Friday, May 27, 2016

Using Amateur Radio to Enhance Engineering Education @ IMS2016

On Tuesday May 24th I moderated the panel "Using Amateur Radio to Enhance Engineering Education" at the 2016 International Microwave Symposium, hosted by the IEEE.  My panelists were all university professors who have integrated amateur radio into their engineering courses.  As discussed in my article "Amateur Radio in Education" (IEEE Microwaves, April 2016) the panel discussion centered around the value of hands-on understanding that amateur radio brings to engineering students.

Each school has its own implementation of amateur radio into their curricula.  UC Davis uses amateur radio for projects that need transmission i.e. to control drones.  Tribhuvan University uses amateur radio as a tool to teach RF principles, and for humanitarian purposes during earthquakes.  Carnegie Mellon University (both the Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley campuses) have active repeaters and host Field Day sites.  Cal Poly SLO also has a repeater, but they also use amateur radio so much in their courses that freshmen EE undergraduates are required to get Technician licenses - and I'm told that in the coming school year they'll begin requiring graduate students to get their General Class licenses.  I've named this policy the "Derickson Doctrine".

Presentations from each of my panelists are available for download:

Dr. Dennis Derickson AC0P, Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo (download)
Dr. Bob Iannucci W6EI, Carnegie Mellon University - Silicon Valley (download)
Dr. Xiaoguang Liu AI6DW, University of California - Davis (download)
Dr. Sanjeeb Panday 9N1SP, Tribhuvan University - Kathmandu Nepal (download)

Note: This panel was reported by ARRL news release thanks to Ward Silver's help.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bay-Net at Maker Faire 2016

Maker Faire 2016 in San Mateo CA is complete.  We got a lot of very interested visitors to the booth, and a good portion of them were either not hams or were "ham-curious".

This year's focus for Bay-Net at Maker Faire was Software-Defined Radio and our projects are loosely grouped into three subtopics:
  • Show use of low-cost SDR hardware with microcontroller platforms, primarily Raspberry Pi.  These projects are primarily focused on doing basic tasks like filter analysis, receiving FM radio, etc.  We're also showing use of low-cost SDR hardware running with inexpensive Android tablets such as Amazon's 7" Fire which often sells for only $39.99 and can be used to build a basic spectrum analyzer.
  • Show applications of SDR hardware running on microcontrollers to do things like build APRS trackers, run azimuth/elevation rotors for tracking satellites, receive ADS-B info from commercial aircraft, and more.
  • Show higher-end commercial SDRs for performance applications such as monitoring LTE.
Special thanks to the team that worked hard on this event: +Beric Dunn+Bernard Van Haecke+Derek Kozel+Marcel Stieber+Kenneth Finnegan+Maria Pikusova, and Bob Somers.  In the days to come I'll be posting links to info about these projects, so follow and keep watching this blog.

Beric K6BEZ : "Getting Started With SDR"
Pieter KK6VXV : "Receiving WX Satellite Signals w/ SDR"

SDRTouch - Spectrum Analyzer app for Android on Google Play
GQRX - Spectrum Analyzer app for Linux on
GNU Radio Companion on

SDR dongles (RTL-SDR, NooElec, etc.) on Amazon
Raspberry Pi 3 on Amazon
Raspberry Pi Touchscreens on Amazon

Update 22-May - Added presentation from Pieter and link to SDRTouch.  
Update 23-May - Added team roster, hardware and software/app sources