Category Archives: Hamvention

QRP Labs new QCX+ QRP CW/WSPR transceiver kit

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

QRP Labs has just announced the QCX+ which as the name implies is an upgraded version of the very popular QCX line of transceivers

To date almost 10,000 kits have been sold, here’s a brief overview of the the differences and new features made to this popular Transceiver.

The QCX+ is the almost same circuit as the QCX, with two very minor changes. QCX+ runs the same firmware as QCX, and has identical operational and performance characteristics. QCX/QCX+ firmware will always be compatible with both the QCX and QCX+. The evolution of QCX to QCX+ provides several improved features in physical layout, as follows:

1) Physical layout of controls and connectors

2) Optional enclosure

3) Additional and changed connectors

4) More spacious PCB, more than double the board area, with less densely packed components, and more test/modification points

5) Improved heatsinking

6) Three minor circuit changes

7) No microswitch key

Price has gone up slightly to $55, still no other QRP Transceiver on the market today comes close to the features offered by the QCX+ at this price point.

More Info:

https://qrp-labs.com/qcxp.html

Thank you so much Pete! You’re an enabler! Since I’m not at Hamvention right now, those radio bucks are burning a hole in my pocket. The QCX+ looks like a fun transceiver to build! Thanks for the tip.

Missing Hamvention? Yeah, me too.

My friend Piero Begali (I2RTF) winner of the 2019 Hamvention Technical Achievement Award.

Note that I originally published this post on the SWLing Post:

If we weren’t all in the midst of a global pandemic, today I would be at the first day of the 2020 Hamvenion in Xenia, OH.

Since I would not be hosting a table for ETOW this year, I was going to Hamvention for the first time on Press credentials. While I absolutely loved hosting the ETOW table with my friends and fellow volunteers, I was certainly looking forward to being a bit of a free agent this year and visiting vendors and friends with no time pressures. This would have also given me much more time to do live postings.

For me, Hamvention is first and foremost an excuse to hang with good friends I only typically see once a year. Between Hamvention and several other associated events like the QRPARCI’s Four Days In May, I connect with hundreds of people. It can be a bit daunting–even draining to this “socially adept” introvert–but I still love it and look forward to it every year.

One of my favorite things to do at Hamvention is to see what new innovations individuals and companies have introduced. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the “mom-and-pop” innovators in our radio community and Hamvention is certainly one of those places where they showcase their goods.

Of course, I love the Hamvention flea market–easily one of the largest outdoor hamfest flea markets in the world. Although I have found some outstanding deals at the Hamvention flea market in the past–like my BC-348-Q ($40) and Panasonic RF-2200 ($70)–I’m more likely to find that obscure rig or accessory I’ve been looking for rather than a proper bargain.

This year, I would have kept my eye out for a Kenwood TR-9000 or TR-9130 VHF transceiver.

The Kenwood “Trio” TR-9130

I’ve seen the TR-9000 and TR-9130 at past Hamvention flea markets–a near ideal place to locate vintage transceivers like these. (On that note, contact me if you have one you’d like to sell!) ūüôā

I would have also been on the lookout for classic shortwave portables, of course, and accessories like enclosures, antennas, Powerpole connectors, coax, ladder line, and wire. Many of these I would only buy new.

2020 might not have been a great flea market year anyway. The weather forecast calls for quite a bit of rain and possibly thunder storms over the weekend. Likely, the flea market grounds would have been a bit wet and muddy thus less vendors would have shown up.

See you next year!

Calling off Hamvention made sense this year. Even if state restrictions would have allowed for a gathering of 30,000 people, I imagine turnout would have been anemic at best. The typical Hamvention attendee also happens to be the target demographic of the Coronavirus. Many would have not wanted to take the risk. I doubt there would have much of any international attendees or vendors there either.

You can bet I’ll be at Hamvention next year and you can bet I’ve already started my shopping list! If the pandemic is no longer an issue, I willing to bet Hamvention might have a record year in 2021. I look forward to finding out in person!

National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

IMG_20160519_105823050_HDR

En route to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention, I’m doing a few National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations with my my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF).

Eric is currently the number one activator in the state of Ohio.

NPOTA is a great excuse to get outdoors and play radio.

For me, it’s a great excuse to test the LNR Precision LD-11 and my new QRP Ranger portable power pack.

IMG_20160519_101759179

I am loving the new QRP Ranger power pack–it is the solution I decided on after publishing this post a few weeks ago. It’s a little pricey, but it’s built like a tank, very lightweight, includes a charge controller made specifically for the LiFePo cells, and made here in the USA. It also had a very readable LED display that my buddy Eric says is, “reminiscent of the displays on the Apollo 11 module.” He’s kind of right!

It’s so nice to have both a volmeter and ammeter on the front panel.

IMG_20160519_111039495

 

We just finished activating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (I’m writing this post while Eric drives us to our next activation). I made 12 contacts running SSB at 8 watts. Eric made 16 contacts via CW at 5 watts.

We have planned two more activations this afternoon:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument at 16:30 UTC
  • Dayton Aviation Herital National Historical Park at 21:00 UTC

I’ll be calling CQ on 14.290 MHz and 7.290 MHz +/-.

Please hop on the air listen and/or answer my call if you’re a ham!

Of course, tomorrow through Sunday, you can find us at the Dayton Hamvention in booth SA0359 in the Silver Arena.

Hope to see you there!

The Elecraft KX2 : a “Fit-In-Your-Pocket size” transceiver

On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.
On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.

Since I own the Elecraft KX3, Elecraft K2 and the Elecraft KX1, I’m excited to see that Elecraft has announced¬†a new addition to their product line:¬†the Elecraft KX2. Elecraft will feature the KX2¬†at Four Days In May (FDIM) and the Dayton Hamvention.

I am attending vendor’s night at FDIM and the full Dayton Hamvention.¬†I will post photos of the KX2 here–follow updates by bookmarking the tag KX2.

Full details from the Elecraft press release, via Southgate ARC, below:

Elecraft-Logo

(Source: Southgate ARC)

New KX2 radio to be announced this Thursday at the Dayton Hamvention 2016

Hello to all,

We are please to announce a new radio to complement the KX3 and the KX-Line.  Here are the details.

What:  Elecraft announces the KX2, Ultra-portable radio
When:  Thursday, May 16th, 1300Z
Where:  Four Days In May QRP event, part of the Dayton Hamfest activities

Elecraft is excited to announce a new radio targeting the Ultra-portable market with a Fit-In-Your-Pocket size.  Please see the attached brochure for details.

Pricing
РKX2:  $749.00

РOptions and accessories:  Please see the table below for pricing.  Also see the FAQ for details.

Ordering/Availability

Distributors are encouraged to order both the KX2 and accessories now.  The KX2 is already in production and early ordering will ensure your position for deliveries.

Note that the KX2 will be available in full, factory-built form only.  There will be 2 internally-installed options available immediately.  See the FAQ for more details.

Marketing Collateral Available

You will find a new section in the Elecraft Egnyte repository that contains:

– The attached brochure in editable form for you to translate and convert to local printing formats.
– A KX2 Date Sheet
– A KX2 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in editable form
– Hi Resolution images for use with your marketing and web site content

Special Note on the new KX2 Battery and Charger system

– Elecraft will be stocking the KXBT2 (Li-ion Battery) and the KXBC2 (Li-ion Charger) for your to order.
– We have also arranged for you to purchase both items directly from our supplier, Tenergy (www.tenergy.com)
– Please see the attached document, KX2 Battery info v1.0, with the details.

Along with many of the Elecraft team, I’ll be in Dayton to launch the KX2 but will be able to answer questions as needed.

Again, we are excited to offer you increased business opportunities with the KX2 launch!

Cheers,

David

KX2-Table

KX2-Table-2

KX2-Table-3

Stop by our booth at the Dayton Hamvention next week!

Hamvention-2016

For the sixth year in a row at the Dayton Hamvention, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW).

I always enjoy meeting SWLing Post and QRPer.com readers who stop by our booth to introduce themselves.

Note: New Booth Location

We’ve been moved to a new table this year: SA0359 in the Silver Arena. Indeed, we may have two tables set up: one with Ears To Our World information and another with soldering irons to build HumanaLight kits.

DaytonMap-ETOW-SWLingPost-e1463141626601

Here’s the full map for reference (PDF).

If you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio and other technologies, check out our website.

HumanaLights!

HumanaLight-Front

Note that this year we will also give away our HumanaLight kits to those who donate $15 or more to ETOW (while supplies last). 

Look forward to meeting you in Dayton!

-Thomas (K4SWL)

The Ten-Tec Patriot: an open-source SSB/CW/Digital transceiver

507-Patriot-low-res

Today at the QRP ARCI conference, Four Days in May, Ten-Tec is showing off their latest open-source transceiver: the Model 507 Patriot.

507 Patriot 001

Building on the concepts behind the Model 506 Rebel, released last year, the Patriot is open-source and firmly targeted at the makers and experimenters amongst the amateur radio crowd. Like the Rebel, the Patriot is spartan by design, leaving it to the maker to develop the transceiver’s character via crowd-sourcing.

The Ten-Tec Patriot at my QTHUnlike the CW-only Rebel, the Patriot has SSB and digital modes in addition to CW.

Mic and line levels are adjustable by recessed pots on the right side of the Patriot
Mic and line levels are adjustable by recessed pots on the right side of the Patriot

The Patriot arrives as a fairly bare-bones 20/40 meter transceiver, but with all of the essential functions pre-loaded, including:

  • AF gain
  • RIT
  • Bandwidth selection
  • Tuning step selection
  • Band selection (20 or 40 meters)
  • Tuning knob/encoder
  • Mic Level
  • Line Level in/out
  • CW Speed

I’ve had the Patriot’s progenitor for about a week now, and have had it on the air a bit. But as this is a very early beta version, I can’t comment on much other than to say that audio reports have been quite good on SSB. I’ll dive into the digital modes after the Hamvention.

Ten-Tec Patriot

Of course, when I receive an actual production unit of the Patriot, I’ll give a more thorough overview.

In a nutshell? ¬†I like this direction for Ten-Tec and am happy to see that they are growing a new line from the seed planted by the Rebel. By producing basic, open-source, and relatively affordable radios, Ten-Tec may actually be blazing a path to transceivers with benchmark performance and crowd-sourced firmware. I have no idea if Ten-Tec is contemplating this, but I‚Äôm sure many manufacturers are‚Äďit‚Äôs a great direction for any company. ¬†Meanwhile, stay tuned for more on the Patriot!

Ten-Tec Patriot

Ten-Tec Patriot Back

Looking forward to the 2014 Dayton Hamvention and FDIM

Each year, I attend the Dayton Hamvention and much of the QRP conference, Four Days in May.¬† This year, I’ll be working our¬†Ears To Our World table again, along with other volunteers, at booth 411 in the Ball Arena (BA411). Please stop by and introduce yourself!

What I love about the Hamvention is that it is a one-stop-shop for innovations appearing in our radio world.

Here are a few of the companies I’ll be following at the Hamvention¬†this year:

Ten-Tec

Ten-Tec-AlphaTen-Tec announced yesterday that it will merge with Alpha Amplifiers under the flag of RF Concepts. I plan to stop by Ten-Tec’s¬†booth Friday and learn more about the merger.¬†Personally, I believe the merger with Alpha Amplifiers is a good move. Both of these companies are known for great customer service and quality US-based design and manufacturing.

I know Ten-Tec is¬†introducing a new open-source product to their line, the Patriot, because I’ve been beta testing one (check QRPer.com for details later this week).

Icom

Icom-ID-5100Icom will showcase their new ID-5100 D-star, dual band, mobile with built-in GPS. While I’m more of an HF guy, this radio does intrigue me. You see, for almost one year now, I’ve been very pleased¬†with my Icom ID-51A, dual-band, D-Star handie talkie (HT).

I find D-Star to be a very flexible digital mode and I’m amazed with how many interesting mom-and-pop companies have produced products for the D-Star mode.¬†I‚Äôm surprised neither Yaesu nor Kenwood¬†has adopted the D-Star standard (it‚Äôs not proprietary to Icom‚Äďindeed, read about the CS7000 below).

The new ID-5100 is a mobile version of my ID-51a. What I love about this radio is that it can store repeater frequencies and dynamically load them based on your geographic location. Perhaps my largest gripe with mobile VHF/UHF rigs is their inability to adapt to the repeater “landscape” when you travel. The ID-5100 may change this and push other manufacturers in the same direction.

Connect Systems

CS700_WEBIn less than a year, Connect Systems has become a household name among ham radio enthusiasts who love VHF/UHF and digital modes.

This Connect Systems is¬†developing an HT–the CS7000–which will be the first non-Icom radio to have the D-Star digital mode. Whatsmore, in addition to D-Star, the CS7000 will also pack DMR.

I don’t think Connect Systems will have a working prototype at the Hamvention (I could be wrong), but there is a possibility that they will be taking early orders.

Elad

FDM-DUO-openingI’ve been intrigued by the Elad line of Software Defined Recievers. This year, they will attend the Dayton Hamvention. I look forward to checking out the new FDM-DUO tabletop SDR. I plan to review some of the Elad product line¬†in the near future.

Palstar

Last year, Palstar showcased a prototype QRP transceiver with touch screen interface. To my knowledge, this would be Palstar’s first transceiver (though they’re well known for antenna tuners and their shortwave radio receiver, the R30A).

Last year, I was told that the new Palstar transceiver would be available this year and would retail between $1,600 – 2,000 US (a rather steep price for a transceiver with 20 watts output). One of the transceiver’s designers¬†assured me that the receiver would “be worth the price.”

Bonito

antennajet_front_hamradio2013I’ll stop by Bonito’s booth to check out their new¬†AntennaJet ASM300. ¬†I’m curious how it works and what the Hamvention price will be.

Though pricing is a little steep, I might bring one home as I often would like to share one antenna with two receivers simultaneously.

Elecraft

PX3The only new product I know of from Elecraft is the PX3 Panadapter for their Kx3 transceiver. Reviews of the larger P3 Panadapter for the Elecraft K3 are excellent, so I imagine this will be a great product. I hope to check out the PX3 at the Elecraft booth–I believe they’ll have a prototype on display.

SDRs

For the past three years, the market for software defined radios has been growing rapidly. I’ll be on the lookout for anything new–especially improvements on current 3rd generation SDRs.

Did I miss something?

Please comment if there’s something you’d like me to check out at the Hamvention–I’ll try to include it!

Again, if you’re attending the Hamvention, please stop by and introduce yourself at our booth: 411 in the¬†Ball Arena (BA411).

Hamvention: Palstar announces the TR-30

The Palstar TR-30 (Click to enlarge)
The Palstar TR-30 (Click to enlarge)

I was more than surprised to find Palstar showcasing a transceiver at the 2013 Hamvention. Palstar is well-known for their tuners and their receiver, the R30A, but they have never sold a transceiver to my knowledge.

As you can see from the photos, the Palstar TR-30 has a simple faceplate with a touch screen display. It is all aluminum, thus is very light. TR-30 is rated for 20 watts PEP and has an 11 pole filter on board.

I hope to review one once it is in production. Palstar expects the TR-30 to be available August 2013.

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)

When I asked about the price, the told me a range of $1,500-2,000 US. (Gulp!)

David Cripe’s NM0S Cyclone 40 Meter Transceiver kit

Readers, I just received this release:

A new kit from the Four State QRP Group and David Cripe (NM0S)

NM0S's Cylcone 40M QRP transceiver.  Look for it at Four Days in May!
NM0S’s Cylcone 40M QRP transceiver. Look for it at Four Days in May!

Arising from Dave’s entry in QRP ARCI’s 72 Part Challenge Design Contest in 2010, the Cyclone 40 is an enhanced version of the original design. The transceiver designed for the design contest had 72 total parts, performed well, and won honorable mention. This improved version has less than 100 components and even better performance! The kit features all through hole parts and easy assembly. The receiver is a superhet design with very good sensitivity and selectivity, and tunes the entire 125 kHZ CW segment of the 40M Band – and does so at a comfortable tuning rate. A frequency readout is included so you know where you are at all times.

This is a complete kit, including the enclosure. A high quality board package includes the pc board, front and back panels, the sides, and top and bottom all of which make up the enclosure. The control and jack labels are silk screened in white letters and vividly contrast with the black solder mask, and the holes for the connectors and controls are pre-drilled. The ends are “dovetailed” together making a very rugged, easy to build, and attractive enclosure.

Features and Specifications

General

  • Enclosure: A very nice predrilled and silkscreened enclosure is included. It’s easy to assemble and looks great.
  • Ergonomics: Smooth solid tuning, a quiet receiver with QSK and well behaved AGC. Nicely laid out front and rear panels.
  • VFO: The VFO is a simple PTO design, is very stable, and also quite easy to build
  • Sidetone: Included!
  • AGC: Audio derived, fast and smooth.
  • Frequency Range: 7.000 – 7.125 typical.
  • Tuning Speed: 10kHz/knob turn typical.
  • Stability: 300 HZ the first 5 min after power up, less than 10 HZ/hour after that.
  • QSK: Fantastic QSK! Full Break in, excellent muting, really fast!
  • All Through Hole Parts There are NO SMT parts in this kit, and only three easy to wind toroids.
  • Dimensions: 4.4 x 3.6 x 1.9″
  • Power Connector: 2.5×5.5mm coaxial, center positive. Should be fused at 1A, fast blow at PS
  • Antenna connector: BNC

Receiver

  • Configuration: Superheterodyne, 11 MHZ IF, 4 Crystal IF Filter.
  • Sensitivity: MDS (Minimum Discernable Signal) -125, Typical, below the normal 40M band noise level.
  • Selectivity: Four crystal, 500 HZ IF filter
  • IMD3: 90 dB typical, better than most commercial gear!
  • IP3: +10 dBm typical – another very good number
  • Frequency Readout: 3 or 4 digit CW, 1 kHz or 100 Hz resolution (user selectable), developed by Adrian Hill, KC√ėYOI.
  • Band Edge Marker: A band edge marker is heard at 7.001 MHZ
  • Headphone Jack: 1/8″ stereo, standard earbud/Walkman¬ģ headphone compatible
  • DC Current consumption: 30 ma typical at 13.6 VDC.

Transmitter

  • Configuration: Stable, Wide Range VFO (PTO design), Efficient Class E Final.
  • Spectral Purity: All harmonics and spurs less than 50dB below the carrier.
  • Output Power: approximately 4W into 50 ohms
  • DC Current consumption: 500ma typical at 13.6 VDC Will operate down to 9v DC.
  • Key Jack: 1/8″ stereo, grounded shell, switching the tip keys TX. Contacts accessible for an internal add-on keyer

Kits should be available at QRP ARCI’s Four Days in May conference at Dayton, and will be for sale on the Four State QRP Group’s web site approximately May 20th. The final price hasn’t been determined yet but should be less than $100 plus shipping.

Four Days In May: A look back at FDIM 2012…

Four Days In May is sponsored by the QRP ARCI
Four Days In May is sponsored by the QRP ARCI

One of the highlights of my trip to the Dayton Hamvention last year was attending evenings at¬†Four Days in May¬†(FDIM), a QRP convention sponsored by the QRP ARCI that rather conveniently coincides with the Dayton Hamvention, which I try to attend annually. Though scheduling makes it difficult for me to attend all of FDIM’s daytime presentations, the¬†camaraderie¬†and innovation one discovers at the evening sessions is wholeheartedly worthwhile.

Last year, I snapped quite a few photos at FDIM which I planned to post following the Hamvention. Unfortunately, shortly after the Hamvention, my laptop began displaying signs of an early demise. ¬†In haste, I archived my photos on a portable drive, where they remained buried for a year. ¬†I just rediscovered this photographic treasure, and thought I’d share it with readers; looking through them rekindled my enthusiasm for FDIM 2013, which starts next week!

A quick look at FDIM 2012

A great characteristic about FDIM is the array of QRP products offered by QRPers for the community. More often than not, these products are fairly priced, and often in support of the QRP community rather than major profit-making ventures.

For example, the North Georgia QRP Club produces affordable wood stands for QRP rigs. They’re incredibly simple, but fully finished and beautifully designed, just the thing to prop up your QRP portable at the right angle for desktop use.

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These wooden stands support the following rigs:

  • Elecraft K1, KX1
  • Ten Ten R4020/R4030/R4040
  • Yaesu FT817/FT817N
  • Hendricks PFR3

The club can even accommodate custom orders for other rigs. Check out and purchase these on the NOGAQRP website.

Speaking of wood products–one vendor last year featured an amazing array of wooden paddle pieces and even custom wooden tuning dimples (spinner knobs) for the Elecraft K2 and K1.

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As you can see from the photos, each piece is perfectly finished and has great character, as one might expect of real wood.

I also ran into Dennis Blanchard (K1YPP) and his wife, Jane, who were signing and selling their books.¬†I wrote a review here on QRPer about Dennis’ story of the challenges and joys of through-hiking the Appalachian Trail.¬†If you haven’t read¬†Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail, you’re in for a treat. I’m hoping Dennis will attend FDIM this year.

Dennis, being a hard-core QRPer, trekked with ham gear in tow; he brought his kits to FDIM:

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There were a variety of keys and paddles to be seen, of course; offerings range from the home brewed to gorgeous Italian Begali designs:

IMG_1378IMG_1426 IMG_1429 IMG_1439 IMG_1441

One paddle that really caught my attention was QuadraBug, a creation of WB9LPU. What makes this gem stand apart from other “Bugs” is that not only will it form “dits” automatically, but it also forms “dahs.” Truly, an amazing work of engineering. I searched the web for a video of the QuadraBug in action, but found nothing. [UPDATE: ¬†Thanks, Yan for finding a video! See video below.] ¬†This year, I’ll take a video if I’m fortunate enough to see it again.

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Home-brew galore

There were an amazing number of home-brewed projects on display, and even a home-brew contest. I didn’t capture photos of them all, but I did manage to snap a few.

One that really caught my eye (being a shortwave receiver enthusiast) was David Cripe’s (NM0S) version of Hutch’s Radio. The original Hutch’s Radios were built by US and British POW’s in WWII. Built in canteens, often from confiscated parts, these radios gave POWs hope by allowing them to tune in the outside world, via the BBC WS and Voice of America. In the spirit of the original, David¬†challenged¬†himself to build his version prior to FDIM, with original parts of the era, and in “secrecy.” Secrecy? As many of the components had to be purchased from suppliers on eBay, David tried to intercept all of the incoming packages without his wife noticing. His success was brief–alas, his wife discovered the mission–but fun; still, the end result was a very cool piece of historical recreation with a humorous story to match:

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Of course, FDIM featured loads of QRP transmitters, receivers and transceivers; here is Dwayne’s (AK4P) 40 meter transceiver, built in a SPAM container:

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Terry Young, K4KJP, built a very cool pocket 20 meter transceiver in an Altoids tin:

IMG_1379 IMG_1381

And Alan Shapiro, NM5S, should have won a prize for the most compact set of CW paddles.  These paddles are so small that they can be clamped onto your log book. Much to my surprise, they were amazingly easy to use, and would be a great addition to any field-portable radio:

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FDIM 2013

If FDIM 2012 is any indication (yes), this is a mere sampling of the stuff you’ll see at Four Days In May 2013.¬† I encourage you to attend: if nothing else, make a little time either Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening to visit the evening displays at FDIM–they’re free and open to the public.

If you can’t attend, I hope you’ll earmark your calendar for a future date. I do plan to bring my camera again this year and will share some photos. Hopefully, I’ll post them a little earlier this go-around!

Hope to see you at FDIM and the Hamvention.¬†For the third year in a row, I will be representing my charity, Ears To Our World (ETOW), at an inside exhibit at the Hamvention. We should be in booth 601 in the East Hall. Please feel free to stop by and introduce yourself! (And if you feel so inclined, you can even donate a few bucks to our worthy cause.)¬† See you there–!

Best & 72,
Thomas, K4SWL