Show and Tell at the May Meeting

The May meeting followed up the formal business with a Show and Tell.

We had six speakers and two new guests introduced themselves- they have migrated to Wellington with their SAR search dogs, cats and radio gear from Finland. Previously they had worked for a small Finnish company called Nokia! Teemu is now ZL2MRJ and Mira is ZL2GEE.

The talks:

Project 1: Peter ZL2VK talked about is Elsie Metre project. This is a Group funded project that is a L-C metre based on a PIC micro. It has a large LCD screen and the kit costs $70. Those interested please contact Peter or come along to the next SIG to buy one. First in first served so don't wait if you want one! The prototype batch were all pre-sold so we know demand is high.

Project 2: Also Peter had his SDR HF radio, all built and working well. Peter also has the 2m/6m kit and is going to build this very soon. The new VHF kit is very popular and in high demand. We look forward to a demo very soon.

Project 3: John ZL2HD and his Yacht Race Starter. This is a PICAXE based project that switches on the horn of a boat to do the countdown sequence for sailing teams racing. It plugs across the horn switch of the boat to take its power and shorts the switch to sound the horn. Toots are 3, 2, 1 minute, 30, 20, 10 secs 5,4,3,2,1 and starts with the 3 minute again. This has been tested and been used at Evans Bay Yacht Club and is popular with the race starters!

Project 4: Bruce ZL2ABC showed his Motor Boat Racing Buoy. The race officials needed a way to tell the race drivers to stop, so a red flashing light on a buoy is used. The project had no budget, so Bruce used an old commercial radio and took the busy light in the receiver to a Jaycar relay kit and drove a red beacon light. The project is housed in a small plastic barrel with a PVC pipe holding the beacon light clear; where the boats can see it. A second use of the project is with a horn speaker attached: it is used as a wireless PA system to communicate with the crews on the shore.

Project 5: Wayne ZL2BKC described and demo'ed his network analyser in a box! Yes, a small black box with a USB port and two SMA connectors is a real, live, working network analyser up to 1300MHz. Wayne built this from a project kit and for around $600 it has most of the function of units that start at nearly 100 times this price! The software and the chipset do the "clevers" and Wayne showed us how it analysed a few passive devices . This is an amazing tool that brings a network analyser down to hams and small companies that need these functions. We look forward to doing antenna tests with Wayne's toy once summer is here.

Project 6: Rob ZL2WAL demonstrated his Google Earth/Google Maps project. Rob has collected all the fixed station data in ZL and converted it to a .KML file that Google uses to display data on their maps. Some smart programming has joined various bits of info together to give a good display for each licence, as well as having it correctly placed on the map. Rob has removed the NS linking stations from the display in such a way that the added data and hidden data is not lost when tables are refreshed from various sources. Rob is working to release the code and the output for use by others. Look out for the file on the VHF web site for general use.

Project 7: VHF Group on Twitter: Mark ZL1VMF gave us a quick demo of twitter and how the Group is using it. Although the general idea of Twitter is a micro-blog, it is more than this once you start following various feeds. If you follow the VHF Group on twitter you will get informed when the web site changes for instance. This was a good intro to this tool that has become hugely popular and Mark challenged us to think about how we might use it more.

No chocolate fish were on hand but they will be awarded at the next meeting. All 6 speakers and our guests were nominated to win and the voting committee declared all 8 people worthy of an award!

More details on these talks will be added as we get the links and details.

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