Ham radio exhibitors at the 2017 World Maker Faire in New York City over the September 23 – 24 weekend urged visitors to “build, make, create, communicate.” Three Amateur Radio clubs took part in the event, held at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens. World Maker Faire drew upward of 90,000 visitors in 2016.
An exhibit hosted by grade 6 to 12 students from the Garden School Amateur Radio Club (K2GSG) in Jackson Heights was aimed at introducing ham radio to those who stopped by. They also demonstrated electronics experiments, kit construction, and soldering skills. Projects included a Morse code practice oscillator and an LED candle.
The Garden School ARC students are mentored by the Hall of Science Amateur Radio Club (WB2JSM/WB2ZZO), which co-exhibited at the World Maker Faire. Both are ARRL-affiliated clubs.
“The Garden School students, led by their club advisor, science teacher John Hale, KD2LPM, did a great job engaging the public through kit building,” said ARRL Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, who was part of the ARRL contingent to the event. “They helped demonstrate the educational benefits of having students engaged in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] disciplines. Garden School ARC was recognized with an Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbon. Congratulations!”
Inderbitzen said the Hall of Science ARC worked hard to get people on the air. Their “Get On the Air” (GOTA) station paired attendees with experienced station operators to make VHF and shortwave radio contacts throughout the Faire. Club trustee Steve Greenbaum, WB2KDG, helped to organize the joint exhibit with Garden School.
A third group, HamHacks — made up of high school and college students who enjoy hacking for ham radio — also put in an appearance at the Maker Faire. Their projects include what they describe as “unconventional and cheap Amateur Radio hacks in Doppler radar, satellite photography, airplane tracking, microwave electronics, software defined radios, and more.”
“HamHacks had a fantastic exhibit and team, showing off a whole lot of innovation,” Inderbitzen remarked. “Their demonstrations included a WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter) software-controlled station, and an RF plasma generator. HamHacks contributed to the ‘cool factor’ with dynamic exhibits.”
Leading the HamHack charge were brothers — and “Makers” — Sam Zeloof, KD2ENL, and his older brother Adam, KD2MRG. Sam, a high school student interested in home semiconductor fabrication and Amateur Radio, operates a scanning electron microscope in his parents’ garage. He also enjoys music and radio-controlled flight. His older brother Adam is a mechanical engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University and interested in engines, robotics, cars, radio, music, “and pretty much anything else,” according to their website.
ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, also was on hand at the World Maker Faire to represent ARRL and to support the participating radio clubs.
“On behalf of ARRL, thank you all for your hard work and dedication to support the ham radio exhibits at the 2017 World Maker Faire,” Inderbitzen said. “Most especially, thank you to the members of the Garden School ARC, the Hall of Science ARC, and HamHacks.” A 60-second video with highlights from the ham radio exhibits is posted on ARRL’s Facebook page.