Ham radio workshop held at PDEU University

2022-04-05 Amateur Radio Workshop at PDEU UniversityA full featured two day Amateur Radio Workshop was conducted by Rajesh Vagadia VU2EXP (Regional Coordinator, AMSAT-INDIA) on April 5-6, 2022, at renowned university PDEU in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.

40 highly interested students of EC & ICT (plus faculties) dived into the fascinating World of Amateur Radio for two days. Total 8 hours of packed program was scheduled, on day 1 from 1330 to 1730 & for day 2 0900 to 1300 (IST).

On day 1 (5th April 2022), step by step I covered History & Introduction of Amateur Radio, Operating procedure, Modulations, Bands & Frequency allocations, Morse Code, RST Systems, Phonetic, Q-Codes, License Grades, Procedure to obtain Ham License etc. I always encourage students to ask their doubts at any point of my presentation, and with such practice I really get a number of interesting questions which I enjoy to answer all.

I tried to convey the real image of Ham operators Life – how Ham Radio is involved in our daily life. Students have been crazy when I said, a bachelor male operator is free to roam here & there and hence he’s known as VFO, but when he gets settled (after marriage) he is known as Crystal Controlled (Universal fact)! Also they wonder to know how we ham community extends our respect to even 75 year old female operator by mentioning them as Young Lady (YL). I explained how we use different numbers like 59 & 73, but warned not to use random figures like 88 for any YL as you might be in trouble (hi..hi..). All phases of life from being a Harmonic, OM, YL, Fundamental, Silent Key etc terms are part of radio operators’ life!

A good collection of Radio stuff was carefully displayed for the benefit of students, which includes, HTs, VHF/HF Base, PSU, Cables, Connectors, Adaptors, SWR / Power Meter, Frequency meter, L/C meter, NanoVNA, Dummy Load, Sound Card Interface, RTL-SDR Dongle, CPO, Morse Key, Electronic Keyer, Paddle, Fox hunt tape measure Antenna, GP Antenna, Telescopic Antenna, Dual Band Yagi Antenna, IOio Antenna, Attenuator, Offset Attenuator, Cube Satellite Model etc. Also I displayed my IC-705 SDR QRP Rig with LiFePO4 Power pack for various Demos!

All EC & ICT students really enjoyed & learnt the feature/functioning of most of the displayed stuff by trying it themselves. Additionally hundreds of my QSL cards, Log Book, Call book, various Awards, Ham Radio study books and interesting articles were kept on display which was thoroughly observed by students. They were amazed to see NASA QSL for Juno flyby experiment, Japan & German research center’s QSL from Antarctica, Awards for ARISS SSTV event and many more from IOTA, FD etc activation. I explained how we can send and receive paper QSL Cards very economically via QSL Bureau worldwide. Highlighted our ARSI’s QSL Bureau services from India.

All over first day was fully packed with lots of learning, enjoying radio stuff & clearing dozens of doubts of students. I got nice support from my family ham members VU3EXP Sakshi Vagadia & VU3GLY Priyesh Vagadia who accompanied me from my QTH Rajkot.

Satellite Communications Demonstration

Satellite Communications Demonstration

On day 2 (6th April 2022) we started our workshop at 0900. We had planned a series of practical demonstrations on this day. Initially I presented roles & objectives of various Ham organizations like AMSAT, ARISS & ARRL and informed how giant efforts are made by these organizations to promote Amateur Radio Satellite Activities, Encourage School Students towards STEM, and offering the ultimate knowledge base for radio hams. Also highlighted AMSAT-INDIA’s activities and its contribution of two Satellites VO-52 & AISAT. We gave an idea on how ARSI represents the interests of Indian Hams before national & international regulatory. GIAR Club was also recognized for their excellent Emergency Communication support to the State Government during natural calamities.

We have gracious presence of GIAR ham members’ incl. VU3IKI Ke Ke, VU3DVA Dipakbhai, VU3VDC Vitthhalbhai & VU3HXS Dhirenbhai at the workshop.

I presented how students can be engaged with ARISS ISS SSTV Events by receiving sstv Image with simple RTL-SDR Dongle & small homebrewed yagi antenna. We gave a live demo of the student’s SSTV Image transmission & reception with the help of two stations installed in the venue. Participants were wondering to see the Picture being transmitted in audio format & received/converted back to Student image.

Thereafter Morse code demo was carried out which was equally interesting for Students. I randomly asked the student’s name & generated his code with paddle & electronic keyer, the name was decoded by the software and projected on the screen! Students were taught the importance of Morse code (SOS) even for emergencies, though advised not to use codes during college exams! hi..hi..

For the Digital Communication demo, I invited students & faculties to send me a few messages. I converted those text messages into PSK31 audio signals & transmitted from station one, second station received & decoded each message mentioned with students’ name. It was fun to view student messages/ feedback projected on a big screen. Also briefed on various digital modes Ham operator uses.

Students then very well understood why Ham Radio is also known as the oldest Social Media, by seeing all such techniques we use since decades, that too without any mobile network or internet !!

Our Satellite Communication Demo was scheduled at 1047 (IST) with AO-91 Cube-Sat. The reason to choose this bird was suitable pass time & very good elevation of 63 degree, two days back we already checked this bird & it was functional. I already requested a few VU Hams to respond & support our Sat Demo.

All students & faculties get assembled at Rooftop by 1030. I used a pair of HT, IOio Dual Band Antenna and Tracking app in my simple setup. I explained various terms of satellite & basic procedure of operation to the group. All the students were very curious to see how a tiny cube-sat of 1.3 kg extend long distance communication within its footprint. I connected a wired (bluetooth) speaker with a bit of a long cable so the group can hear Reception. But as some of us have experienced, Murphy strikes at the last moment and my speaker failed just before appearing of AO-91 !!! There was no time for troubleshooting, I immediately used my headphone to avoid the audio loop, as it was my full duplex configuration. Two minutes later I could hear a strong signal of VU2LBW Lucky, I copied him 59, exchanged reports and established a successful Sat QSO. Lucky was really loud & clear with his decent setup.

I was willing to let faculty/student experience this live contact, I ask Lucky to address & respond again and I handed Headphone & Mic to Prof. Jigar Shah, Lucky patiently talked with him conveyed his Callsign, Handle & QTH Bangalore (MK82TV), Prof. enjoyed the live demo and responded well.

We also gave a chance to one more female student; meanwhile I was continuously tracking the satellite & aiming the antenna towards it. Before LOS I heard another good Station VU2UUU Kaustav Saha from Gurgaon (ML88NK), I worked with him too with 59 reports.

So it was a semi successful Satellite Demo as I could not allow all students to listen to ongoing (Rx) conversation. But participants were very happy to learn the complete procedure; they were thrilled to witness the potential of amateur radio satellites. Later on Lucky VU2LBW favored me by sharing our Sat QSO recording, which was circulated amongst all students for reference & memory!

At 1100 there was short tea break, participants were so enthusiastic that even in leisure time they been to radio stuff exhibition area to have closer look and learn more on devices like NanoVNA, CubeSat (model), Morse Keyer/Paddle, Signalink USB, RTL-SDR dongle, Icom IC-705 etc, I enjoyed interaction and satisfying their queries.

We were towards the ending session. I presented what are the interesting events radio amateurs enjoy & carry out globally, which includes Sp. Callsign Activation (highlighted my activated call AT1JCB), Field Day, Contests, Light House operation, IOTA (illustrated AT2SL), JOTA, Hill Top, Fox Hunting (ARDF), High Altitude Balloon Deployment & Tracking, EME, ARISS SSTV & Student outreach Program, SatCom, Satellite Telemetry decoding, Radio Astronomy, Meteor Scatter, Ham Fest etc.

I conveyed objectives & brief procedures of all these events into which Radio Hams love to be engaged. Participants learnt that Amateur Radio is much more than a Communication device! I always promote Ham Radio as an experimenting platform which has something for every genre.

At the end, students were asked to split into four groups to enjoy VHF Demo, students learnt how to operate a HT, Started giving calls to other groups, responding to the caller, giving feedback & comments over radio! Our fellow hams incl. VU3EXP, VU3IKI, VU3HXS, VU3VDC, VU3DVA and VU3GLY nicely assisted each group. Faculties’ incl. program coordinator Prof. Jigar Shah & HoD ICT Prof. Gangaprasad Pandey Sir conveyed Vote of Thanks over Radio. On behalf of our Ham team Sakshi Vagadia VU3EXP thanks to all participants & PDPU University for organizing this memorable workshop.

At 1300 our workshop concluded. Was nice to see students come out with learning something new & exciting, many showed their interest to be Radio Ham & enjoy this fascinating and unique hobby. Everybody liked our slogan ‘One World One Language’. There were huge efforts collectively made for this workshop and I wish to get some shining radio amateurs in the future.

I would like to specially thank VU2LBW Lucky & VU2UUU Kaustav for his valuable support during Satellite Demo, I understand they had devoted time on busy working day, after all that’s the spirit of Radio Amateur.

I thank PDEU University, Program Coordinator Prof Jigar Shah & HoD ICT Prof Gangaprasad Pandey Sir for extending excellent support & hospitality for our team and for making this workshop fruitful.

I have uploaded all Workshop Photos in YouTube.

Watch Glimpse of Ham Radio Workshop at PDEU University Gandhinagar by Rajesh Vagadia VU2EXP

A special note I would like to make it, I read & learnt about Ham Radio 35 years back in one well-known Gujarati science magazine named ‘Scope’, brilliantly written by Shri Nagendra Vijay Sir. After completing my workshop, during the return journey at Ahmedabad (Bopal), I got the opportunity to meet & take the blessing of Shri Nagendra Vijay Sir. What a brilliant personality, highly knowledgeable, but very low profile gentleman I ever met. I was inspired to begin my Ham journey by reading all his Article & dedicated ‘Ham Radio’ Book! To meet my mentor was a great moment for me; I hereby dedicate all my accomplishment to my knowledge guru (teacher) Shri Nagendra Vijay Sir. He still continues to inspire thousands of readers with his science magazine named ‘Safari’. I felt without giving credit to this author, my article will be incomplete.

Thanks & 73

Rajesh P. Vagadia – VU2EXP
Rajkot (Gujarat) India
Regional Coordinator,
West India Zone,
AMSAT-INDIA

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