Hamfest Time

Last Saturday was the Virginia Beach Hamfest at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, so I made the trek. I already had a ticket, purchased at the club meeting. It was a nice time … met some old friends, saw some new things … also saw a Heathkit DX-100B for sale for $100.00. It was pretty clean, and according to the seller, worked flawlessly. Nostalgia is great, but no thanks. I’ll pass.

I was looking for some mobile hamstick-type antennas, and one of the flea-market sellers had some, but not for the bands I wanted or the price I wanted. I got home and ordered what I needed from HRO in northern Virginia, and should have them Tuesday. Even regular shipping is pretty much overnight to my QTH.

I’m not planning on mobile operations, but more truck-portable ops. I like Larry’s (W2LJ) habit of getting on from the parking lot at work for lunchtime, and a mobile antenna is a quick way to get on the air from there. He seems to have great luck, so I’ll give it a try with my FT-817nd and a hamstick.

The Hamfest, while worth a trip, is a shadow of its former glory. There were NO major ham radio vendors there (Elecraft had a local team there). Not even a lot of second-tier companies there. If you were looking to buy a name-brand, new hf rig, you’d be better off ordering it. I think this is a problem with all hamfests nowadays. The manufacturers just don’t have the budget to hit all the non-major hamfests. It’s a shame, really … no chance to “touchy-feelie” things.

I’ve been very busy lately at work. We’re updating our 800 MHz Motorola trunked system from analog to digital, so I’ve been involved with developing the new fleetmap and templates for programming the radios. Working at the computer for 8 hours a day makes your eyes cross after a while, so frequent breaks are needed and welcome.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Happenings

I haven’t been very active lately. I’ve had lots of other irons in the fire, and ham radio has had to take a back seat. I got on 20m sideband tonight and worked a RA7 and AM08TL. That one threw me for a bit, but it’s a special Spanish call in honor of the new King. The station is in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.

I’m getting things together for my trip to Pennsylvania for Boy Scout summer camp with two other adults and eight boys. We’ll be at Hidden Valley Scout Reservation, and I’m taking “ham stuff” with me. I’ve picked up an FT-817nd and am carrying that for some portable, battery-powered QRP. I think the boys will be more interested in SSB than CW, because they can actually hear what’s going on. I’m hoping to make a few more converts.

I got a certificate in the mail this afternoon from the Virginia QSO Party. I was the “High Newport News Mixed Mode 40M” scorer. I suspect I was the only Newport News Mixed Mode 40M entry ;-). In any case, it’s always nice to get another piece of paper for the shack wall.

That’s it for now, I guess. I’ll write a bit more later.

73 de Dick k4ftw

Virginia QSO Party

I got a few QSOs in for the Virginia QSO Party. Once again, life interrupted Ham Radio :-). I only had 39 QSOs this year, quite a few less than last year, but what I did was still fun. It’s one of the great QSO parties … pretty laid back, compared to some. Unless a station has a run going, they’re usually willing to have a few words with you.

So, Spring starts this week, and they’re predicting rain, sleet, and snow tonight and tomorrow. It’s a cold rain outside this evening, and it looks like the rest of the night is all downhill. I’m hoping for warmer weather by next weekend. I’m going on a Scout camp out with the Troop and hope to get in a bit of qrp portable operation while in the woods. Although we’ve had some nice days in the past couple of months, they were just that … days. No real spells of “outside” weather.

Well, I’ve got to import my contacts from N1MM into my log and email the Cabrillo log to the QSO party folks. After that, I think I’ll just relax and do some reading, Don’t get to do that as often as I like.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Brrr …

Boy it’s COLD. And that’s inside!

Just kidding. Our heat has been out here at the qth since last Friday and it’s Wednesday now … parts had to be ordered and have just arrived and should be installed today … Hopefully! We’ve been coping with space heaters and electric blankets for a while now.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last November, but it’s true. I really haven’t been on the air much. The holidays are always so hectic and work has been more demanding lately. I have worked a couple of W1AW/x stations since the first of the year, so I’m not totally off the air!

The WX has been so cold that no qrp portable operation has happened. It’s 18F outside with a wind chill of 3F, and 6 inches of dry snow on the ground. That’s a blizzard for coastal Virginia … Parts of Virginia Beach had ten inches! I think this is the coldest winter we’ve had for a long, long time.

Speaking of qrp/p, I think I’ve finally gotten everything sorted out for my go-kit. The last bit was a solar panel (Goal Zero Nomad 7). Not totally necessary but useful for when I’m camping “off-the-grid” for a week at a time during the summer.

This weekend, I’m off for Frostfest in Richmond, VA. A couple of ham friends and I are heading out at 5:30am for breakfast and the hamfest. It’s a little over an hour drive. I usually pick up a few odds and ends but I’m not planning anything major this year. I always seem to run into someone I haven’t seen for ages when I’m there. Should be a great day!

73 de Dick k4ftw

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving morning, and I’m in the shack mostly just tuning around. Not hearing much except US and Caribbean stations. I did work the Polish DXPedition again on J88 this morning on 15 meters CW. I heard a couple of Caribbean stations on 10 meters, but couldn’t get them to answer me. They weren’t real strong, but I could copy them perfectly.

The solar predictions show good propagation today, but I’m not seeing it here so far. The lower bands seem quite noisy, but domestic signals are strong.

We’re heading over to the kids’ house for a family day in about an hour or so. I got up early this morning and made a batch of oyster dressing to take along. The wife is making a corn pudding and pea salad, the kids are doing the turkey and desserts, and the other folks are bringing side dishes. Maybe when I’ve eaten myself into a drowsy stupor by this evening I’ll check back and see what’s going on with the bands. Have a great holiday and I’ll see you on the bands.

73 de Dick K4FTW