Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dayton 2014 Part 2

My 2014 Dayton Purchases
My purchase moments while at the Dayton Hamvention® are those items you see in my photo to the left. My main planned purchase was going to be a portable antenna analyzer that could be easily carried with my current Buddipole setup. MFJ had one I was extremely interested in but I ended up with the iPortable IP60z. The early reviews on this unit were not very favorable but I know a few who have tested it with good results. So, I opted to purchase it. Things I like, this little unit covers the HF bands plus 6 meters. It is powered by a 9 volt battery so carrying a spare will keep me from finding it useless miles from the truck. And finally, the size and portability of the unit. I have the BIG MFJ analyzer but this will at least help me tune my portable antennas in the field. When you are running QRP, you want every watt to count. 

Next is my Buddipole Choke Balun which will help keep any unwanted RF from traveling down my feedline. I do on occasion run more power than QRP so this should help keep my audio from sounding funny and my rig from glowing. I purchased both from the Buddipole booth at Dayton. The highlight was purchasing these items from Steve, wG0AT. In 2010, I had some work related training in MO. My wife and I flew into MO and afterwards, we hit Ohio to visit friends and family. From there, we headed out to Colorado for a few days on our way back to Alaska. I had dropped Steve a note asking if it was okay to stop by. Steve gave us the thumbs up after getting approval from Rooster (SK) and Peanut. It was such an honor to spend a day with Steve and the goats climbing Mount Herman! Steve did a great video of our operation and I have to say, I was bitten by the QRP bug from then on! Thanks, Steve!!! I detailed a bit on my KL8DX blog

My final purchase was the interface and software by rt Systems which will allow me to easily program my Kenwood TM-D700D radios. I can now keep everything on my computer and when traveling to various locations easily upload my saved frequency information for various repeaters and simplex frequencies. Sean helped me decide on this purchase so it came highly recommended. 

Now, hitting Dayton was extremely memorable but it was great to finally put faces with callsigns. It was a pleasure to finally meet the BIG HAMMER himself, Tim KG8OC. With Tim, was his wife Sandy (KB8WJT) so it was a pleasure to meet her, too! Also highlights were finally meeting Karen, W4KRN and Curt, WA2JSG. Like Tim, I got to QSO with those two pretty frequently when I was in Alaska during SKCC events. Also with Curt, was Jim, K8SSS who I also worked a few times on the straight key while I was in Alaska. 

Through Facebook, I set a sked with Craig, NM8W. I used to work with Craig's cousin back in Ohio. Also, it was finally great to meet up with Warren, VA3UG. I've worked them on the bands as well and it was sure great to spend a bit of stadium seating time with them. Craig had his son with him so I bet there is a future ham in that household!

Grand kids
After Dayton, we made a quick trip up to see or daughters and grand kids. The advantage of being many thousands of miles closer is being able to see our grandchildren more frequently. You can sure bet I will introduce them to ham radio when it's time. The trip seemed short but it was extremely fun. I didn't get to do all that I wanted to but there hopefully will be future trips. I'm going off of memory as to those I met so hopefully I'm not forgetting anyone. 

The culmination to our Dayton adventure was the Dayton Contest Dinner on Saturday night. Sean. KL1SF and I sat with a few of the Alaska group. It was great to meet Kevin, KL7KY! I've heard Kevin on the bands for several years so it was nice to actually chat with him off frequency and meet him. Kevin was accompanied by Jeff, KL7JVD and Tim, KL7WV (aka W3YQ). Tim and I have a mutual Buckeye State connection, Dan W8CAR. I actually ran into Dan after Contest University so it was great chatting with him, too. 

Of the Alaska group, I had my eye out for Rich, KL7RA. Rich invited me into the Alaska contest group shortly after I had arrived to the 49th and with their help, I was able to dive into contesting and never look back. Being affiliated with the group really helped me grow as a contester. I wanted to finally meet Rich and thank him personally for helping me and also for allowing me to be part of the best group of contesters I know. Mission accomplished! I owe much of my success to them and for that, I will be forever grateful. 

My APRS Alaska Departure
It's hard to believe that a year ago, I was on my way to the East Coast. The APRS map shows my final packets sent while leaving Alaska. I think about Alaska often and sadly, I have not made a contact in many weeks! Life is just so busy here and with long commutes, long work weeks and short weekends, it feels as if there is no time for ham radio. My weekends are booked for the next few months and I'm looking forward to putting to use those items I purchased at Dayton. Yes, they are still in the bag I brought them home in. Rest assured, operating day will come again but for now, I will throw out an APRS packet burst from time to time. That will be the extent of my operating but if I can pull out a few minutes on a nice weekend, I'm looking forward to some /p operating. Could be wishful thinking but only time will tell, or that lack of...       

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