Atlanticon 2006 QRP Forum Recap
March 24-25


March 22:

Time is getting close. In less than two days, the who's who in East Coast QRPdom will begin descending on the Holiday Inn Select in Timonium, Md. If you haven't signed up yet, it's no problem, we will have a sign-up table for walk ups. As always see for all of the event details.

We have now completed the introductions of all of the speakers in the formal lineup (click the links on the main Atlanticon logistics page). Tomorrow we will introduce the presenters for a special lunchtime picture show and a break down of last year's laid-back New England Lobstercon event.

See you in Timonium!

March 19:

Well time is rushing onward like a snowball headed for .... Hollywood, Fla. Atlanticon is next weekend - finally!

We have added some info about another of our featured speakers who is well-known to us all, one who we have had the pleasure of introducing to the ARCI QRP Hall of Fame in Dayton back several years ago. He is a humble fellow in spite of his demonstrated ability and numerous contributions to ham radio, QRP and homebrewing - Dave Benson, K1SWL.

To date we have shipped all of the SQM boards to those who have registered for Atlanticon and shipped the parts kits that attendees have ordered. We will not take any more parts kits orders after tomorrow since they will likely not get to attendees before the event. We will have lots of them for sale at the event however.

You can check the main web page for details if you wish, but briefly Friday afternoon those who are staying at the Holiday Inn Select in Timonium then assemble in the Atlanticon hospitality room for eyeball QSOs socializing and checking out QRP vendors. On Saturday we have a slate of speakers for those registered to the event (walk-in registration OK from 8 am) from about 9 am to 5 pm a slate of speakers on both technical and operating topics of interest to the group. Saturday evening the suite is once again open from 7 pm to about 11 pm for more socializing as well as homebrew project judging, QRP vendor exhibits and club and other material sales.

March 14:

With some timely work from Vince WA2ECP and George N2APB we now have the Atlanticon project SQM info fully on-line at the SQM page. The schematic, assembly info, description and parts list are all there for your ready reference. But wait, there's more! At the bottom of the page is info on how to order the parts kit and a link to PayPal for ease of ordering. For now we are limiting orders to Atlanticon registrants only. While the on-line info says we will ship within a week or so, we will make every effort to ship earlier to get the parts in your hands so that you can assemble the goodie before the big date.

March 11:

We have some good news - no we didn't save a bunch on our car insurance! But we will begin shipping parts kits for the SQM early next week. We have sent the PC board and 10 LEDs to all Atlanticon registrants. The package also included a parts list and schematic diagram so that those with deep junk boxes or skilled in parts scrounging can build the project.

We recommended that those building the board request free samples from Analog Devices. At times the samples have been available but at others they have not. So we are going to offer three options to provide something for everyone:

1) The complete SQM parts kit including the AD8310 for $23 (US shipments only)
2) The SQM parts kit without the AD8310 for $15 (US shipments only)
3) The AD8310 chip by itself

We should have this info on the SQM page this weekend so that you can get the parts ASAP. You can order by PayPal or by sending a check to Bryan Williams as described on the web page but shipping will be delayed until the check is received.

Please order the parts only if you are registered for Atlanticon and will be attending. We will announce sales for others after the event. Please don't abuse this offer so that we have enough for those actually attending. Thanks for your cooperation.

We've built up several of the SQMs now on the production boards and they look and work just great!

March 8:

All registrants as of last Sunday have now been shipped the Atlanticon SQM project board and 10 LEDs to use for the display. Due to the relatively high cost of the AD8310 chip used in the project we had originally recommended sending to Analog Devices for a free sample. However apparently so many folks asked for the samples that they ran out! It seems that Digi-key sells the 8310's though their unit price is $9.90 and they have a $25 minimum.

Our stated intention was to make parts kits available to Atlanticon registrants at our cost. This was to include all board mounted components including a DIP bar graph array but not the AD8310. Since the samples no longer available in a timely fashion we made a bulk purchase of the chips to include with the SQM parts kit. So you will be able to purchase the parts kit of all board mounted parts including the 8310 at our cost for $23.00 postpaid to US addresses.

It will be formally available in a couple of days and we will announce this here on the NJQRP web site. Please don't ask to order yet and remember that this offer is only for Atlanticon registrants. We'll likely open the offer up later for general sales.

March 7:

Breaking news! The production SQM boards are in and they look great! We have begun shipping them to those who have pre-registered. Plus, in the next couple of days we will formally announce a parts kit for them. Note that the boards and parts kits are for those who have registered only. We will have general sales after Atlanticon.

February 27:

Atlanticon is now just under a month away.  Folks are signing up at a fast pace and the reduced price rooms at the Holiday Inn Timonium are going fast.  The Atlanticon info page has just been updated so be sure to check it our for the latest info.  Be sure to check the main Atlanticon Web page for the latest updates.

The Atlanticon project, "SQM",  has now undergone the prototype build using commercial printed circuit boards and the final ordering of parts is underway. Those who attended the NJQRP meeting last Saturday got to see the first three prototypes!

February 22:

Lots of preparations are underway for Atlanticon.  We have prototypes of the SQM under construction and evaluation. Ordering of material starts early next week.

As mention in the last e-pistle a PC board and LEDs for the readout will be provided for each registrant for Atlanticon. For those not attending we will be selling the boards and a set of LEDs for $10 after the event.  We will also be offering parts kits separately.  The cost has yet been firmed up but the target is $10 to $15 depending on price breaks we receive.  Registrants can use their own parts (a parts list will be supplied) or they can order parts kits when we announce them in the next week or so.

To reiterate each registrant will receive the board and LEDs. For those not attending please do not sign up just to get the board.  We need to conserve boards for those attending the event.  Immediately after Atlanticon we will be offering the boards and parts kits for general sale.

There will be construction competitions on Saturday evening in the hospitality room for both open home brew entrants and competitions based on construction creativity (packaging, etc) and performance of the SQM.

We have a great lineup of speakers for the event.  Some are familiar to the NJQRP meeting faithfuls and several to the general ham and QRP communities.  In alphabetical order they are:

    James Bennett KA5DVS
    Dave Benson K1SWL
    Joe Everhart N2CX
    Marc Franco N2UO
    Bob McGwier N4HY
    Ron Politka WB3AAL

In a few days we will be giving short bios and a synopsis of their presentation topics on the main Atlanticon page.  We guarantee that this group of presenters will cover a wide variety of topics of interest to all in the group.

Furthermore we are pleased that Rich Arland K7SZ has confirmed that he will be the emcee once again.  Rich is an ever-popular figure in the QRP community and you never quite know what will come out of his mouth at any moment.

One final item.  During the lunch break on Saturday the hotel will once again offer box lunches for sale.  You will have the opportunity to purchase them for $10 each (their prices went up this year) or you can find a variety of eating options in the other hotel facilities.

Stay tuned we will be more formally introducing the speakers and providing SQM project updates beginning in a couple of days.

February 17:

Only about 6 weeks to go for Atlanticon and preparations are underway big time!

Remember it's at the Holiday Inn Select in Timonium, MD on March 24 and 24. We've had plenty of advance registrations and the block of rooms we had them set aside is disappearing.  To get a room call them at (410) 252-7373 and tell them that you want the Atlanticon rate.  You'll get a discount of $30 off their usual rate. For Atlanticon details see the main Atlanticon Web page

Now for a little about the project.  We have the prototype PC boards on hand and it's looking great!  This project is a step up in sophistication from the Atlanticon kits in past years.

The gadget is called the SQM or Signal Quality Monitor.  It takes an RF signal in the range of about 100 mV or so and tells you how far harmonics and other unwanted off frequency signals are attenuated.  It tunes from 80 through 10 meters and will sense harmonics up through VHF.  Operation is simple. You apply the signal to be monitored and set a control for a full scale reading.  Then you null the reading with an on-board notch filter and observe how the reading drops.  It has a 10 section bar-graph display with about 5 dB per section for a total ideal range of about 50 dB.  Taking the place of a spectrum analyzer it lets you do a simple signal purity measurement.

All pre-registrants and those who sign up at the door will receive the professional quality PC board that is pre-drilled and has silk screened component markings and a very useful solder mask.  We will also provide the LEDs needed for the metering display.  Due to the kit's complexity we will not be able to provide the components other than the board and LEDs.  To build the project you will need to purchase the discrete components and ICs.  We will provide a parts list and will provide parts bags at our cost.  The only other thing you will need is one "special" IC, the AD8310 manufactured by Analog Devices.  As a ham you can register with Analog Devices and obtain free samples.  Check out the Analog Devices "Order Samples" page.  You will have to register but it's not a big deal.  Builders of the popular DDS cards we sell have gone through the same process to get their DDS ICs.  More details on the cost of our parts bags will be provided in a week or so.

For now we are limiting sales of the project to folks who register for Atlanticon and expect to attend.  We will probably make the kit available more generally after the event has ended.

In the next couple of days we will announce the speaker roster for the Saturday presentations and tell you a little about each one and the topics they will discuss.

See you there!

February 12:

We may have lots of snow now, but the weatherman *always* cooperates by melting it by Atlanticon weekend. Remember it's coming fast.  Reserve the weekend of March 24 and 25 to come on down to Timonium, MD for the annual rite of spring.

We have a great slate of speakers lined up for Saturday's program covering both tech topics and QRP operation so there's something of interest for all.  In the next couple of weeks we'll post speaker bios and a short synopsis of each topic just to make your mouth drool in anticipation (can you say Pavlov's dog?)

Once again we will host a hospitality suite on Friday and Saturday evening for socializing, seeing what folks have been building over the winter and on Saturday you can participate in or merely watch the home brew compeitions.  There are a number of talented folks who really show off their design and building skills in this event.  Plus we all get new ideas to use for our own projects.

Once again as well we will provide an Atlanticon project kit for each registrant and paid attendee. Those of you who attended the November NJQRP meeting got to see the SQM firsthand. "SQM?" you say, "what's and SQM?"  Well the acronym stands for Signal Quality Monitor.  It's a simple-minded gadget that let's you look at an RF signal and determine how many dB down any harmonics or spurious signals are.  It uses a tuned notch filter circuit to tune our the fundamental frequency signal, a precision logarithmic detector chip and an LED bar graph display, but that's all we're going to say for the moment.  However you can see pictures of it and listen to an MP3 audio description on our website in the meeting report

We checked and our block of rooms set aside for attendees is not yet full.  Please take advantage of' the special reduced room rate when you make your reservations at the Holiday Inn Select at Timonium.  Just tell them that you are attending Atlanticon and you will get a substantial markdown.

For more data on the Atlanticon event bookmark the Atlanticon page on our website.

See you there!

February 5:

Regardless of what some ground rodent says Spring is rapidly approaching.  That means the traditional Spring event - Atlanticon will be here before you know it. The event takes place on March 24 and 25 in Timonium, MD.

As in the past we are holding the event on March 24th and 25th at the Holiday Inn Select just off Rt 83 in Timonium Maryland.  It's held the same weekend as the Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest at the Fairgrounds.  You can make a Two-fer event by attending both!

Festivities begin on Friday evening, March 25 in the hotel where we host a hospitality suite where you and several hundred of your closest ham buddies can show off your latest projects, hobnob with the who's who list on the east coast and buy the parts and QRP goodies from NJQRP/AmQRP and a number of other vendors.

Saturday features an all-day session with a half-dozen or so folks presenting a program of talks on topics ranging from qrp field operations to in-depth discussions of homebrewing and ham-related technical topics.  We have a first-class slate of speakers, several who have been presenters in earlier years and several new faces with some great new topics.

That evening the hospitality suite opens once more for renewed socializing a somewhat more focused agenda.  We have more opportunity for show and tell of everyone's latest equipment purchases plus a home brew judging contest with a variety of "interesting" categories.  Plus there is also have a competition centered around the latest Atlanticon project.

Ah yes, the project - as has been our practice in the past, each registered attendee will receive a kit based on a design done specially for Atlanticon.  Those who register ahead of time will receive their kits in time (we hope) to build them up for the competition.  Those who attended the last NJQRP meeting know what it is but we will make a general announcement concerning the kit shortly.  We guarantee that you will want one!

You can find more details about scheduling and directions to the event on-line at our Atlanticon page.  Please set the time aside for our event and be sure to reserve your rooms at the Holiday Inn Select early.  We do have rooms set aside at a reduced rate for attendees so we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.  See the web site for directions.

We're looking forward to seeing you all at this year's Atlanticon.  Ask someone who has attended in the six years we have been hosting the affair and they will tell you it's a a must-do.

See you there in March!



Last Modified: March 22, 2006