Group Build at the Mason Dixon Hamfest

wb4jfi wb4jfi at
Tue Oct 26 14:54:57 CDT 2010

Congrats on the fine job putting this together Frank!  This goes a long 
way to proving that hams can build this new-generation hardware that 
uses teeny-tiny parts.  And, in a fairly "hostile environment" as well, 
having to drag all that stuff to the hamfest, and set it all up.

Did you guys take any pix during the work?  It might be worthwhile to 
put up another page on the AMRAD web site.  In fact, I suggest that we 
create another "special interest page" about construction techniques on 
the AMRAD home page, since your work goes beyond just building 
Charleston boards.  The same techniques can be used for just about any 
SMD-type construction.  If Maitland or someone else can add "Surface 
Mount Construction", "SMD Construction", or something similar on the 
main menu to the left, we can start populating it with data.

Maybe a list of "useful tools" and "how to build using a skillet" and 
"how to build using a toaster oven" are good articles for starters.

I'm sorry that you had only two builders, but they will report back to 
friends how it was not all that difficult, and maybe more people will be 

Thank you (and Bill Fenn) so much for your time investment in this 
project, and helping others grow their abilities.

On 10/25/2010 3:23 PM, Frank Gentges wrote:
> We took our gear up to Westminster MD to attend the Mason Dixon 
> Hamfest yesterday, October 14.
> We were set up to apply solder paste to the Charleston PC board with 
> the stencil and then for builders to put down the parts under some 
> magnifying glasses.  Once placed, we then put the PC Board into our 
> converted toaster oven to reflow the solder using the recommended 
> temperature curve.
> One person noted that he worked where they reflow soldered at the 
> place of work and our reflow looked nicer than their company was getting.
> Two builders build boards and were able to get their boards reflow 
> soldered.  We could have used a couple more builders but we learned a 
> lot on how to bring the lab stuff needed to a remote site and build 
> surface mount boards right there during the hamfest.  We think this 
> may have been a first being similar to the Maker Faire type event 
> being run on the West Coast.
> I think doing this kind of thing may be a nice addition to hamfests 
> and be a reason for more hams to come out to hamfests and participate 
> in the making of small kits and things on site.  We should think of 
> other things we could also build at the same time since we have much 
> of the key gear needed to deal with the surface mount components.  
> Once we have introduced the builder to our equipment and the 
> techniques, we hope they will feel more comfortable with taking on 
> projects with surface mount parts on their own.
> While we only had two builders, we got to talk to a lot of people and 
> show how we were doing the work so our thoughts and ideas were spread 
> to a much larger group.
> In addition to assembling the boards, we had the Quisk HF radio 
> software up and running as a demonstration that also caught peoples 
> attention.  We are now getting a version of Ubuntu that can be run 
> that includes the files for Quisk and the Charleston receiver.  We 
> should be able to distribute DVD disks that will bring up 
> Charleston/Quisk/Ubuntu on a computer either as a live load or as a 
> hard drive install.  AMRAD member Rob Bowers has been working on this 
> and a big tip of the AMRAD hat to Rob.   Stay tuned.
> Frank K0BRA
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