Since it was a warm weekend than normal, I decided to take advantage of it and hike up Bare Mountain in Granby/Amherst area in Massachusetts and do a SOTA Activation.
Elecraft KX3 Ready to go with Spare Batteries
Since this was a spur of moment thought, I didn’t have time to properly prepare my equipment. However usually when I come home from an activation, I take the time to repack my bag and make sure all the basics are included because I know I’ll be grabbing it with short notice. I could consider it my “Go-Kit” as it’s an entire HF station with antenna that fits into a small backpack.
Need More Batteries
For this trip I didn’t even charge the battery from the last activation. Since I’m using a 3 cell (3S) 2200mAh RC/ battery with each cell being 3.7v, The battery pack will be fully charged at around 11.1v to around 12.6v. The KX3 Folds back TX power from 10w to 5W when the voltage dips below 11. This does not give me much room to play with. I am able to do an activation at 10W without much issue. If the TX power folds back, it’s usually at the end of my activation so my last contacts would be at true QRP levels. I could purchase a LiPo or LiFePo4 battery that has the proper voltage but that could end up costing me quite a bit of money compared to the cheaper RC batteries used in Quadcoptors and similar. The other option is purchase a 4 cell battery which could gives a 14.8 to 16.8v. It’s a little too much for the KX3 but you could step down the voltage using a couple diodes inline until the voltage drops below a certain point. The downside to that is the diodes will heat up. I’ll stick with the 3 cell for now but I should buy more and alternate them. At $10 a battery, you really can’t complain.
Before the Hike
Even though it’s short notice, there is some preparation that is needed before you leave. Besides making sure you have everything and double checking, it’s strongly suggested that you submit an activation notice (alert) to SOTAwatch.org. Even more so if you’re a CW operator. That way people will expect you. You wouldn’t want to spend all this time hiking and setting up gear to make zero contacts. Since SOTA is gaining more popularity, it means there are more chasers and activators participating. There will always be someone listening out for you as long as you tell them when and where you’ll be. Cell/Data service at the summit is a huge advantage as you’re allowed to Self spot on the SOTA Cluster. CW ops have it even easier because if you send an alert through SOTAWatch, when you start calling CQ the skimmers will pickup your signal and automatically spot you on the SOTA Cluster. That’s pretty darn neat. I know people that have been involved with SOTA for a long time and they’ve told me stories of how they failed to make the minimum of 4 contacts. I have yet to have one of those activations and I hope it never will happen.
The hike up wasn’t bad and the use of crampons helped since there were icy spots in the snow. After some huffing and puffing I made it to the summit with some time to spare.However all the time was used tring to untangle my mess of the mini G5RV that I use. It wasn’t designed for portable use and it uses #14 THHN wire. I took along tent stakes but ended up tying off the ends to near-by trees because the ground was frozen. I “Secured” the mast using bungie cord to a tree branch. It held up quite well
Mini G5RV in a inverted V configuration. Mounted to a Jackite pole
Once everything was setup and checked, Out came the logbook and sent a spot over SOTAWatch.org. It didn’t take long for the traffic to come. There were times where I had pileups to work me which is real fun.
Operating conditions. Notice the lack of seat.
The following operators worked me from the summit, if you worked me and you either see your callsign wrong or not there, please contact me. I had a real hard time trying to write down calls correctly and It’s possible that I messed up your call. I try to check each contact against QRZ.com’s DB. It’s even better when the profile mentions SOTA as it makes me feel better the call is correct.
(20 METERS – Start 16:34Z)
- K1MAZ (SOTA Jerks)
- WA2USA/4 (In Florida)
- KK1W (SOTA Jerk)
(12 Meters – Start 16:55)
(15 Meters – Start 17:03)
- M6ARE ??
(40 Meters – Start 17:13)
- N2ICE ??
(10 Meters – Start 17:30)
(Contacts with other SOTA Summits)
- W7IMC (W7I/SR-138 Idaho)
- KI4SVM (W4C/WM-039) (NC QSO Party)
Over 45 contacts were made, I also chased some DX I heard while scanning around the bands and chasing other SOTA activations. I’m glad to make a couple Summit to Summit contacts which to me is more thrilling as we’re both on summits with less than ideal operating conditions.
There were a lot of other hikers up at the summit and some came over to talk and were amazed that I was contacting Spain and England considering what I had.
View from the other side of the Summit. You can see UMASS, Amherst and Hampshire college from this view
I could have stayed longer but Kneeling in the snow wasn’t helping me out. I need to find an easier way to be more comfortable during the winter activations. Thinking about using a kneeboard that I can attach my radio to that also has a clock. The hike down was a lot harder than the hike up. I kept sliding and had to use my antenna mast as a walking stick at times.
Notice someone made little snowmen along the trail
Besides having extra batteries, I think some kind of seat or something that would allow me operate more comfortable. I was either standing or kneeling down in the snow which was more damaging to me than the hike. It was extremely difficult to log contacts while holding the microphone.
Thanks for reading!
Looked at the stats and found that NT1K.com main page has over 200,000 views which I know is a drop in a bucket compared to other websites out there. Considering the vast amount of ham radio related websites, 200K is okay in my book. It shows that I doing something to make it worth the visit. Hopefully I will come across new things to make it more interesting.
Tailor Made to New Hams
The main reason why I created a website was to help out freshly minted hams with information they can understand in English (albeit poor grammar) . I’ve came across many websites that have some really nice things but it’s not explained in an easy detailed manor and leaves me to scratch my head as I not well versed in Math or Electrical Engineering. I also post my observations about a project or what’s going on in amateur radio and I use this website as a way to get stuff off my chest. It’s all about keeping hams interested in the hobby.
I just want to say thank you to all who visit and to those who participate by adding comments. It ensures me to keep working and typing away and makes it all worth it.
It’s a new year! For those who are into activating summits, this means we can go back out and activate our easy and close-by summits that will count for points. A known SOTA activator in the region (Doug, W1DMH) was going to be in the area activating a couple summits which caught the interest of a couple other hams in the area.. It was reported that it was going to be a rain/sleet/snow mix for the entire day so I was under the impression that I wasn’t going to be out. While out running errands, I’ve noticed it was clear enough so I ran home, got my gear and went to Mt. Tom.
It’s been awhile since I activated any kind of summit. I would also say it was the last time I really ever “exercised”. The hike up was not easy. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath and I ended up taking baby steps to the summit.
Once I got to the top of the mountain, I was able to catch my breath but then I had to setup shop. Visibility at the summit was poor due to weather. Due to other activators in the area were already on the air, I had no time to walk around to see what was up.
After seeing a lot of activators using some sort of monopole to support their antenna, I jumped on the band wagon and purchased a fiberglass kite pole during the holidays
I ended up going with the 31′ Jack Kite Pole. I wouldn’t say that it’s the best choice for activities like SOTA. Soon as I got it out of the box, the threaded cap came off. It happened more than once which caused all the sections to fall out. I’ve also read reports of the top sections breaking under light loads. To be fair, it was designed to be use with kites. To combat the issues, I’ve removed the top two sections and made a sheath using left over outdoor canvas that I used for my Elk antenna. The sheath has a shoulder strap that allowed me to carry the pole w/o much issue.
Here is the kite pole with antenna mounted to the top.
In past activations that included the same exact spot, I’ve used a Mini G5RV by throwing rocks with a rope attached into the trees. The trees on some of these summits are not that tall and could only manage to get the antenna 6ft off the ground. It worked but I could have done better if it were higher. This time with the kite pole, things went much faster even though I had some issues with getting the wire snagged in nearby tree branches.
I try to stay as minimal as possible. Even more so if know the layout of the mountain/hill. What you see in the above photo is what I took up. I packed the KX3, microphone, battery, 90 degree BNC adapter, antenna, kitepole, mason line (rope), elastic cord, tape and 2m HT. Due to the massive amount of RF that is already present on top of the mountain, doing a VHF activation is out of the question. I’ve heard other people up there trying to do VHF and they always had trouble receiving.
Getting On The Air
Once the antenna is up, getting on the air is quite easy. However getting spotted or spotting yourself (which is allowed using SOTAwatch) could be difficult depending on conditions and which mode you’re using. I lucked out because I had cell service and was able to spot myself. Since this was last second, I didn’t have the time to give advanced warning of the activation.
A minute or so after spotting, my first call was from Doug (W1DMH) who was on another summit nearby. This counts as a Summit to Summit (S2S) contact that gives both doug and myself extra points. I was hoping to work Jim (KK1W) and Frandy (N1FJ as NE1SJ) that were also on nearby summits but I sort of arrived late to the game and missed out on 2 additional S2S.
After the first contact, the rest came in one after another with the occasional pileup. It was very exciting and made it worth the trip up. Talking on SSB with stations all around the US is fun when you’re using low power. I can see why people find QRP to be very rewarding. I also made some DX contacts with stations in Canada, England and my furthest contact with GI4OUL in N. Ireland. Approx 3000mi only using 7W (428mi per watt) is not bad.
Thanks to the following who worked me.
|W1DMH||17:43||14MHz||SSB||Thanks For S2S|
|VA6FUN||17:52||14MHz||SSB||2000mi on 10W TY!|
|AD5A||17:52||14MHz||SSB||Thanks for TX!|
|G4UXH||17:54||14MHz||SSB||Thanks for DX!|
|GI4ONL||18:00||14MHz||SSB||Thanks for DX!|
After doing a few summits, some of the callsigns start to become familiar as they chased me on other summits in the past. It’s nice to hear them and it makes it real easy to pick them out on packed/noisy bands.
It’s an envelope… Not an logbook. It works but not well. I need some better way to log contacts w/o using some big and bulky notepad.
The G5RV needs to replaced with a SOTA version. Right now the current G5RV is using #14 electrical wire and the ladder line is solid core. It’s bulky and tangles to easily. I would like to still use the G5RV as it works well but I would like to use polystealth wire and a ladder line made from stranded cable that was thinner.
Thanks for reading!
I’ll be honest and say that I laughed when I saw the Yaesu FT-817 for the first time when it was released in 2001. “You’re not going to make any contact with that! It’s small and only 5 watts! No one is going to hear you!” I recall saying a lot. I like to note that I was brand new to amateur radio and had no HF experience. I thought it was silly to “talk” around the world with the same amount of power that my handheld VHF puts out. Well… 12 years later and they are still being produced and sold. I’ve seen the error of my ways and accept that QRP (low power) contacts are very possible. Now that I’ve been involved with HF for about 4 years now, I can see how rewarding QRP contacts are. Now that I’m more involved with SOTA (summits on the air), doing a bunch of VHF SOTA activations and watching my peers on HF, I decided to purchase a portable HF rig.
I ended up going with the Elecraft KX3.
I could have went with the much cheaper FT-817 and other QRP Xceivers but the features and technology of the KX3 far surpass what the FT-817 had to offer. Well… at least in writing. I just wanted something NEW for a change. Even though the KX3 is expensive, I cheaped out as much as possible and got the kit version of the KX3 with no options or extra accessories.
Hopefully the postal carrier didn’t notice me peeking through the windows with the excited look on my face as he approached.
There are already dozens, if not hundreds of videos, blogs, forum posts of assembling the KX3. I am not going to go into detail here. However I would like to share some notes and tips if you were to get the kit. Most are common sense.
- Spend time and make sure every nut, screw, standoff and part is in the kit! Use muffin tins or a tackle box to keep parts separate.
- Do not be surprised if your missing something. They include an extra parts bag and hopefully it’s in there.
- Read the assembly manual entirely before starting. Do not jump ahead!
- It’s not a contest, take your time and confirm each step
Besides a screw driver and other basic hand tools. I strongly suggest in using tweezers or a “Jewelers Pickup Tool”
This tool helped me out as the tiny 2-56 screws were a wee bit hard to handle.
The only issues I had were installing the plastic battery holders (which is noted in the manual) and having to deal with missing 4-40 screws. luckily I had anodized screws in my personal extra screw bin. Overall the assembly went okay and it took about 2 hours. Is it worth the extra $100 for an assembled kit? All depends on how you value your time. Think of it costing $50/hr for assembly. Are you worth more than that?
After turning it on, one of the first things I did was to compare the receivers of the KX3 to my FT-950 using a switch and the G5RV antenna. Since I don’t have any type of equipment that will give accurate readings, I am basing my findings from what I’ve seen and heard. On SSB, it seemed to receive similar with the DSP turned on in the 950 (No DNR). It has similar S-Unit readings. However the KX3 felt like it dealt with adjacent signals better than the 950. On CW, it seemed the KX3 was better at receiving.
Should Have Purchased Options
Like usual, I was being cheap and purchased the KX3 as a kit without any options. For some people that would work just fine. If you have a spare microphone and resonate antennas at the frequencies you want then you might not have a need for options like the ATU (Automatic Antenna Tuner) or microphone. But here I am with no microphones and no resonate antennas. I could have purchased an Emtech ZM2 or Hendricks SOTA tuner and a used microphone online that would have done just fine, but I didn’t want to lug around more equipment and didn’t want to modify the microphone. I ended up purchasing the ATU and Microphone from elecraft a short time later.
Issues with the KX3
I’ve held off writing this article for a long time because I had issues with my KX3. After assembly and before installing the ATU, I was hot to trot. I went on the air, started sending out CW to see what skimmers (bots) were picking up my signal. I couldn’t transmit at full power. Even with the KX3 powered using an External 5amp supply, I could not get past 7W. When using batteries, I saw 3watts max. Putting blame on my antenna at first I didn’t think much of it. At this point I decided it was best to order the ATU as I would end up using compromised antennas like an end fed or random wire where needing a “tuner” (match) would be important. When I received and installed the ATU, I noticed that I couldn’t tune correctly and it was still folding back power. After taking it out on it’s first SOTA activation, I knew something was wrong.
Dealing with Elecraft
I knew it had to be fixed. The first stop was the Elecraft KX3 Yahoo Group to see if anyone else had similar issue. None were found so after following the advice on Elecraft’s website, as requested, I contacted them VIA e-mail.
I’ve heard that Elecraft support was AMAZING!! However I felt the opposite. Just to get a reply from Elecraft took me well over a week. I ended up finding e-mail addresses to some of the staff/support members for Elecraft and after contacting them, my issue was finally looked at. It felt like I had to be pushy and demanding to get stuff done which is not a part of who I am so it was uncomfortable. However I just spent a lot of money, for some it may be nothing but it was a lot of saving on my part so I felt cheated a bit even though Elecraft did absolutely nothing wrong.
Once the RMA process started, it was fast and easy. Elecraft sent me a confirmation once the item was received but I didn’t hear anything else until the day it was shipping out almost a week later. Since I’ve never dealt with returning a radio before, I felt that I had no idea what was going on or even if the radio has been touched by service. When Elecraft got back to me, it was shown that the PA Driver chips were replaced. I wished for a little more detail into what could possibly caused the replacement as to avoid it from happening again.
Months later and with very LITTLE use, the plastic knobs started to crack. After contacting Elecraft, they moved quick and got the replacements I need. Even though it appears this was a common issue, I was a little more impressed with their service this time around.
Amplifier over 2M module
When the KX3 first rolled out, a 2M module was incorporated into the design but wasn’t available. Due to the fact that I enjoy doing SOTA on VHF, I was excited that there was going to be a 2M option at some point. That means less equipment that I’d have to carry and something better than the Chinese radios that I’ve been using. However I was very disappointed when they decided to design an amplifier for a radio that was designed to be a QRP portable rig. I get why they did it. Not many people really care about QRP SSB on 2m or 2M in general when it comes to portable operations. They would rather have something that would allow for 100W while mobile or at the home while taking advantage of a really good receiver. It turns the KX3 into a dual purpose rig. I would have rather seen the 2M module first.
Even though at times, it may seem I’m very critical of Elecraft, It’s because I want them to succeed. They make good products, they’re very interactive with the community and they’re based in the United States. I just want them to improve so they can be on the same production level as the “Big Three”. I honestly think it’s possible.
Using the KX3 on top of Mt. Tom, Holyoke MA
When I decided to purchase the KX3, I thought I would be taking up adventures like climbing mountains, hiking, going to parks and testing the limits of QRP. It didn’t really happen. Those times I got to get out and played radio, the KX3 performed very well. The very low current draw allowed me to use full power (approx 10W) using a Hobby battery (Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Li-Po 11.1v) that lasted for at least an hour before turning back the wattage (to 5W) when the battery voltage dipped below the 11vdc threshold (time will vary depending on duty, temp and mode). The radio is easy to pack and deploy. If there are trees tall enough in the area, I can hang a dipole and get on the air within 10-15 minutes.
Even though there are cheaper alternatives, I think I’ve made a wise choice. If I ever decide to go portable, It’s there and ready to go and it just works.
SOTA Pack consisting of KX3, G5RV Jr and End Fed
I would recommend this radio to others under certain circumstances. If you’re just getting into the hobby, I wouldn’t suggest it unless you have the money for radio and amplifier or you live in a restricted area where a base antenna setup is just not possible and would have to go portable/mobile. QRP is a rewarding challenge but frustration will set in when your in a pile up with a 5W signal and a compromised antenna.
Hopefully the 2M module doesn’t cost as much as the K3′s module.
Thanks for reading!
It’s been awhile since I last updated this site. Life has changed gears and a lot of stuff required my attention which meant this site and amateur radio had to take a back seat while I caught up. I did make time for ARRL’s Field Day with my club, HCRA (W1NY) where I operated the 40M SSB station.
Here is my 40M SSB setup. It consists of my FT-950, AFEDRI SDR-Net, PR-781 Microphone, Laptop with extended monitor, Dayton speaker with amplifer, couple fans and lights. I thought the SDR was a bit overkill for FD but it worked out nicely. Search and pounce was easier than ever with it.
Here I am on the air. Compared to years past I’m more relaxed even though I’ve been exposed in the very sunny, hot and humid weekend. I felt a little bad that I wasn’t on the air more but I’d rather see others on the air. Even though Field Day is considered an emergency preparedness exercise, the contester in me comes oozing out. I held it back this year but next year I plan to use my headset and DVK (Digital Voice Keyer) in the wee hours of Sunday morning and attempt to make the most amount of contacts for the site.
(Above photos courtesy of: Ken Allen – K2KHA)
Since my gear was used at Field Day, my station at home at a big “hole” where the 950 sat. With other things going on the 950 sat in it’s carrying case and didn’t bother to remove any of the gear until this past weekend due to some electrical issues at my house.
Since I wasn’t on the air, I figured to wall paper my office with DX QSL cards. I felt a little bad that I get these really nice QSL cards from all over the world for them to be shoved into a drawer. Let’s put them on display for all to see!
I still have a couple more projects in the home that require my attention and hopefully I can sneak away once in a while to play radio.
Thanks for reading and please check back, I do have a lot more articles to finish.
- Jeff NT1K
This weeks website of the week is HomingIn.com
If you are into Fox hunting or RDF (Radio Direction Finding) then HomingIn.com is a must visit website as it’s full of information. Even though the website appears to have been last updated in 1998, it’s updated often and I would say that it’s the “Go to” site for anything RDF.
A new website to learn and practice Morse telegraphy has been launched: http://lcwo.net/ - Learn CW Online There are already hundreds of training programs, MP3/CD courses and practice aids available, but LCWO follows a radically different concept: While sticking to well-proven methods for learning and practice, all you need for using LCWO is a web browser! This gives the user the liberty to practice CW wherever an internet connection is available, always retaining the personal settings, scores and statistics. Currently the site, which is available in 27 languages offers a complete Koch method Morse course, code group practice, callsign- and plain text training modes and also allows to convert random text to Morse MP3s. A high score list is available to compare results with other users, personal statistics help to track training progress. LCWO.net is a non-commercial project. Creating a free account only takes a few seconds, and you can start practicing CW right away! Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK
It has a decent layout and after making an account, it will track your progress. I’ve used this site many times. My favorite part being the Morse Machine which is the same as this piece of software
Now maybe I should learn Morse Code…. Some day!
I have been seeing a lot of preppers out there on the internet promoting Amateur Radio. For those who don’t know what a prepper is, you can compare it to a survivalist as they are similar in some ways. In my opinion a Survivalist learns how to live off the land and a Prepper is “Preparing” for an event. It can range from someone preparing for a storm all the way to someone preparing for when the S#!T hits the fan ( SHTF as they call it) or “Doomsday”, the end of the world. Some of them go far as building huge underground bunkers equipped with enough fresh water, food, power and ammunition to last for years. Recent TV shows like “Doomsday Preppers” have increased the spotlight on these types of people.
I think some of these extreme preppers are nutty but as long as they are spending their own money and don’t bother anyone else, they can prepare all the want. Who knows, they might have the last laugh but I am not going to spend my life worrying about a “What If”. By the way, I do believe that you should have at least some preparations such as a flashlight, weather radio and the plans that are mentioned on the Ready.Gov’s website. I am not here to put down the preppers.
At some point along the way in the prepper movement, it was mentioned that Amateur Radio is a necessity as it allows you to communicate with the “Outside World” and to keep tabs on what’s going on. It’s suggested on many websites and there are a lot of YouTube “Prepper” videos which promote Amateur Radio. I am all for promoting Amateur Radio but the way it’s being promoted is what bothers me. Instead of focusing on Amateur Radio as a whole, it’s only focusing on the prepper aspect of it with a sprinkle of EmComm. I know it’s their angle but there is more to Amateur Radio than just for using it during an emergency or when “Doomsday” happens and I wish more of these sites would mention it or dive into Amateur Radio a little deeper.
Preppers getting licensed at what cost?
I am glad they are getting licensed and I am sure certain radio organizations are glad so they boast about higher numbers, but at what costs? Sure, they have a license but are they going to use the radio other than listening? Are they going to take advantage of their new license? Are they going to be interested in the hobby other than from a prepper standpoint? I would rather see 10 people licensed that are active and really care about the hobby than 100 people get licensed to check into a couple nets and put their radio into storage mode.
I am NOT stating that Preppers shouldn’t get licensed!
I am glad they are taking the steps in being legal. It’s better than having the equipment in the hands of someone who has no clue what they are doing or don’t care. Hopefully while in the process of studying for their license that they see what Amateur Radio is all about and end up being more involved. All I ask is for these websites/bloggers/podcasters/youtubers that are promoting prepping and amateur radio to consult an active and established amateur radio operator. You wouldn’t want me on your show giving prepping advice just because I’ve read a couple blog sites. There are many operators that would love to make an appearance to correctly promote ham radio. all you would have to do is just ask.
This is just my opinion, I maybe wrong!
Thanks for reading and 73,
Jeff – NT1K
That’s right folks, I went to NEARfest. No, not the progressive rock festival but the New England Amateur Radio festival held every spring and fall in Deerfield NH. It’s considered to be New England’s largest and most attended hamfest. If you’re an amateur radio operator in the Northeast then there is no way you never heard about it. Due to other things going on in my life, it was either play in the New England QSO party (NEQP) or NEARfest. I can’t do both so I went to NEARfest but for only Friday.
Even though it’s not true, I’ll just say I’ve never been to NEARfest. I’ve been to Hosstraders which was the name of the hamfest before but I was very young and didn’t really pay attention to anything that was going on.
I left early Friday morning in hopes of getting there early. Further east I got, the more traffic started building up for those who are commuting to the Boston area. I got to the Fairground around 8:00 with a line of 20 or so cars of those who didn’t have tickets to “Get In” the fairgrounds. As the gates opened I was impressed in how fast people and cars were herded into the fair grounds. I was expecting a long wait because I assumed they were going to “inspect” everyone’s tickets. They did a great thing and sold tickets to every car in the waiting line.
Upon entering and parking, I wanted to shop right away to scoop up any deals before anyone else did. However I found out that most of the tailgating vendors were in the line with me and still had to setup. So the walk around the fairgrounds was to get a layout of the land. As more tailgaters and vendors were lining up I went around again and started purchasing stuff
My Shopping List
- 250pf Variable Capacitor (Antenna Project)
- Toroids – Various sizes and types (Antennas / RFI projects)
- MCX to SMA connector (RTL-SDR)
- Soldering Station (Grounded Variable Temp)
- Various RF connectors
- RG-213 cable
What I ended up purchasing:
- Rigrunner - Well within my price range
- MH-31 Handheld Dynamic Mic ( For my FT-736R)
- 250pf Cap (not the butterfly type like I was hoping)
- Toroids – Two tailgaters were selling various toroids. Wasn’t sure of value but purchased anyway
- Various sizes and values of variable caps – They were cheap enough
- MCX to SMA cable
- Battery for my Motorola XTS3000
- RG214 cable
So I purchased some stuff that was not on my list. Who doesn’t
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect when I showed up. For the most part everyone was friendly and you can see the “cliques” forming. All the military stuff was in one area, all the whackers had their light shows parked next to each other and it appeared that it was more of a social gathering of hams than a “Flea Market”. I was expecting NEARfest to be similar to the Swap/Sale section of the QRZ forums with everything marked up because it’s “Vintage”, “Rare” or “Barley Used” but I was glad to see that most of the tailgaters and vendors had decent prices with a sprinkle of those who think their equipment should go for as it were new.
When it comes to anything amateur radio related, I expected the smelly ham, the mega obese ham, the scooter ham, the mega nerd and the high visibility whacker ham. What is a Ham Fest without them. I was expected to see them, I did and I am used to that. However this year I saw quite a few “Boston Marathon” hams to point where I could have made a drinking game for every one I saw. I guess by wearing the neon yellow (or blue) jacket you’re telling everyone in eyesight that ”I was there man”. I am not sure of a reason to wear that jacket other than at the Boston Marathon or to show off that you were at a tragic event. I’m still not clear as to why someone would constantly wear it. Haven’t notice people wearing previous years jackets like what I saw this weekend.
On another note, I got to meet and have a very small chat with Burt Fisher (K1OIK), who is a known in the Amateur Radio world for his youtube videos, some of which are very controversial. Some might find him to be offensive, a trouble maker and demeaning to amateur radio but I really don’t think so. I may not agree with everything he says but he is just a person with an opinion. With differences aside, He has a lot of very informative videos so I give him credit.
I would have to say that I had good time. However I wouldn’t return unless I had a reason to go that would make the effort worth it. I could have purchased all the stuff that I got from the fest online for similar prices including shipping. If I had a bunch of stuff to sell or was looking to purchase a big ticket item such as a transceiver, amplifier or antenna rotor then I can see it worth returning. If you’re active in amateur radio in the Northeast, then I would at least go once.
Thanks for reading,
Jeff – NT1K
One of the things that attracted me to Amateur Radio is the community of people who are eager to help. If you’re having trouble with the exam, wanting to design and/or install an antenna, repairing a radio, purchasing the correct radio, working a kit or project or whatever it may be and you need help, all you have to do is ask and most of the time someone is willing to help. With the advancement of the internet and the use of forums and social media, it’s eaiser than ever to get the help you need from someone who has the correct answers.
For my first WOTW (Website Of The Week… Yeah, I’m calling it that) is KB6NU’s blog. I like his site because it’s current and frequently updated both in design and content. However the main attraction of his website is his “No-Nonsense Study Guides” to obtain or upgrade an amateur radio license in the USA. These guides gives you the questions and answers that are on the test with a brief explanation in way that makes it easy to understand. This allows the reader to get a general idea of what the questions are about w/o having to read pages and pages. It’s more than just memorizing questions.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve learned more about amateur radio after obtaining my license because I wanted to, not because I have to. License manuals from the ARRL are filled with all the information you could possibly need to get your license (or upgrade) but for someone who is brand new to the hobby, it can be overwhelming with all this information being thrown at you at once. Some might argue that this information is necessary to know before obtaining a license and I somewhat agree. I wouldn’t want to see an operator cause interference, damage property or injure themselves or others but I don’t think they will be building a legal limit amplifier and erecting a 100′ tower right from the start.
Personal opinions aside, the questions in the exam are in there for one reason or another. KB6NU’s guides makes it easier to learn and I wish used them while I was obtaining my licenses. KB6NU’s guides are public (in PDF format) and I strongly suggest that if you find them useful that you donate through his website
Thanks for reading,
- Jeff (NT1K)
Website of the Week. May 1st 2013: KB6NU’s Ham Radio Blog