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Hamvention Goodies-CW Touch Keyer

I almost forgot to mention one of the more interesting “goodies” I picked up at this year’s Hamvention.

If anyone has fond memories of the Heathkit 5010 uMatic keyer, here’s the ticket. Its the CW Touch Keyer. The touch keyer is a set of capacitive paddles mated to a keyer.

I came very close to missing this entirely. Their booth was in plain sight on the floor of the arena, but I didn’t spend much time there. On a last minute walk through, we noticed their display, and began playing with the samples. Hooked! Sold! Cha-CHING!

They also sell the capacitive paddles board as aseparateitem, and that is the option I chose. I plunked down the cash for the P3 kit, because I’m not sure yet how I’d like the paddles configured. I’ve never liked using paddles. Iambic paddlesaggravatethe arthritic/carpal tunnel in my hand, even more than a straight key. My paddle “fist” really sucks. I don’t know that this will help any, but for only $20 USD, it is sure worth trying. Heck, it was worth the twenty just for the novelty factor – many folks won’t remember the heathkit keyer. I didn’t at first, but after a memory jog by NT4D, I remember seeing a set of these back in the days of my yoot’. I’d never actually used a set, but remembered seeing them.

The P3 kit went together in a few minutes of solder smoke. After initial testing, I now need to decide how to […]

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Field Day Anyone?

Yup, time to start making a list and checking it twice. You never know who will be naughty or nice.

Being prepared is good. Hopefully, your preparations need only last a couple of days.

2008 CQ WPX CW

Class: SOAB LP QTH: NC Operating Time (hrs): 2 Summary: Band QSOs ———— 160: 0 80: 6 40: 15 20: 20 15: 0 10: 0 ———— Total: 41 Prefixes = 39 Total Score = 5,343

Not much scoring, not many QSO’s, but a nice little shake down cruise for the K2.

I only had a few minutes here and there between the weekend’s real activity, painting the bedroom and playing musical chairs with the furniture. But the K2 is a very good radio for CW S&P operating. I now have heard it myself. The K2 separates signals very well, and when tuning past them, the loud signals really drop out more sharply than with the FT-920.

In the early evening, between 2300Z and 2400Z, the US West Coast was very loud and the Europeans were still workable. I can’t remember the last time that has happened, but I know it has been at least a couple of years. Maybe conditions will be better for the 2009 contest season.

Hamvention 2008 – Here and Gone

Well, the 2008 Hamvention and Dayton Ohio have both passed into the rear view mirror. Here’s my gray matter dump.

I had the great pleasure to meet and speak briefly with John Hendricks, KI6DS the owner of Hendricks QRP kits. John introduced and had available for sale the new PFR3 XCVR kit. This kit is a very good value for a QRP rig, having three bands(40m, 30m, 20m) and including a built in tuner for convenient field use. It appears to be a really fun and relatively simple construction project, and the kit includes all of the parts required including a very well done enclosure. The highlight was actually speaking with John, who I would dare say really enjoys meeting people. John is a teacher and basketball coach, and I expect that his students don’t yet realize how lucky they are to have a guy like that pass through their lives.


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Hamvention Day 3

Saturday was a good flea market sweep day. We made up for lost time in the flea market area, and got past most of the rows of tailgators. (There is actually a pub out in Miamisburg called “tailgators”). I mostly picked up some small parts, but I also found some PC board in the Far Circuits tent.

I’m not sure I understand the appeal of all of the rows upon rows of old Motorola HT’s, but they seem to have become the permanent fixture of the flea market, so I guess either someone is actually buying them or someone has a tractor trailer load to get rid of.

Today is chill day, and a quick run to any remaining parts vendors for a few last minute small parts buys. We will get there a bit later, and leave after the prize drawings.

So far the best buy was a roll of 10 conductor 22ga beldin control cable for $20. Had to hop the bus to drop that off in the vehicle!

The bus service is much better this year than the first time I tried it out. The closer parking lot looked to be too much a mud pit on day one, so we parked at the old Shiloh Springs Mall and hopped the RTA bus. Hamvention has contracted the bus service from the pro’s, and its been working great for me.

FT-920 Roofing Filter Mod

I see that Inrad has released the FT-920 roofing filter mod as ready to ship. I didn’t find their booth in Dayton yesterday, hopefully I will today(actually must have walked right past!). The mod is listed as $200 on their price list.

I don’t know that I can get one very soon, but my reason for keeping the 920 was to compare it to the Elecraft K2 under contest conditions. It would be interesting to do the testing as A/B/C to get a general idea of just how discernible any improvements might be, before roofing filter/after roofing filter.

I suspect the roofing filter may narrow the performance gap quite a bit, maybe even enough that it becomes a choice of which radio to keep. I’ll be especially curious how much it helps on SSB. There are enough loud stations within a couple of miles of me that it should be easy to arrange a test.

Hamvention Day 2

Getting set to head out. Yesterday started with a drizzle and ended up clear and sunny.

We got an up-close look at a few gizmo’s. The Tokyo amps look like a really nice set of boxes. We saw into the guts of the K3. Everybody getting off the bus stopped to gawk at the SteppIr with the three trombone elements. Cool. We chatted up Carl about his really cool N4PY rig control software, which I’m thinking about buying for the K2. The FlexRadio folks gave us a run-down on the flex radio.

We social climbed with a stroll through “EGO Alley”, where all of the big gunz shop. Huge Tic ring rotors, etc.

Our all radio geek day ended with a visit to the FDIM QRP groups’s Vendor night. Good stuff there too.

More today!

Rain, Rain Go Away

Looking a little gray in Dayton. Bleh.

I sure hope there are some clear spots, at least enough to allow the flea market to exist temporarily. Not too sure parking in the mud pit is a good idea either!

Live Vicariously

Not getting to Hamvention in Dayton? Not to worry!

For those who can’t get to the Hamvention in person, there is always the WA5KUB Monkey Cam. Tom’s site now has a chat window, so all of us who wish we were there can ask questions and just be general nuisances to one another. Pretty cool.

The Hamvention in Dayton is a great deal of fun. Make the trip with two or three like minded radio geeks and you will have an enjoyable time. There are outside events such as FDIM, the nightly contest super suites, the Saturday contester’s dinner(pre-order for that one!) and various presentations through the days at Hamvention inside the Hara buildings. And the Mother of All Hamfest Fleamarkets. Hourly door prize drawings, plus the big final day prize drawings. And hams from all parts of the world, especially the US, Canada and Mexico. If you get bored, you probably are not a ham….

If you have never been to the Dayton Hamvention, and may never be able to make it, all is not lost. In the internet age, you can still experience Hamvention vicariously. So for a bit of the flavor of Hamvention, check out some of Tom’s photo’s from 2005 here, from 2006, and mixed photos from prior years Hamventions.

Better yet, hitch a ride and see for yourself.


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No Contest College For Me….


Well, I won’t get to the Contest College this year, but Hamventioning is officially underway. Expect blackout to be in effect until May 20th. There’s stuff in the pipeline, but not much.

If you are reading this, then my last minute Hamvention adventure is officially begun. I’ll be snapping photos, but they probably won’t be organized and posted before labor day.

An unexpected confluence of events has set me off to Dayton two years earlier than I planned to go again. Many thanks to my wife for her willingness to be rid of me for the better part of a week. (Thanks sweety!)