Tag Archives: Mark (N6MTS)

Hamvention and FDIM 2023: Wow…what a weekend!

Wow! What a show!

I got back from my 2023 Hamvention trip last night and am now trying to catch up after nearly a full week on the road.

A way too close-up of Eric and his son Miles in the background!

As in past years, I traveled to Hamvention with my buddies Eric (WD8RIF) and his son Miles (KD8KNC).

It was amazing to meet so many readers, subscribers, and POTA/SOTA friends in person!

When I wasn’t walking around the Hamvention grounds checking out the inside vendor tables and outdoor flea market, I was hanging out with friends at the Halibut Electronics/Ham Radio Workbench table.

It was great to finally meet Vince (VE6LK) and Mark (N6MTS) in person. Hopefully, next year, we can have the whole HRWB crew at the table!

The Unseen Bean table next to the Halibut table (you can *just* see Mark and Paul to the left).

Side note: It was a true surprise and joy to discover that the amazing crew of The¬† Unseen Bean were next door to us. I’m a bit of a coffee snob, so it was wonderful having Gerry and his amazing team so close. I bought a lot of coffee!

Of course, my favorite thing about Hamvention is the QRPARCI Four Days in May (FDIM) conference.

Eric and I didn’t arrive in enough time to enjoy the Thursday presentations, but we did make it to Vendor’s night that evening. It was busier than I ever remember.

As we walked into the conference room, there was already a massive line to purchase Hans’ new QRP Labs QMX transceiver kit.

Of course, I bought one (serial number 28, evidently)! It will take me some time to build this as I have a crazy June schedule filled with travel and camping.

We also attended FDIM Club Night  and the Homebrew contest on Friday. It was so much fun.

Receiving my award from the amazing David Cripe (NM0S). Photo by Charlie (NJ7V).

I was over the moon to have been inducted into the QRP Hall of Fame at the Saturday Evening FDIM banquet. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this, but I’m incredibly grateful and humbled. Many of my QRP mentors are in the QRP Hall of Fame.

Thank you to those who nominated and selected me! What an incredible honor.

The “Vincester” (VE6LK) operating POTA from the back of his rental car!

On Sunday, we skipped Hamvention altogether and joined Charlie (NJ7V) and Vince (VE6LK) for a few local park activations.

Charlie using my KX2 and PackTenna to hammer out POTA contacts while dealing with the QRM of a nearby rural highway! Impressive op, this Charlie!

Vince and Charlie joined us for two POTA activations (during horrible band conditions, I might add), then Eric, Miles and I capped off the short POTA run with one more activation after lunch.

Monday was all about taking it easy…

Eric and I took all day Monday to “decompress” at the US Air Force Museum. Although I’ve visited this museum a dozen times before, it never gets old and the displays and exhibits are ever-changing.

I think it’s one of the best aviation museums in the world.

Tuesday (yesterday) I drove back to the QTH and fit in one short activation at Yatesville Lake State Park in eastern Kentucky. I recorded this one, so there’ll eventually be a full field report and activation video!

All-in-all, I fit in five POTA activations over the Hamvention trip!

Now that I’m back at the QTH, I’m prepping for a family camping trip. This is going to be one busy summer indeed!

Again, so many thanks to all of you who introduced yourselves over Hamvention and FDIM. It was amazing to meet you all! And, again, a very special thanks to the QRP Hall of Fame committee–being inducted is the true highlight of my amateur radio journey!

Did you attend Hamvention? Or did you have other radio plans this past week? Feel free to comment!

Now Shipping: The Halibut Electronics Common Mode Current Choke Test Rig

I’ve just learned that my buddy Mark (N6MTS) at Halibut Electronics has just kitted up a new batch of his CMCC Test Rigs and is now accepting orders. I know that some of the experimenters in our community might appreciate this brilliant bit of gear that Mark originally designed as a piece of test gear for his own workbench.

I asked Mark to shed a little light on this kit and exactly what it does:

A Common Mode Current Choke, aka a 1:1 Current Balun, is a common (pardon the pun) device in a ham shack. They can be used: at the Antenna feed point to prevent dangerous unbalanced return currents on the outside of the feedline, at the Radio’s antenna port to minimize RF noise picked up on the feedline, on DC or AC power cables and other interconnect cables to minimize RF pick-up in the shack, etc.

Most RF test equipment, such as a (Nano)VNA, measures the Differential Mode of a system, that is, the balanced currents that flow on the INSIDE of a coax cable. This is great for measuring things like: the frequency response of a filter, the complex impedance (or SWR) of an antenna, or the loss of a length of coax.

It cannot measure the Common Mode of a system, that is, the unbalanced current that flows on the OUTSIDE of a coax cable. This means it cannot (directly) measure a Common Mode Current Choke.

The Halibut Electronics Common Mode Current Choke Test Rig converts the Differential Mode signal generated by the VNA into a Common Mode signal, and places it on the outside of the shield of a coax system. This allows the VNA to directly measure how effective the choke is at choking common mode RF currents. Once you can directly measure a device, you can measure the real world effect of changes you make, and optimize the device for your specific use case. As opposed to relying on calculations and predictions of ideal conditions in free space.

The Common Mode Current Choke Test Rig is a kit that requires some assembly, using a soldering iron and Philips head screw driver.

Click here to purchase a Halibut Electronics CMCC Test Rig kit.

BayCon 2022: Mark introduces SOAR (Satellite Optimized Amateur Radio)

If you’ve been listening to the Ham Radio Workbench Podcast, you’ve no doubt heard Mark Smith (N6MTS) talk about his “secret squirrel” project. At BayCon 2022 this past weekend, Mark revealed that the “secret squirrel” is a new product he’s designed called SOAR (Satellite Optimized Amateur Radio).

Mark announced that SOAR is basically a radio that’s “optimized for operating FM satellites.”

That’s a very modest description for a radio that can not only handle full duplex FM satellite communications, but also leverage the power of a GPS and CPU to help predict passes, aim an antenna, and adjust for doppler shift on the fly. And, oh yeah, it even records.

SOAR actually does much more than this.

If full duplex satellite work is the sort of thing that interests you, I highly recommend watching Mark’s BayCon presentation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

You can learn more about SOAR at:

The Halibut Electronics website has only recently been launched, so there’s not a lot of info there at time of posting. For the latest news, I suggest you follow Mark on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SmittyHalibut

Of course, I’ll post updates here on QRPer.com.

Note this presentation was originally given at BayCon 2022: https://www.bay-net.org/baycon.html