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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Knoxville Hamfest roundup: HT's and a little good fortune...and a purse?

I debated a couple weeks back whether or not to go to the Knoxville Hamfest. I wasn't sure if the family would go, or if I would even have the money to spend.

I decided to go after all, and after scraping up a few bucks, took the family to the hamfest. I put up a couple of unused radios up for sale thanks to my friend Tim (KE4OTZ) who loaned me some tailgate space.

Lauren had a good time (playing her Nintendo DS), and even got lucky at the prize booth, having been selected for the first hourly prize. She won 4 PL-259 connectors. I'm sure I will...err...she will make good use of them...

I sold two radios. One was my Yaesu FT-50R (not the 90, like I originally posted before) and an out-of-order FT-5100 I had bought off eBay a few years ago. I'd always wanted the 5100 (or its sister, the 5200 with detachable faceplate) but when I picked up this radio, I had trouble from the start. It apparently had been modified to transmit and receive out of band, but the radio needed a sequence of buttons pressed in order to enable the radio to work in the modified state. To make matters more complicated, the onboard battery was dead, so if I shut the power off, it would reset into its original state, and the sequence would need to be repeated. This, among other things (like accidentally dropping it while trying to troubleshoot it, leading some of the buttons needed to enable to mod to be stuck), led me to sell it "for parts".

But it wasn't a complete sell-off, as I took the money made on the two radios and bought my second Wouxun KG-UV2D. I sold the FT-50R and bought the Wouxun instead for Lauren to use as her radio for a couple of reasons. One is that it was easier for her to use than the Yaesu, and also I could clone the two radios with the same memories and settings so that I can show her how to use the radio and to make it easier to find frequencies to talk on.

I also scored a killing on some old ICOM radios. I was told by Tim that a tailgater was selling some ICOM 220 radios for $10 so naturally I had to check it out. I went over across from Tim's table in the "boneyard" and the guy said he had not one, not two, but three IC-2AT's (2m HTs) and an IC-3AT (the 220 HT) for sale, along with a drop-in charger, and a couple of battery packs for $15. The catch: He hadn't used them in YEARS and didn't know if they still worked. I figured for $15 I'd take a chance.

But I think it was Amber who got away with the item of the day. One vendor was selling, of all things...purses. So naturally Amber HAD to have one...but these were not just any purse. They had interchangeable "skins" so that she can mix and match! The price was not that bad...for a purse. And it took some wrangling with mom and dad, along with promise after promise to take care of the animals, water the plants, clean the room, etc. But Jes and I had to reward her good grades in school, so we fell for it. I must say, over the last two weeks, she's been using it. And she's promised Lauren she'd have her time with it as well.

After getting home from the hamfest I decided to put the ICOM HTs to the test, so I plugged in the drop-in charger and the battery packs and waited...and waited...and waited...

I started with the IC-3AT. After all, it was the big prize in the stack. As soon as I turned on the radio, the sound of static crackled the radio back from it's long slumber. It works! On receive at least...

I quickly reacquainted myself with the settings of the "brick" and scoured for a repeater to key up. I anxiously spun the thumbwheels of the VFO at the top of the radio and keyed up. NOTHING. No kerchunk, no morse code ID of the repeater...just silence. I looked on the back of the radio near the belt clip and the damned thing was still on SIMPLEX. A quick flick of the switch over to "duplex" and and quick key of the mic, and I hear "daaah dit dit......dit......." as the repeater ID'ed over the transistor-radio-style speaker of my newly-found treasure.

The 2-meter IC-2AT's were not as fortunate. While they all power on and receive, they do not transmit, except one, but it was so scratchy and noisy, I gather it's not going to last much longer. Still, for $15, I snap up at least one gem out of the bunch!

Now, unlike these ridiculous "pickers" shows that are now infesting basic cable, I did not think about turning around and running a ridiculous profit and then bragging about it to ever-increasing audiences, and yes, before I hear about it, I've watched a few episodes. I knew my friend Jason (KF4VDX) was in need of a 220 radio and couldn't afford one, not even the Wouxun dual-bander I just bought. He was a recently appointed SKYWARN coordinator, and I knew he'd need one, since the National Weather Service office in Morristown was using 220 to coordinate with several of the regional net control stations.

So last Saturday, as we got together to prepare to go to a Field Day site, I brought the ICOMs out to him. He's been working odd jobs to repair radio equipment so I figured he might be able to make use of the "receive-only" 2 meters bricks, and he'd get a 220 radio to tinker with and hopefully get some mileage out of it. The least I could do, and the IC-3AT would get used rather than collect more dust in my house. To me, it was money well spent.

Overall it was a worthwhile hamfest. I got rid of a couple of radios I didn't need, bought one Lauren could use, and gave a good friend of mine some much-needed equipment for his hamshack.

Glad I went.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wisconsin ham allegedly murdered by wife of employee he planned to dismiss

John Aegerter, WA9GAR, who ran a communications business in Brookfield, WI, was found brutally murdered June 22.

One of the suspects, Lynn M. Hajny, is the wife of a fellow ham (Albert, WB9LIV) who was reportedly going to lose his job at the business (Air Page, Corp) due to cutbacks. Albert is not a suspect in the slaying as he was unaware of his impending unemployment.

Hajny and a boyfriend, Tommy V. Douyette are charged in the attack.

According to the article:
Aegerter was found face down in the garage, his ankles and neck bound with electrical cords, his face duct-taped and several plastic grocery bags over his head, the reports said. Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Lough said he had broken ribs, a broken nose and "there might have been a knife involved."
Acoording to reports, both suspects have given statements basically confessing to the crime.
He reportedly did not marry or have any kids.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To go or not to go...

This Saturday is the Knoxville Hamfest, sponsored by the local radio club.

If I go, I'm only after one thing, the Wouxun 2m/220 radio like the one I bought this past January.

I'm going to talk to Lauren and see if she wants to give up the Yaesu FT-90 I got for her and give her the Wouxun so that we both have the same radio. She just returned from a trip to Washington DC this past weekend and the only times I've seen her was after she got home from the trip on Monday and spent the evening telling us all about the trip before passing out as soon as she got home, and today she returned home late from swimming in this god-forsaken heat and once again passed out as soon as her head hit the pillow.

So hopefully I'll talk to her today. I'm certain she'd be open to getting another HT (she's not really spent any time with the Yaesu), but if she isn't, I really don't have a reason for attending this year. I'm pretty sure that Wouxun radios will be sold, and I would be looking for a copy of the SERA journal (I need to resubscribe) but that's really my only purpose.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Looks like I might take the whole family to this one...and get a Wouxun if I can snap one up!!!

UPDATE #2: Just realized I had the radio model wrong, it's an FT-50 (dual-band 2m/440, not the FT-90)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Endeavour's final re-entry shown over the Yucatan

When Space Shuttle Endeavour returned home for the final time last week, it flew over the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico before crossing the Florida Peninsula and landing at Kennedy Space Center on June 1.

It was captured and posted to Youtube. Video below or catch the full version here.