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Ask Slashdot: College Club Fundraising On the Fly? 89

An anonymous reader writes "As luck would have it, I was video-attending the monthly meeting of my alma mater's amateur radio club last night and learned that a local Alumnus had passed, leaving a significant amount of equipment to the club, including a 'Big Bertha' tower that the club does not have a home for. This particular 'Big Bertha,' as it is called, is a 115 foot tall, self-supporting rotatable pole that can support an enormous number of antennae. There are thought to be only a small number of them in civilian use, and this was one of them. I also happen to be a member of the local University's amateur radio club, and our local meeting was right after the Georgia Tech meeting, so upon learning of the availability I immediately informed them that this tower could be had so long as they could support the logistics of moving the tower approximately 100 miles.

After discussing the logistics, and the fact that construction crews would be required on both sides, we came to the conclusion that a significant amount of money would be required, and that your typical intramural basketweaving team bake sale would not do the job. The use case for such a tower is not difficult to make with the University, or with local emergency services who would no doubt love to have space on such a tall tower in such a prime 'top of the hill' geographical location. Zoning will also not be an issue owing to the location having one other taller tower belonging to the college radio station, and a water tower on site. However, with most governments being cash-strapped and unlikely willing to contribute to the project, we need some more ideas on how to raise the needed funds.

So if you're a small University club, and need to raise $30-40K in a hurry, how do you do it? They are working on some small grants from local corporations, and also contacting the manufacturer to see if there is any goodwill there. But, many more ideas are needed. Thanks in advance."

Amateur Radio In the Backcountry? 376

bartle writes "I spend a lot of time hiking in the Colorado Rockies. Cell phone reception is very unreliable and I'm curious if carrying a small amateur radio would make any sense at all. I don't want to add too much weight to my pack; from what I gather, a radio weighing a pound would give me at most 5 to 10 watts of transmitting power. I have no idea if this is enough to be effective in a mountainous region, and I'm hoping some experienced Slashdot hams could give me a clue. I'm only interested in acquiring a radio and license if it is a lot more effective and reliable than the cell phone I already carry. Otherwise I'll just wait for Globalstar to bring back their duplex service and buy a next-generation SPOT messaging device. (I know some Slashdotters will want to suggest a modern SPOT or Personal Locator Beacon; these are suitable for the worst kinds of emergencies, but I'll point out that reliable communication can help prevent small crises from becoming big ones.) Are small amateur radios effective in the field, or are vehicle rigs really the only way to go? Or am I better off just waiting for satellite?"

The Quietest Sun 227

Orbity sends in a Boston Globe report on the unusual calm on the surface of the sun. The photos, many taken in more active solar times, are excellent — see the sequence from last year of a coronal mass ejection carrying away the tail of a comet. "The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum — in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year — with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm..." As if to be contrary, New Scientist mentions that the number of sunspots seem to be increasing.

Alternative Uses For an Old Satellite Dish? 552

ya really writes "My family has one of those BUDs (Big Ugly Dishes) sitting in their back yard still. The other day they asked me if I would take it apart for them. Aside from simply recycling it, I was wondering if there are any alternatives for its use. It was one of the last made before DirectTV and Dish took over satellite broadcasting, and even has a digital receiver. I'd say it was made around 1996."

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Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money. -- Arthur Miller