Posts Tagged ‘hamfests’

If you get a chance

And are close to the Central New Jersey area this Saturday, please make sure to stop by the annual Raritan Valley Radio Club hamfest this Saturday morning.  We are located in the parking lot of the Piscataway High School on Behmer Road in Piscataway, NJ.

We are conveniently located, not far at all from Rte. 287, the New Jersey Turnpike, Rte. 1 or Rte. 78.

The hamfest has been “gaining steam” over the past few years, and turnout by vendors and sellers has been on the increase every year.  This year should be no exception. In addition to all the “stuff” that will be up for sale, there is usually some kind of neat demonstration of something going on, as well as VE testing. As a special treat, Alan W2AEW is usually in attendance, so if you’re a fan of his oscilloscope and test equipment videos on YouTube, there’s a pretty good chance you’d get the opportunity to meet and chat with him.

My main duties for the day will be to assist with parking cars and serving as a VE. But I’ll probably have the KX3 in the car, so if you want, and if you twist my arm gently, I could be persuaded to demo the KX3 along with my drive on mast mount and the PAR. Or, if you’d like to just shoot the breeze about QRP for a while, I’d be more than willing to accommodate.

The weather forecast for Saturday is in a word, BEAUTIFUL!  If you’d like more info, be sure to visit fest.htm.

Hope to see you there!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least.

Not quite Dayton

But I’m willing to lay down a bet that they didn’t have one of THESE there! And no, it wasn’t for sale!

I went to the OMARC Hamfest this morning – the hamfest for the Ocean Monmouth Amateur Radio Club.  Their club facilities and the hamfest are located on the grounds of Project Diana, which is located at the site of Camp Evans of  Fort Monmouth in Wall Township, NJ . Project Diana was the Signal Corps project to conduct the first ever EME transmissions – back in 1946. 
Actually this was not the first antenna.  The first one looked like this (below) and was immovable and EME attempts could only be made when the moon was in a certain part of the sky.
The steerable antenna came later; and has been restored as you can see in the first two pictures above.
And while the hamfest was small, it was somewhat of a success for me.  I purchased a nice looking DMM for $20.  I have a Radio Shack DMM, but the Analog to Digital Converter chip in it has a very annoying lag time.  You put the probe tips on the measuring point, and you literally have to wait a few seconds for the display to give you a voltage reading.  This meter that I purchased today, a Protek Model 6100 reads much faster.  Yeah, it’s not a Fluke, but then again I don’t own Begali paddles, either.
I also bought a T-shirt and a couple of Amateur Radio Active stickers.  

A large one to tack onto the shack door and a small one to slap on my tool box.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

You know it’s Dayton weekend when ……

the traffic on the e-mail reflectors goes down to practically nil.

But the advent of social media, especially Twitter means that we get news and views of new equipment all that much faster.

Jeff KE9V and others have been tweeting great photos of various things all day. TJ, W0EA has been putting video log reports on YouTube.

If you can’t be there, this is almost as good, thanks to the efforts of these fine gentlemen.

So far, I’ve seen great photos of TenTec’s new Rebel, which is a dual band rig featuring open source firmware for experimentation. For comprehensive details, visit “The QRPer” – the link is to the right.

Jeff KE9V also posted images of TenTec’s new auto tuner and some images of the new CrankIR portable antennas.  Jeff also tweeted a mouthwatering photo of a lineup of Bengali keys.

With all the goodies available, maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t make it out to Dayton. I probably would have come home a much poorer man.

I am going to get up early and take a ride to the OMARC hamfest in Wall Township, NJ tomorrow morning. It’s definitely not Hamvention, but it will be fun, anyway. There’s not anything that I have a real pressing need for, but it’s always good to stock up on PL-259s, power connectors, and things like that. Who knows? There’s always the chance to find a hidden treasure.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Dayton = NEW STUFF!!!!

This is a great idea from Ten-Tec which was introduced at Dayton....I give you the QRPer blog he has done a stellar preview. Check it out and get the grey matter excited!!

Your first rig

Bob KK4DPN commented on my X1M review, and in addition to asking some questions about the issues I’ve had on some of the bands he states:  I’m looking to get into HF and this seems like a good thing to start out with, just to get a feel for it.

The Rocketeer, flickr

The Rocketeer, flickr

As a relatively new Ham myself, I went through what I have started to refer to as the standard Technician progression, or STP.  As a newly licensed Tech, I purchased an inexpensive HT.  Then, as I got a taste of being able to talk to people, but constant bad-signal reports, I got a mobile antenna for the HT.  More repeaters were now within my range, but I was still getting bad signal reports.  Next, came a mobile VHF rig, followed by a dual band one.  On the HF side, I purchased a 10 Meter mobile, and then a vintage Atlas 210X (as a General).

So many new Hams go through this same progression.  There’s a reluctance for some of us to invest $300 in equipment for a new hobby, until we play a bit.  For those of us that fit the hobby well, the HTs give us a taste of something better.  It’s the same with the HF side.  I bought the 10 Meter mobile used for about $100, because it was the only band I could use with my license.  Once I had some success with that (my first contact was trans-Atlantic!), I was motivated to get my General ticket.

I’ve mentioned before too, that I like to write about the frugal side of Ham Radio.  This is mostly because at this point in my life, I have collected several dependents  and obligations that take priority, and partly because, I’m Frugal! (There, I said it).  KD2 CHE is the same way with her sewing though.

Thinking along these lines, I’d like to explain why I bought an old Atlas 210X as my first multi-band HF rig.  After reading about them, it seemed like a good combination of size, power, cost, and ease-of-use.  A good working 210X can go for less than $200, and has a pretty small footprint.  Output is 200 Watts PEP (120 on 10M) on sideband.  People universally complain about the CW performance, but for now, I’m not using CW.  I’ve logged contacts all over Eastern, and Western Europe on the thing, as well as South America, and Western US.  Operation is VERY simple, and pretty forgiving of someone with little antenna tuning experience.

My recommendations for an HF rig for a new ham, who doesn’t want to spend a ton of dollars are as follows:

  • Don’t buy a QRP rig as your first rig.  QRP operation requires some skill, and can be frustrating if you’re just looking to rag-chew, or even just log some interesting stations.  Wait until you have a more powerful rig first, and get a little more familiar with HF.  I think a QRP rig as your first rig may give you a bad taste of what it’s all about.  Don’t get me wrong though.  The challenge of QRP is great fun.  I guess the analogy is that it would be like going off on a wilderness survival weekend as a first camping trip.
  • Go with a decent used rig.  There’s lots of great rigs in the $300-500 range at hamfests.  If you have some friends with more experience, ask around for recommendations, and look at the eHam reviews.  Plan on spending a little extra for a tune-up, and accessories (like a good antenna tuner).  100 Watts will get you started with enough power to talk all over the world.  My record so far is Namibia from Long Island.
  • If you really want a new rig, there are a few sub-$1000 rigs that get decent reviews.  The Alinco DX-SR8T can be picked up for just over $500 from several of the online Ham retailers.  The Icom IC-718  runs in the low to mid $700 range, and the Yaesu FT-857D is in the mid $800 range.
  • You CAN go even lower than $300 as I did, but your choices are limited.  In my case, I have a rig that doesn’t do the WARC bands, and is missing quite a few features that even the lowest priced radios have.  I love the simplicity of it though.   I can see continuing to use it even after I get something more sophisticated.

As more and more people discover this old pastime, I hope they discover all of the aspects of it.  Next for me is digital modes.  I’m really looking forward to getting that up and running on the Xiegu X1M, and a Raspberry Pi.  More to follow…


Show Notes #087


  • Promo: Ohio LinuxFest 2012 will be held September 28-30, 2012, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
  • LHS community sends their good wishes to the victims and their families in Aurora, CO.
  • Our hosts recommend Etherpad for collaborative document editing.


  • Ham Holiday Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 27-28, 2012, Biltmore Hotel.
  • Texas Linux Fest, San Antonio, Texas, August 3-4, 2012, Norris Conference Center.
  • Texoma Hamarama Ardmore, Oklahoma, October 26-27, 2012, Exit 33 – I-35: Ardmore Convention Center.
  • Watch the Events Schedule on the LHS website for more events!
  • Click the Amabassadors link on the website and volunteer to be an LHS Amabassador at a Linux or ham-related event.
  • 20th annual Gainesville Hamfest Gainesville, Texas, Saturday, August 25, 2012, Civic Center.
  • Joplin Hamfest, Joplin, Missouri, August 24-25, 2012, Holiday Inn Convention Center. Look for Russ and Cheryl!
  • Russ is anxiously waiting for delivery of two (okay, three) Raspberry Pi computers. Call the LHS voice line 909-547-7469, or send an email to [email protected], and tell Russ what to do with his Rasperry Pis. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right, but you get the drift.


  • Bruce, VE2GZI, writes to express his appreciation for the episode about GNU-Radio (Episode 84). It inspired him to try getting it to work under Linux Mint 11, but it’s been a struggle, and he asks for help. Russ managed to compile it on Linux Mint Debian Edition. Jlindsay in the chat room said he ignored the build script, and just did a cmake and make. Also make sure you have the proper version of portaudio installed. Bruce also tells us he’s waiting for his Hong Kong Dongle. ’nuff said.
  • Scott, N9LJX, says he’s always had trouble with rig control, via Hamlib, and his FT-900, and wonders if that’s been improved. He’s happy to hear that yfktest works with Winkey USB. Russ looked at the Hamlib website about Yaesu radios, and saw the status listed as “.1 untested”, which indicates poor, if any, support for that radio. Richard suggests avoiding the USB or USB-to-serial adapter. Instead, buy an inexpensive serial port card for the computer and connect the radio to a real serial port.
  • Someone in the chat room asked about a good personal cloud storage solution. Russ likes ownCloud. and has described it in episode 9 of his QSK Netcast.
  • Jeremy, KB7QOA, sends a long email thanking us for the show, discussing his gradual move toward Linux, and wonders if he could have a version of the podcast without the music. Well, Jeremy, if you’re willing to subscribe to the show, you’ll soon have the option of a music-free feed.
  • Grant, AA9LC, has embarked on a project to establish a Linux computer in his hamshack. He met Russ at the recent Dayton Hamvention, and has been trying to boot the LHS disc he received there, but it wants a username and password. He’s also tried Linux Mint 11 and is “mostly impressed.” As the disc contains nothing more than Linux Mint Debian Edition, Russ suggests the username may be one of “root”, “mint”, or “linuxmint”, and no password. However, it should boot directly into a “live” mode desktop without ever asking for a username or password. If that doesn’t help, Grant, let us know and provide a few more details about when you’re asked for the username and password. Russ and Richard also provide some hints about managing sound card audio.
  • Look for Russ on Episode 124 of the Mintcast.

Contact Info:


LHS Episode #087: King Jeremy the Wicked

Hello, listeners! Welcome to the 87th installment of Linux in the Ham Shack. The past couple of episodes have been full of interviews, logic, and information. In short, we’ve totally jumped off our normal bandwagon. In order to fix that, we’ve put together an episode that contains a lot of banter, insight, musing, laughing, music and good times. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find information on Linux, Open Source software, ham radio logging applications, answers to listener feedback, compile instructions for source builds and mention of a secret recording where Russ takes over another podcast and rules the world. Make sure to listen from beginning to end. You’re not going to want to miss a single second.

73 de The LHS Guys

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