Tag Archives: hamvention

In terms of success, this ranks up pretty high.  I wheeled-and-dealed on everything, and I feel like I made out like a bandit!  I didn't stay very long at Hamvention - I arrived around 8:30 AM and I was gone by around 1:30 PM.

Astron VS-20 Power Supply

It works. I needed a power supply for my bench, and everything new was either adjustable (but not powerful and expensive) or powerful and expensive.  This is better than I thought I'd end up with.

VS-20M Power Supply

VS-20M Power Supply

RF Millivolt Meter

This is one of those pieces of equipment that I never thought I'd have because they're fairly specialized.  I saw a few, and after finding the power supply, I looked for one I had already found.  I found this one (with the probe, not pictured) instead.

Millivolt Meter

Millivolt Meter

Percent Explosive Meter

I'm surprised someone else didn't get this first!  I couldn't resist it.  This is going to find a place in my basement near a blinking red light.  I'm not sure what it will otherwise be connected to (if anything other than a random/semirandom/not-random time controller), though.

Percent Explosive!!!

Percent Explosive!!!

Anderson Powerpoles

I'm standardizing on these expensive AF things.  I needed some.



Hands On Radio Experiments books

After reading N0AX's articles in the last few QSTs, the method of teaching has really grown on me.  When I saw experiment #161 in the June 2016 QST, which referred back to a common emitter amplifier, I not only read with interest but also decided to attempt the experiment.  I started looking for all of the experiments and saw that the ARRL prints them in a book.  I found the books at W0TOK books and wheeled-and-dealed to both for $30.  DEAL!

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Not from Hamvention: Etherkit Si5351 Breakout

I ordered an Si5351 Breakout Board from Jason/Etherkit a few days before Hamvention and got it on Friday after I returned from Hamvention.  I got one on the kickstarter campaign, but SEE THE UPDATE BELOW! but for some reason it refuses to work despite some troubleshooting.  My guess is that I damaged the chip somehow since I THINK (operative word!) that the two MOSFETs work correctly but my Bus Pirate won't show an available address .  For whatever idiotic reason, each time I get something from Etherkit, I try to hot-air solder it, and it's all been without the right stuff (either without a proper hot air rework station or solder paste).  I've been set straight thanks to the Twitterverse, and someday will replace damn near every component on my CRX1 and get it to work properly.  And I will always remember the sign in my dad's auto shop: "Don't be a fool, use the right tool!"... I'll also remember Dr. Miller (photography teacher at my high school): "Do not use any equipment for which you have not been trained" (in other words, make sure I know how to set the jumpers before setting power!).

EDIT: I typed all this before testing the new breakout board.  The new breakout board was throwing errors, and I found that the new oscillator pulls more current than the Bus Pirate seems to want to provide.  After finding this, nothing could be found with the I2C search.  I looked back on this blog and found "the CLK pin on the Bus Pirate gets connected to the SCL pin on the demo board and the MOSI pin on the Bus Pirate gets connected to the SDA pin on the demo board."  I now have two functioning breakout boards! 🙂

Etherkit Si5351 Breakout

Etherkit Si5351 Breakout

That's it! 73!

Category: General Stuff

Hamvention is at a busy time for me, and I didn't know if I was going to attempt to go or not.  I think I'm going to go, though, because I need stuff.

  1. New NMO mobile antenna setup
    My current mobile antenna is a few years old and not only is it showing it's age - the coax is pulling out from the magnet and I can see braid - it probably took damage when I wrecked my truck last October.  The truck is repaired, but the antenna currently has a VSWR of 3:1.  Not good.  I'm going to completely replace the antenna setup with a better one.
  2. Parts
    I'm not looking for any real radio equipment other than parts.  I have some specific needs (linear-taper variable resistors, etc), but nothing out of the ordinary.
  3. Arduino/Raspberry Pi/Beaglebone Black stuff
    Because you can't have too much!
  4. Test Equipment
    Generally, another scope or a spectrum analyzer is out of my price range, but if I happen to find one...

So I'll probably be at any Reddit or WATwitter meetups, and I'd assume the same location as last year.

Category: General Stuff

As what was on twitter last week, I took a vacation day on Friday and went up to the Hamvention.  I didn't buy much, just a small kit and a rockbound 6m FM rig. The radio was $5 (it makes it feel so much better to mention the price when talking about the fact that it is rockbound).

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The first thing I looked into was the 6m rig.  I plugged it into the power supply and a dummy load with a watt meter and hit the TX... nothing.  I even tried yelling and whistling into the microphone (which didn't - and shouldn't have - made a difference).

I took a look inside.  I figure there is at least $5 worth of parts in here, so it isn't a loss.  Or I could try to fix it, but I'm not sure that would be worth my time.

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The better part of Hamvention was meeting several twitter friends in person and catching up with a few local (and non-local) friends that I don't see often.  That definitely made it a good trip!


H/T to K0KDS for the pic!


Category: General Stuff

Tweetup: Meet your fellow "tweeps" at Hamvention.  11:00 AM both Friday and Saturday (and Sunday, if anyone wants to meet) at the Hara Arena Loading Dock.  This is the same location used for the past two years.  Meet near the drayage building to be in the shade (presuming it isn't raining).

Rain Plans: There is a 40% chance of rain on Friday, and a 30% chance of rain on Saturday.  Should it be really raining (not drizzling), we'll meet in section 30 of the main arena, although that may move.

Frequencies: There will be a talk-in frequency circulating via Twitter via DM.  It'll be somewhere on 70cm.


Click for a larger and more expanded picture.

Direct link to large map (right-click to save, sorry it isn't a PDF).

-73- and see you there!

Category: QSTs

Oh crap, that probably sounds bad.  Ah well.

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So my first find was a key.  It's nice, heavy, and probably has a history, which I added "purchased for $35 by KE8P" to.

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I found this.  For $165.  Like any normal ham that likes to push buttons and turn knobs, I turned it on, just to be greeted with it flashing "LOW VOLTAGE 6.5V".  I figured that was a sign that it probably works.

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And when I got it home, I found these in it.  Ten Energizer rechargeable batteries.

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So I removed the batteries and plugged in a wall wart.  I was greeted with "VOLTAGE OK 15V" and something like the display in the picture above.  I did check my dummy load, it claims it is around 50 ohms at 1-1.3 SWR.  Guess it works!

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Also included were these.  They are coils to use the analyzer as a dip meter.  I didn't really need these, as I built one (they're really quite simple).  My built version worked quite well for the coax traps on my attic trap dipole.

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So I did try it with my HF and 2m antennas...

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Not bad for the severe destruction of 5 clothes hangars

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My HF antenna isn't too bad on 2m...

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...and it does okay on 20 meters, too...

The third purchase was a case for my SoftRock

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The last thing I got was some fiberglass mast.  I didn't take a picture of that.


Category: Equipment

I didn't take as many pics as last year, but I did take some...

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The view walking in on Friday morning.

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A Commodore 64. The seller claims it still works. $10.

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The straight key I bought

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A tube tester.

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This is an odd find at a hamfest. This is a traffic signal controller.

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This was one of three similar go boxes made out of the same tackle box, most out of similar radios and tuners as well.

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The antenna analyzer I bought.

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VERY clean Hammarlund

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Very clean Imperial

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AM transmitter in restoration (front)

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AM transmitter in restoration (rear upper)

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AM transmitter in restoration (rear lower)


Category: General Stuff

This year is different from any of the past two years I've gone to Dayton. The first year I went to Dayton, I wanted a simple HF rig and knew my budget only supported something like a Radio Shack HTX-100. I bought two for $45. I also bought a power supply for it (an Astron RS-12).

Last year, I was looking for an LDG tuner for my IC-706. Found one for $85. I'm not even sure I bought anything else.

This year, my tastes are hopefully smaller.

  • A nice straight key... for a damn good price
  • The ARRL CW book that just came out... if it is a damn good price
  • Some air variable caps... I could use some smaller ones as well as some matching pairs for matching antennas
  • Maybe some tubes (for both a linear and potentially for a guitar amp for my brother-in-law)
  • Probably some other parts

Dayton's Friday through Sunday, and this blog post wouldn't be complete without a list of what will be in my bag.

  • An umbrella (maybe my raincoat)
  • A small notepad and pen
  • A small bag of snacks (last year, it was goldfish crackers)
  • My HT and headset
  • A backup battery for my phone
  • A bottle of water (disposable)
  • A towel (small)

Things I know I will buy:

  • A beer 🙂

Things I know I will get:

  • Another Dayton Pin
  • A Yaesu hat (if they have them)

Things to keep in the Truck

  • A bath towel... rain is expected!
  • A small cooler with ice and a few bottles of water

Other Stuff

Last year, there was a guy from Linux in the Hamshack. If he's there again, I may give them a donation since they did direct some traffic to my website (and that was totally unsolicited). I listen to their show far too seldom, and it is an interesting show.

Last year, I tried to make it a point to make it to some of the forums. This year I might, but probably not as much - I tried to attend the microcontrollers forum last year, there were no seats available in the oven... er, room... when I got there.

Category: Equipment

Rather than drone on about crap (literally), or new products, I figured I'd talk about what I did at the Hamvention.

My impression was just being shocked by the number of people in such a large space.  The last hamfest I was at was in 2002, and there were fewer people there than at the Icom booth at Hamvention.  That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is made.

I originally wanted to hit four forums.  I actually hit two: propagation and techniques of the best operators.  They were interesting.  I got there too late for 10 reasons to QRP (I already had the most important reason, and that was because I can't afford something better!).  I decided not to stay in the room for kitbuilding.

Most of my day was spent looking around the flea market.  I really wanted to bring home an HF rig.  After an hour or two of looking, I saw a lot of prices outside my price range, and then saw a table with a stack of two Radio Shack 10m rigs.  $45 for both, one works one for parts.  I couldn't resist.

Not the ones I bought, but the same model

Not the ones I bought, but the same model

With the two rigs stuffed in my backpack, I called my wife and asked her to do some research for me.  I need a power supply, since I have no intention of operating HF mobile (and I don't think my truck can power an additional rig).  She looked up the power specs and I set out in search of lunch and a power supply.

...well, power supply now, lunch later.  Those are some long lunch lines.

So, I made my way around the rest of the flea market, finding a power supply for $30.  Into the backpack.  Those things are HEAVY.

By this time, I did stop for lunch and got into a conversation with a ham from Syracuse (I think) and originally from Minnesota.  He told me about his antenna - a dipole attached to his deck eaves, something I will likely imitate once I build a deck.

Upon more looking around (and some of this, I don't know when I saw it), I did see a cool quad antenna made with PVC (another design I will likely imitate, since I need a decent antenna for 10m now).

I also walked off with a hamstick for 10m and a handful of connectors and antenna insulators.

When I got home, I began testing things, and even though I was in less than perfect testing conditions (if you saw the wire I was using for power, you'd understand that less than perfect part).  One of the rigs worked fine.  The other turns on but has no display.  I haven't diagnosed it, but when I get around to it, I plan on checking it against the known mods for the HTX-100, since the speaker lines were desoldered (not cut or ripped).

So now I have the Milford Hamfest to look forward to next month.

Category: Equipment

I am about to take my very first trip to the Dayton Hamvention (which is pretty bad, considering I live around an hour south of Dayton).  Since I've been off the air so long, I thought I'd take in some of the forums and maybe learn a thing or two.

The forum schedule is difficult for me to really look at and use when you look at the web version - it is a PDF sorted by day, then room, then time, so it is difficult to see when each forum is going on (and easy to think that you could go to two... until you realize both are in overlapping times).

So I went to Google Docs and converted the schedule to something that looks a little more like a television listing.  You can see it here.  I hope it helps others out.

Category: General Stuff
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