Atlanticon 2002 QRP Forum
was held .... April 5-6 in Baltimore, Maryland
Order the Proceedings
Well folks, we've just closed the
doors on our fourth year of doing this and Atlanticon 2002 is now history.
Man, what a blow-out time it was this time! About 150 QRPers from all across
North America attended - from Gody Siason AC6UV in CA, to Brien Pepperdine
VE3VAW in Toronto, Canada! Here's a dump of most of the happenings -
speaker presentations, special awards, new kit announcements, contests and
winners .. and everything in between. Read on and enjoy!
Clearly the highlight of the weekend was the full day of presentations delivered on Saturday by the absolutely outstanding staff of QRP speakers: N2CX, NF0R, K8IQY, NA5N, WB3AAL and K1SWL. Many, many attendees commented that this year's content and value exceeded their best expectations. Rich Arland, K7SZ did the master of ceremonies duty again this year and kept us all on track with his lively and gracious speaker introductions.
Joe Everhart, N2CX lead off the day with a detailed review of circuit simulation using WinSpice, giving a very practical example with circuits used in his recent designs and kits. Per usual, Joe pulled a quickie on the audience with a clever slide that had everyone holding their breath until the punch line came - whereupon I personally heaved a great sigh of relief. (We'll have to ask Joe to post something about that one.) N2CX's presentation and paper in the Proceedings provide an excellent cookbook recipe of references and examples for anyone wishing to get into simulating circuits to save bench prototyping time and provide more robust designs.
Dave Gauding, NF0R made his first-ever QRP trip east to visit us, and what a presentation he did! In Dave's inimitable style of self-effacing modesty and unsurpassed "QRP operator in the field" knowledge, NF0R dazzled the audience with a detailed review and show of his trailside QRP station - a modified DSW-40 transceiver and St. Louis Quickie portable vertical antenna. I personally have built everything this true QRP gentleman has described since my first meeting him some 4 years ago, and I'll be that about 150 QRPers will now also be trying out Dave's suggestions and operating techniques.
Jim Kortge, K8IQY returned for his third speaking engagement at Atlanticon, and this guy just keeps getting better and better! Jim wowed the audience with a project he recently designed to help him measure and sort the massive number of crystals he was working on for his 2N2-40 Build Group - over 120 QRPers on Yahoo mail list are building his 2N2-40 Transceiver project step-by-step under his coaching and guidance. Jim's detailed the theory, design and usage of his "Precision VXO" project, and gave a live demonstration of the PVXO in action for the entire audience to see (with the video camera assist of one of the attending QRPers, me!). Each one of us deals with crystal on frequent basis, and K8IQY's usual technically-thorough and understandable discussion of this topic was very well received. (See the "Kit Announcements" section for some great news regarding this project ;-)
Paul Harden, NA5N returned for his second Atlanticon gig with us and the reception was just superb! Paul delivered a wonderfully down-to-earth presentation about transmitter design, talking about impedance matching between stages, signal levels throughout the transmit chain, MOSFET transistors used in the output stage, and more. He provided some really beautiful diagrams and technical artwork in his printed paper (in the Proceedings) that support and detail all of his discussion. Despite feeling a bit under the weather, NA5N presentation brought about many rave reviews throughout the remainder of the day.
Ron Polityka, WB3AAL, aka "The Ninja QRPer", aka "El Presidente" (of the EPAQRP Club), aka "The Mule" ... we learned the background of the many nicknames of this high-spirited, enthusiastic and talented field operator. Ron delivered a energetic and show 'n tell-based overview of his adventures of hiking and camping throughout his 20 year QRP history. He provided us all with expert advice and humor, with comrade and co-conspirator Ed Brenseiser, WA3WSJ handling the slides of Ron's presentation while Ron trotted in with full hiking garb with his 52-pound backpack! Ron had us simultaneously in stitches over his real life hiking experiences and in awe over the beauty one can see while operating on mountaintops along the Appalachian Trail. WB3AAL wrapped by describing the AT Awards he and the EPAQRP group sponsor for all who also enjoy these experiences.
Dave Benson, K1SWL is the very good and close friend of the NJQRP and he too returned for a third Atlanticon speaking engagement this year. Dave presented a very useful and eye-opening overview of antennas, their modeling with EZNEC, and clear descriptions of what really happens when you shorten antennas or otherwise compromise on the basic formula of "make it big and put it high". We all have dealt with these compromising situations before and it was delightful to have it all explained by this master designer in our hobby. Throughout the ensuing evening's activities, conference attendees were commenting to me on the usefulness of Dave's guidance and the value of his paper in the Proceedings -- we couldn't agree more!
Each speaker received a nicely engraved plaque from the NJQRP Club in appreciation for their graciously contributed presentation and written paper in the Proceedings. Additionally, each speaker received a special navy blue hat embroidered with "Atlanticon 2002" and their name/callsign, courtesy of Pat Arland, XYL of K7SZ. Any other QRPer may order similarly personalized hats from the Arlands (email@example.com).
PRIZES -- DOOR, CONTEST, and GRAND
Those attending Atlanticon this were blessed with the generosity of many individuals, clubs and companies who donated an absolutely stunning array of prizes. We had so many that multiple drawings were done in between each speaker presentation so that we could share this generosity among all attendees throughout the day. We sincerely thank the following list of donors ... EPA QRP Club (calendars, R8 antenna, 6m beam, 2m beam), Ft Smith QRP Club (Tuna Tin 2 kits, Marker Generator kits), NoVaQRP Club (PK-3 Keyer kit, WM-2 Power Meter kit), NorCal QRP Club (Capacitor Kit, Toroid Kit, BLT Tuner Kit, QRPp subscription), QRP ARCI Club (QQ back issues), NJQRP Club (PSK31 Beacon Kit, Tip Tapper Paddle, Rainbow Tuner Kit, Islander Amps & Pad Cutters, QRP Homebrewer subscription, Manhattan Starter Kit, K8IQY Precision VXO Kit), Graham Firth G3MFJ (Peak Atlas Component Analyzer), Small Wonder Labs (PSK-10 Kit), Mike Czuhajewski WA8MCQ (QRP Quarterly subscription), Gil Kost/American QRP Mfg Co (paddles), Greg Lawrence W2JWM/QRP Books (ARRL Antenna books), Larry Przyborowski K3PEG (solder roll), and Elecraft (price reduced K1-4).
John Sielke, W2AGN was the lucky winner of the fully-loaded 4-band Elecraft K1 Transceiver kit.
As is characteristically done at this time of year, the climax of the NJQRP Club's efforts during the preceding 12 months, two prestigious awards were presented to very deserved individuals.
The "Most Significant Contribution to QRP" award plaque was presented to Jim Kortge, K8IQY. Jim's contributions to the QRP and homebrewing community over the last four years have been nothing short of spectacular. He is a meticulous and creative RF designer, a producer of kits, a patient and informative instructor, a public speaker at QRP events, an accomplished and published technical writer, and a absolute master craftsman who has done more to champion the extremely successful "Manhattan-style" construction technique than anyone else in our hobby. I will elaborate further on this award in a specific email to follow, but for now I know I represent a great majority of QRPers in expressing a heartfelt "thank you and congratulations" to our good friend Jim Kortge, K8IQY.
The "NJQRP Lifetime Achievement" award plaque was presented to Tony Colaguori, W2GUM. At an age of more than 82 years, Tony "The Gummer" W2GUM continues to play a more active role in the NJQRP than most of it other members combined. Tony provides a steady stream of innovative mechanical and electronic ideas, antennas and activities to the club membership that serve as inspiration and models for club projects. W2GUM is an inveterate tinkerer and machinist - even during the winter months at his Florida-based home he is constantly thinking up new gadgets and working out in his personal machine shop in the trailer park. Tony and is absolutely lovely wife Clara live in Long Branch, NJ and together they drive the 1.5 hours to nearly every monthly meeting the club has in order to "be with the boys". The NJQRP membership is very pleased to present W2GUM with a beautifully-engraved plaque and a generous gift certificate to Harber Freight, his favorite "toy store". Thank you for being there for us Tony! [Note: Time got away from us at the Saturday evening activities and when it came time to announce this, the Colaguori's had already retired for the night. We've contacted Tony and his award is being mailed this week.]
SMALL WONDER LABS -- During the lunch break, while the Atlanticon attendees sat around munching on sandwiches, chips and sodas, Dave Benson, K1SWL gave a delightful overview of things going on in his workshop over at Small Wonder Labs. We'll let Dave elaborate more on the detail himself, but in summary now he described (1) the "Son of DSW Transceiver" (that's not the real name, of course, but because of crazy parts shortages in the industry he's redesigned this very popular small portable monobander); (2) a new 75m SSB transceiver based on a specialized "Villager Radio" project he has going on for a third-world country; and (3) his now-officially introduced PSK-10 Transceiver for operating PSK31 on 10m during the extended solar cycle. Great stuff continues to pour out of the labs of SWL for us all. You can find them at http://www.smallwonderlabs.com Thanks Dave!!
PRECISION VXO KIT -- Jim Kortge, K8IQY graciously agreed to collaborate with the NJQRP in turning his specialized crystal measurement equipment (i.e., the subject of his presentation) into a full-blown and reproducible design called the Precision VXO. The NJQRP helped fund that productization and is now providing a kit of all parts, a gorgeous red pc board, all board-mounted controls, a Ten-Tec enclosure, and a very comprehensive construction and operating manual all at a very attractive price. This kit is useful in crystal measurement and sorting, as an extremely precise crystal oscillator, as a way to bend a given crystal to place it directly on the desired frequency, as a local oscillator in a radio, or as a direct conversion transmitter unto itself! We had approximately 23 kits all prepared for sale at this weekend and they were quickly sold out on Saturday evening. We're awaiting more of the controls hardware (5 toggle switches and a 10-turn pot per board) so we can begin shipments. See the NJ web page http://www.njqrp.org/pvxo for more details. Note: Enough interest was also shown in the companion "crystal test fixture" that Jim used to sort the crystals for the 2N2-40 Group, and the NJQRP will also be kitting that project in the very near future in order to further enhance the usefulness of this K8IQY-designed test equipment. Thanks Jim!
LOW POWER BALUN KIT -- The NJQRP has the pleasure of working with an ever-growing base of designers from all over the country, and has recently coupled with Chas Greene, W1CG, to productize his low power balun design. Not your everyday bulun, this one has been meticulously optimized and tested to ensure top performance at QRP power levels. Chas is an excellent engineer and has described the theory, design considerations and construction detail in the companion manual that will be of great value to all who build and use the balun. In another day's time you can see photos and technical detail on the NJQRP website at http://www.njqrp.org/balun . Chas also authored an article concerning this project in the next issue of QRP Homebrewer, coming to subscribers this month. Many of the Low Power Balun Kits were sold on Saturday evening at Atlanticon, and we have plenty of stock for new incoming orders. Again, see the club website for ordering details. Thanks Chas!
SERIAL SENDER KIT -- Another designer who has graciously agreed to team up with the NJQRP in productizing his design is David Ek, NK0E. Dave is the developer of a contest logger program called "GOLog" for the Palm PDA, and he recently designed a PIC-based serial interface to allow the GOlog program to connect to one's transceiver in order to automate the CW contest exchange. Additionally, the user can plug in a paddle to manually transmit the exchange. We've designed a small pc board and kitted the design, providing all parts, enclosure and a construction/operating manual. The kitting was not quite complete by the time of Atlanticon, and we didn't have any kits on hand during the weekend. Kits will be ready to ship within another 10 days and orders can be placed now. See the club website for all the details http://www.njqrp.org/serialsender . Thanks Dave!
BADGER "INFRARED ADD-ON KIT" -- As all Atlanticon attendees now know, we designed an "expansion port" into the Badger smartbadge project. As you will see on the lower part of the Badger pc board, there is a 7-position row of pads that will allow a small board to be plugged into a pin header used at these pads. This 1"x .75" board contains two surface mount chips: an EEROM memory IC and an infrared transceiver IC. (The IR xcvr chip has an infrared LED and an infrared detector, similar to what is used in television remote controls, et al.) When the add-on board is plugged into the Badger, and when the correct software is loaded (v2.x), the smartbadge will send its callsign via the piezo and visible LED per normal, *and* via the infrared LED. If the Badger "sees" another Badger's callsign with its IR detector, it logs it into the EEROM memory. Thus two people wearing Badgers that electronically exchange callsigns in this manner have record of the "eyeball QSO". Later on, for a more permanent record of the eyeball QSOs, the owner of the smartbadge may download the accumulated callsigns in memory to a laptop of Palm PDA similarly outfitted with an IR port (as many computers are these days). This simple and low-cost project can be great fun at a club gathering, hamfest, etc. Allan Owen, WA3OWT has been working fervently on the project leading up to Atlanticon, however again we ran out of time to complete the project in time for the weekend but we expect to have the kit available in May.
During Friday's "QRP social" evening part of the weekend, Joe Everhart, N2CX conducted a fun "QLF Activity", wherein pairs of QRPers teamed up to send CW on a large, makeshift key and code practice oscillator ... using their left foot! One guy transmitted a crazy message, with all sorts of "handicaps" thrown in, while the other received. Then the roles reversed. The copy was graded and winners were announced: Mike Czuhajewski WA8MCQ and Charlie Powers, NU3N. What a riot! Each guy won a N2CAU Tip Tapper paddle.
There were so many great entries of homebrewed equipment and customized Badgers! I can't recall them all but we'll soon have photos of them all posted on the website so everyone can view the craftsmanship displayed. The grand winner of the Building Contest, as judged by N2CX and K1SWL, was Jim Francoeur, KC1FB. Jim's winning entry was a homebrew tube transmitter with some gorgeous copper coils in the output tank circuit. Runner-up winners were John Cawthorne, KE3S, Dave Gauding, NF0R and John Stratton, AA3SL. Each of these fine homebrewers received a prize for their achievement.
In a manner only we can achieve at Atlanticon, the Badger contest was the wild and crazy event of the weekend! This contest was based on the fact that everyone had a "special mode" built into the program running in their smartbadge that could only be turned on by a secret combination of mode settings. We informed everyone how to turn on this special mode (select mode D then immediately select mode J) and all the Badgers then began sending the respective callsign and a special 2, 3 or 4 character code, over and over and over. The special character code represented the position in a paragraph of text, followed by a character (letter or number) that belongs at that text position. For example, my code was "N2APB 182O" which indicated that the letter O should be placed at position 182 in the paragraph of text. A worksheet was passed out containing blanks at many of the character positions in that paragraph of text, and for the next 20 minutes, with over 150 Badgers repeatedly sounding callsigns and codes, the QRPers wandered around putting the other persons' badger to their eye and copying the code letter onto their worksheet. Man, if you can imagine being out in a field during the late summer evening hours and hearing how loud hundreds and hundreds of crickets can be, you'd have a good idea of how the room sounded on Saturday evening for those 20 minutes ... wild!
The winners of the contest were: Joe Stratton, W3JBS, Gerry Jurrens, N2GJ, John Straton, AA3SL, Dave Gwillim, KB2TQX, and Marcus Gwillim (not yet a ham!). Each of the winners received a prize. (The Straton and Gwillim father/son teams were really quite amazing!)
The Atlanticon Proceedings (expertly written collection of author papers) were attractively mass printed, spiral bound and presented to each QRPer in attendance of the Atlanticon weekend. Only those who attended were entitled to receive the Proceedings; however others unable to make it to Atlanticon this year have the opportunity to purchase extra copies we still have on hand for $15. Copies are limited, there will be no more printings of this material, and the article will not appear anytime soon in other QRP magazines. We sincerely thank the speaker/authors for the opportunity to present their material in written for others to enjoy. (Note: The Proceedings were provided as a benefit to those who made the effort to attend Atlanticon. Those who pre-registered but were unable to attend are not entitled to receive free copies of the Proceedings - these people have already received the reduced price Badger kit without having attended
The effort to put on an event such as the Atlanticon weekend extends far beyond what one or two individuals can do by themselves. Joe and I are very proud and appreciative to have had the active participation of ten club volunteers who took care of all the logistics for the weekend completely freed us up to be the club ambassadors and event sponsors. These volunteers who made Atlanticon happen are: Frank Novicki K2PQ, John Cawthorne KE3S, John DeGood, NU3E, Mike Korejwo KB3HMR, Allan Owen WA3OWT, Bryan Williams AA3WM, Jan Medley N0QT, Ed Roswell K2MGM, Ken Newman N2CQ, Ed Lyon N4LRR and Michael Bower N4NMR. There were countless times when we needed something done immediately, I'd tap one of these folks on the shoulder and they'd hop to make it happen. These are real behind-the-scenes heroes for events such as this. Additionally, and even more personally, I wish to thank Dave Porter AA3UR for being the Staff Captain for the whole Atlanticon team. Dave has been my right arm during the months leading up to Atlanticon, taking care of kitting, planning out the details of all the logistics, and then making it all come together during the weekend itself. Without Dave, Joe and I wouldn't be nearly as effective in making the Atlanticon weekend happen, nor would we be able to accomplish what we do for the NJQRP. A sincere thank you Dave!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR ATLANTICON 2003
It's never too early to plan on having the time of your QRP life! God willing, next year's Atlanticon will be held on March 28-29, 2003.
George Heron, N2APB