Sunday, 25 May 2014

CTARC Meeting - 24 May '14

On Saturday, 24 May 2014, the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre held its monthly meeting at at 14h00 at the clubhouse in Rondebosch. Noel, ZS1FW opened the meeting and spoke about some of the challenges that face our club and Amateur Radio societies in general.

We held a brief but poignant moment of silence in memory of the late Martin Holland, /ZS1SM /sk. We will all remember the "Stasie Meester" with fondness.

Rob, ZS1SA discussed the need to appoint somebody to assist with responsibility for managing the CTARC's antennas.

Paul /ZS1S, also showed a helically-wound element of an 80m band antenna that he intends using in the field, soon. The regular spacing of the windings was maintained by an ingenious comb arrangement. 

Then, those of us who had braved the incoming stormy weather were rewarded with a fascinating talk and demonstration by Garth, on the topic of Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Garth brought along two quadcopters and a fixed-wing aircraft to show us. He gave some very interesting insights into just what these amazing remote-controlled aircraft are capable of, as well as the rapidly evolving technology that is used to keep these craft both airborne and stable in flight.

Members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask questions during and after the talk, as well as the chance to see the live view through video goggles used by the pilot when flying a "first-person view" type of UAV.

Afterwards, attendees remained for the usual greetings and chats before driving home through the gathering storm.

Thanks so much to Garth for his contribution; also to Matt /ZS1MTF for arranging for Garth to come and deliver his excellent talk.

A most interesting meeting indeed!

Noel /ZS1FW addresses the start of meeting

Rob / ZS1SA organises support for Antenna Management at CTARC

Paul /ZS1S shows a portion of his helically-wound 80m antenna

Garth assembles a fixed-wind drone at the start of his talk

Garth also showed us two quadcopters. The cost of these kinds of craft can run into five figures...

Garth also spoke about the safety aspects and regulation of UAV's, which are a technology that has advanced way ahead of current CAA legislation, which is expected to be published some time in 2015.
The UAVs are powered by Lithium-Polymer batteries, which provide sufficient power for their payload. This one Garth displays can provide around 20 minutes of flying time. Lithium-Polymer batteries require careful recharging...

UAV's all have GPS technology that enables them to navigate, to remain stable and even to hover on the spot, even  in fresh winds. Some versions can even return to their launching positions automatically if they lose signal from the ground-based controller!

Richard /ZS1RIC examines the tiny control modules that are the CPU's of each UAV.

That's a tiny helical UHF antenna that Phil is holding. Typically UAV's will have a separate antenna for the PCM-coded control signals (and feedback), and another antenna for streaming video.

While Matt /ZS1MTF shows various UAV bits & pieces, in the background Davey /ZR1FR shows Noel /ZS1FW (via cellphone video) a somewhat unconventional UAV application that certainly caught people's attention at a recent rally!

Richard takes a peek at the First-Person Point-Of-View video goggles that can be used to pilot the UAV. This one provides a monochrome video, but colour versions are available on the more expensive UAV's. Amazing technology!