffe named Russell  – it is a scaled-up and enhanced version of a plastic model kit – it is 17 feet tall. Below left: Jeri Ellsworth, aka Circuit Girl, and her electric Key-Tar at Maker Faire 2012. Below right, Maker Alex shows us her finger tip no keyboard keyboard.

Maker Faire 2012-2 120

Maker Faire 2012-2 066

 

More Maker Faire 2012 images are posted on my YouTube channel. 

Call for Bay Area Makers is Now Open!   Leave a comment

 

Here is your chance to earn some minutes of fame – and show off that secret project you’ve been working on in your garage. . .

Deadline for proposals is March 15, 2013.

I entered last year. Our theme was “Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio!” and generated a lot of interest in our radio clubs.

More information on this year’s event is posted here.

Take a look at some videos from my previous Maker Faire experiences…

My favorite videos from the MakerFaire include a short chat with Jeri Ellsworth and her “key-tar.”

Jeri has some very interesting YouTube videos, too.

And take a look at the giant paella pans cooking away!