NJQRP Meeting Summary

August 19, 2006

View Entire Photo Album

     We had a great NJQRP Club meeting this past weekend!  Thanks to the 12 members who showed up on the short notice we gave, and special thanks to out-of-town visiting QRPer Rob Bingham, W4ROB, and newcomer Charles Lazarchak, W3DEA.  

     This meeting was a "first" in several regards -- it was the first at our new location at the American Red Cross center in Princeton, and it was the first of a new generation of meetings.  We'll describe each aspect below.

1) New Meeting Location: American Red Cross Center, Princeton, NJ
Most club members know that we recently lost our normal meeting place (the food court at the Forrestal Center) due to its being turned into a fitness center.  Although we NJQRP members are Adonis-like models of physical fitness, we felt that the universal machines and exercise bikes would tangle our antennas too much during the regular show 'n tell portion of the meetings, so the secret search began to find some new digs.  NJQRP patriot Gerry Jurrens, N2GJ came to the rescue by securing the meeting room at the American Red Cross center just off Route 1 right there in Princeton.  N2GJ is the Communications Officer for that notable organization and he found the leaders to be quite receptive to the notion of us conducting our monthly meetings at their facility at 707 Alexander Road.  As you can see from the photos below (and especially in the Photo Album), the conference room is perfectly sized for up to about 25 people, and when the attendance numbers more we can use a larger room in another area of the complex.  Gerry and some of the guys provided coffee and lots of donuts, and everyone had a grand time.


Meeting Activities
     It was an absolute pleasure sitting around a nice conference room table and discussing projects and technical topics without the hustle-and-bustle of the large, noisy food court that we'd been using for over eight years.  The quiet, comfortable, clean and amiable atmosphere was such a treat!  One of the greatest joys I personally have when attending NJQRP meetings is getting a chance to see others' projects and ask questions about all the things *they* are expert on ... that's what makes me smarter upon leaving than when I arrived.  This new meeting venue offered that same opportunity for learning, but it was so much nicer than before because of the intimacy and opportunity for quality time with my radio buddies.  A handful of us around the table each took a turn describing his project and/or a particular problem he was trying to work through. Some had an item for touchy-feely demonstration, while others got up and drew some pictures to describe their activities.

Jim also showed off his TiCK keyer and ["backwards"] non-iambic paddle from the American QRP Mfg Company.  We gave him some tips on how to program the TiCK chip so as to not have too long a delay after playing the stored message.



New Generation of Meetings: Monthly
<gasp> and Scheduled <gasp gasp>
As advertised in advance of this meeting, we had a special agenda item set up to discuss where the club currently "was" and where we wanted "to go".  Given that we now have a new venue for the meetings, Joe and I wanted to take this opportunity to rejuvenate the club membership ... to generate greater enthusiasm in its activities, to help instill a greater sense of ownership in its functions, and generally bring us back to the regular 40-plus attendees we've had in years past.  Admittedly, when Joe and I cannot regularly conduct the meetings because of our crazy work schedules, members naturally lose interest and/or have other family activities planned on the aperiodic meeting dates that we announce on relatively short notice.

     So in order to counter this "diminishing results" path we are on, we proposed having a club brainstorming session over the course of three consecutive meetings, thinking that we would be able to get most members' opinions over this period and have some good suggestions come out of the process.  This first meeting had some brilliant observations and we list them here in somewhat of a neutral itemization.  But even so, we already are taking some of the recommendations to heart and proposing them as our new charter.

  1. Meeting schedule -- The meetings have become too infrequent, not being held on a regular date, and thus not very easy for members to plan other activities around in order to attend. ==> We propose having a monthly meeting, come rain or come shine, on a schedule that generally follows our standard/advertised plan of "Saturday mornings of the last weekend of the month".  To that end, we propose having meetings on the following dates: 9/30, 10/28, 11/18, 12/16, 1/27, 2/24, 3/24, 4/28, 5/26, 6/30, 7/28 and 8/25.  Further, it was proposed that we use an email list mailing to notify members that a meeting is forthcoming (apparently not everyone regularly views the NJQRP reflector. ==> N2APB will see if something could be worked out with club cyber-benefactor K2UT.
  2. Meeting Location -- Thanks to the good work of N2GJ and the generosity of the American Red Cross, we now have a new home that appears to be outstanding.  Those in attendance this time noted that same observations as I listed above (quiet, comfy, etc.) and they stated that this would be a great way to continue.  
  3. Meeting Format -- Our usual meetings had been constructed around a show 'n tell of our various projects, followed by some club news and/or demonstration, all the while trying to shout over the din in the food court, and combating the echo and bright light from the huge windows.  Members this time noted that the quiet and controlled atmosphere uniquely allows good discussion, and *understanding*, to happen, such that the show 'n tell can happen more effectively.  And because of this much quieter room, we'll have an opportunity for those who wish to describe the projects or ask for help in specific areas to easily do so. So in effect, the members this time sent a strong message of "project discussion" while seated around a table filled with projects, coffee and donuts.  They said that this is a very compelling reason to come ... in addition to interacting with friends, they get a chance to see and to learn.
  4. Guest Speakers? Not Usually. -- Some clubs are based on a model of regularly inviting a guest speaker to present on a specific topic.  It was felt by our members that not only was this probably too much work to arrange and fund, but it would likely cause some members not to come on a given topic/month.  It was felt that our meeting format of mutual sharing of ideas and project information was ample motivation for attendance, and could be appealing to everyone present.  Further, if one wanted to talk about good ol' RF and analog technology, or even about "digital-based projects", all that was needed was a discussion item in that particular vein.
  5. Club Events -- Although we have Atlanticon each year, as sponsored by the AmQRP Club and conducted by the NJQRP members, the members felt that there needs to be a few other club events to help bind together the natural friendships and collegial atmosphere we have in the club.  It was suggested that we have one or more of the following: an annual picnic (such as we've previously had at W2GUM's home), group operating events (as previously done for FD, QTTF, and even just special meetings held at Mercer County Park or Grover's Mill Park), etc.
  6. NJQRP is the Meeting -- A virtual club, with members who electronically connect into activities is fine, but perhaps what the NJQRP core membership wants to see is that core group of members attending the meetings.  In other words, those who physically attend this regional club meeting will be the ones to benefit from club projects, freebies and handouts during the meetings, etc.  We don't wish to discourage virtual members staying plugged into happenings, but a regional club perpetuates by means of members showing up, interacting with each other, helping at local events, etc., and this is the kind of club culture we wish to promote.  
  7. NJQRP Meeting Broadcast -- In an effort to still share meetings and group events with virtual members, it was suggested that we have an audio conference bridge connected during the meeting such that those unable to physically attend may still plug into the club meeting.  This was thought to be a superb idea, and once again N2GJ came to the rescue by offering to arrange such a conferencing facility for the meetings, starting with the next one.  We'll see if there is sufficient interest in remote participation this way.  BTW, we probably will not take the next logical step of recording audio or video and subsequently podcasting the meeting ... if someone wishes to attend, they are welcome to do so along with the core members meeting in person that specific day.  [There's got to be a limit to how much technology is applied, especially when only a select number of people are able to provide that technology. - ed.]
  8. NJQRP Projects Web Pages -- With the demise of Homebrewer Magazine, we all feel a certain "homebrewing reference emptiness" ... me too.  It was proposed that we consider ways of making the NJQRP known for a very robust, online project publishing resource ... not an online magazine, no subscriptions, not a regular monthly/quarterly posting schedule, but instead it would be a high-quality outlet for project authors and designers wishing to make their material publicly available in a well-constructed, thoughtfully presented and carefully edited manner such as we used to do in the pages of QHB and Homebrewer magazines.  This type of e-publishing would not be nearly as much effort as producing a printed- or CD-magazine, yet it would still have all the benefits of the previous journals ... and more.  N2APB, WA1CZG and perhaps another couple people will take this though a bit further and make a proposal at the next meeting.

Okay, those were the main topics of our first brainstorming session.  Please give some thought to these items, discuss them on the reflector, and/or bring some additional ones to the next meeting ... to be held on September 30th.  Mark your calendars!  (There hasn't been much opportunity to say that in the last couple of years, so let's get on the bandwagon and start attending :-)

73, George N2APB
      & Joe N2CX

     Gerry Jurrens (N2GJ), John Cawthorne (KE3S), Al Miner (WA1CZG), Richard Bitzer (WB2ZKW), Bryan Williams (AA3WM), Lenny Wintfeld (W2BVH), Denis Albisser (AB2PD), Jim Dicso (K2SZ), Rob Bingham (W4ROB), Bob Sturke (KC2GKG), Bryan Williams (AA3WM), Charles Lazarchak (W3DEA), Edwin Roswell (K2MGM), Joe Everhart (N2CX), and George Heron (N2APB).


Last Modified:  August 20, 2006