Ah, yes … I remember being in school and sweating bullets trying to understand and use Smith Charts. Plotting and drawing lines … HATED IT!
Last night, at our monthly club meeting, we were introduced to an elegant solution to my aversion … SimSmith by Ward Harriman AE6TY. It’s a Smith Chart software tool that is really impressive … and FREE!
I won’t go into more explanation here, other than to say his website also refers you to numerous videos and writings that explain its uses and and its operation. Check it out (using the link above) if you have any curiosity or any need for Smith Charts.
FrostFest was last Saturday, so I made my annual trek to Richmond to attend. It was clear, but cold, and waiting in the line outdoors to enter was not pleasant for me. I was bundled up in a heavy coat, and I was amazed at the people standing with me in just a T-shirt and seemingly comfortable!
The first thing I noticed was that the layout in the exhibition hall was different this year. All of the empty space was moved to the center aisle, making it a wide expanse and much easier to navigate than prior years. I was told the real reason was to allow less chaos with vendor vehicles coming in to offload equipment … evidently in prior years, navigating the narrower aisles was not pleasant.
One consequence of the wide open center of the hall was that it gave the impression of a smaller crowd this year. I read that the organizers have unofficially said that this year’s crowd was the largest yet. We’ll have to wait for the final count, I guess.
The only significant manufacturer there was Elecraft, but there were lot of second-tier vendors there, and LOTS of “tail-gate” individuals with tables. There was much nostalgic equipment there, and I did see quite a few “boat anchors” being carried out to waiting vehicles.
I spent most of the day attending the forums … DMR, Puerto Rico recap, ARRL, SkyWarn, and I did wander the sales floor several times, too. I actually didn’t buy anything this trip … my big purchase for the winter was a new IC-7300 on Black Friday last year. I was looking for a shielded USB A-B cable, but didn’t see any, so I ordered one from Amazon when I got home.
It was a pleasant day, and worth the trip. I did take some things away from the forums, and I reconnected with several friends and acquaintances that I only see here every year at FrostFest. My congratulations to RATS (Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society), the club that puts all this together and coordinates this. Well done!!
The one I didn’t get though was Z60C, in Kosovo. I had pretty good copy on both 40 and 80 CW, but the pileups were brutal. Of course, there were the clueless lids calling incessantly on his transmitting frequency, as usual, but there were also a LOT of stations correctly calling on his listening frequency, too. And … a lot of them were packing some serious power, by the sound of them!
Oh well, if I don’t get them today, I’ll get them tomorrow … I DID make another contact on 60 meters!
I had a call from Charlie, WB4PVT, last night about our trip to Richmond, VA on Saturday morning to FROSTFEST. He’s going to pick me up about 0630 and we’ll have a bit of breakfast before we set out for the approximate one-hour drive to the hamfest.
FROSTFEST is a big hamfest, but even they don’t rate an appearance by the big three (Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood). The only major manufacturer there is Elecraft. Quite a few second-tier dealers there … Quicksilver, Hamworld, etc. All of the tables were sold out this year, so the individual sales will be there. I’ll bet I see the same guys with the same stuff again this year that I did last year, though!!
It should be a nice trip. I’m not planning any purchases this time, but you never know. Maybe some BNCs and PL-259s. There are some interesting looking Forums, so maybe I’ll learn something. I always see at least a few people that I only see about once a year, so that’s always a pleasant surprise when it happens.