Archive for the ‘Hamfests’ Category

Dayton Hamvention Comedy Bits

June 5, 2012

One of the things I enjoy the most about going to Hamvention with my group of friends is the funny things that go on. Kennie KC8BBU, Mark KB8RBT, Missy KB8VFK, and Doug KD8EZD are great friends. We have been going to Dayton as a group for about 6 years now. It all started when I lived within a few miles of them in Southern Ohio. When I moved away we continued the tradition and it became a reunion of sorts each spring.

Anyway as with most groups of friends the ribbing abounds and it never stops. Of course someone falls asleep in a chair at sometime over the weekend. This year it was Missy. Of course I took a pic with my cell phone. I posted it on Facebook for her birthday with a comment about getting old. My 50th is coming up in a few months so there will no doubt be retribution!

One of the guys made a comment about not being able to find the flush button in the Port o let. He was quickly instructed to look under the horizontal cover that was below him. Of course he couldn’t find it!

A couple of weeks before Hamvention, Pam my YL was trimming the Ivy at the back of the house. She accidentally cut a section of RG-8X that runs to my VHF/UHF antenna. I told her we would be able to get some replacement cable At Dayton. On Friday Doug bought a spool of 300 feet of 7/8′ Heliax. When Pam showed up On Saturday with me she was told that they had bought the replacement cable for her. Of course her eyes bulged when she saw the size of the cable. The running joke all day was how we were going to lift the spool so we could put it on top of my compact car for the ride home.

Kennie had some PC’s on the flea market table without Hard Drives. One brilliant person after looking at them ask a question. “What operating system do these have?” The ensuing explanation of how a computer works provided a whole weekend of snappy comebacks “yeah but what operating system do they have?”

The best bit of the weekend I got second hand. The group was on their way home on Friday night. As they passed a local dairy/restaurant operation. Mark asked what they were going to have for dinner. Doug very dryly said that he wanted Ice Cream as he pointed to the dairy place going by. The rest of the way home Doug commented on how he really wanted ice cream. When they passed a small Ice Cream stand near home later, Mark almost put Doug out of the vehicle as he brought it up again. We ended up at the original place on Saturday evening for our group dinner. Of course we had the delicious Ice Cream! Check out Young’s Jersey Dairy if you are interested.

Good friends make a hamfest so much better!



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

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!


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