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Hamvention

     Well, another Hamvention has come and gone.  I hope that everyone with an interest got to go and had a great time.  If not, then there is always next year!  As for me, Aliesha and I plan to have a recently born child this time next year so I decided to make this one count.  I rented a room in Marionist Hall of the University of Dayton and brought with me Guy, KC8SEY and Chris KC8UFV.  We went down Saturday morning and came back Sunday afternoon.  At the hall we met up with our friends Andy K8DJK his father Shannon KA8SPW and their party.

   We got off to a bit late of a start, due mainly to me struggling to get the APRS setup working in the car.  I had an OpenAPRS map on the front page of this site with a notice that I would have it centered on us for the trip down.  Unfortunately this didn't work out so it showed us in Toledo the whole weekend.  Oh well, one of these days I am going to set up a permanent APRS station in the car,  maybe a Tiny Tracker.

   The theme at Hamvention this year was Digital Radio.  For me however it was components.  As I explained in my last entry, my focus was on finding all the components for a list of projects I would like to build soon.  I did ok, I still have  a few left to obtain but I have the vast majority of them.  I had no idea how much work this would be though.  Reading the little numbers on all those bins all day long looking for specific values definitely takes a toll.  The worst part is all the values which are multiples of 10 from one another, it's so easy to think you found it then take a second look at the decimal point... no it's not.  By the end of the day Saturday I was feeling dizzy from walking around the same table so many times looking for a few value capacitors i might have missed in the first 20 passes.  Or maybe it was just time to eat..

   One tip I have for anyone trying to do this is to put all your components on one list.  I made separate lists for each project I wanted to build.  I thought this was a good idea at the time so that if I couldn't get everything for all the projects I could at least focus on getting everything for a couple of them.  Keeping track of all those pages was too much.  I kept glancing down at the bins, then back to the notebook to flip pages, loosing my place in one then the other.  It's much better to have everything on one sheet separated by part type and sorted by value.  Actually, skip the notebook altogether and get a clipboard.  Throw the parts in a bag and plan on sorting them later.  Just make sure the parts are well marked first.  If not then if they are in a paper tape write the value on it before throwing them in the bag.  If they have no writable surface then get a small bag from the vendor and throw them in that.  If the bag is writable then great, if not then put your receipt in the small bag with the component's value written on it.  Then tie the small bag shut and throw it in your main bag.  Check the part off the list and move on.

   Also, watch what you are getting.  I bought a pack of capacitors at Mendelson's from a bin marked 470pf.  The markings on the capacitors say 470 which as I understand capacitor markings normally means 47 X 10^0 or in other words 47pf.  Of course, capacitor marking schemes do vary a lot.  My cheap capacitance meter will not go that low to check it.  I have a nicer one which might but it's still boxed up in the garage somewhere from the last move so I guess I had better find it before I try to use these capacitors.  I also purchased a couple of value capacitors which look like two lead transistors.  I don't know what kind of capacitor is mounted that way and since they will affect the stability of my filters and oscillators I had probably better find out.  I picked them up because they were the only ones I found of their values.  

   I intended to look up some of the people I knew from the Ypsi/Arbor area.  Unfortunately it took a lot more time and energy searching for parts than I expected so I barely even stayed with my own party during open hours.  I did run into Jay, WB8TKL a lot though. He seemed to be hiding just around the corner of every other table I went to!  Even though I didn't see them much at the show our party kept in contact pretty well.  I tried to get a vendor to give me commission when I called two people over to buy antennas from him but I guess he wasn't that impressed... We all got together for lunch and my party plus Andy went to an Irish pub that night.  My first beer since starting the diet was good!  While we were eating a bachelorette party showed up and the bride to be was running around with a male blow up doll.  Except for Andy we were pretty tired so we only stayed a couple hours or so.   I'm thinking making it a three day weekend in the future would be a good idea.


Quick cellphone snapshot I took of the resistors
   This was my first hamfest where I had a speaker-mike and headphones.  I could actually hear when someone called me!  To get ready for the trip I took an old small microphone which I had removed from my first radio, a Santec ST-144up. The original radio was very very dead when I threw it away but I kept the mic.  To use it with my VX-7 I rewired it and soldered new plugs to the end which fit the CT-91.  The speaker doesn't work very well any more but that was ok because what I really wanted was to use earphones so I left that side disconnected.  I did pick up 4 mini-speakers for 50 cents each which I think will probably fit so that I can fix it.  I do realize this wasn't worth my while just to get a speaker mike because they have been quite cheap at EBay lately plus a new one would look a lot better.  I've been making a real effort to build, fix things myself though and it's kind of nice being able to use a part of my first radio still.

   Like always, I insisted we stay to the last minute to see what the vendors abandoned.  Chris and I ended up with an egg-crate sized box 3/4 full with military grade 1% precision resistors!  We went through them when we got back to his place intending to split them up.  There were only about 5 or 6 values in there and none were on my list.  I know they can be combined to get other values but there is no way either of us would use an entire half of them in one lifetime.  We decided to leave them together and see if TMRA can put them to good use.

   Some vendors don't want anyone getting the things that they abandon so they break them before they leave.  For 2009 I think the dumbass of the year award should go to the guys selling laser printers in one of the back corners of the fleamarket.  After throwing all their unsold printers against the pavement and smashing them up they decided it was fun to do the same with all their toner cartridges.  Apparently they must have been selling color lasers because all colors of huge and pretty clouds started rising up from their area.  Each time they busted one they cheered at the new cloud like Fourth of July fireworks.  Many toner cartridges contain ultra-fine particles which the body cannot easily flush out of the lungs and cause damage.  We watched from a nice long distance as they danced in their own toxic fog.  I am still kicking myself for not taking a picture, I would have loved to post it here and also to send it in to Hamsexy.com.  It's not quite what they are normally about but I'm sure it would have made their front page anyway.


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