FrostFest 2018

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!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Planning a road trip

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.

73 de Dick N4BC

The Blizzard of 2018

Definitely not a day for portable operations, and even now, days after the storm, the secondary roads and streets are hazardous. I did get a four-day weekend, though, due to work being closed. I was on call, but didn’t get called out. We ended up with about eight inches and drifts a bit higher. Really nice snow, though … powdery. It would’ve been good for skiing or snowboarding if we had any hills or mountains here in coastal Virginia. I have a friend that was at Massanutten Ski Resort in the western part of the state, and he said they had no snow, other than man-made. This was strictly a coastal storm … a Nor’easter with snow!

My street during the snowstorm

Eighty and forty meters have been active here in the evenings, but the higher bands have been non-productive. I’m really enjoying the Icom IC-7300. As I get more and more familiar with its usage, it makes operating so much easier.

It’s a new year now … 2018 … and I’ve just mailed off my dues for another year to QCWA Chapter 119. I really wish I could make the meetings, but as a worker bee, I can’t get away for lunch meetings … too far away.

Frostfest 2018 in Richmond, VA is coming up the first Saturday in February. It’s always a good show with lots of goodies for sale. I really can’t think of anything I need, but I’m sure I will come home with something.

I’m trying a new WordPress Theme on the website. Looks odd to me, but maybe that’s just because it’s different … hopefully I’ll learn to love it!

73 de Dick N4BC

Hurricanes and stuff

Eighty meters was pretty good last night. I worked quite a few stations on FT8 mode … all of them North Americans. FT8 is still crowded, to the detriment of JT9 & JT65. I find it puzzling that JT65 seems to be the preferred mode, since JT9 is more bandwidth-efficient and a more robust mode. I usually don’t see many, if any, JT9 signals on the waterfall, so I resort to calling CQ. Sometimes I get a bite … sometimes I don’t.

I DO see the allure of FT8, though. It’s fast. True fact … JT65 & JT9 are like watching paint dry! But … I like being able to do radio while working on other things that have to get done. Hey … radio is radio … right?

Today is the Virginia Beach Hamfest, but I’ve decided to give it a pass this year. I’ve just got too much going on today that has to be done. I’m filling in for the Pastor at church tomorrow, and need to polish up my sermon and a few other things before then.

It looks like we have dodged the worst of Irma here on the Virginia coast. I really feel bad for Florida, though. This has the potential to devastate a lot of Florida. Our prayers are with the people of that state.

73 de Dick N4BC

Frostfest 2017

I made the annual trip to Richmond for Frostfest, leaving at about 7 am for a drive of a little over an hour. The crowd seemed to be a bit bigger this year, and the vendors seemed to be doing a lively business. The video below was taken about noon … the crowds had thinned a bit, and people were also grabbing lunch.

I saw a few old friends … Rob, Al, Dan, Darrell, Will, Charlie (I’m terrible about callsigns). We talked about a variety of stuff … none of any great importance in the overall scheme of things. Still, it was great to see them and catch up.

I attended a couple of forums, both very interesting. the first was on DMR radio and I learned a lot from that. The second was a Winlink forum. It was interesting, but I don’t think I will ever get into it. It’s primarily used for ARES/RACES, and I don’t participate due my status as “critical personnel” during an emergency because of my job in public safety communications.

I hung around until the bitter end so I wouldn’t miss the grand prize drawing ($1000 to be spent at the Hamfest). There were several other unclaimed prizes drawn then, too. As usual, it was a bust … no goodies for me.

I DID have a great day, but my back and feet are a bit tired. All I bought was about $40 worth of powerpoles and coax connectors. Then again, that’s all I planned to buy, unless I saw a deal I couldn’t refuse.

73, everybody de Dick N4BC