RAN Technology

More hamfests return to WI-IL-IA in 2021

General Information 0 Comments 03/25/2021 

it's about time!

Hamfests return in 2021 to Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin!


South Milwaukee Hamfest - Oak Creek WI - July 10

KARSFest at Will County Fairgrounds - July 18 - (no flyer yet)

Tri County Radio Club Hamfest - Jefferson WI - Aug 7

Cedar Rapids Hamfest and Iowa ARRL convention - Aug 7-8

The 2021 DeKalb (Sandwich) and Starved Rock hamfests were great successes!   This was the first time for Starved Rock Radio Club to hold the hamfest in Mendota IL which worked out great -  hope it helps the club rebuild what was once one of the best hamfests in the area..

The South Milwaukee 'fest is special because it's what a hamfest should be, to my way of thinking at least - a big tailgate swap area and nothing else.  No "indoor sellers" (at least not many), no new equipment dealers, and no seminars or other distractions from the business at hand - buying and selling old radio junk.  It's always been the kind of 'fest where a load of "barn fresh" gear is likely to show up for picking, and where friends from half a state or more away will make the journey.    Really glad to see it's back!  (even without the free beer)

And for those who are coming up Friday night and staying overnight - Jeff W9XRT has arranged for a group dinner get-together at a nearby brew-pub.  Contact him at jeff.c.main@gmail.com

W9RAN Memories of South Milwaukee Hamfests past...

Since it was a Saturday fest, my hamfest buddy KE9HO (SK) and I would leave Freeport in the ONERADIO-RV hamfestmobile after work and head up Hwy 75 to the South Beloit American Legion for their excellent fish fry.  It was always a 15-20 minute wait for a table but no matter because we didn't want to arrive at Oak Creek right before 10PM as that's when the Bingo game would be over and you couldn't park up close before then anyhow.  After the inevitable argument with the club's parking czar about where the aisles were supposed to be,  I'd park and we'd hit the sack, because you had to move out at the sound of of first tailgates popping open, and at Oak Creek that can be VERY early!

Around noon we'd enjoy the free beer (which the club was obligated to pay for, so why not?) -  then hit the road south, down the Tri-state to The Ike, then west to Highway 47 and down to the Bliss Woods Forest Preserve which had (then) a small campgrounds with electricity (importan on the first weekend of July).   The reason being, it was about 1 mile down the road from Waubonsee Community College, which would be the site of another Hamfest on Sunday!   Although it was sometimes hot enough that it felt like the black asphalt parking lot was sticking to your feet,  that was a good swapfest as well.     And thus - a "Double Header Hamfest Weekend".

One trip was more memorable because while heading south on I-294 several passing cars waved and hollered, which caused me to pull over on the shoulder to see what was wrong with the camper.    One car pulled over behind me and said "Something is leaking out!" which was not a good thing to hear.   Fortunately it wasn't gasoline (worst case) or "black water" (2nd-worst) but in fact was from an overfilled grey water tank which had partially come loose, allowing its contents to spill out.   "Gray water" is what comes from the sink drains, so it represented no big problem til a dump station was found.   

Living 2-3 hours from major population areas meant I either had to get up in the middle of the night or buy a camper to be able to be present at area hamfests when the bargains were still available.    The ONERADIO-RV license plate was seen parked overnight at many area hamfests in the IL-WI-IA area over the years!   Photo above is from Peoria 2007, in front of the "Taj", with the famous WA9VRH rib smoker visible in the foreground.


Mystery Transmitter

where's the copper subchassis from?
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 I didn't set out to buy this homebrew CW transmitter, it was included in an auction lot that I wanted so I had to take it to get the desired item.   But even though I always like to see good quality homebrew gear, this one is just a mystery.Most of the transmitter, including 6CL6 oscillator and buffer stages and a 6146 PA are built on a sub-chassis that is clearly part of a com...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/15/2021 

The Vector VR-50

last gasp from Swan/Atlas founder Herb Johnson
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 Most hams are aware that Herb Johnson W6QKI founded Swan in Benson Arizona to make single-band SSB transceivers and then moved his operation to Oceanside CA where Swan thrived throughout the 1960s.   Swan merged with Cubic Corporation in 1967, and Johnson managed Swan as its subsidiary until 1973. Johnson founded Atlas Radio in 1974, with the assistance of Southcom International fo...  READ MORE
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- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/18/2021 
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- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/13/2021 
    A while back I acquired a six channel HF transceiver made by the Radio Industries division of Hallicrafters, probably in the 1960s, called an SBT-20.    It is capable of 20 watts SSB or 5 watts AM (or CW with an optional board) in the range of 2-12 MHz and thus was probably aimed at commercial and light-duty military applications.   The radio could by ordered with fu...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/07/2021 
    I'm always thinking about interesting combinations of equipment to try out on the air.   One day while rearranging the shack I was getting ready to connect my Globe Scout Deluxe back up with a Collins 51S-1 receiver when the LED (the energy-efficient version of the old light bulb) came on.When I first started playing with DVB-T dongles back in 2012 I wanted an upconverter so I ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/29/2021 

6AG7-6LG Novice Transmitter

Classic circuit with some modern twists
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 There's a good chance that more homebrew ham transmitters have been built using a 6L6 than any other tube, and when combined with the superior performance of the 6AG7 oscillator, it's a hard combination to beat (click here for an explanation of the 6AG7's benefits)I'll be adding more info about this project soon, but one of my goals was to reproduce what was a budget-friendly...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/21/2021 
    All who operate AM in the midwest know and probably have talked to Masa, AB9MQ, who is a very active AM operator.    Having become interested in ham radio while still living in Japan in the early 1960s,  Masa's memories of the "dream rigs" is a bit differen than most US hams, and because the markets were still quite regional at the time, much of the ham gear...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/18/2021 

Hudson American Corporation

Manufacturer of marine radios in the 1940s
Category: Vintage Radio
 I enjoy playing with old marine radios that operated in the AM mode between 2-3 MHz.    This was the standard for "ship to shore" radio and telephone service from marine radio operators from after WWII until about 1970 when SSB was phased in and AM became obsolete.     Through this era a number of manufacturers were major players including RCA (Ra...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/02/2021 
    I've always thought that knurled aluminum knobs were a high-class option for radio gear, and while they are more durable than plastic they do accumulate tarnish, corrosion, and grunge from dirty fingers over the years and start to look poor.   Fortunately it is easy to restore them to a new attractive appearance using a bead blaster. Mine is a Harbor Freight floor-standing...  READ MORE
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