03/11/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

03/10/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

430132_286881058048053_211581092244717_723197_176643007_n423970_286886148047544_211581092244717_723242_1376741348_n420743_286883128047846_211581092244717_723208_1439236473_n416967_286881458048013_211581092244717_723199_1299747354_n

02/1/12

My HT and it’s new Case

So I have not really covered it yet, but I own a HT, handheld ham radio. And I’ve found a basic, good and useful storage case for it. First, let me tell you, briefly, about rig I have a Yaesu VX-8DR and I love it! It has multiple features; operates 6 & 2 meters and 440mhz, supports APRS with GPS dongle, tough as nails and compact. I run the stock battery just for slim-ness of it, I have the shoulder mic and a upgraded antenna. Normally when I carry, which with it’s size is a lot. Most of my backpacks are molle compatible, so I normally carry it in a 5.11 Tactical Radio Pouch. Some times when all I have is my side bag I’ll tuck it in a side pocket of that.

But on occasion I do pack it in something, it might be luggage or it just might be, actually, inside my backpack. And that’s what I’ve got today. A little back-story first. With this school semester I am transitioning back and forth between 3 bags. Well when I carry a bag, whether it’s one of my 2 backpacks or my messenger bag, there’s a certain set of tools and things I like to carry. No matter what. So after switching 3 times a week for 3 weeks now I’m tired of it and I have been researching smaller bags to keep the actual things in. So instead of moving 20 things, I move 5 to 6 pouches. Much better.

Well I picked up the Zeikos IR-NEO36 Black Neoprene Carrying Case. It’s a nice little case and when I ever pack my little HT in something I will use this little case for it’s protection. It’s got a nice padded feeling to it, the inside is lined with a nylon fabric, the outside is neoprene and it has a solid feeling zipper. The best part is that the total with tax and shipping, out there door to mine cost me $1.09. I will b buying more. I will probably buy several more for other radio parts, cables, and etc.

At a later date I’ll do a more detailed review of the radio and case but for now info can be found at the links above.

01/31/12

My HT and it’s new Case

So I have not really covered it yet, but I own a HT, handheld ham radio. And I’ve found a basic, good and useful storage case for it. First, let me tell you, briefly, about rig I have a Yaesu VX-8DR and I love it! It has multiple features; operates 6 & 2 meters and 440mhz, supports APRS with GPS dongle, tough as nails and compact. I run the stock battery just for slim-ness of it, I have the shoulder mic and a upgraded antenna. Normally when I carry, which with it’s size is a lot. Most of my backpacks are molle compatible, so I normally carry it in a 5.11 Tactical Radio Pouch. Some times when all I have is my side bag I’ll tuck it in a side pocket of that.

 

But on occasion I do pack it in something, it might be luggage or it just might be, actually, inside my backpack. And that’s what I’ve got today. A little back-story first. With this school semester I am transitioning back and forth between 3 bags. Well when I carry a bag, whether it’s one of my 2 backpacks or my messenger bag, there’s a certain set of tools and things I like to carry. No matter what. So after switching 3 times a week for 3 weeks now I’m tired of it and I have been researching smaller bags to keep the actual things in. So instead of moving 20 things, I move 5 to 6 pouches. Much better.

 

Well I picked up the Zeikos IR-NEO36 Black Neoprene Carrying Case. It’s a nice little case and when I ever pack my little HT in something I will use this little case for it’s protection. It’s got a nice padded feeling to it, the inside is lined with a nylon fabric, the outside is neoprene and it has a solid feeling zipper. The best part is that the total with tax and shipping, out there door to mine cost me $1.09. I will b buying more. I will probably buy several more for other radio parts, cables, and etc.

 

At a later date I’ll do a more detailed review of the radio and case but for now info can be found at the links above.

12/5/11

My Travels…

So this past weekend I traveled to central Virginia. On my way I decided to field test a little system I had thrown together for keeping track of repeaters. Now to preface this; my system I going to describe to you was completely free to me using tools and software in which I already owned. I’m sure there’s probably commercially available products to do this for you.

To start let me give a short description of what I was actually doing. Using Microsoft Streets and Trips mapping software I imports a CSV file, actually a couple, into one map of my route I take to Lynchburg. What was in this data I imported you ask? Well, repeaters, all the repeaters I would remotely be able to pass on my route.

Here is my list of tools:
Microsoft Streets and Trips(what I had)
ASUS Laptop
GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS ReceiverUSB extension cable

To start off I searched the web for repeater data and found several sites that allowed me to pick and choose areas of which to export. There were a couple formats I cold have exported but I chose a simple CSV, comma separate value. Very simple and lots of software understands that format. Next I opened up all those CSV’s in excel, but most any spread sheet program would work. The data given from the sites was to much. I purged some columns of data. What I kept was the; Lat&Long, Freq, PL Tone, and callsign/name or club affiliation.

Now what I’m working with is two spreadsheets for North Carolina and two for Virginia, I merged the two sheets per state together but kept the two states separate, felt like it was just a good idea for future development.

Now the following steps are pretty easy and straight forward. With that said if you use software that’s not Microsoft Streets and Trips it may not be. Using the import wizard in the software I imported them as I believe point or way-points. But they were added to the open map I had as a addition of some kind which gave me a little ability to edit them. So all I did next was create a new icon in the “.GIF” format. The gif allows for transparent background. So I created a very small little tower icon that dots each place on the map to where a repeater is. Each little tower can be clicked to display the repeater info respectively.

Side note of two things. First during importation of the data you have to ability to go in and label what each column of data actually is telling S&T’s that Lat actually is Lat and there’s 3 available user data slots in which you can put the repeater specific data, Freq, PL and etc…

Now after all that work here’s what I came up with 68 contacts over 5 hours(while driving). Plus one club-net check-in(South Wake ARC). All on 2 meters, 144 – 148mhz. Really all of that didn’t span anymore than 2 or 2.5 mhz of the band. I didn’t go very low, really. I’ve never took part in any contests in ham radio and nor am I a pro or expert in any way. But for me I am very pleased with my results!!

Keeping safety in mind I really wasn’t able to record contacts and wasn’t really even thinking about it till like halfway back riding home but here’s a few:

kk4eqp
kk4bvu
kk4dbm
South Wake ARC – net check-in
W4WC
AJ4HK

KK4EQM

12/4/11

My Travels

So this past weekend I traveled to central Virginia. On my way I decided to field test a little system I had thrown together for keeping track of repeaters. Now to preface this; my system I going to describe to you was completely free to me using tools and software in which I already owned. I’m sure there’s probably commercially available products to do this for you.

To start let me give a short description of what I was actually doing. Using Microsoft Streets and Trips mapping software I imports a CSV file, actually a couple, into one map of my route I take to Lynchburg. What was in this data I imported you ask? Well, repeaters, all the repeaters I would remotely be able to pass on my route.

Here is my list of tools:
Microsoft Streets and Trips(what I had)
ASUS Laptop
GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS ReceiverUSB extension cable

To start off I searched the web for repeater data and found several sites that allowed me to pick and choose areas of which to export. There were a couple formats I cold have exported but I chose a simple CSV, comma separate value. Very simple and lots of software understands that format. Next I opened up all those CSV’s in excel, but most any spread sheet program would work. The data given from the sites was to much. I purged some columns of data. What I kept was the; Lat&Long, Freq, PL Tone, and callsign/name or club affiliation.

Now what I’m working with is two spreadsheets for North Carolina and two for Virginia, I merged the two sheets per state together but kept the two states separate, felt like it was just a good idea for future development.

Now the following steps are pretty easy and straight forward. With that said if you use software that’s not Microsoft Streets and Trips it may not be. Using the import wizard in the software I imported them as I believe point or way-points. But they were added to the open map I had as a addition of some kind which gave me a little ability to edit them. So all I did next was create a new icon in the “.GIF” format. The gif allows for transparent background. So I created a very small little tower icon that dots each place on the map to where a repeater is. Each little tower can be clicked to display the repeater info respectively.

Side note of two things. First during importation of the data you have to ability to go in and label what each column of data actually is telling S&T’s that Lat actually is Lat and there’s 3 available user data slots in which you can put the repeater specific data, Freq, PL and etc…

Now after all that work here’s what I came up with 68 contacts over 5 hours(while driving). Plus one club-net check-in(South Wake ARC). All on 2 meters, 144 – 148mhz. Really all of that didn’t span anymore than 2 or 2.5 mhz of the band. I didn’t go very low, really. I’ve never took part in any contests in ham radio and nor am I a pro or expert in any way. But for me I am very pleased with my results!!

Keeping safety in mind I really wasn’t able to record contacts and wasn’t really even thinking about it till like halfway back riding home but here’s a few:

kk4eqp
kk4bvu
kk4dbm
South Wake ARC – net check-in
W4WC
AJ4HK