Archive for May, 2012

FDIM 2012 musings

May 31, 2012

Well as things slow down a bit around here I have been thinking about the fun at FDIM. So many good things went on.

I met up first thing with 3 local QRP fans. Ron N8VAR, Larry N8QNM, and Jim AB8YK. I sat with them thru the seminars and had lunch with their friends. They responded to my email about forming a breakfast/lunch QRP group in the Dayton Springfield area. There were others who responded so I will try to set a day soon for our post-Dayton get together. It was nice to meet other QRPers and we have other things in common too.

I have been thumbing thru the Conference Proceedings book and thinking back to the presentations.  Wow, what a great group of presentations! The range of topics was great. Though some didn’t really apply to things I do, there was lots of good info in each. It must be difficult to spread the presentations over a range that will appeal to as many operators as possible. As can be seen by the attendance going up, they are doing a good job. The room was standing room only for the whole day. The only thing is, I am coming up with questions on the presentations now weeks after the event. I will be shooting some emails out soon!

Rex shows how to ready a soldering iron tip for use

The Buildathon was a big hit as usual. Rex did a fine job of coaxing us thru the building process. I will put up a whole post on the Buildathon soon. Suffice it to say, Rex and his crew of volunteers are excellent! Below is the semi finished product. A soldering/work station for QRP builders. There is a holder for a roll of solder that I need to finish yet.

Zed admiring my handiwork

After the Buildathon was vendor night #1. What a great crowd of exhibits and browsers. I spent a lot of time drooling over some of the gear I saw. If only I had bottomless pockets! I did get to spend a few minutes with Ed WA3WSJ at his table. I have enjoyed following his exploits on the trail by email. I hope to work him soon. Maybe today as he is on the trail to Pulpit Rock, PA. for so /PM operating. I did pick up his books on disk for my NOOK. One is finished and I am about half way thru the second. I will review them when I am finished.

Ed WA3WSJ Presenting

I also me Jim K8IQY and talked a little about my upcoming 2N2-40 build. A very nice chap. The home brew competition was great this year. Who knows maybe I will enter next year. That means someone else is guaranteed to win. I picked up some building supplies and saw all the new Hendrick’s stuff. Again a top notch event.

I am already looking forward to 2013. If you have never been you really need to make plans!

NOOK Tablet for Ham Radio (and other uses)

May 27, 2012

What is it?

A while back there was an email thread on QRP-L that was about E-Readers for Radio use. I had been giving that some thought since I am not a smart phone guy and my Dell Axim handheld was the equivalent of a boat anchor. So I read what everybody said and did lots of independent research. My budget was around $250 and I was not interested in an Ipad. I looked into the various Android Tabs, Kindle Fire, and the NOOK Tablet. My basic requirements are listed below.

  • Portable but not more than handheld size
  • WiFi capable
  • Extra storage available
  • Ability to side load data from my PC
  • Basic Apps available
  • Ham apps nice but not necessary
  • Good battery life
  • Ability to read e-books in multiple formats

I opted for the NOOK Tablet for meeting all of the above requirements and because the YL already had a NOOK Simple Touch. She liked the book selection available and we had the ability to share certain items between our NOOK’s. She had been storing recipes in PDF format from Cute PDF and it handled the nicely. Price wise I was able to obtain my 8GB NOOK Tablet for around $150 with discounts. That left me $100 for more radio stuff!

I have had the NT since mid April and have been impressed so far. It is light enough that i can carry it in my hand or in my lunch bag without too much trouble. The screen is bright and clear with nice color. The dual processors make it pretty fast. I am not one to watch a lot of video so the slower speed due to the 8GB RAM is not on issue for me. Initially I found no issues with the NT. The only downside so far is that you can only get apps from NOOK. It will not run all Android apps. This has something to do with the user interface that is used. It has not been a real issue as I am not an app snob, but it is worth mentioning.

NOOK and cover.

Above is a Picture of the NT in a cover I made for it. I used an idea from Intstructables for this. I cut the inside of a book out. (Nice title for a ham) Glued felt inside of the cover. Installed an elastic band to keep it closed like a Moleskine Notebook. Attached the “fingers” side of Velcro to the back of the NT and then stuck it directly to the felt. Works like a charm. Not only protects the NT but makes it a little less likely to be stolen. Who would want to steal a book on solid state troubleshooting? You might wonder if the Velcro is strong enough to hold the NT. At Hamvention I was showing it to a friend. She was trying to take it out of the cover and actually pulled the NT off of it’s back cover! She was trying to take it out by pulling up on the edge of the NT. So now I know how to open it up. Maybe some mods are in the offing?

Speaking of Hamvention, while there I noticed another drawback. The color display is a little hard to read in the bright sunshine. I had my shopping list on a spreadsheet and I had to turn up the brightness all the way to see it well in the sun. It is usable but I am sure the battery life would be diminished if I used it long term that way. I picked up some E-books from Ed Brensiser WA3WSJ on Pedestrian mobile operation. What you see in the picture below is the front page of one of his books, “Amateur Radio and the Great Outdoors.”


Ed’s Book

I was just wondering…

May 24, 2012

I was looking at my page here and I noticed I have a lot of followers (150+) but it doesn’t tell me who. If you are following me please post a comment or drop me an email at Also I’m on Twitter at @w8vzmron. Thanks!

Waking up with a FDIM/Hamvention Hangover!

May 24, 2012

Wow! What a weekend! It’s over for another year and boy I am on overload. Well, not any more. A week ago FDIM was just starting and everyone was excited. I and about 20,000 other hams were at a flat out run for four days to take in as much as we could. It has taken a few days to get back into the normal routine. I still haven’t been through all of my plunder or got it put away. There is a pile of stuff on my bench. I have a bunch of reading material, and the obligatory Yaesu hat.  Hopefully I can get moving through it this weekend. I also have about 20 topics for blog posts. So get ready!

The weather was great! For the first year since I’ve been going to Dayton again (2007), the weather was dry all weekend. The temps were perfect and there was no volcano of sewage! Lots of new friends were made and I caught up with some old friends. The YL came with me on Saturday and marveled at all the Geeks! She paid for my Buildthon at FDIM. There will be a post about that great experience soon. The crowd appeared to be larger than last year. The flea market also seemed to have more vendors, at least on Friday and Saturday. We had a mix up by the Flea Market staff who placed someone in two of our spaces on Thursday night late. They straightened it out pretty quickly on Friday morning and the rest of the weekend went pretty smoothly. Great dinner on Saturday night with close friends. Sunday went by without a hitch.

Dayton next year is on the calendar already. I have already decided that I will take the Monday after off from work to recuperate. I am not as young as I used to be! More to follow!

FDIM Midday update.

May 17, 2012

FDIM continues to be awesome! After lunch with some local QRPers. Grayson Evans TA2ZGE/KJ7UM, gave a great presentation on tube (Thermatron) building. He is a funny guy and shared alot of info. I feel a little bit awkward as my hair is mostly brown. I am sitting in a sea of grey heads!  The only hiccup so far is with the mens room. There are 4 sinks and 1 pump bottle of hand soap. I am glad to have hand sanitizer with me! Up next WA3WSJ’s presentation on pedestrian mobile operation. Later this evening is the Buildathon.


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