End of Term Report – Autumn 2015

By | January 5, 2016

This term has been very busy with Wireless Society organising a greater number and a wider range of events that ever before.  Although we have been meaning to write post throughout the term, we seem to have been busy every week, that we never quite got round to it.

So anyway, a bit more detail about what we have been up to:

Freshers’ Bunfights & Introductory Meetings

Back at the end of September, SUWS attended both the main University Bunfight as well as the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering (FPSE) Bunfight, where we got well over 100 people signing up to receive emails about our introductory meetings.  At both events we were able to string up the End-Fed Zepp on campus and make some interesting contacts during the days.

Our introductory meetings ran in early October and we had around 20 prospective new members attend.  These meetings gave an introduction to both our Amateur Radio activities as well as the SOWN project.

First Outing and Socials

The week following our introductory meeting, we had our first outing.  Admittedly, we did not venture very far, setting up some equipment on the grass outside the Students’ Union West Building.  SUSU TV came along to film this outing.  The highlight of the evening, was tracking the HF signal from the International Space Station, which at around 7:45pm in the evening, made it possible to see with the naked eye, as the light was reflecting from the recently set sun.

After our weekly meetups we usually go the the Crown Inn pub just off Highfield Campus to have some dinner and a pint or two (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).  However, this year we decided to try to organise some proper social evenings.  The first of these socials was to play Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator, which was very well attended.

Talks and Doings

One of the other things we decided to introduce this year was talks on various topics that relate to wireless in some way.  This term we had three such talks:

Changes to Amateur Radio Licences by Henry Kennedy

High Speed Internet Provision in the 21st Century by Chris Malton

SUWS WebSDR at Farnham by Phil Crump

On weeks were we did not have meetings, we have had more hands-on events, or as we call them, “doings”.  A large part of these doings have been taken up with people doing the practical assessment part of their foundation and intermediate licensing exams, such as Morse appreciation and building VFOs for the self-build part of the intermediate syllabus.  Other than this, people have building their own 2m Slim Jim and 10m antennas and doing various development work on the SOWN project.

SOWN Developments

There have been two major tasks that we have working on as part of the SOWN project.  The Electronics and Computer Science Department (ECS) at the University helped us buy a server we could use to run virtual machines on.  We have been working on the infrastructure needed to allow us to spin up new virtual machines and quickly configure them to support particular services, such as RADIUS, OpenVPN, Icinga, etc.

The other task has been working on improving the firmware of the wireless access points (SOWN[at]Home nodes) we hand out to people to securely share their Internet connection.  Early on, we decided that we would move to using a more up-to-date version of OpenWrt Linux operating system.  We also decided that we needed an easier way of setting up a node once we had copied an image of the operating system onto it.  This will allow us to hand out our own nodes but also allow people to flash the SOWN image onto their own hardware and then request to join the SOWN network.

Amateur Radio Exams

As already mentioned we have had a number of members working towards their foundation, intermediate or advanced Amateur Radio licences.  On the 7th December, everyone sat these exams and all the foundation and intermediate candidates passed (we will probably not know until people get back after Christmas to find out about advanced exams).  This is the biggest single exam session we have ever run for members.  So much so that we could not use our regular room and we found it difficult to find a large enough room to book, as we needed the room before lectures ended for the day.

Christmas Social and QSL Card Competition

On 10th December we had our Christmas social.  We are not very imaginative, so we had it at the Crown Inn pub but unusually we met there at 7pm rather than 8-8:15pm and we had Christmas crackers.

During the term we have been running a competition to design a new QSL card for the society’s G3KMI callsign, as the Students’ Union gave us some money to get some new QSL cards printed. Darren Richardson won the competition.  All the entries will be available to view under our gallery shortly.

Merry Christmas and New Year’s Resolution

I guess all that is left is to wish people (now belatedly) and Merry Christmas and say that we hope to make a New Year’s resolution of publishing more posts next term.

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