Standing Desks for Ham Shacks? (and where I’ve been)

Update

I’ve been quiet lately. I went on an European 3-week vacation (Prague, Krakow, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris), which meant I got behind on work stuff, so I’ve been busy catching up.

I was on HamRadioNow in a Phasing Line/HRN mashup. Check that out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w31LUEjNgnU

The Phasing Line podcast is still moving along, now with a Patreon! Apparently, we did something that people enjoy, and I think we’ll keep doing that. We pre-recorded a lot of episodes over the break, but never got around to editing them, so beware some episodes may seem out of date. I hope you don’t find that to be a problem!

I’ll be speaking at the St Louis Suburban Radio Club (SLSRC) Winterfest hamfest on January 28 about YOTA and Youth Ham Radio. This is the first time I’m actually hosting a forum, so that’s pretty cool. I’ll be up against Bob Heil to put it in perspective! I’ll try to record my presentation and post it on my YouTube.

I’ll also be at the Orlando Hamcation February 10 through 12, with Aaron Boots AA0RN, who’s a rising W0EEE star. They’ll be having a collegiate forum at 3pm in Classroom 1. I don’t have anything to present, but I want to be there to represent the ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative (CARI) and check out the 2nd biggest hamfest in the US. I’ll also try to record it. See http://www.hamcation.com/forums/ for more forum info.

That’s about as far as I’ve planned this year. I definitely cannot attend Hamvention (here’s why) but I’m looking at attending some other bigger hamfests (like Friedrichshafen, Pacificon, HamCom, NEAR-fest, anything else listed on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamfest) since Jesten earned me 110,000 Southwest Air and 125,000 American Air points (leftover after our Europe trip). With that said, if you want me to come talk about youth at your hamfest, let me know sooner than later, before I have to spend 110% of my time helping my fiancee plan our wedding (Oct 2018 baby!).

Finally, what I came here to write:

W6LG inspired me for this post. On November 2, 2016, he had a pulmonary embolism and heart attack, nearly killing him. He survived, and is back to making great videos on YouTube.

I’m 25, so you might not understand why I’m posting about this, but it’s surprisingly relevant. I’ve been an “official adult” for 2 years now, and I’ve noticed a few changes.

  1. I have little to no activity daily. I walk between 1000 and 5000 steps a day, measured by my iPhone/Pebble smartwatch
  2. My posture sucks
  3. I’m about thirty pounds overweight, and eating 1,500 cal/day for the last 6 months has made for some slow progress:
  4. My neck and back hurts

It’s obvious why these 4 things are happening. It’s because I’m sitting for 8 to 10 hours a day at a desk. So I stood up. Literally. I found some boxes to prop my monitors and keyboard up at properly ergonomic heights, and (aside from my feet hurting) things started just feeling better.

Then I got a newer, better chair and ditched the standing desk boxes. I’m quickly realizing standing is clearly helpful, because the same problems came up, even though my new chair was more ergonomic.

When I watched W6LG’s video, I immediately realized that I have never seen a ham radio station on a standing desk. Jim’s right – we hams spend a shitload of time sitting behind our radios, DXing and contesting, not giving a single thought to the clots slowly building up in our butts, the plaque building up around our hearts, and the atrophy of muscles that once made it so easy to climb a flight of stairs.

The easiest way to fight disease exacerbated by lack of activity is to stand up, stretch, and walk. Of course, if you’re able to stand, this works, but if you require a wheelchair or mobility scooter, follow your individual doctor’s advice on staying healthy.

Standing desks aren’t cheap, but milk crates and boxes did fine for me. Ikea also has several DIY-methods of making standing desks a thing for your station or workbench. And even if you don’t have a standing desk, set a timer to remind yourself to stretch. You can also use apps like Stand Up! for iOS or Randomly RemindMe for Android.

Do you have a standing desk at your hamshack? Send me your standing desk shack pics at sterling@n0ssc.com!

Phasing Line is a Success, Sweepstakes Too

Phasing Line Is a Hit!

Our first episode of The Phasing Line Podcast was a hit. People really seem to love the new style – at least maybe our target demographic does (younger people, sub age 40, who are already a little experienced in ham radio). I’m excited for episode 2 – if we can find the time to record. I want to shoot for a biweekly release date but Marty and I have tumultuous schedules, so that is TBD. I do want to say we are planning an interview with a rising ham, so that will be exciting!

The big takeaway from the first episode was to avoid interruptions, so that will be fixed. Marty and I both think faster than we can speak too, and the fast-paced topic jumping with tons of tangents can be decisive – some like it, some don’t. We’ll be fine tuning the podcast as it goes on.

But it was such a success that it sparked interest in an old podcast I co-hosted, the Youth in Amateur Radio Podcast (YARP). 18-year old Jacob Keogh KDØNVX has taken the lead and re-branded it to The Noisy Key (jealous of that name) which will probably be a round-table similar to ICQ podcast, perhaps a bit more focused on a single or few topics, unlike the unfiltered consciousness which is The Phasing Line. All of which is to be determined as they work bringing the first episode.

Sweepstakes at WØEEE

WØEEE had another clean sweep during the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes. I came down to help educate and train new guys on HF contesting, spending a lot of time on a whiteboard.

Here’s an album. Click on the photos to make them bigger:

All that mattered (aside from getting the sweep) was that everyone had a ton of fun. It was really great how many people showed up, showed interest, logged, and got on the air. We made 227 QSOs in all 83 sections, so we didn’t really shoot for high numbers, and our antenna system got us down, but it was still a lot of fun. I also got to work Marty twice, lol!

We had to break out the amp for the last two sections of the sweep – PAC (pacific, aka Hawaii) and AK (Alaska). They were working huge pileups since they came on very late in the contest. But, we didn’t have an interface with the FT-897…so I had to do it manually, without ALC. Luckily the SB-220 has a soft-key relay that lets you use a simple switch to key the amp instead of 120V – that would have fried everything!

It worked! Not sure how bad the signal was coming out of the amp, but I drove it clean and it seemed to be linear, haha!

WØEEE Score Summary:

Operator(s) : N0SSC, AA0RN, N0SFK, KE0CFK, Alex Hoeft

Operator Category : MULTI-OP
Assisted Category : ASSISTED
Band : ALL
Power : HIGH
Mode : SSB
Default Exchange : S 31 MO
Gridsquare : EM47CW
Name : Missouri S&T ARC
Address : 301 W 16th St
City/State/Zip : Rolla  MO  65409
Country : UNITED STATES
ARRL Section : MO
Club/Team :
Software : N1MM Logger+ 1.0.5982.0
Band QSOs Pts Sec Pt/Q
3.5 109 218 26 2
7 60 120 25 2
14 52 104 29 2
21 6 12 3 2
Total 227 454 83
Score : 37,682
Rig : FT-897
Antennas : 80m trapped dipole, 40m dipole, 80m OCFD windom 20′ above ground
*************************************************
Breakdown by Operator
*************************************************
Operator 80m 40m 20m 15m Total  Accum
AA0RN 57 23 6 86 86
ALEX 3 3 6 92
KE0CFK 18 6 24 116
N0SFR 10 10 126
N0SSC 24 34 37 6 101 227
Total 109 60 52 6 227 227
*************************************************
W0EEE Max Rates:
*************************************************
2016-11-20 0612Z – 2.0 per minute  (1 minute(s)), 120 per hour by AA0RN
2016-11-20 0623Z – 1.2 per minute  (10 minute(s)), 72 per hour by AA0RN
2016-11-20 0657Z – 0.7 per minute  (60 minute(s)), 40 per hour by AA0RN KE0CFK
*************************************************
W0EEE – Off Times >= 30 Minutes
*************************************************
2016-11-19 2100Z – 2016-11-19 2105Z     00:06  (6 mins)   (Start late)
2016-11-20 0328Z – 2016-11-20 0357Z     00:30  (30 mins)
2016-11-20 0847Z – 2016-11-20 1450Z     06:04  (364 mins)
2016-11-20 1509Z – 2016-11-20 1609Z     01:01  (61 mins)
2016-11-20 1734Z – 2016-11-20 1817Z     00:44  (44 mins)
2016-11-20 1859Z – 2016-11-20 1939Z     00:41  (41 mins)
2016-11-20 1941Z – 2016-11-20 2022Z     00:42  (42 mins)
2016-11-20 2138Z – 2016-11-20 2215Z     00:38  (38 mins)
2016-11-20 2312Z – 2016-11-21 0243Z     03:31  (211 mins)
Total Time Off 13:57  (837 mins)
Total Time On 15:47  (947 mins)
**************************************************
W0EEE Runs >10 QSOs:
**************************************************
2016-11-20 0602 – 0724Z,    3671 kHz, 51 Qs, 37.0/hr AA0RN
2016-11-20 0807 – 0824Z,    3804 kHz, 14 Qs, 50.7/hr N0SSC

 

Thanks for reading! I will follow up this with a post detailing some ideas for college clubs to increase activity, and some ideas for contest coordinators to make contests better for school clubs and younger people as well.

Contest Modernization

I have an idea that I just want to get out the door before I forget.

Contest Modernization.

First of all, check out CQContest.net.

It’s kind of complicated at first, but it’s actually really cool. It’s a real-time contest score tracker. You can see the scores and band breakdowns of radio contesters in real time as a contest is going. I don’t have a users guide handy, but it behooves you to click around and see what is happening on the site. There is TONS of data and analytics on every station. I recommend getting an account so you can access anything that says “user” on the side.

Now, go check out CJ Johnson, WT2P’s YouTube Channel where he livestreams contests. They’re not very exciting, and don’t get many views. For example:

Put 2 and 2 together.

I propose Contest Modernization be a movement to publicize and further gamify ham radio contesting. The live contest score server is the “hub” and each contester can choose to livestream their operation on Twitch.tv.

If you want to do this, I suggest getting OBS (which is a free livestreaming program other Twitch gamers use) and a Twitch account, and hook up your station and PC in such a way that listeners can hear RX and TX audio as well as your voice for commentary, and see your face, your score summary, your logger, and if there’s room, a CQContest.net summary or something.

I would love to demonstrate, but I don’t have a contesting station or the time to make it happen in a short time-frame, so hopefully this post suffices and WT2P or Marty KC1CWF can do it.

I think this would be a great boon to youth engagement. Just look at Twitch.tv. Hundreds of thousands of people watching other people play video games. I think there may be a market in there for us hams too.

And if ham curmudgeons think this will cause the HF bands to be even more crowded, they’re right. IMO, they should be!

Bottom line: contesting is gaming, young people like gaming, so combine the contesting market with the gaming market, and reap the benefits.

👍