Operating as a club station under the current school guidelines regarding gatherings has been a daunting task. At NFA, clubs have been only allowed to meet virtually. W1HLO has been meeting weekly and using Discord to meet, collaborate, and keep track of projects. It has been working very well for us.
Not being able to physically meet has posed its challenges, since many of our projects are hands-on. Kits were put together for students and sent home so that progress could be made. Thanks to the Internet and our tech-savvy club members, VPNs were set up so that students could remote into Raspberry Pis to collaborate on projects. Another challenge was how to practice our on-air skills and participate in the School Club Roundup (SCR).
To address this challenge, I wrote a Python program for the Raspberry Pi that allow students to key and mute any type of rig. While there are many new rigs that support remote control, I wanted to develop a program that would work with any radio (even ones from the 1970's) and would allow for collaboration and coaching. I also wanted the program to work in tandem with video conferencing software like Zoom, Google Meet, or Discord. The audio is piped from the video conferencing software to the rig control hardware so that students just have to speak into their microphones when keying the rig. Students could work together to identify callsigns and have one student perform the QSO while another logs the contact.
To read more about the software and hardware and download the files, go to the GitHub Repository.