Saturday, March 22, 2014

My first Hamfest : Peel Region Amateur Radio Club Hamex

I went to my first ham-fest today.  I bought a mag-mount 2m/70cm dual band mobile antenna that I have already attached to my BaoFeng UV-5R, which came with a completely rubbish -280 dB Attenuation rubber-ducky antenna.   I'm only slightly joking, that's probably close to the real figures.

I also bought a G5RV.  I learned that G5RV is the callsign of the amateur who invented this classic multi-band HF wonder.   I began to think on how exactly I plan to put this baby aloft above my QTH. There, look, I'm talking like a ham.    I flat out refuse to use the word "destinate" though. That is not a word, hams, so quit using it like it is.

I met one of the fellows who wrote the Coax Publications study guide that I used to pass my exam; Geoff, wonderful guy, hooked me up a super deal on a soldering station, only $25.  That might have been the best deal I got all day, but here's the thing I'm actually most excited about, you may think I'm silly. I'll just post a picture.

The plan is to make a little Ham Shack call-sign thing with a glowing tube, and everything. What kills me is this is the only tube I saw for sale cheap that came with the socket.

I have a license. I have a radio.  I have not made ANY contacts yet. Zero QSOs.   Also, I did not have a Log Book. You don't need one, but I didn't want to "make my FIRST EVER QSO" and NOT LOG it. You know? So I bought a log book today. I made two entries, one for getting my license, and one for my first hamfest.  My log book is a hobby scrapbook.  While I was doing the Aquarium hobby I wish I had kept a hobby log.  

I signed up for a homebrew "buildathon" day with the Peel Regional club, and I'm very excited about it, it's in April, and we'll be building an HF band SDR based on the RTL-SDR dongle, and an HF upconversion board.   I have had an RTL-SDR dongle on order from China for about a year. Okay, 30 days.  I am a bit eager to get it, and get playing with SDR receivers.

But now that I have a log book, and can make log entries, I plan to start making some QSOs.  On 20 meters, using the mobile HF 20m antenna loaned to me by Carl.   I feel a bit stupid having this radio for several weeks, and being too scared to just get out there and Do Stuff.   But now, I have a log. I can record what I'm doing.

Also, today, I fought with my BaoFeng and figured out how to program in repeater frequencies, offsets, and tones.   Tones, alias CTCSS, alias several other things.  I have no idea if I programmed any of them in properly.  I tried transmitting and asking for help with a radio check, but maybe that's not the right procedure, or maybe everybody scatters when they hear some new guy descend on the repeater with their baofeng, and their lack of seasoned-ham Feng Shui.  Or maybe I'm just imagining it. It does feel like being the new guy in a high school of 800 people.

Tomorrow evening I plan to check in on an FM simplex net, so that should go better than my repeater efforts have.  You can't get the radio configuration wrong on a simplex channel. One hopes, anyways.

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