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The 23rd Annual Southwest Ohio Digital Symposium


Are we having issues weathering or are we withering? The 2009 Southwest Ohio Digital Symposium, held at the Middletown, Ohio Campus of Miami University, is now history. We would like to think "attendance was down but interest was up." Only about 60 hearty souls braved the winter weather advisory in effect for the 2009 program, but there can be no doubt about the interest of those attending. While the numbers were down, people traveled from at least six states to participate.

This event was again sponsored by the Dial Radio Club of Middletown, Ohio and Miami University and was an ARRL sanctioned conference. It was spawned 23 years ago to promote the new digital phenomenon known as packet radio and the breadth of subjects has steadily expanded. To date, there has never been a charge for attending the symposium and there is no flea market to distract attendees from the main goals of educating and information sharing. Over the years we have been privileged to have listened to presenters who are recognized nationally for their expertise. These are the people who have "given up their time and given back to the hobby."

Time and Energy Required

The last phrase was sort of a sub theme of the 2009 proceedings. In his opening and closing remarks, K4ZLE spoke to that need. Without people willing to step up, step out, give up and give back events such as this annual symposium cannot continue. He reminded the audience that, at one time, every presenter was not expert in their presentation topic, but they were willing to share what they knew and in so doing they continued to grow. We all benefit when we share. During his presentation, ARRL Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, spoke to the same need for us to give back to the hobby if we want to see it progress.

Those Who Gave in 2009

Here is a quick summary of the speakers and the subject of their presentations:

  • Mel Whitten, KØPFX, came in from Missouri to discuss digital voice techniques and to bring us up to date on various state-of-the-art digital voice protocols.
  • Larry Phipps, N8LP, followed up from his excellent 2008 talk on his LP-100 Digital Vector Wattmeter development to tell us about his LP-Pan (panadaptor) product and how it can enhance our on-the-air enjoyment and effectiveness. Larry traveled down from Michigan to share with us.
  • While the next presentation was not explicitly technical in nature it was both interesting and informative. Jeff Duntemann, K7JPD, did a remote presentation from Colorado about his work to republish the old Carl and Jerry columns from Popular Electronics. We used Skype and Mikogo to make this presentation and it went without a hitch!
  • As alluded to earlier, Jim Weaver, K8JE, hosted the ARRL forum and issued his challenge to us to be involved.
  • We broke for lunch but were fortunate enough to have one of our speakers from 2 years ago travel in from near Chicago to give an ad hoc, bonus D-STAR (digital radio) presentation.
  • Steve Coy, K8UD, and Gerd Schrick, WB8IFM, gave their annual AMSAT (Amateur Satellite) presentation immediately following the official lunch break.
  • Bill Erwin, N9CX, followed with an excellent talk designed to get us more involved in using microcontrollers for ham projects. He used his experience in converting two Alliance U-100 rotators into a digital az/el application. Bill traveled down from near Columbus, Ohio to be with us.
  • Our last presentation was by Jim Everly, K8IKE, who gave an excellent talk on doing Third Order Intercept Point (IP3) measurements. He actually demonstrated a live test of a Yaesu FT-817ND transceiver to show how simple the procedure really is.

As in years past we had a demonstration room where several displays were set up including a full stack D-STAR station by N8TVU, a NUE-PSK modem by K4ZLE, another portable, low power PSK31 station by N8MIQ and the LP-PAN demo by N8LP. Overall, not a bad line up for a free symposium, put together on a shoe string, if I do say so myself!

Step Up, Step Out, Give Up and Give Back

Events like this do not just happen and they do not go on for over 20 years without some individuals giving of their time and talents. In addition to those already mentioned, personnel from the Dial Radio Club provided our on-site administrative support. We must mention two people who have been key to the longevity of this symposium. One is Hank Greeb, N8XX, who used to host the event and coordinated the program agenda until he moved to Michigan a few years ago. In 2009 he continues to be the Webmaster of the symposium site and handled the advance publicity. The other individual worthy of special mention is Carl Morgan, K8CM, who was one of the cofounders of the event and has been instrumental in securing our location at Miami University, Middletown for all these years. Unfortunately, Carl is retiring (for real this time) and we will probably lose our venue. It is time for others to step up, step out, give up and give back. If you are willing to give it a go, contact the author at his e-mail above. Do not tarry! If you do not start now, you may miss your window of opportunity.

A CD is available of all the presentations made in 2009 and 2008. In addition, some of the presentations from 2007 will be included. The cost of the CD is $10, postpaid from K4ZLE. "Proceeds" from the CD sales will be used to cover out of pocket expenses from 2009 and seed the 2010 event if there is interest in continuing.

All photos courtesy Jay Slough, K4ZLE.

Jay Slough, K4ZLE, of Lebanon, Ohio, has held the Amateur Extra class license for over 30 years. He was originally licensed as KN4ZLE in August 1958. Jay works mostly HF CW DX. He retired over 4 years ago from a major consumer products company and has been managing the eighth area ARRL Incoming QSL bureau for much of that time. Jay is on the DXCC honor roll and is comfortable on both sides of the pileup, having operated from over 30 DXCC entities. He enjoys most aspects of Amateur Radio, including homebrewing, QRP and emergency communications. Jay is a volunteer examiner and a mentor for several of the CEP courses offered through the ARRL.

Jay Slough, K4ZLE



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