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“Coming Home” to HamJam 2010

11/22/2010

On November 13, Georgia hams and others enjoyed HamJam 2010. According to HamJam organizer Mack McCormick, WB4MAK, the event’s goal is to encourage members of all regional clubs to come together for a day of learning and fellowship. Members of more than 12 clubs from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee -- and of course, Georgia -- were on hand.

“HamJam is an example of how the traditional hamfest is evolving to incorporate education and social elements,” said H. Ward Silver, N0AX, who attended as a guest speaker. “Change hasn’t left behind the traditional raffle prizes, as high-end manufacturers sponsored equipment donations, allowing attendance to be free, with Georgia Tech providing the meeting space.”

North Fulton Amateur Radio League President Chuck Catledge, AE4CW, kicked off the festivities. The first program was given by Joe Taylor, K1JT, on his weak-signal communications software for HF, VHF and UHF applications. Taylor’s presentation gave an overview of the different modes and requirements that need to be satisfied for each. While his WSJT software is best known for JT65 and EME communications, the newer WSPR propagation measurement program is also garnering a lot of attention with its ability to copy signals up to 28 dB below the noise floor.

Southeastern DX Club President Bob Carroll, W2WG, introduced Silver whose talk entitled “What Does It Mean?” discussed the effects of advancing technology on radiosport contests and award programs. “Traditional assumptions about station and operator capabilities are being challenged by computing power and rapidly increasing Internet bandwidth,” Silver noted. “The first offers great possibilities for new visual methods of representing and conducting radiosport activities. The bandwidth question offers a number of new ways to compete not available before. The challenge will be to maintain ‘radio knowhow’ in the face of technological change.”

Hal Kennedy, N4GG, supplied the other historical bookend with a description and demonstration of his authentic recreation of a spark transmitter, known as “Blue Lightning.” Using modern-day jargon, Kennedy characterized the transmitter as a “Digital On-Off Keying, Spread-Spectrum” waveform. The transmitter is built completely of restored components, with the only exceptions being the use of modern-day glass bottles and aluminum foil for the Leyden jar charge-storage capacitor bank.

According to Silver, an event like HamJam is a great way to bring area clubs together for a morning or a day: “It breaks down barriers between clubs and gives everyone an opportunity to learn and share their expertise, socialize a bit, and get to know each other -- a hallmark of what keeps Amateur Radio vigorous as it begins its second century.”

The event was sponsored by the North Fulton Amateur Radio League (NFARL) -- the Dayton Hamvention®’s 2010 Club of the Year -- and by the Southeastern DX Club (SEDXC). The event was held during Homecoming weekend on the Georgia Tech campus, across the street from the Georgia Tech football stadium. The Dayton Hamvention Awards Committee recognized NFRAL as its 2010 Club of the Year for its efforts in mentoring and helping new hams. These include their “HamCrams” that are designed to help the prospective ham get licensed and then continue to upgrade, weekly TechNets that provide technical assistance and Youth Nets that encourage interaction among all generations of hams.



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