Had a really great time at this year’s Charleston Hamfest. With a few more hamfests under my belt and a better idea of what I’m looking at, it was easier to be more targeted with my shopping/browsing.
I sat in on the ARRL forum, where an update on ARRL activities was provided by Jim Boehner/N2ZZ, the Roanoake Division vice-director. Not really a whole lot I hadn’t already heard or read about on the ARRL website but still nice to hear the latest news. His update was followed by a very interesting behind-the-scenes look at the ARRL Lab given by Bob Allison/WB1GCM.
In the afternoon, I helped out with the CARS amateur radio licensing test session. Very good turnout for the testing session. Had 13 people in the room to take the test for upgrading or new license. Several new hams with Tech licenses left, and a few other hams walked out with new privileges. Very pleased to have been able to be part of that.
There were a lot of things that were very tempting to buy. One person had a lot of Morse code keys (mostly bugs and paddles), including a straight key that I was very tempted to buy (the one with the red knob in the lower left corner).
Instead of spending most of my hamfest budget on just one thing though, I decided to spend it on lots of little things, which turned out to be the better choice I think. I came back with a pretty good haul today.
There’s a couple bags of diodes I picked up (I think I have a lifetime supply of 1N4148 diodes now…100 for $1 was a deal I couldn’t pass up), some BNC and SO-239 panel connectors, a 4:1 balun, a couple of center insulators for making dipoles and a couple bundles of test leads.
From the “Free Stuff” table, I grabbed a couple of antennas (or bundles of wires that used to be antennas), some random pieces of RG-8 coax and some C battery holders.
I recall a while ago one of the local hams telling people to use these to make battery packs for HTs, because in an emergency situation AA and D cells are going to be the first thing stores run out of. I figure I can get some C batteries and put them to work as a power supply.
Someone had put an old Heathkit oscilloscope on the free stuff table, but by the time i went by for a second look, someone else had grabbed it. Note to self: If it’s on the Free Stuff table and you think you might want it, grab it.
I also added a couple more Forrest Mims Engineering Notebooks to the bookshelf.
I think I have everything I need to build at least a couple dipole antennas. Now to build them, and find a place to put them up…
All in all, a very good hamfest, even though it is small.
This year, I hope to be able to visit some other hamfests in the SC area (within an hour or two drive) and see what they’re like.