Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hamfest Report

"Report?" Well, I did find a nifty benchrest thingie for rifles. Didn't buy it but it was kinda kewl and priced to move at $75.00, American.


But I'm ahead of myself. Hey, waiddup!


The night promised rain and the dawn delivered. Buckets of the stuff, as the sun rose, backlighting a sky that looked like the beginning of an old movie with the backstory scrolling past in Egyptian Demotic.


Pretty neat, huh? But not, as we say, hamfest-friendly. It was even making for front-porch weirdness, either that or my camera spent the night at a rave, Tam not at all amused by early morning snapshottery:




Somewhat daunted by off-and-on rain in the sunshine, I did the Internettage and breakfast things and puttered around, hoping the rain would pass. Since I was pretty sure even if it did, the mud would linger, longing (as it does. Oh yes, I'm sure of it!) to find the toes of the unwary and squelch happily among them, I unearthed my hamfest boots, the tallest Carolina Pole Climbers made, touched them up a bit, and made ready. (I loves 'em but OMG, I just saw Wesco Highliners...!)

Naturally, the day became darker and gloomier while I did so, and was looming threateningly as I departed. But with the same luck that makes toast fall butter side down operating in surprised reverse, the sun was glimmering hopefully through fleeing clouds by the time I found my way to the far East side and beyond, to Camp Sertoma. To make up for it, the humidity was choking-thick and the ticket-worker advised me to park along the entrance road, "It's awful muddy out in the field and we wouldn't want to have to tow another one out."

No, indeed not!

Ticket tucked away in my purse, I set off. The tailgate area was off a bit but not much. I passed up an Atomic Engineering VOM -- pure niftiness but I'm pretty well set for meters. Saw a nice Atwater-Kent three-dialer and a Johnson Viking transmitter, with a (matching) VF-122 VFO atop it -- what for, I couldn't tell you, as the rig's got a nearly-identical one internally. Passed up a Harris linesman's test phone ($30.00) and shouldn't've -- my antique version needs a serious rebuild. Reflective letters and numbers were a fun find; I got enough to do my callsign.

I did stumble across other small items -- nice ceramic crystal sockets, an Army FM covering "Field Wiring Methods" for telecomms (hey, y'never know). The shelter building yielded some nice driver bits (#2 and #3 Phillips) at a buck a go and a router bit (roundover) for $6, along with a Harry Turtledove paperback.

In the Commercial Building, I found antenna wire, antenna rope, books (yayy!) including one on vertical antenna homebrewing and a 1920s reprint, "War Toys," including plans for a "machine gun" firing wooden bolts. It was a different time! I also picked up a ballcap with my name and callsign embroidered on the front (I blame Tam for the ballcap thing) plus odds and ends, and then dropped off my ticket for the prize drawing and spent some time with my dear friend Don H. at the hamfest organizer's table. He's always got an interesting tale or three (would you believe his wife recently spent a long vacation looking for hobbits in New Zealand? True -- and she did find their homes. Alas, hobbits had moved out. Still...). And we admired the work of homebrew genius R. A. Meiss, who entered a single-lever keyer/straight key in the competition and came away a winner. (He doesn't appear to have posted a write-up for that key but here's another that will give you a good idea of the quality of his designs and of their construction).

All in all, an excellent hamfest.

17 comments:

Turk Turon said...

Nice haul!

Hey, what is that keyer on the page you linked to that looks like it was made from the reel flange of a Nagra SNN ("Série Noire")? That looks cool.

I wanna make a water-driven key, you know, like the Pharoahs would have made. Or maybe a sand-driven key.

Roberta X said...

That reel-flange key would be one of his Rotobugs. Instead of a vibrating reed, he uses motion like the balance-weel in a watch escapement, with magnets taking the place of the springs. This has (so far) resulted in a mechanical fully-automatic telegraph key, which he is working on shrinking down to pocket size. He'll do it, too. WANT!

...Sand or water-powered? Would you key it by controlling the flow of the sand or water? Some interesting possibilities there, might even come up with an iambic water-key!

Joseph said...

Sounds like a great time, Roberta!!

Oh, and I most assuredly did NOT see Tam on any pic you posted in this missive. Nope. Not a single tall blond in ball cap and pony tail having a morning smoke in ANY of the photos.

aepilot_jim said...

It looks like the cats been wired for night lighting... Or is that the basement cat up to his eeeveeeelness?

D.W. Drang said...

Beginning to think I'm the only ham who does NOT have a ball cap w/name and call embroidered on it...

Roberta X said...

Tsk, Jim, it's Ms. Mittens (Tam's lovey-dovey cat that has thumbs) showing off her talents at radiodetection!)

DirtCrashr said...

I had absolutely NO idea what you were talking about except for the part about boots...

Stingray said...

I'm very glad that I didn't understand too much about the more expensive things described, because the stuff I did understand on the cheap end is already neater than kitten toes, and the last thing I need is *another* expensive hobby.

Fortunately, all I have to do to dissuade myself from investigating further is to re-examine the price of an aluminum radiator, or a GTX 280 graphics card, or an electric case prep center, or a dedicated keg fridge, or...

og said...

Me, I got the bug late in life so I never got as heavily involved. I do still droool at some of the kewlish old stuff (Atwater-kent... Mmmm) but I have a 2m/440 in the truck, and I rarely even use IT, except to monitor cop/fire freqs. I would probably get too heavily involved if I decided to go to a hamvention, and I have too damned many hobbies already.

I DO have a 2meter rig that would probably make a good base station, if I could get a moonbounce array going.... hmmmmm.

D.W. Drang said...

Entry-level Amateur Radio is actually pretty cheap. Mrs. Drang went pale when I told her I was testing for the ticket, then I showed her some prices, and it was suddenly OK. I mean, you can go large, tower in backyard with steerable beams, separate receivers and transmitters, amps, all that, but you can easily spend less than a thousand dollars and have quite a nice rig (including a hand-held and a mobile unit that could double as base station) that would be quite serviceable in case of emergency.

og said...

Drang: You ARE, kidding, right? Ham is like an iceberg. For every visible $1000 there's $9000 out of sight.

Roberta X said...

Depends, Og; for many years, I had a pittance in my ham setup: HW-16 transceiver, HG-10 VFO, both bought at giveaway princes back when old tube gear wasn't worth much along with a J-38 key I think I paid a dollar for, a homebrew tuner and simple wire antennas. At some point in there I picked up a QRP rig and it's prety much all just a blur from there on out.

og said...

Like I said.

rickn8or said...

Ms. Mittens?? Looks pretty normal from here.

What about Randy the Psycho Cat??

Word verification: jjohm.
(Georg's brother perhaps?)

Roberta X said...

Oh, other than the thumbs and her regal sense of entitlement, Mittens is perfectly normal. --Well, she does sleep holding a cat-dolly; she's the girliest cat I ever met.

Random Numbers is (IMO!) not psycho so much as she's a very small leopard in seach of teeny-weeny zebras and gazelles. The lack of 'em makes her...cranky.

Og: H'mmm. Y'might be onto something....

og said...

LOL! Everyone hasd to have at least one money pit hobby. Of all the ones I've trifled with (guitars, radios, knives, yadda yadda) guns are my money pit of choice. But I've certainly attempted to destroy my savings in several directions.

Oh, and the books.

rickn8or said...

Oh.

And I forgot to ask, did Ms Mittens approve of your plunder and permit you to bring it into her house?