Barnstable ARC Hosts Big E Amateur Radio on Massachusetts Day, September 22, 2022

It was a rainy day to be at the Big E but four of the Barnstable’s (Cape Cod) club members enjoyed their day of meeting with the public and operating FT-8 via Remote Ham Radio and 70 cm FM on the D-Star HT and Icom transceiver.  It helped that 10 meters and 15 meters were open and stations from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia and all over Europe got into the log. 

Larry, W1AST, was there to greet us in the AM and got us started.  Many thanks go out to Larry and his support team for organizing the amateur radio demonstration booth at the event. 

Amateur radio at the Big E will also host the “Space Chat” the afternoon of 9/27 with hams and their families getting in free that day (bring a copy of your license). 

Barnstable ARC club members staffing the ham radio booth at The BIG E
L-R: Rob, K1UI; Chris, WA1CMR; Jake, W1JKM; and Mark, WA1EXA.  Photo courtesy Chris, WA1CMR

BIG E Space Chat is a “Go” on September 27, 2022

ARRL logoFred Kemmerer, AB1OC, writes on the ARRL New England Division members list:

Hundreds of The Big E attendees and spectators will be able to watch students make a live contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from The Big E Arena on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Hams who bring an official copy of their FCC license on the day of The Big E Space Chat will receive free admission for themselves and up to 3 members of their family and friends (see Instructions for Free Admission below).

NASA Astronaut Bob Hines, KI5RQT, will contact the students via a radio link provided by amateur radio ground station ON4ISS in Belgium. The contact is organized through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). Around a dozen New England young people have been selected to participate in The BIG E Space Chat.

Please plan to arrive in time for the pre-contact program, which begins at 1:20 pm ET on Tuesday and will feature a series of videos about space, NASA, ARISS, going to Mars, and more. Pre-contact program speakers will include:

•       Gene Cassidy, CEO of the Eastern States Exposition
•       David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO
•       Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, ARRL Director – New England Division
•       Bob Phinney, K5TEC, President, New England Sci-Tech

Instructions for Free Admission

Parking and walking to The BIG E arena will take a little time, so be sure to get there early. The arena will hold well over 1,000 people. The BIG E is helping publicize the event and is arranging for TV coverage for the program and the contact. Help us get the word out!

The Big E free admission for amateur radio operators and up to three guests (maximum 4 people) is good on Space Chat Day (Tuesday, Sept. 27) only.

•       You must present an official copy of your FCC license to the Gate Captain at The Big E pedestrian gates 1A, 1B, 4, 5, 7, or 9A to receive free admission on Space Chat Day.
•       Visit http://www.arrl.org/obtain-license-copy for instructions on downloading a copy of your FCC license to print and bring with you.
•       Parking is not included.
•       The Big E is at 1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, Massachusetts.

If you’re attending The Big E, visit the amateur radio booth (#103) inside Door 6 of the Better Living Center for more information. Be sure to spread the word to your friends and fellow radio club members!

You can download and print The Big E Brochure and a Fairgrounds Map. Both are available at https://www.thebige.com/p/generalinfo/bigeinfo.

Can’t come to The BIG E on Space Chat Day? 

 A live video stream of the contact will be carried on the New England Sci-Tech YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdxnD8uF8t0.

For up to date information about Space Chat @ The BIG E, please visit https://nediv.arrl.org/big-e-space-chat.

——————————————————————–
ARRL New England Division
Director: Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC
ab1oc@arrl.org
——————————————————————–

Two BIG E Volunteers Needed for September 20, 2022

Larry Krainson, W1AST, writes on the Project Big E mailing list:

Through a scheduling error, the Big E booth is in need of at least 2 more people for the first session tomorrow/Tuesday, Sept 20th for 9:30 am through 4:00 pm.

IF you are available for all or even part of that time slot, please email Larry, W1AST immediately at W1AST@arrl.net

Thank you!

Preparations Continue As the Start of Project BIG E Approaches

With just two days left before the start of The BIG E fair in West Springfield, MA, Amateur Radio preparations for Project BIG E have kicked into high gear.

The combined ham radio booth and ARISS space contact depend on the efforts of many Amateur Radio volunteers drawn from across New England and Eastern New York. The booth alone will be staffed twelve hours every day from September 16 until October 2. With two shifts of four hams per day, that’s over 800 person-hours.

“I’m happy to report as of the morning of September 13 we are fully staffed,” according Project BIG E Coordinator Larry Krainson, W1AST. Krainson is also President of the Hampden County Radio Association, one of the booth’s primary sponsors.

Larry Krainson has been coordinating weekly Zoom calls with other volunteers since June to plan the layout of the booth and coordinate the many moving parts involved with this ambitious project. Western MA ARRL Section Manager Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, is providing much assistance with the booth setup. 

Project BIG E Sponsor and Club Recognition

 

The BIG E Space Chat is an ARISS contact that will take place in The BIG E Arena in the September 27-29 timeframe. The exact date and time won’t be known until a decision is made by NASA approximately a week before the event. 

A number of other organizations—both local as well as international—will play critical roles in ensuring a successful contact with the International Space Station from The BIG E venue.

BIG E Space Chat partners

 

ARISS Mentor Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, is providing overall coordination between ARISS and the science education program component provided by New England Sci-Tech in Natick, MA. Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, is responsible for pre-contact programming as well as the stage audio-video setup at The BIG E Arena, a performance venue that can accommodate up to 3,000 people with additional capacity for folks to stand. The covered stage is 40- by 80 feet  with arena grade public address and video displays.

A 45-minute pre-contact program will feature inspirational videos about the ISS, space, and previous contacts; introductory remarks from Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, ARISS Mentor; Gene Cassidy, CEO of the Eastern States Exposition; David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO; and Bob Phinney K5TEC, President of New England Sci-Tech.

Phil Temples, K9HI, and Barbara Irby, KC1KGS, are involved with the Amateur Radio promotion for the event.  Phil and Barbara are working with The BIG E marketing team to coordinate web content, press releases, and plans for radio and television interviews of the space station contact. 

Amateur Radio operators who present a valid FCC license at the gate will be granted free admission along with three of their guests on the day of the space station contact. It’s hoped that hundreds of amateurs will turn out to witness the lucky dozen students as they make a once-in-a-lifetime contact with an astronaut in space.

 

Youth at New England Sci-TechYouth at New England Sci-TechPerhaps the most important component of The BIG E Space Chat is Bob Phinney’s STEM learning and makerspace center, New England Sci-Tech (NEST), in Natick, MA.

NEST is providing a world-class STEM learning experience for students across New England—including the dozen or so lucky youths who have been selected to participate in The BIG E Space Chat. 

In-person and virtual activities are being conducted over a 12-month period. They include:

• Building and launching a beginner level model rocket
• Building and launching air-powered rockets and planes
• Earning an FCC amateur radio Technician license
• Participating in a basic electronics course
• Participating in Public Telescope Nights
• A field trip program that introduces real-world science
• Participation in space science educational activities at the BIG E
• Participation in an optional Cubes-in-Space® Program that will introduce students to real-world science

The Big E, formerly known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as “New England’s Great State Fair.” It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation. In 2021, the Big E had 1.5 million visitors, and over 1.6 million visitors in 2019.

Additional Volunteers Sought for Project Big E, West Springfield MA

Project Big E logoLarry Krainson, W1AST, writes:

The Big E is coming up fast and the first day is Friday, September 16th.

As of now, there are 12 clubs and around 110 people signed up to staff the ham radio booth. We are looking for a few more to help us lock down the schedule. Are you available on any of these dates and times?

Each day is broken into two sessions. The first runs 9:30 am through 4 :00 pm and the second runs 3:30 pm through 10:00 pm. The overlap is to help the new arrivals for the 2nd session learn what had been working during the first session so they could continue. The sessions are named Session 1 and Session 2.

Here is where we need volunteers as of right now:
Monday, Sept 19, session 1 – need 2 people
Monday, Sept 19, session 2 – need 3 people
Tuesday, Sept 20, session 2 – need 3 people
Sunday, Sept 25, session 2 – need 3 people
Tuesday, Sept 27, session 2 – need 4 people
Friday, Sept 30, session 2 – need 3 people
Saturday, Oct 1, session 1 – needs 1 person
Sunday, Oct 2 (Final Day), session 1 – needs 2 people
Sunday, Oct 2 (Final session), session 2 – needs 2 people
Are you available to help? If yes, please volunteer or add a session to what you have already volunteered for.

As a reminder, everyone that volunteers will have their Big E fairgrounds parking reimbursed and their admission reimbursed (or free tickets provided to them).

Sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd9_iH1ZucHuCFCNwreEuVPWnmLOT5D_s92vHPuEUASS78Tew/viewform

Learn more here: https://nediv.arrl.org/project-big-e

I hope you are available to help us lock in these last few days of the schedule for the ham radio booth.

Thank you and 73,

Larry, W1AST

Q&A with Raymond Lajoie, AA1SE, Technical Coordinator for The BIG E Space Chat

We caught up with Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, who is heavily involved with “Project Big E,” the ham radio display booth showcasing modern Amateur Radio in West Springfield, Massachusetts from September 16 to October 2, 2022; and the related “BIG E Space Chat,” an ARISS contact scheduled to take place from The BIG E Exhibition/Fair sometime between September 26 and 29.

 

Q: What is your involvement with Project Big E and BIG E Space Chat?

AA1SE:

I’m currently supporting Larry Krainson, W1AST, with the booth setup as well as constructing equipment for displays. I’m also working with Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, to help coordinate the technical aspects of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) contact. Finally, I’ll fill in and staff the booth in the event someone is unable to work their shift.

Q: What are some of the technical aspects you’re working on?

AA1SE:

I’m making sure that our pre-contact audio-video and live presentation is choreographed and well-timed. I’m also ensuring that all the connections—telebridge, telephone, and internet, and sound—are tested ahead of time and that there won’t be any failures in the arena or the booth.

Q:  What happens if there is inclement weather?

AA1SE:

ARISS requires that we have contingency plans in place. In the event of inclement weather, we will move the BIG E Space Chat inside to the booth area in the Better Living Center.

Q: How did you get involved in this project?

AA1SE:

I was volunteered! Seriously though—I am the Western Massachusetts Section Manager, and I feel a responsibility to help out in any way since it involves my section. Larry, W1AST, and the Hampden County Radio Association took on a huge challenge and I want to make sure that he and the club have my full support.

Q:  With whom are you working?

AA1SE:

The project involves a number of collaborative partners. I’m working with Bob Phinney, K5TEC, of New England Sci-Tech in Natick, Massachusetts. Also, the ARISS program. Black Helicopter Creative are our media partners. They are donating their services to help produce the pre-contact show. I’m also working with the Mellowship camera and production crew for Eastern States Exposition.

Q: Have you done anything like this before?

AA1SE:

No. While I have experience with audio/video working for Comcast, I’ve never done anything on such a large scale. The choreography will provide a unique challenge for me.

Q: What do you hope will come from this experience?

AA1SE:

It’s my hope that Project BIG E and The BIG E Space Chat will provide entertaining and informative content which will inform the general public about Amateur Radio and have a positive impact on youth and STEM education.

Remote Ham Radio to Donate Remote Station Access to Project BIG E Special Event Station N1E

Remote Ham Radio logoProject BIG E Coordinator Larry Krainson, W1AST, has announced a new sponsor of the BIG E booth and special event station: Remote Ham Radio (RHR). RHR has offered a donation of 17 days of RHR service for the N1E station at the booth in West Springfield, MA.

 
“From the beginning, Remote Ham Radio has strived to promote on-air activity by making operating more accessible than ever before,” writes Rockwell Schrock, WW1X. “Given the technical challenges and compromises involved in setting up an on-site station at the fairgrounds, a fully-remote station is a pragmatic solution to give a voice to the special event station. We are happy to support the Big E project and expose thousands of attendees to this cutting-edge facet of Amateur Radio.”
 

The QRPer: “The Big E Exposition: Radio Club Seeks Scheduled Contacts with POTA and SOTA Activators”

The QRPer coverMany thanks to Mark (K8LSB) who shares the following announcement: Sharing POTA/SOTA with the Public Greetings POTA/SOTA activators, This year the Big E (exposition)—a “combined” state fair for the six New England states (CT MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)—will run for 17 days: from September 16 to October 2. In the past, 1.5 million people […] [Full story]

“The BIG E and Amateur Radio—Early Years”

Betsey Doane, K1EIC, writes:

In the early 1990s, Larry Buck, K1HEJ, Luck Hurder, formerly KY1T (now WA4STO) and Betsey Doane, K1EIC, decided to make a plan for demonstrating Amateur radio at The BIG E. So we embarked on getting computer/modem accounts to communicate. And that we did.

There were literally loads of messages passed back and forth to plan the event. Larry was in charge of communicating with the exhibition leaders to be sure we would comply with all requirements.

We recruited many volunteers and opened our first booth which provided lots of Amateur radio information, good conversation among the visitors and hams attending, a full traffic handling area using 2 meter FM and packet and an HF station which we used as we could. Remember, there was no Windows OS, no small computers, and no RMS. But packet was extremely popular at that time. The CT N1DCS and later N4GAA packet nodes were among the largest, if not the largest in the country handling thousands of messages. The W1EDH, K1EIC and W1HAD nodes also assisted in the relay of traffic.

The young people who came up enjoyed writing messages to their families and friends. Thoroughly also enjoyed using the key to write their name as instructed by the chart provided. They had fun, the adults
enjoyed it and so did we.

We did this event every year for close to 25 years adding what we could with the constraints at the fair. Volunteers came from Connecticut, Western Mass and, I think, Rhode Island. We knew we had to staff it fully so there were backups planned.

Connecticut operators are proud to have been an exhibitor at The BIG E for so many years. We were well received. We are truly excited that so many New England amateurs and radio clubs are participating in this year’s BIG E exhibit, and that our New England Division Director, Vice Director, and Assistant Directors are helping to organize The BIG E Space Chat.  

We Need YOU at the Amateur Radio Booth at The BIG E!

Amateur Radio will be on public display like never before at The BIG E in West Springfield, MA from September 16 – October 2, 2022. Over a million people will visit the Fair over the 17-day period. We need ham radio “Goodwill Ambassadors” to staff the booth and promote our hobby-service to the public and potential licensees.

Who: Amateurs like you who enjoy interacting with the public

What: You’ll be demonstrating ham radio contacts and sharing Amateur Radio information with the public (talking points will be provided)

When:

Two shifts per day, 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM (first session) and 3:30 PM -10:00 PM (second session) on some days

Dates/times available:

  • September 16 (Military Appreciation Day), second session, 1-2 more people needed
  • September 17 (Maine Day), second session, 2 more
  • September 19, first session, 2 more
  • September 20 (Rhode Island Day), first and second sessions, 3-4 more
  • September 22 (Massachusetts Day), second session, 2 more
  • September 24 (Vermont Day), first and second sessions
  • September 25, second session
  • September 26, first and second sessions
  • September 28, first and second sessions
  • September 29, first and second sessions
  • September 30, first and second sessions
  • October 1, first and second sessions
  • October 2, first and second sessions

Where: Booth #103 inside Door 6 of the Better Living Center

How:—Sign up via the following link, which will list currently-available sessions:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd9_iH1ZucHuCFCNwreEuVPWnmLOT5D_s92vHPuEUASS78Tew/viewform

SEE YOU THERE!