STEM Day at Belmont NH Middle School

I spent the better part of yesterday with three other club members, Jim Cluett – W1PID, Glen Aldrich – KC1AAI, and Jim Robinton – N1CRZ in a classroom at the Belmont Middle School in central New Hampshire.

We were invited to the school to participate in the STEM day of fun learning. Over twenty regular citizens like us came to the school to enrich the children’s live with all sorts of things ranging from glider planes, amateur radio, speaking Gaelic, operating drones, sitting in a real helicopter and any number of other real-world things that incorporate the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) the kids are being exposed to in the classroom.

Here's a one-person glider that costs about $30,000. Photo credit: Glen Aldrich - KC1AAI

Here’s a one-person glider that costs about $30,000. Photo credit: Glen Aldrich – KC1AAI

I’m the current president of the Central New Hampshire Amateur Radio Club and we were approached by one of the STEM teachers, Ms. Karen Gingrich late last year. She wanted to know if we’d be willing to share our passion for the hobby with the Belmont Middle School students.

The club vice president, Glen Aldrich, loves to do public service events and he immediately decided to take ownership of this opportunity. He visited the school, met with Karen and a fellow teacher Joe Werning. We decided to do three 45-minute presentations, two in the morning and one immediately after lunch.

We arrived about an hour early before the first presentation and set up our equipment. Jim Cluett has the most operating experience and we tried to snare some long-distance (DX) radio signals from the air, but a solar storm must have been in progress.

Jim Cluett, W1PID is on the left and Tim Carter, W3ATB is trying to sooth a headache caused by too much laughter. Photo credit: Glen Aldrich - KC1AAI

Jim Cluett, W1PID is on the left and Tim Carter, W3ATB is trying to sooth a headache caused by too much laughter. Photo credit: Glen Aldrich – KC1AAI

The ionosphere was in a very cantankerous mood and we only were able to make one wretched contact with K3SEW in Pennsylvania. This happened before the kids came to our first presentation.

We did our best to explain our complex hobby in a language sixth and seventh-graders could both understand so as to maintain their interest. It helps to ask them if they can burp and if they’d like to have recliner chairs instead of hard-plastic chairs!

Jim Robinton in the teal shirt on the right has the kids wrapped around his finger with an animated answer to a question. Tim Carter on the left, looks on in awe! Photo credit: Glen Aldrich - KC1AAI

Jim Robinton in the teal shirt on the right has the kids wrapped around his finger with an animated answer to a question. Tim Carter on the left, looks on in awe! Photo credit: Glen Aldrich – KC1AAI

The four of us did a tag-team approach to teaching with each of us talking about different things and injecting interesting commentary when we could. We discovered the best way to keep the attention of the polite and well-behaved students was to simply answer their excellent questions.

Much to our surprise each of the three groups of students were most interested in Morse code. Just about everyone of them wanted to hear Jim Cluett spell out their names in Morse. This demonstration brought lots of smiles to their faces.

The three sessions seemed like they were only ten minutes long even though 45 minutes had passed. I had a blast and I’m quite sure that Bella, one of the sixth graders in our first session, will become an accomplished operator one day. She asked so many great questions, I lost count!

 

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PD9ZM, A CW Video and Inspiration Magic

 

This afternoon, after I finished taping a video about installing expanding foam under a concrete slab, I opened my email to discover a letter written by André Erkelens who lives in Arnhem, Netherlands.

I only made it about one third of the way into it before I got choked up. A tsunami of emotions overwhelmed me. Awe, thanks, wonder, and joy were all tumbled together.

I’m not ashamed to say André’s letter caused more than a few tears to roll down my cheeks.

Once I collected myself I forwarded André’s letter and email to my very good friend and CW mentor, Jim Cluett, W1PID. He’s a professional writer and very much in tune with how humans should act towards one another. I knew he’d appreciate what André had to say.

Please read André’s letter. The video he talks about is just below his words so you can see what he was talking about.

I can’t begin to tell you the enormous pleasure this hobby of amateur radio has brought to me. It’s even more perplexing that a disjointed talk I gave at my radio club was able to provide inspiration to a man thousands of miles away.

Thanks André for taking the time to write to me and believe me, your English is far better than my Dutch!

Arnhem- The Netherlands April 2016

Dear Tim!

After a long period of almost 28 years I picked up my radio hobby again. And it makes a lot of fun!

First of all I asked back my old SWL number which I have had when I was 18 years old. Then I could buy a Kenwood R-5000 rx (only 250 euro!) which really was something I only could dream of when I was young. It´s an amazing receiver!

Then I also started to learn for my novice licence. I got it in September 2014 and that was also a boy’s dream that came out! Now I can transmit on 40 meter (7.050-7.100khz)(5watt), on 20 meter (14.000-14.250khz)(2,5 watt) and the whole 10meter band.

For that last band I don´t have a transceiver. I am saving money for it now.

The reason why I write this mail is to say THANK YOU for your YouTube movie about CW. I think you gave a lecture there for other hams and it really inspired me!!

I really really like to learn CW and now I am more inspired than ever!!

I have an app on my I-pod touch which is cw light an that works really nice. I practice on 18 wrts per minute.

I read some articles from your hand on your website they are also good! For a few months I also bought a CW key from tsechoslowakia and it feels very nice. But I can’t use it yet. I will build myself a little rig for CW for 20 meter band maybe something like tuna tin or similar.

A picture of me and my rig is on qrz.com so you can take a look on it. My Call is PD9ZM, the last letters are the initials of my wife’s name.

Screen shot 2016-04-06 at 6.10.59 PM

We are married for 24 years in Hungary, there she lived and there I met her when I worked there as a volunteer for Youth for Christ in a home for mentaly ill boys. She was a nurse there. We have four children: Noémi (23), Henk (21), Hannah (19) and David(almost 16).

I am 47 years old and work as a teacher (German language) at a secondary school. Before that I worked in a factory and repair welding machines, before that I worked as a service technician for BP gas stations and before that I worked as a nurse with mentally ill people and before that I seld an repair laboratory equipment. You see that I have switched a lot with jobs but I al enjoyed it very much!

Sorry for my English ist very poor I know.

Thanks again Tim and al the best for you and your family!!

73, de PD9ZM André Erkelens

Arnhem, The Netherlands

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LZ2RS Magic from Bulgaria

 

In my last post I mentioned how I made a new goal to do at least one QSO a day. So far I’ve had no trouble meeting the goal. Surprisingly I’m getting lots of great DX contacts.

It really helps to keep the radio on while I’m working and when I hear a strong station calling CQ, I answer her / him as long as I feel I can keep up with their code speed.

Two days ago I had the pleasure of hearing LZ2RS,  Rumi who lives in Bulgaria.

I can’t remember now if I was calling CQ or he was. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I once again was in awe of the magic intertwined with this hobby.

My very good friend Jim Cluett, W1PID, likens it to ” …sitting in a room by yourself and talking with people you can’t see”. He’s not far off.

But sometimes you get to see these new acquaintances and the beauty they surround themselves with. Today was one of those days

Lately I try to send an email after a QSO when I experience fading, interference or deteriorating conditions. Once my QSO with Rumi was underway, all of a sudden the band dropped out from under us. Fortunately I had clearly heard my RST, Rumi’s name and a few other parts of the QSO. It was an official one I could log.

I logged Rumi and proceeded to email him. About thirty minutes later I received a special gift. What you’ll see below is one of the powerful draws of this hobby. I say this because I’m a very social person and love talking to people and hearing / seeing what creates their daily reality.

Rumi over delivered.

Are you as proud of your country as Rumi is his? Would you invest the time to write all what’s below to a complete stranger you’ve never met before? Would you send photographs to help tell your story?

This is just part of what makes this hobby so fascinating to me.

Here’s what he sent and once I read it, I immediately asked for his permission to reprint it here along with his stunning photographs. I thought you’d enjoy it too:

Dear Tim in NH,

It was nice to meet You on 20 m CW   – Your QRP signal was good here / even some QSB / – at the Balkans, Eastern Europe!

Today I was 5 watts -Elecraft K3 and a A4S by Cushcraft – 4 el 3 band at 32m.

Later I wkd W2WC – Dick from NY- I was 1 watt only and got RST 559 QSB.

I can send QSL via the Bureau also.

I am most the time on QRP, on CW. I use my home brew one-paddle key 1976 – then I found an old German relay “Siemens” 1938 and on that base I made my one paddle – still I use the same key and like QRQ to 38 – 40 wpm.

Have already confirmed all of the US states on CW – two way power below ONE watt. I am also US County hunter on CW QRP – 1273 to now.

QRP contest man – I have got very good places last year in WPX,WWDX, IARU HF, Russian DX, German DX and other contests – also in QRP category.

I am 15 times Winner in RSGB 21/28 Mhz contest in QRP section, recently I have received award from New Zealand –  Worked All Pacific  – WAP on CW QRP.
I use Russian, English and a little Japanese.

===============================

Tim,
You probably have not heard much about Bulgaria as country. We were on 3 Seas at about 1200 year, one of the bigest EU countries. But We were under Byzantium yoke about 200 years and later under Turkish yoke about 500 years.
 
March 3rd here was holiday. We celebrated 138 years from our Liberation. The main battle was near here – that place is high about 1300 m a.s.l. in the Balkan Mnts, abt 25 km South of my QTH.
The monument there is made at the beginning of the last Century in memorial of the victims in the most important battle during the war for Bulgarian liberation from Turkish yoke 1878.
The yoke was about  500 years /1396 – 1878/. On that place were killed many Russians, but also Ukraineans, Romanians, Polish, Finlands and Bulgarians, but also many Turkish soldiers
The ratio was 5 to 1 soldiers for the enemy.
Other big holiday here is coming the month of May 24. We celebrate national St.Cyril / Kiril / and Methodius day – founders of Cyrillic alphabet. The Bulgarian language belongs to the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages and uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
The history of the language covers three periods: old  / 9th century – 11th century /, middle / 12th century – 14th century /, and modern / 15th century through present day /.
The modern literary language was formed during the Bulgarian National Revival / 18th – 19 centuries /. The Cyrillic alphabet was developed by St. St. Cyril and Methodius and they have created the alphabet on which the modern languages of Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and of the former  Soviet republics are based.
Before the 7th century Bulgaria and other parts of the area around the Mediterranean and Black sea, were parts of the Roman Empire. While the Romans were losing power / 3rd to 4th Century /, tribes from Asia started an invasion of Europe. One of these tribes, called the Bulgars, reached this area and gradually mixed  with the local population.
The Bulgar king united all the different tribes into the first Bulgarian empire in 681.
 Cyril and Methodius were two brothers , who lived during the  9th century / over a thousand years ago when Bulgaria was being shaped as a country.
The people spoke in Bulgarian,but didn’t have an alphabet and couldn’t write. The brothers were Christian monks of the Orthodox  Church who taught their students a new alphabet that they could use to read and write in Bulgarian.
In 863 they created the alphabet by mixing Latin and Greek letters, which became the basis of the Bulgarian language. The ” Cyrillic alphabet “,as it is now called, became very popular in the  9th through 11th centuries when it helped spread Christianity to other parts of Eastern Europe.
“Old Church Slavonic”, another name for the early alphabet, is an important part of the literature of the Orthodox Church. The Bulgarians are very proud of the two brothers, who have created the base of the modern Bulgarian language.
One of the biggest Bulgarian holidays celebrates the honor of Cyril and Methodius. May 24th is also known as “Day of Bulgarian Culture” and is a time for concerts and celebrations. The students, school kids, go on the street and sing. Also they give flowers to their teachers in the school. We all enjoy our great holiday!
 
So,dear Tim, I hope it is interesting for You. You can hear some facts of Bulgarian history.
73/72 !  You take care and many DX on QRP!
Rumi  LZ2RS  age of 61- ham operator for 48 years. I go some time to fish, fitness and tourism in the Mounts here.

I hope you enjoy Rumi’s photographs as much as I did. Thanks Rumi for sharing your wonderful story and photos of your beautiful country!

Rumi Shack
Rumi Antenna
Rumi QSL
Bulgarian women
Bulgarian Mountains
Bulgarian Winter
Bulgarian Shepherd
Bulgarian Summer Waterfall