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Stake Conference Weekend

posted Mar 13, 2012, 4:45 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 9:34 AM ]

I never intended for this to turn into a personal blog, but this entry falls under the "what your fellow hams have been up to" category, and since nobody else seems to be contributing material for this column...

A couple of times a year, I help out with a church conference for the Longview, WA stake (and sometimes I help the Rainier, OR stake with theirs, too), composed of 7 smaller congregations.  Anyway, it's a big crowd, and we end up telecasting it to multiple overflow rooms.  This time, we were blessed to be visited by Russel M. Nelson, which brought a few people out of the woodwork that don't always show up.

VLyriC in action

A pair of hard drives in the computer that I've used for the past 8 years died, and while rebuilding the system, I decided that I needed some new software, so I wrote VLyric (more pictures and info about my setup at that link) to fit the bill.

What a mess of cables!
At 7:00 Saturday morning, I (AD7UF) took off with a carload of computer and other electronic equipment, and met KF7CVT, KF7IJI, and a couple of non-hams to begin setup.  By 3:00 we were pretty well ready, and by 7:00 PM, the first meeting where we needed to use most of the equipment, preparations were pretty much complete.  Two computers, 3 monitors, 10 more TVs & projectors, a 100 lb. UPS I picked up from  KE7EVO the night before (after the battery in mine died), and a boatload of cable and gaffers tape.
Control Central in the gym

Staying afterwards to make a few hardware and software tweaks, I was back home before midnight, and gone again a little after 6:00 the next morning.  KF7CVT did a great job operating the camera on the scaffold, while I sat at the main command console, updating the display, moving the central camera, and calling the camera shots.  We communicated using FRS radios, but cheap radios stink, especially when you're trying to talk quietly; even with earbuds & lapel mics, the sound quality was terrible.  Next time we'll use computing technology for more of our communication, rather than radio.

We finished take-down and cleanup shortly after 3PM, and we headed home after a fine but tiring weekend.  I'd forgotten to record/clear the roll sheet in preparation for that evening's net, and was lounging around enjoying the kids when KB7IFR called to remind me of that.  So, without [much] further delay, I ventured into the office to put away the mounds of equipment and get my computer put back together again.

Reflecting back on the weekend, I realize how much skills and experience in one specific area of interest tend to span others.  It's a bit like when I was younger, and found that typing (esp. on a manual typewriter) improved my piano-playing ability, and visa versa.   Mercury Mount St. Helens is about amateur radio and emergency communications.  In an emergency, being able to use a radio isn't enough, and served agencies are often hungry for people who have additional skills.  As amateur radio operators, we're exposed to a lot of different skill areas.  Leadership and organization are important, as are technical savvy and the ability to think "outside the box", and sometimes even "MacGyver" things at hand to make something more of them when the situation requires it.   While this weekend's activities weren't directly related to ham radio (though anytime hams get together, the topic is bound to come up!), I know that things I have learned in radio-related activities contributed to this weekend's success, and skills honed through participation in a variety of activities such as this will make me a more useful ham radio operator.  So go and get out of the shack once in a while!

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