09 July, 2013

The radio amateurs are coming! Oslo Mini Maker Faire

"Have you dreamt about sending radio signals via the ionosphere? Or what about studying moon bounced echoes? Visit the radio amateurs and you can learn about analog and digital radio communications, antennas and electronics. There are 5-6000 radio amateurs in Norway, and they probably represent the oldest maker hobby.

This was the enthusiastic introduction that we were given on the web pages of Oslo Mini Maker Faire. It was arranged at Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology on April 6-7, 2013 in collaboration with the University of Oslo. There were close to 4000 visitors during the weekend and about 100 exhibitors. Our joint stand between the radio amateurs of the Asker/Bærum and Oslo clubs also had a constant stream of visitors.

LA8OKA at the stand (photo LA5FRA)
Our stand was only active on the first day, and it was manned by LA8OKA Martin, LA5FRA Paul Henrik, and LA9UTA Erlend in addition to me who served as the liaison to Oslo Mini Maker Faire since my employer, the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo was a sponsor of the Faire. There was also a good deal of curious radio amateurs that stopped by during the day.

We had a couple of Elecraft K2’s, several home-brewed electronics projects, the possibility to send your own name in Morse code, and several posters that covered everything from emergency communications and APRS to radio amateurs on the space station.

LA8OKA explaining the innards of the K2
We also had a 0.15 W WSPR transmitter that we had hoped could transmit out through one of the large windows. The intention was that we could follow its reports on the internet, but there turned out to be too much metal in the window frames and the curtains so radio waves would neither enter nor exit – whether it was HF, VHF, or GPS-frequencies. Therefore we ended up explain the fascinating aspects of radio propagation from posters instead.

There was much interest in our stand, and many expressed that they found ham radio to be exciting. Several were also interested in ham radio courses. Among pan cake robots and other robots, 3D printers, Star Wars-enthusiast, computer gamers, 3D photo, advanced Lego builders and Norway’s largest smoke ring canon, this was finally a place where people like us with as nerdy an interest as radio felt quite normal.
Trying out Morse,
in the background a 3D printer

This was therefore a perfect place for radio amateurs to take part and since it most likely will be arranged again we should be prepared to take part next year also.

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