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HamSCI 2020 Workshop Retools as a Virtual Event


Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the March 20 – 21 HamSCI Workhop will go on, moving to an all-digital webinar workshop. Registration and participation will be free and open to all, organizer and University of Scranton  professor Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, said over the weekend. A tentative agenda has been posted. Participants may register online. The workshop will be presented using the Zoom webinar platform. Those planning to take part should visit the Zoom website, create a free account, and download the client software. Frissell encouraged participants to set up a Zoom account, so they can get familiar with the system.

The theme of the 2020 workshop is “The Auroral Connection — How does the aurora affect amateur radio, and what can we learn about the aurora from radio techniques?” Oral presentations will be as originally scheduled and in the same format, as if they were being delivered at the in-person workshop. Instructions for the electronic poster session are now posted, Frissell said.

“There are some really good things that are coming out of this switch to an e-workshop format,” Frissell continued. “I think the best thing is that it will enable greater participation, especially from people who wanted to come but were unable to before.”

Frissell said Zoom has the necessary tools to run the workshop in a way that will allow large participation while still keeping things manageable. The system will allow up to 100 panelists to share video and audio, and at least 1,000 people to watch and actively participating by asking questions through a text chat system, he explained. Moderators will monitor the text chat system and relay questions to the presenters.

Frissell has had to scramble since the decision was made to call off the in-person event. “It’s taken us a few days to get this lined up, as Scranton’s IT department has just upgraded their contract with Zoom over the past couple days to enable this workshop and other events on campus,” he said.

The HamSCI workshop will include addresses by guest speakers, poster presentations, and demonstrations of instrumentation and software relevant to the theme. The workshop will serve as a team meeting for the HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station project that’s funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to Frissell. The project seeks to harness the power of a network of radio amateurs to better understand and measure the effects of weather in the upper levels of Earth’s atmosphere.

Workshop speakers include Elizabeth MacDonald, the NASA researcher who founded and leads the Aurorasaurus citizen science project. James LaBelle, a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth University and auroral radio physicist, will discuss radio signatures of the aurora. Phil Erickson, W1PJE, of Haystack Observatory in Massachusetts will speak on “Amateur digital mode based remote sensing: FT8 use as a radar signal of opportunity for ionospheric characterization.” David Hallidy, K2DH, a retired microwave engineer and well-known for his work in auroral mode propagation, will discuss his practical experiences of using the aurora for radio communication.

Contester and DX Engineering CEO Tim Duffy, K3LR, who was to be the banquet speaker, will talk on the topic, “Let’s Push the Exploration of the Ionosphere to the Next Level.”   



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