Skip to main content

Ham Radio Scholarships and DeSTEMber

The Austin based organization has declared this month DeSTEMber and dedicated it to getting girls interested in entering the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, (STEM), fields.  They're adding a cool new science project to their web site every day during the month.  You can check them out on their website.

When I was a kid, I got interested in electronics when my dad turned up with two giant ham radio boat anchors.  Ham radio is still a great way for kids to learn about electronics.  In a nutshell for those who don't know, ham radio involves communicating across the country and the world using often homemade radio transmitters and receivers.  In order to be able to do this, you have to get an amateur radio license from the FCC which means passing and exam involving  radio regulations and the theory of how radios work.  For way more about what ham radio is and what you can do with it, check out the American Radio Relay League's, (ARRL), website.  A look at the facebook demographics of the free ham radio license practice exams I wrote indicated something a lot of us in ham radio probably already knew.
Participation in our STEM based hobby might be as much as 10 to 1 guys to girls and even though there's no age limit on getting your license, and it's a great way to learn electronics, there aren't nearly as many kids involved as there used to be.

So, I thought I'd write a few posts this month on reasons that it might be worth while to get into the hobby of ham radio.  First reason:  scholarships for college!  The ARRL administers over $78,000 in college scholarships that are intended to further interest in ham radio.  In most cases, all you need to apply is a ham radio license!


Popular posts from this blog

Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differential operator in terms of one variable into a series of differential operators in terms of othe…

Lost Phone

We were incredibly lucky to have both been in university settings when our kids were born.  When No. 1 arrived, we were both still grad students.  Not long after No. 2 arrived, (about 10 days to be exact), mom-person defended her dissertation and gained the appellation prependage Dr. 

While there are lots of perks attendant to grad school, not the least of them phenomenal health insurance, that’s not the one that’s come to mind for me just now.  The one I’m most grateful for at the moment with respect to our kids was the opportunities for sheer independence.  Most days, we’d meet for lunch on the quad of whatever university we were hanging out at at the time, (physics research requires a bit of travel), to eat lunch.  During those lunches, the kids could crawl, toddle, or jog off into the distance.  There were no roads, and therefore no cars.  And, I realize now with a certain wistful bliss I had no knowledge of at the time, there were also very few people at hand that new what a baby…

Lab Book 2014_07_10 More NaI Characterization

Summary: Much more plunking around with the NaI detector and sources today.  A Pb shield was built to eliminate cosmic ray muons as well as potassium 40 radiation from the concreted building.  The spectra are much cleaner, but still don't have the count rates or distinctive peaks that are expected.
New to the experiment?  Scroll to the bottom to see background and get caught up.
Lab Book Threshold for the QVT is currently set at -1.49 volts.  Remember to divide this by 100 to get the actual threshold voltage. A new spectrum recording the lines of all three sources, Cs 137, Co 60, and Sr 90, was started at approximately 10:55. Took data for about an hour.
Started the Cs 137 only spectrum at about 11:55 AM

Here’s the no-source background from yesterday
In comparison, here’s the 3 source spectrum from this morning.

The three source spectrum shows peak structure not exhibited by the background alone. I forgot to take scope pictures of the Cs137 run. I do however, have the printout, and…