My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

At Hamvention 2014


The 2014 installment of the Hamvention was a memorable one.

I have been attending Hamvention regularly since 1978 and this year, we had some of the worst weather I have ever seen at Hamvention... even worse than when the event was held a month earlier when the potential for lousy weather was higher.

It rained, sleeted and hailed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Morning temps during those days started in the high 30's and did not get much above 50. I knew precipitation was in the forecast, but I did not expect it to be so cold and I did not dress appropriately. Luckily, I had a hoody to keep me warm when needed.

My family likes to watch my progress to and from Dayton via APRS, but I do not have a ham radio installed in my vehicle, so APRS was not an option. However, I do have an iPhone and there are some APRS apps for it. So I bought an app called OpenAPRS and it filled the bill as can be seen by my tracks as displayed on  above.

As I wrote in my previous blog post, "I always staff the TAPR booths on Hamvention Fridays and Saturdays, so if you make it to Hamvention this year, stop by... and say “Hi.” Well, at least one of you did just that: Dave = WA1OUI, who has been one of my most loyal readers and is also a long-time friend going back to the FM repeater wars of the 1970s. Dave was working in one of the ARRL booths just up the aisle and I returned the favor and stopped by his booth!

I ran into a lot of other old friends during the weekend --- not sure if they read this blog or not. Some showed up at the TAPR booth and some I bumped into on the convention floor; folks like Al = N8DHF, Bob = WB4APR, Craig = K1QX, Dave = K1ZZ, Guy = KC5GOI, Harold = WJ1B, Joe = K0NEB, Rich = W2VU, Steve = N8GNJ, Tom = K3IO and many others.

The TAPR booth was very busy all weekend, busier than its been at recent Hamventions probably because we had a lot to show this year. John = N8UR was showing his high precision timing projects, Jeremy = NH6Z and Scotty = WA2DFI were demonstrating SDR, Mike = No-Call-Yet had his HackRF attracting a lot of attention, Chris = KD2BMH was with his WhiteBox SDR handheld transceiver, and there was a big crew staffing the digital voice demo. I fielded packet radio and APRS questions and filled in at the cash register and elsewhere while others took breaks.

Touring the Hamvention floor on Saturday, I stopped by the booth of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers. Since I dabble in both radio and astronomy, I thought that the booth would have something that interested me and I walked away with a radio telescope kit to receive signals from Jupiter, the Sun and the galactic plane. I will have more to say about this after I build the kit and get it on the air.

I hate the drive to and from Dayton, but I am already looking forward to doing it again next year!

Monday, May 12, 2014

About 750 miles west


As I mentioned here last month, I will attend Hamvention in Dayton, Ohio, this weekend.

This has become an almost annual trip ever since my former boss at ARRL headquarters, Ellen White, W1YL, pushed me out the door at 225 Main Street to attend my first Hamvention in 1978.

I estimate that I have attended about 30 Hamventions in the ensuing 36 years (I should have kept a log), which is kind of impressive since it is not a local event. Rather, it entails traveling about 750 miles west over some of the most boring Interstates (I won’t mention numbers) this side of the Mississippi River.

I have a lot of great memories and a lot of amusing stories – some of which were not so amusing at the time – from those 30-some visits. The opportunity to meet the superstars and makers and shakers of ham radio in person is a real treat as is the opportunity to get reacquainted with ham radio friends from around the world, who all show up in mid-May in the Gem City. (That’s me in the photo above at the 2009 Hamvention meeting Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL, the first person to operate ham radio from space .)

I have been attached to TAPR for some time now, originally as just a card-carrying member, but eventually becoming their newsletter editor, secretary and a director on their board. And I always staff the TAPR booths on Hamvention Fridays and Saturdays, so if you make it to Hamvention this year, stop by our booths (numbers 451 through 454) just down the aisle from the ARRL and say “Hi.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Up in the Air

If you subscribe to the online edition of CQ, be sure to check out the article by Joe Eisenberg, K0NEB, in the CQ Plus portion of the May issue (CQ Plus only appears in the online edition). In “The Blue Yonder is Wild, Indeed, When DXing the FM Broadcast Band,” Joe discusses listening to FM and AM broadcast stations while flying in a commercial jet airliner.

This is something I have always wanted to do, but have not had the opportunity to do because I seldom travel by air. Joe’s article is a good read; it answered questions and confirmed a lot of thoughts I had on the subject.

Thursday, May 1, 2014



The mystery station that I monitored Tuesday evening on 94.5 MHz was a little stronger Wednesday evening on the C.Crane CC Pocket AM/FM/WX Radio and C.Crane CCRadio 2E Enhanced; strong enough to be able to understand some of the chatter in between songs. Near the top of the hour (2257 UTC), I clearly heard the station identification: WERB, which is located at the Berlin (Connecticut) High School, 10 miles east, transmitting a mere 24 Watts!

I also logged WNSH on 94.7 MHz earlier in the day (1647 UTC) on my car radio. The country and western station was transmitting 23.5 kW from Newark, NJ, 90 miles west-southwest.