Category: School

Risk Analysis Videos

A while back I worked with one of my professors to produce videos on a number of risk analysis related topics, including thought exercises and other brainstorming techniques. I just found a couple of those videos on YouTube and thought I’d share them.

QSLing for the K3PSU special event station

The Penn State Amateur Radio Club turned 100 years old this year, and to celebrate we held a special event station over the weekend of April 18th and 19th. For both days, we had operators on the air using our special event callsign K3PSU which we borrowed from a local ham for the event. More details on the event over in my post about it.

For those unfamiliar with the workings of the amateur radio world, when you contact a special event station, it’s expected that you will get a fancy postcard in the mail validating your contact. There are contests worldwide that focus on such cards. Our cards, modeled after the 1950s QSL card (QSL means “acknowledge receipt of signal”), came in the mail weeks after the semester ended. So I’m only now getting to the list of people who need to be sent a card.

Our QSL cards

Our QSL cards

QSL cards from people who I sent cards to today

QSL cards from people who I sent cards to today

Today's outgoing mail

Today's outgoing mail

We had about 200 stations checking in. Today I was only able to get through the people who have sent us their QSL cards first, and even within that set I was only able to finish the subset of people who were nice enough to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. There’s about 180 more to go, and I think I smell a project for our next meeting.

Just for fun, I snapped the following image on my way out. It’s the stack of QSL cards from the school year 2008-2009, and ONLY those cards from that year specifically addressed to us, K3CR. Just one of the little boxes could contain over 200 cards.

QSL cards 2008-2009

QSL cards 2008-2009

2600 off to a roaring start

The State College / Penn State 2600 meetings seem to be off to a great start this year.

For our first meeting, we decided to do another lockpicking workshop. The workshop had drawn quite a crowd last year, and we figured that it was worth repeating. So starting the first week of classes, posters advertising the event were hung in the IST building. I’ve heard many reports that, in addition to people reading the posters, many teachers actually read them to their class and encouraged them to go!

Also good publicity was an impromptu lockpicking session that broke out during the IST picnic. I was wearing my Penn State 2600 shirt (more on that later) and Dean Foley started asking me questions about it. He was so interested, that not only did he insist I teach him how to pick locks, but he bought a set of picks off of us!

Dean Foley picking his first lock

Dean Foley picking his first lock

Speaking of T-Shirts, we found a company willing to produce them for us. We ran into some trouble with University Tees, who advertised themselves as being a printer for college T-Shirts, but then refused to print anything with the words “Penn State” on it, even when I pointed out the section in the club guidelines allowing us to do so. So after trying to resolve that issue, I ran straight back to an old friend, CustomInk.com, who whipped up a prototype in record time.

Penn State 2600 T-Shirt

Penn State 2600 T-Shirt

We’re going to be taking orders for the next few meetings, then sending in a rather large order to get some bulk discounts.

The meeting itself was superb. We had 25-30 people attend, all completely new to the club, and a 100% success rate with picking their first lock. We even sold out of lockpicks by the end of the day!

The next thing we want to do is make TV-B-Gones, those lovely devices I’ve used to great effect in the past, but first we need to order them, set up some time in the Electrical Engineering lab, and secure the soldering irons. Shouldn’t be that hard with this much support behind us now.

PSARC 100th anniversary bash

Last weekend was the 100th anniversary event for the Penn State Amateur Radio Club. We sent out a press release to every newspaper in the area, and they all ran at least part of it. Well, everyone except the Daily Collegian, who never even returned my emails. You’d think that something as interesting as the 100th anniversary of a club on campus would warrant some space in their paper, but I guess they had more important things to report on.

Preliminary news articles and full press release here.

We started out on Saturday morning by opening up the station for visitors, while running our special event station. In terms of visitors, we had people from NASA and all around the local area, as well as Penn State professors and students. They all seemed very interested in what we were doing, and a few were even brave enough to get on the air. For the event, we used both the HF yagi antenna we already had on the roof, as well as a new inverted V that Professor Breakall set up just for the event.

HF Yagi and mount point for the inverted V

HF Yagi and mount point for the inverted V

Inverted V

Inverted V

The special event station, K3PSU, got around 200 contacts over the course of the weekend, averaging 100 per day. Each one will be receiving a special QSL card we’re having made up. Here’s the prototype that the designer came up with:

k3psu

Front of the 100th QSL card

Back of the QSL card

Back of the QSL card

On Sunday, we had our foxhunt. I served as the fox, and was tasked with hiding somewhere on campus for the EE class and some other residents that decided to join in on the fun to find. I decided that the upper quad in West Halls was the perfect location, so I set up my folding chair and settled in for the afternoon. It took about 20 minutes for Professor Breakall to find me, and then another half hour or so for everyone else to make it there.

All in all, an excellent weekend. QSL cards should be printed soon, and then sent out as soon as the station logs are completed.