June, 1999


Portable Operation

Fox Hunt

Our Last RANV Meeting

The Prez Sez

RANV Field Day

Contest Corner

W1SJ - 30 Years

Mixing Radio Signals

Ham Radio Camp

RANV Closes Another One


Amateur Radio Week

Exam Session

Coming Up!

Thoughts From Dayton

The June RANV Meeting

The warm weather is here and it's time to grab the radios and head out to the field. Our June meeting will discuss all the details involved in operating amateur radio away from home. We will look at power sources, antennas and even the best radios to use. The second part of the meeting will look at the important aspect of antenna safety. Many procedures involving antenna erection are potentially dangerous and it is important to understand these dangers and attempt to reduce or eliminate them. Even after the antennas are safely erected, it is important to consider the implications of RF safety.

Of course, all of this talk of portable operation leads up to Field Day on June 26-27th. We will present details on this year's Field Day plans.

Things get underway with Snax-at-Zacks at 6pm. Please join us for the next RANV meeting on Tuesday, June 8th.


It's time once again to get out your detective kit and go looking for the Fox. The next RANV Fox Hunt will take place Friday evening, June 18th at 7pm on the 145.15 repeater. For safety reasons, all hunters must check in with the Fox before starting out on the hunt.

The foxes are Dan N1PEF and Mike N1UWT. They will be hidden in a public accessible place in Chittenden County, provide at least an S-1 signal at I-89 Exit 14 and will transmit at least 10 seconds out of every minute. Dan and Mike dug into a very interesting and challenging foxhole the last time out. John N2YHK tells us that he will be victorious this time over arch-rival W1SJ. We haven't heard from some of the other competitors yet, but it is suspected that they are planning on victory also.

You can't win if you don't hunt, so please come on out and join us!


by Paul AA1SU, Sec'y

Our last meeting was held on May 11th at the fashionable O'Brien Civic Center in beautiful downtown South Burlington.I arrived fashionably late, not wanting to leave Mitch to dine alone at Zacks. We arrived to find Mike and Beau showing off their impressive antenna arrays on top of and next to their Roving Ford Explorer. We had fun looking at the many different beams and verticals on the roof.

Soon, we went inside for the introductions and miscellaneous club business. Once settled down, we got to see the radio set up that Mike N1JEZ and Beau N1MJD use while they are contesting as rovers in VHF/UHF Contests, where they can work six meters up to light. The roving station got set up in January 1997 as two people being bored and looking for some ham radio fun. During the January, 1997 contest, they scored 7K points, and in January, 1999, they scored 119K points. So, they have really come a long way with their station and their operating skills. The popular months for these contests are January, June, August, and September.

The object of the contest is to make points and work multipliers. Multipliers are Maidenhead Grid Squares. As a rover station, N1MJD can work the same station over again on the same band once they move into a new grid square. This makes them very popular. Once a contact is made, a query is made to see if the operator has other bands in his/her shack. If so, a quick announcement of the frequency, a push of the memory button, the exchange, and another QSO is logged.

Preparation for the January QSO Party included visits to the local library to study routes for maximum movement and maximum altitude. Their contest software of choice is called VHF Test, by Al Hubers. It is the only software that can account for what a rover does best - change grid squares. It also remembers what bands that a station previously worked has in the shack, making the band change process even faster.

Some of the other topics covered were: where to get radio kits for the higher bands, what is a good, low loss cable (9913F), why insurance is so important, getting permission to operate, and safety factors in this lawsuit crazy world. Of course, the funny stories were also mentioned.

During the contest, they drove from Virginia to Vermont, activating several grid squares. Beau said, "Everything that you see here can be used with a Technician-No Code License. It is very easy to take your hand held radio, drive down Route 7, activate 2 to 4 grids, and make some contest contacts as a rover on FM Simplex. Hams will really appreciate it and you'll have fun too."

We want to thank our guest speakers for a truly educational and entertaining presentation.


by Eric N1SRC, president

I'm buzzing after driving to Colorado and back. The trip takes about 33 hours so it is good to have a trusted copilot. We left the 2-meter rig scanning the repeater outputs. There was some activity near Buffalo, Chicago and various parts of Nebraska, but it was mostly quiet. A call on the 146.52 MHz calling frequency often got a response, but our Saturn uses that frequency to talk to its fuel pump or something, so this was not very satisfying. We got some small zaps when we pulled the antenna plug as we got close to a thunderstorm in Omaha. At over 60 strikes a minute I did not think the radio would do well once we got into it. It was the most spectacular lightning I have ever seen. In Colorado Springs, at the base of Pikes Peak, there is a lot of activity on simplex. When we ran communications at an all day event we went to low power on one of the 15 kHz splinter frequencies.

They have a repeater club that spends a lot of time keeping a large linked network of repeaters with phone patches up and running, despite the lightning and high winds. There is also a wide area repeater on Pikes Peak (over 7000 feet above the terrain to the east, almost twice as high as Mt. Mansfield). Pikes Peak itself has few radio services on it, due to the severe weather and the ready availability of Cheyenne Mountain which provides better coverage to the south. There is a service club that runs a traffic net and does VE sessions.

The repeater came alive when there was severe weather about. On the last day we were there, a thunderstorm built up and moved down south over the city. It dumped a foot of marble sized hail on one spot and then switched back to rain. It singed some school children with some lightning, and spun off some tornadoes south of town. The rain plus the melting hail filled up the waterways south of town and sent them over their banks in under an hour. It was useful to listen to the reports so that we could steer clear of trouble spots. I was surprised to find that NOAA weather radio coverage out there was very poor. Colorado Springs (with more folks than Vermont) does not have weather broadcasts and it is very difficult to receive the Pueblo or Denver stations. We also found that the narrow scope of NOAA broadcast reports made weather radio nearly useless for updating our travel plans.

We did listen to some CB for a bit. There are some very good operators on there, but it is X-rated too much of the time. We also found a $300 10m AM rig on sale at one of the truck stops. It has a notice about licensing in very fine print on the back of the box. It looks a lot like the other CB rigs. This may make it an interesting sunspot cycle.

June 25-27, 1999
Be a part of Vermont's Premier Field Day Group!

Field Day
Nothing works on Field Day
Trying to erect my
Tower in the mud.

Beam drops
Almost falls on my head
Breaking the director
Looks like 20's dead!

Sung to the tune of Feelings. Words by N2NT.

WHAT: Field Day is an EVENT which must not be missed. It is a club outing, a cookout, a demonstration, a contest, an emergency exercise, a training and a lot of fun

WHEN: Antennas Friday 2-9pm. Setup Saturday 10am-2pm. Operating Saturday-Sunday. Tear-down Sunday 2pm.

WHERE: Redmond Road, Williston

WHERE: All amateur bands

WHO: Anyone interested

HOW: Any way we can

WHY: Dont Ask This Question!

Field Day takes place on the weekend of June 26-27th. The goal of the exercise is to set up an amateur radio station under emergency conditions and make as many contacts as possible. This means that the station is built from scratch and is powered by something other than the power company. Setup takes place starting at 2pm Friday. Operating runs for 24 hours starting on 2pm Saturday followed by tear down.

There are many categories of participation and we elect to operate in the 2A category. This means that we have 2 transmitters on the air at all times, which we set up on phone and cw, all bands. In addition, the rules permit several "free" stations: Novice, Satellite and VHF. The operation is completely self-contained, with everything powered off of gasoline generators and batteries. The operating locations are housed in tents and trailers. The site, located Redmond Road in Williston, Grid Square FN34kl, has a commanding view to the West.


Field Day doesn't happen by magic (well, maybe a little). Dedicated and knowledgeable people work together to make it happen. We'd love to have you join with us. Recruit others to participate in Field Day!

Some of the jobs available: antenna erectors (Friday), generator and power distribution, shelter erectors, food handlers, station tear down (Sunday) and of course, operators. The payment for your hard work: invaluable knowledge from the Field Day experts. And you get to receive all the bragging rights (but only if we do well).

If you are planning to participate, it is essential that we know who you are so that you can get all the pertinent information. While it is possible to "just show up", it is much better to be part of the planning process and get information about what is going on before arriving at the site where everyone is running around in chaos.

ign up for whatever hours you can spare to be available. If you can't decide, then come for the whole show! Contact Mitch W1SJ or call 879-6589 evenings.


If you cannot participate, or your time is very limited, please come out to the Field Day site and visit us. This is important for two reasons: 1. It lets you know what your fellow amateur operators are up to and it will get you inspired to show up next year; and, 2. Visitors help boost morale of the crew. Best time to visit is during the operating times Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday morning.


If you cannot get out to the Field Day site, by all means, please attempt to contact us on as many bands as you can. We work very, very few amateurs in the local area and would like to increase this number. In particular, we especially need local VHF contacts on our QRP solar powered station. All QSO's with us qualify you for the coveted W1NVT QSL card!


Communication is mostly via E-mail. There will be a planning meeting Monday, June 21st, 7pm at W1SJ. Field Day information is available from W1SJ via E-mail or phone. After Thursday, all inquiries should be made on the 145.15 repeater.

If you plan to come to the site, come prepared. Bring clothing to cover both hot and cold conditions. We'll be outside in the elements so bring what is needed to protect from sun, rain or bugs. The show goes on despite the weather! New this year will be a food service with limited soft drinks and barbecue hot dogs and burgers but you should also bring snacks.


Friday, 2pm-9pm: Antenna Setup. Too few people put up too many antennas.

Friday 8:30: Spectacular sunset

Friday, 9pm-?: Annual Field Day Feast. Watch as millions of mosquitoes gorge themselves on unsuspecting, unprotected humans. Fortunately, few humans hang around to watch.

Saturday, 10am-2pm: Station setup. Nothing works right and everyone is cranky.

Saturday 2pm - Sunday 2pm: Field Day operating. So much RF that the mosquitoes are wiped out. Smoke from the rigs.... Fire in the generator. Are we having fun yet?

Saturday 6-9pm: Dinner!

Sunday 2pm-5pm: Tear down. See how fast hams can run from a falling tower!


SSB: 14.175: 1800-0100, 3.8: 0100-1200, 14.175 or 21.275: 1200-1800

CW: 20/40: 1800-0300, 40/80: 0300-1200, 40/20/15: 1200-1800.

Novice: 28.4 if or when 10 meters opens. 80/40 CW if we find a Novice CW operator.

VHF: 146.55 FM top of the hour, 50.125 SSB 20 minutes past, 144.2 SSB 40 minutes past. The 145.15 repeater will be monitored

SATELLITE: RS-12, RS-15, FO-20, FO-27, FO-29, when they are in view.


To get to the Field Day site, take Route 2A (Exit 12 off of I-89) to Mountainview Drive. This is 2 miles North of I-89 or 1 mile South of Essex Junction. Take Mountanview Drive EAST for 1 mile; make left on to Redmond Road. Take Redmond Road to top of hill (less than a mile). Look for hams, antennas, guy wires, etc. Try not to hit any of these.

If all else fails, the Field Day site can be reached on the 145.15 repeater. Look for W1NVT on the air!


by Paul AA1SU

This month, Mitch and I find ourselves a little humbled because of the new extensive cross checking that the contest logs are now going through. With their advanced computer log checking programs, the ARRL has meticulously examined every QSO in the logs, with surprising results. Any mismatch in the exchange, and the QSO is voided. Two more QSOs are removed as a sort of fine for miscopied callsigns. For the November 1998 CW Sweepstakes, my QSOs were docked by almost 30% and Mitch had a similar experience. We applaud the league for their fine attention to detail, but good grief, what an eye opener. It was my first Sweeps and I'll be more careful this November.

Fred N1ZUK has a new used 6-meter radio and he has been keeping it busy. He caught a opening during a contest last month and picked up 16 grids in casual operating with a delta loop. He is up to 26 grids by now!

The League has also announced new E-mail addresses for contest log submission. Starting with Field Day, all electronic submissions will have to go to the new address for that particular contest. The address will no longer be valid. Instead, it will be,, etc. See the upcoming Contest Corral's in QST Magazine for the address of other ARRL contests.

For the month of June, we have the June VHF QSO Party on the 13th & 14th. The scoring is tiered by band so, check out May QST, page 94 for complete details. The multipliers are grid squares. For FM simplex try 146.55 and 146.58 as well as 446.00 MHz. The contest runs from Saturday at 2pm to Sunday at 11pm. That weekend also features some odd HF Contests. There is the TOEC WW Grid Contest for SSB. The multiplier is also a grid square. Portugal is having a one-day DX Contest. The following weekend features another VHF contest, the SMIRK QSO Party, which is a popular six-meter event. The West Virginia QSO Party is 2 meters through 160 meters, but is only 6 hours long. Multipliers are WV counties (maximum 55).

The main event for June is Field Day. It runs from 2pm to 2pm on Saturday & Sunday, the 26th & 27th. We will provide the radios, but you need to come down and operate. It's a wonderful experience for those of you not able to operate more than the local repeater, if that. Please feel free to drop by for a while. We need a lot of help.

On the weekend of July 10, we have the CQ WW VHF Contest. The rules are similar to the ARRL version. We also have the IARU HF World Championship. It runs from 8am Saturday to 8am Sunday. I entered mixed mode last year and got first place for Vermont. The exchange is signal report and ITU Zone (8). Both of these will keep the airwaves hopping. All the details can be found in the June QST for the VHF, and April QST for the IARU HF.

We are not getting the club participation that I had hoped for, so my future club scores will go towards the YCCC. If however, we have three logs from RANV members for any upcoming contest this year, we may submit it that way.



By Old Buzzard, W1SJ

As I write this, I am celebrating my 30th anniversary as an amateur radio operator. I'm certainly not the longest running ham radio show around - we have members who are well beyond 40 years. I'm surprised that I stuck with one thing so long!

It seemed like only yesterday that I was a little JN (Johnny Novice). It was 1969 and a couple of months shy of the first walk on the moon. I was a short wave listener and each evening I scoured the bands for new stations and countries with my trusty Heath GR-54. However, each Friday evening, my receiver picked up this strange quacking sound across all frequencies - even with the volume turned down. One evening I traced this anomaly to an actual frequency on 14.3 MHz and the thought occurred to me to switch the receiver to SSB. I was listening to John W2LWB, about 300 feet up the block, whose 100 watt transmitter was overloading the receiver. Several days later, I invited myself over to check things out. I found a classic ham radio shack in the attic. Walls literally paved with equipment. I was psyched! I picked up a License Manual and I was on my way.

John gave me my Novice test and I passed the 20-question test. I seem to remember that the wait for the license was something like 4 weeks. It seemed like years. Each day I checked the mailbox and... nothing. I was sure that the mailman absconded with it. This was the same mailman I would accuse of later stealing my QSL cards! Finally, in June, it arrived! Effective June 1, 1969,I was officially WN2JSJ. The equipment was all set up and ready to go. I pounded CQ's on 40 meters for hours. Back then, a Novice was relegated to CW. And there were no 2 meters repeaters! Finally, I got an answer - DX all the way from New Jersey - a torturous 40 mile QSO which was lost when the skip came in!

Ten months later I upgraded to Advance and the call automatically changed to WB2JSJ. In between there were a lot of contests, fox hunts, Field Days and general debauchery. In 1996, through the vanity program, the call shortened a little to W1SJ.

Strangely, I still enjoy an occasional slow code contact on the Novice segments. I guess it is nostalgic and gets me back to my roots!


By Mitch W1SJ, Vermont Technical Coordinator

The transistor is an amazing device which is the basis of virtually all electronics today. All transistors contain junctions which are very much like diodes. Diodes are renowned for their ability to mix RF signals. When two signals are mixed, the result is the two original signals, plus their sum and their difference. The general term we use for undesired mixing is intermodulation, or IMD, for short.

Here is an example which anyone in the North Burlington area can observe. During the day, when you tune to 770 kHz on the AM broadcast band, you hear what appears to be two stations on top of each other. The two stations are WVMT on 620 kHz and WKDR on 1390 kHz; both are located nearby and are very strong. A diode junction somewhere in the receiver will mix the two signals and produce their difference (1390-620=770 kHz). If your radio would tune higher, you would also pick up their sum (1390+620=2010 kHz). Anytime you have two or more strong signals and a junction of a transistor or anything which behaves like a diode, you will have mixing!

Not all mixing is bad. Mixing signals forms the basis of the superheterodyne receiver and many types of transmitters. When you tune a receiver, you are actually changing the frequency of a miniature transmitter! This transmitter is mixed against the signal which you want to hear to create a new frequency. Let's say you wanted to receive a station on 99.9 MHz. In a typical FM receiver you actually are tuning a small transmitter to 110.6 MHz. The result of the mix is four signals: 99.9, 110.6, 210.5 (sum) and 10.7 (difference). Following this mixer is a bandpass filter which will only let the 10.7 MHz signal through and which will stop the other 3 frequencies. For any station you want to hear, you tune the receiver (actually transmitter) 10.7 MHz higher than what you want to hear and any station you pick up is converted to 10.7 MHz, which is aptly called the intermediate frequency. Don't believe it? Get two FM radios and tune one to around 107.7 MHz. Hold the second receiver nearby and tune it around 97 MHz. You should be able to dump a carrier on 107.7 MHz. There is a sticker on all FM radios that says they comply with FCC Part 15 (low power) regulations. Airlines freak out over use of FM receivers because the little transmitters in them dump right smack on the aircraft band!

Unfortunately, mixing can be a real pain for those who try to make receivers work. At repeater sites, there are often many transmitters with strong signals and ALL these signals will mix. Anyone who designs a system must use computer modeling to calculate all possible mixes (hundreds) from the available transmitters. Sometimes, it is the subtle, unpredicted mixes that get you. A UHF repeater I had was plagued with low-level interference whenever the transmitter came on. I was astonished to find that a 2-watt UHF transmitter in the building mixed with the 1-milliwatt, 12 MHz crystal oscillator, thus dumping a weak carrier right on the input of the repeater. The solution was elegant - I took the cover off the transmitter and the problem went away. That worked for years until a mouse decided to use the transmitter for his personal toilet, and, to make a long story short, liquids coming from a mouse are highly corrosive on circuit boards!

If mixing two fundamental signals produce four signals, then mixing three signals will produce even more signals. If the three signals are a, b and c, then the outputs are a, b, c, a+b+c, a+b-c, and a-b+c. A classic example of a 3-signal mix is found in Burlington at Fanny Allen Hospital. The mix involves the 146.61 repeater, and two pagers on 152.48 and 152.24 MHz. The math is: 146.61+152.48-152.24=146.85. As predicted, when all three transmitters are on, the 146.85 repeater from Essex is obliterated anywhere in the vicinity.

It gets worse! Not only must the original signals be considered, but also their 2nd, 3rd and 4th harmonics. Now the mixing possibilities abound. Years ago, there was a second receiver for the 146.85 repeater situated 600 kHz above the output on 147.45 MHz. When the broadcast station moved frequency a few years ago, this frequency became unusable. Why? The second harmonic of the station mixed with a pager (2x95.5-43.56=147.44). At a site with several transmitters it is easy to amass hundreds of frequencies with interference due to intermodulation.

Mixing can take place in receivers, transmitters, antennas and virtually anything which forms an electrical diode. Corroded connections are notorious for forming diodes. For years, I had a problem on 160 and 80 meters in which I would receive mixes from various radio stations, causing interference across the bands. The 3rd harmonic of WVMT (620 kHz) was especially nasty, usually pinning the S-meter on 1860 kHz, although it vanished as one moved away from my QTH. The problem would come and go, depending on weather and my transmitter power. After months of detective work, the problem was traced to my antenna! The connections from the coax to the dipole were corroded enough to form a diode! Cleaning and retightening the connectors fixed the problem. I suspect many of the nasty little noises on the 145.15 repeater are due to a diode forming somewhere near the antenna - probably due to corroding hardware.

How do you get rid of unwanted mixes? It takes a ton of work to find them and to eliminate them. First, seek out and destroy all unwanted diodes by looking for corrosion anywhere near an antenna system. Be suspicious of any metal - even rain gutters! Make sure all transmitters you use employ built-in harmonic filters. Finally, when you understand the dynamics of the mixing, obtain sharp cavity filters to either pass or notch out the appropriate frequencies. The details of how this is done is usually best left up to the experts - and they get stumped a lot!


The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce is offering a number of technical camps for Middle School aged kids (age 11-14) this summer. One of the camps which is of particular interest to our readers is the Radio Communications Camp. This camp will run July 12-16, Monday through Friday, 8:30 until 3:30 each day and will be held at the Essex Technical Center at the high school. The morning session will concentrate on electronics, propagation and technical topics, while the afternoon will focus on operating. The activity includes snacks and lunch. An amateur radio exam session will be offered at the end of the camp.

The camp fee is $166 for this 30-hour activity. Scholarships are available. For more information, or to enroll in the camp, contact Judith Derancourt at the Chamber of Commerce at 863-3489, extension 219 or E-mail to Deadline is Friday, July 9th.

This will be a great opportunity to get your kids involved in a fun activity involving amateur radio. I KNOW that the camp will be great! Why? Because the instructor is none other than W1SJ!


Those of you familiar with the short history of RANV know that we are very rough on the restaurants in which we hold the monthly Steering Wheel meetings.

Back in 1991, we started in a small diner in Milton called the Village Lepruchan. It went away after a couple of years, although I've seen a new place open up there recently. After that our "home" was Denny's , next door to the Champlain Mill in Winooski. That closed down a couple of years later, and stayed vacant up until last year!

We decided to move to a solid restaurant with a long history and one which would be around for a while. For about a year, we met at Howard Johnson's. Well, you guessed it - they closed down and became a Friendly's. Next we moved up to Shoney's in Colchester - a new place with very large crowds. We found a permanent home, or so we thought! Last week, we learned that Shoney's will be transforming into another Friendly's in July.

RANV now has a new service we offer to restaurateurs. For an undisclosed donation, we will hold our Steering Wheel meetings at the location of your competition. We guarantee that they will be gone within 2 years!

Meanwhile, we will keep you posted on where the July Steering Wheel will be moving to.


Get ready to fire up the VHF radios and take part in the fireworks for the June VHF QSO Party on June 12-13th. The June contest coincides with sporadic-E season on six meters. Last year was a tremendous blow-out with hundreds of grids across the country logged. The interesting thing is that 6-meters is totally unpredictable and could fall flat on its face. Of course there is always consistent activity on 2-meters to keep you busy.

If you have a multimode radio on the various VHF bands, then you are all set. Grab a good beam and head off to the nearest hill. If you are only on FM, you can make a lot of contacts on 146.55 simplex if you pick good high operating spots. The closer you are to population, the more people there will be to work.

The QSO Party starts 2pm on Saturday and runs until 11pm Sunday night. Exchange your grid square, which will be FN34 if in Northern Vermont above Middlebury. Good Luck in the contest!


Governor Howard Dean has proclaimed the week of June 22-28, 1999 Amateur Radio Week in Vermont. Please join me in celebrating this proclamation by getting on the air if you can. This is in conjunction with the ARRL which has proclaimed the week National Amateur Radio Week. It is also the week of Field Day, which is a super opportunity to get on the air This is the second year for this proclamation.

Bob DeVarney, WE1U
ARRL Vermont Section Manager


The next Volunteer Exam session in our area will be on Friday, June 18, starting at 6pm at the Essex Town Office, 81 Main Street. Please contact W1SJ to enroll for the session. No one will be admitted late. Please bring 2 forms of ID, pen, pencil and $6.45 cash exam fee.


Unlike some organizations, RANV doesn't go to sleep in the summer. There are still plenty of activities to get involved with.

The tentative program for the July 13th meeting will be the annual radio tune-up clinic, held outside on the lawn, weather permitting. This is a meeting dedicated to analyzing the performance of mobile and portable radios and doing some tweaking to get them in top form.

Our summer picnic is tentatively scheduled for August 7th at Knight's Point State Park. There is discussion to make this a combined YCCC DX club meeting as well.

Other activities: potential multiop in the IARU contest July 9-11th and the summer Fox Hunt on August 20th. Stay tuned for details!


by Mitch W1SJ

The Dayton Hamvention is the largest amateur radio gathering in the world, and it sets the tone for where amateur radio has been and where it is going. Interspersed with rambling stories, here are my thoughts on this year's event.

The attendance this year was right around 25,000, which is both good news and bad news. When you consider that this event reached a peak of over 35,000 in the mid 90's and has dropped 5-10% each year since then, that is certainly an ominous sign. In every way measurable, participation at amateur radio events is dropping. This doesn't necessarily mean that the service is dead, but instead, it is attempting to reach a realistic level after some very inflated years - we hope! The good news is that with over 30,000 people, Hamvention had the ambiance of a packed subway car - you were always standing wall-to-wall with other people. Granted, even this year, Saturday was very crowded, but it is getting more tolerable than in the past. Consequently, things which were very difficult to obtain, such as parking, flea market spaces and lodging, are now more available.

The flea market is still the size of a small country and would probably have its own zip code, if it stayed around longer than a few days. However, something interesting is happening to me and to all of the hamfest veterans. I've attended Hamvention for 19 years and only missed two in that span. In that time, I've pretty much bought it all, and if I didn't buy it, I've probably considered buying it at one time. It is getting harder to find things which interest me, but I always do find them. Other hamfest veterans claim to have the same feelings. So, although I didn't need anything and wasn't looking for anything, I still managed to spend $150 on stuff. Such is the fun of fleamarkets! Many purchases took the form of replacement batteries for aging Nicads, but I also picked up a nifty 300-watt inverter for a very reasonable price. The overriding rule is: he who has the most toys, wins!

The latest and greatest are always on display at Hamvention, but I am rarely interested these days. Frankly, I see a lot of toy radios chock with features but not much in the way of pushing the envelope for better receivers and transmitters. There seems to be a fetish with getting a computer involved with everything, when the real question is should be when to NOT use the computer and use operator savvy instead.

Dayton has become a social fest for many of us. Many people are regulars and I check in with friends from all over the world and see how they are getting on. Much of the day in the flea market is spent ragchewing - time which could be better spent buying more stuff! After the hamfest day, we have a regular gang at the motel known for terrorizing the local eateries. And then, if you still can stand (and in the last few years, I've had trouble doing this), there are hospitality suites which you can run into contesters, DXers, packeteers, whatever.

Saturday night is the Grand Banquet. Being a speaker at the Hamvention, I've been able to get complimentary tickets. Unfortunately, some of the speakers at the banquet in the past provided a great backdrop to catching up on much needed sleep! However, the last couple of years, the committee has worked to make the banquet a real event. This year's speaker was WB6ACU. Most know him by his real name Joe Walsh, who has played rock and roll with groups like the Eagles and the James Gang. During the day, he was seen dropping a lot of money on a real cherry Collins station. At night, he and the band kicked out several thousand watts of amplification and blew all the old people out of the banquet inside of 5 minutes. By the time Joe got to do some of his most memorable hits, Life's Been Good to Me So Far and Rocky Mountain Way, the banquet crowd - with HT's in tow - had already moved up to and was leaning on the stage. It was a real fun evening!

You may have come away from this article that amateur radio is in trouble and not worth doing anything with. That is NOT the message. Despite the readjustment of numbers and attendance, we all did what we do best - had a lot of fun. And this will continue in future years! The whole point is to have fun and let the attendance figures fall where they may. I recommend that you plan to go out to Hamvention and see just how much ham radio can be!

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