Advanced Topics for 2024 – 11 Jan 2024

Last night we met to discuss what we want to do for the Advanced Topics classes in 2024.  As you may (or may not) know, MARC has a so-called "Advanced Topics" class on the second Thursday of each month.  These classes are intended to reflect more advanced and/or esoteric topics.  Historically, I've presented something about amateur radio that I found interesting... a technology or subject that is related to amateur radio and is more involved than just chatting on the repeaters (or even via HF).

For 2024, I want to continue this model, but extend it.  I want to spend several classes on each topic, starting with an introduction and background, but moving to a hands on session where we (the club members) actually DO something with it.  This may include things like configuring equipment, building antennas, etc. and ALSO includes taking that configured equipment, antennas, etc. out and actually USING it.  I want the Advanced Topics classes in 2024 to be more about DOING than just being SHOWN something.

To this end, I suggested three sample topics that I am interested in and that I thought would fit into this model fairly well.  The topics I put forward were Winlink, 10m operations, and AREDN.

I know we've done some classes on Winlink before, and we participated in the multi-club Winlink Workshop last year that was very well attended.  I want to do that one better... starting with an overview and background on Winlink one month, then having a mini-workshop the following month where we actually get our equipment configured and working, and finishing it up with us taking our gear out and actually using it to send messages, process forms, etc.

For 10m, I suggested a similar model, but concentrating on what you need to get on 10m.  That basically includes a radio and an antenna, so one class session could be on actually building (or modifying existing CB) antennas.  This series would culminate with us getting onto 10m and participating in Paul's 10m weekly net.

And for AREDN, the club has a bunch of hardware that was donated by a ham who was moving.  We could spend a session learning about it, another session configuring the hardware, and a final session hauling the gear out into the real world and setting it up to see how we can make it work.  I think we may be able to leverage UVARC's people as they have been using AREDN effectively in Utah County.

After presenting these three topics, I opened it up for discussion from the group about other topics that may be of interest.  We came up with another fifteen (!) possible subjects.  I'm going to do a little research on these, since many of them will require some level of investment in hardware and/or software (antenna parts, while often inexpensive, are not free).  Once I have some idea of what's involved, I'll put together a little survey for people to register their interest.  If you have an idea for another topic that isn't on this list, please let me know and I'll add it.

Without further ado, here is the list of potential topics for MARC Advanced Topics classes for 2024 (and likely beyond):

  1. Winlink
  2. 10m operations
  3. AREDN
  4. Software defined radio (both receive AND transmit, and what to do with the things you receive)
  5. NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave antennas, how they work, building them, using them)
  6. mounting antennas (mobile and fixed base)
  7. SKYWARN/weather monitoring (to include CWOP and building your own weather station, weather telemetry on APRS, etc.)
  8. APRS in depth (using APRS in events, digipeaters, building a digipeater, getting club assets on APRS as objects)
  9. Digital Voice modes (this we broke out into three sub-topics since there is probably enough in each to spend at least a couple of classes on)
    1. D-star
    2. DMR
    3. YSF
  10. radio astronomy
  11. high altitude ballooning (build a balloon and launch it!)
  12. EME (Earth-Moon-Earth, from what do we need to actually do it, to let's actually do it!)
  13. satellite operations (what satellites are working, build a dual-band yagi, make contact with someone via satellite)
  14. digital (data) modes
    1. packet (build our own packet station)
    2. vara HF/vara FM
    3. PSK31
    4. FT8/JS8
  15. time and clocks (how does GPS work, what about atomic clocks, why do we care about accurate time)
  16. amateur radio crossovers with other hobbies (model rocketry, RC aircraft, drones, aviation, etc.)

Again, if there are other topics that interest you, that are not on this list, send them to me and I will add them to the list.  There are so many things we can do with amateur radio... we have only scratched the surface!

Other topics suggested after this list was first posted:

  1. QRP (low power, 5W or less on HF)
  2. Learning Morse Code (I know we're not going to learn the code in a session or two, but we can cover various techniques and tools for learning and maintaining proficiency in code.)

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