Orlando Hamcation Day 1

Today was the first day of Orlando Hamcation. We arrived a little before the gates opened, and wandered around looking at all the things until around 5 or so.

With three buildings full of exhibitors and vendors along with the “bone yard” (aka tailgating), there’s a lot to see here.

We started off in the Commercial I/II building where all the…well, commercial vendors were. All the big name companies in radio were there: Kenwood, Yaesu, MFJ, etc had tables, along with a bunch of other smaller but well known companies. Plenty of radios and accessories to look at.

The “Swaps” building was definitely the most interesting place. Basically one very large garage sale with just about everything radio related you could think of, and a lot of other non-radio things thrown in for good measure.

Had an eyeball QSO with Russ/N4RTD/@747Russ.

One of the highlights of today was visiting the ARRL table to see if anyone could tell Connie about the Wouff Hong. Robert (NQ1R) did one better and showed us the Wouff Hong (well, a Wouff Hong pin really).

Wouff Hong
Wouff Hong

We met up with Connie’s dad again and spent some time wandering around the tailgating area to see what people out there had to sell. Got some good antenna building tips from him while we were looking.

Hamcation boneyard
Hamcation boneyard

I saw a few things that I was tempted to lay down some cash for, and a lot of antenna components that I was interested in. Lots of old vintage radio gear that was pretty cool. Saw some pretty decent looking straight keys that I was tempted by. Vibroplex had some very nice keys at their table, but a bit out of my price range.

I thought this window gap jumper from Comet was pretty brilliant. Flat coax for running the antenna line into the house through a window.

Comet window gap jumper
Comet window gap jumper

Didn’t see any antenna analyzers around though. Tomorrow we’ll head back and I’ll have a closer look at everything again and probably pick up a few things.

Also looking forward to meeting up with a few people tomorrow.


Went to the Charleston Hamfest today and spent a few hours wandering around checking out all the things. It’s a smaller event than the Atlanta Hamfest I went to in June, but I still enjoyed it. The variety of things to see wasn’t as big, but it was still fun seeing everything and meeting up with fellow hams.

I had big plans to acquire a bunch of antenna making supplies, like coax, wire, feedlines, connectors and other things, but after looking around a bit I decided I needed more of a shopping list to know what to get. Instead, I ended up with a cap with my call sign and name embroidered on it, and a table mounted magnifying lamp for the workshop. A couple of pretty good acquisitions, I think.

I’ll have to put a shopping list together for Hamcation next weekend.

Softrock Lite II completed

Finally got around to putting the last components on the Softrock Lite II receiver. It passes all the voltage tests, which seems like a good sign. I replaced the breadboard jumper terminals with a 9V battery connector to make it more portable. Now all I need to do is make an antenna connector and a wire to a sound card and I should be up and running with it. I’ve got a short length of coax with an SMA connector on it that I can use for the antenna connection, and I’m pretty sure I can find something in my junk box to cannibalize for the sound card connection.

Completed Softrock Lite II
Completed Softrock Lite II

Next on the air

Now that the HF radio is on the air, the next things I need to get set up are the VHF radio, the OpenBeacon and the Softrock receiver.

I’ll need to get/make suitable antennas and get coax for each of them.

The OpenBeacon needs to be reprogrammed, but it works. I can plug in a USB cable and watch it blink out slow Morse code (which is still almost too fast for me to copy). I can also hear it on the HF radio at 10.130 MHz. I’ll need to make up a suitable antenna for it.

The VHF radio should be all set to go once I get an antenna set up and hooked up to it.

Just need to get around to putting the last transformer on the Softrock receiver and make up the external connections to get it on the air.

I’ll need to make up a shopping list for the hamfest next week.

First contest

Operated for the last few hours of the North American QSO party last night. First contest I’ve participated in under my own call sign. There was a pretty good amount of activity on 40m when I was on and I added 17 more contacts to my log. I even managed to make one contact at 5W because I forgot to turn the power up on the radio after tuning it (look ma, I’m QRP!)

Didn’t hear much activity on any of the other bands, although I wasn’t listening too hard.

Had fun tuning around the bands making contacts. It was interesting seeing where my signal was reaching out to.