Tag Archives: Dayton Hamvention

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!

HARA Arena to close, Dayton Hamvention to use new venue

[Originally posted on the SWLing Post]

Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)
Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Eric (WD8RIF) for passing along the following news via WDTN and DARA (the Dayton Amateur Radio Association).

(Source: WDTN)

TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) ‚Äď The iconic venue brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for 60 years is closing their doors due to not being able to overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades.

‚ÄúWe are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,‚ÄĚ says Karen Wampler, Hara‚Äôs marketing director.
The loss will come in the form of $36 million in annual economic impact; youth, men’s and professional hockey programs; and the hundreds of events that called Hara home this past year.

‚ÄúWe had hoped to announce a new era at Hara, but are announcing the end of one, instead.‚ÄĚ says Wampler. [Continue reading…]

(Source: Hamvention Press Release)

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) regrets to inform our many vendors, visitors and stakeholders that, unfortunately, HARA has announced the closing of their facility. We have begun execution of our contingency plan to move Hamvention¬ģ 2017 to a new home.

DARA and Hamvention¬ģ have enjoyed many successful years working together with HARA Arena and we wish the Wampler family the best.

DARA and Hamvention¬ģ have been working on a contingency plan in the event HARA would become unavailable. We have spent many hours over the last few years evaluating possible locations and have found one in the area we believe will be a great new home! Due to logistics and timing issues, we will make a formal announcement introducing our new partner. This information will be coming soon. We all believe this new venue will be a spectacular place to hold our beloved event. Please rest assured we will have the event on the same weekend and, since it will be in the region, the current accommodations and outside events already planned for Hamvention¬ģ 2017 should not be affected.

We look forward to your continued support as we move to a new future with The Dayton Hamvention¬ģ.
Ron Cramer
General Chairman
Dayton Hamvention 2017

Challenges for a new venue

Two years ago, I spoke with a DARA representative who told me about some of the contingency sites they had in mind should HARA Arena close its doors. Many of us attending the Hamvention had a strong feeling 2016 would be the last year at HARA Arena.

Though HARA was (and has been) in a poor state, the site is very large and has one very unique feature: it’s all on one level.

The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular and should hopefully be hosted on site.
The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular.

Most of the Dayton area contingency sites were on at least two levels with limited elevator facilities (a potential problem for the hundreds of attendees who use motorized carts).

I also learned that most of the Dayton area contingency sites had another problem: not enough space to have both the inside exhibits and the flea market hosted at the same venue. One contingency plan assumed the flea market might be relocated somewhere else nearby.

I hope the Site B will have the space for both the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Frankly, if these two portions of the Hamvention are separated, I suspect it will have a very negative impact on attendance numbers. Let’s hope this won’t be the case.

In terms of facilities, almost anything else will feel more modern and cleaner than HARA Arena. I just hope it can accommodate 20,000+ attendees as well.

When DARA announces the new site, I will post the information here.  Simply follow the tag: Hamvention.

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:

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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:

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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

John answers a few questions about the Ten-Tec Model 539 Argonaut VI

The Ten-Tec Model 539 Argonaut VI, on display at the Dayton Hamvention

John Henry, Software Engineer for Ten-Tec, wrote the following message in response to Argonaut VI comments and questions on the Model 539 group:

To help answer a few questions.

The electronics ARE based on the 599, [Ten-Tec Eagle] not exactly the same, but VERY similar.

Filters…. The 539 will have three filter slots for hardware receive filters. They will not be the same ones used in the 599, height limitation, but they will be designed in house and will match the characteristics / performance traits of the 599 closely. One will be filled with the default SSB filter, and the two others are for either CW or for AM if you so desire. Or two CW filters, up to you as a ham to see what you need and to fill them, or not. The filter slot module is based on the TX/RX board from the 599, it is not an option as some competitors are selling now. One less option to have to buy over the stock price. Then, of course, the same DSP bandwidth options controllable from 100Hz to the size of the largest hardware filter installed.

The CPU is the same CPU we use in the 599, so we are using almost the same code set as the 599, meaning we aren’t re-inventing the wheel, just massaging it to handle the different buttons/encoders/pot/voltage levels/10w vs 100w/etc. This also means that the command protocol interface is already done, same as the Eagle, well, almost. We have added a few things to the 539 so that you can define certain buttons to do what you want them to do. On the four buttons, their function is selected by the “tumbler” as I call it. the “tumbler” is a three position switch on front of the 539, that by it’s position identifies what the four buttons do. It is currently denoted with “T” for top, “M” for mid, and “B” for bottom. This may change, as we get closer to production though. So, don’t bank on it being TMB.

The DSP board is the same as we use in the 599, with “slightly” modified software due to the differences in gains and other “realities of hardware” differences.

Since it is the same CPU and the same DSP board/code base, you will have almost all of the features / functions that the Eagle already has. And, since it is based on the Eagle, the maturity is already proven. And, as a benefit, as items are resolved in either the 599 or 539, it is a quick fix for the other rig. Reuse, something we are trying to stress highly on this and future rigs. Why re-invent wheels when they run so smoothly. Of course, improve them over time as technologies get better, as we have time, as we find new parts/better parts, etc.

Why no 60 and 12?
Performance.
That’s basically it. We had a certain size in mind, and yes, we could have fit 160 through 6, however, you would have had receiver performance of a much inferior rig. One that we felt would not live up to TenTec standards. When queried, about 160, 60, and 12, MANY inputs went into the current state of the 539. 160 was added because of the amount of customer inputs, and unfortunately, 60 and 12 cannot be added due to size restrictions. Adding 60 and 12 would have meant redesigning the pre-selector with smaller parts that would have made the rig equal to most other QRP rigs in receiver performance.
If that was the wrong decision, then the market will definitely tell us via sales, but from the comments on “when it is ready, I’m ordering a 539 and a 418” “I never use 60 in QRP” “etc.” at Dayton and via hundreds of emails and conversations, etc., we feel we do have a winner on our hand with the feature set it will be built with. The market will tell of course.

There are a lot of rigs out there to choose from, and we do hope you give the 539 a chance to see if it meets your needs.

Hamvention Photos: Hendricks QRP Kits

Doug Hendricks holding a Ft. Tuthill transceiver

Another very active table at the Dayton Hamvention and Four Days in May is that of Hendricks QRP Kits.

Doug Hendricks (pictured right) and his team produce some amazing, affordable QRP kits that fill many a niche in the shack. Below, I have photos of a small selection of their offerings at the Hamvention.  Note that all of these kits are available on the Hendricks QRP Kits website.

Many of Hendrick’s kits are suitable for beginners. If you’re in doubt about your kit building skills, simply contact the folks at Hendricks and they’ll help guide you to the right kit.

The Kenwood TS-990S: Some preliminary specs and features

The TS-990s under glass at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention

At Dayton, I had a chance to ask Kenwood reps about the TS-990S.  They did have a few details, but many (such as price) are still rather vague. I made notes on these:

  • This rig will weigh in at 57 or so pounds. This is probably due to the fact that it has an internal power supply.
  • The main receiver is completely down-conversion.
  • The sub receiver is the TS-590’s receiver. They even told me that if you read the TS-590S spec, it will be identical to that of the TS-990S sub receiver. As with the TS-590, the TS-990S sub receiver is mainly down-conversion.
  • It has three, 32Bit DSP processors
  • It has five roofing filters at: 300Hz, 500Hz, 2.7 6kHz and 15kHz which ¬†run at 8MHz.¬†The sub-receiver runs at 11MHz.
  • Connections include:
    • Optical In/Out
    • DVI
    • and “Multiple” USB connections
  • The TS-990S will be 200 Watts
  • Shipping: They expect to ship in November 2012
  • Price: Between $5-10K US, but will not exceed $10K US. Two different Kenwood reps told me that Kenwood understands that there aren’t many hams in this economy who could spend in excess of $10K.

These specs were rattled off as if they’d been said a thousand times (and I bet they had by the time I got around to the booth).

Not a lot to go one, but I can vouch that these features and specifications came directly from Kenwood.

Video: Tuning the Ten-Tec Argonaut VI

As Ten-Tec was setting up at the Dayton Hamvention last Thursday, I was able to meet with their engineer (John Henry) briefly and had a little time to play with the new Model 539 Argonaut VI. As I tuned around the CW side of the 20 meter band, I recorded a short video. I’m sharing this with you here, but must ask your forgiveness for its quality and glitches; I want to make it clear that this material was recorded on my Android phone in some haste.

Moreover, this video does not do justice to the Argo VI’s audio, which is exceptional. ¬†In fact, I can’t tell a difference between its audio and that of the Ten-Tec Eagle, both of which have very low noise floors and simply gorgeous audio fidelity.

Now, just a small taste of what this receiver can do…

Kenwood’s booth the day before

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Taken at the Kenwood booth the day before the Hamvention 2012.

I just walked past the Kenwood booth where they’ve prepared a place for the TS-990S. I have a feeling it’s going to be very busy here tomorrow morning.

I will fight my way through the crowds and grab a few photos of the real thing. Check back here tomorrow!

Tagged: TS-990s

Going to Dayton? Visit Ears to Our World’s booth–and meet us!

For the second year in a row at the Dayton Hamvention, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW). We will be in booth 601 in the East Hall. Stop by and introduce yourself! Here’s a map of how to find us.

If you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio, check out our website and this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Look forward to meeting you there!