A Hamfest for the Times

I spent all day Saturday in front of my computer for my first virtual hamfest! DX Engineering sponsored their first DXE Virtual Hamfest and DX Academy.

The first half of the day was a variety of talks on various subjects by hams that were very knowledgeable in their subject matter. The second half was dedicaed to honing your DXing skills. Covered were everything from getting started in amateur satellites to low band antennas for DXing. There were two $1000 gift certificates given away … not to me, unfortunately.

I watched all of the talks, but my primary interest was one by K8ZT on Youth in Amateur Radio. He had lots of great info on getting youngsters interested in ham radio. W0GJ also had a presentation on the VP6R DXpedition to Pitcairn Island … what a beautiful island!

Hats off to TIm Duffy, K3LR, for organizing this and gathering a great group of experts. He noted that the entire day’s events were recorded and will show up on YouTube shortly. It’s worth a view.

73 de Dick N4BC

FrostFest 2020

Saturday, I attended FrostFest, which was held at the Richmond (VA) International Raceway. The 60 some-odd mile drive was quite foggy that morning, but nothing dangerous. I arrived later than usual. I normally get there around 8:30 in the morning, but just couldn’t seem to get moving this year. I arrived around 9:30 and did a quick spin around all the booths.

FrostFest 2020

There was lots of good stuff there. Lots of junk, too, but some really nice examples of older technology. It was like a trip down nostalgia lane. Lots of the stuff, I had either owned or worked on. Charlie (WB4PVT) was there, trying to sell accumulated estate merchandise. Many other familiar faces were seen, too.

I attended a couple of great Forums. There were two featured speakers this year, both by video link. Rich Moseson, W2VU, the Editor of CQ magazine, talked about the history of CQ magazine, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2020, Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, the Space Weather Woman (find her on YouTube), gave a great talk on sunspots, solar cycles, and space weather, all put into terms that her audience could grasp. For me, this was the highlight of the event. Well done!

Rich Moseson
Dr. Tamitha Skov

This year, the license testing was free, and it looked to me like the testing room was packed. Hopefully, they all did well!

All in all, it was a great event this year. Every year, it gets better. I’m already looking forward to next year!

73 de Dick N4BC

Update

Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.

The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.

I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …

Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.

More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!

73 de Dick N4BC

Bummer!

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend, a three-day weekend. I decided to take an extra day … Tuesday. Hey maybe I could have a great ham radio weekend?

Not to be! We had a BIG geomagnetic storm and conditions were crap! Even today … Tuesday … they’re still not great. There were lots of spots for POTA activations, but I only managed to work one. Dave, K4CAE, was heard, but he obviously couldn’t hear ME! He was about a 3×2 with me.

Dorian continues its march towards the Virginia coast. The forecast is for high winds and lots of rain, but nothing like they experienced in the Bahamas, thank God! I expect the area will experience some tidal flooding (the lower areas always do). The last I saw, they’re talking about 50 knot winds, with all the associated problems … beach erosion, tidal flooding, trees and limbs down, power outages, stuff blown around, etc.

We’ll see. Things can change pretty quickly … for better or for worse. It’s forecast to be off the coast here Thursday night/Friday. Saturday is the Virginia Beach Hamfest … maybe. Tomorrow night is the radio club meeting, so maybe we’ll get some news then.

73 de Dick N4BC