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!


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)

Photo above is from Peoria 2007, in front of the "Taj", with the famous WA9VRH rib smoker visible in the foreground.

As the hamfest season for 2021 draws to a close it's now possible to say that the two I first wrote about were the best.   The Peoria Superfest did take place, which is a bit surprising since the club was forced to relocate TWICE.   This is probably the new permanent location as the city of East Peoria which owns the event center added crushed blacktop to the dirt field, making it at least as good as the worn-out parking area at Expo Gardens.  The indoor space seemed adequate and hopefully if the outdoor flea market expands to fill the available space the club and city will find a way to add more spaces.   The biggest shortcoming was the lack of any kind of food service at the hamfest.   Why the club didn't at least notify a food truck vendor or two is a mystery to all.    On the plus side, the outdoor spaces were generous in size and marked (although not clearly) and there are some good local restaurants within walking distance.

The CFMC has held it's RadioFest at the Boone County Fairgrounds at Belvidere IL since the closing of "Grayslake" and it's a nearly ideal venue with long paved "streets" between the vendor spaces and plenty of indoor space, bathrooms, food, etc.    The problem was attendance - based on the number of sellers in previous years the fleamarket area had to be at least 20% smaller, and the overall quality of "shtuff" included more non-ham offerings than usual.  But it was a beautiful day and hopefully attendance will bounce back at both 'fests next year.

The annual BBQ-AM Get-together at the beautiful home of KI8BQ was again, as WA6GYC puts it, "the high point of the summer".   This will be the last year that Gary is able to host the event, but stay tuned, as plans are being made for it to continue under the auspices of Terry N6TLU at Battle Creek MI in 2022.

    Visitors to the Elgin National Historic area along the Fox River in Elgin Illinois may not realize they are at the site of a famous shortwave radio station - W9XAM - the time signal station operated by the Elgin Watch Company.Elgin was the only watch company maintaining an observatory that observed, recorded and broadcasted time from the stars correct to the hundredths of a second. Located a...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/09/2022 

The Mosley Commando II

Made in England and scarce even there
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
The Mosley CM-1 receiver is quite well known and not especially hard to find in the US even though it was the only radio produced by the company that has been well-known for antennas since 1939.   Or is it...?A full-page ad (advert for you on the other side of the pond) appeared in the RSGB Bulletin in 1963 for a nice looking and very capable SSB transmitter called the "Commando II&...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  04/15/2022 
   I'm not ready to publish a description of exactly HOW it works, but 20 minutes effort with scissors and tape produced a prototype  Droplet Energy Generator that allows me to say for sure that IT WORKS!I duplicated the design shown in this video.   I wrapped a scrap of plastic in aluminum foil, then applied a strip of double-sided tape and to that attached a piece of PTFE thread-...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/30/2022 
   When I was first licensed in the 1960s in Nebraska, two groups of hams were commonly heard on the air before those with jobs got off work - other teens like me and the disabled hams.   Some of my earliest Novice ham buddies were blind students at the Nebraska School for the Blind in Nebraska City, and there were many other visually-impaired hams, all of whom were exceptional operators, e...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/21/2022 
   Old style mica capacitors were used in the pi-net matching sections of several vintage transmitters and the combination of age, heat, and high RF currents have made them likely failure items.   My Collins 32V-2 transmitter was to the point where it would not properly load to full power on 75 meters so something had to be done.   Mica capacitors are no longer made but fortunately new...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/19/2022 
   I found myself wanting to convert various frequencies to other frequencies and wanted a cheap and easy solution, so I designed a simple "universal converter" using the NE-602 and a programmable oscillator from Epson.  I'd used the same combination in hundreds of "RANVerter" SDR Upconverter projects since my Dec. 2013 QST article and knew that while there were limitatio...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/17/2022 
   It's always a challenge to hold PC boards during assemly and testing.  After purchasing a magnetic holder from Amazon  I realized I wanted more and could easily make as many as I wanted using inexpensive 3 mm hardware from eBay and some strong "fridge magnets".     All that's needed is to epoxy a standoff to the magnet - both tapped and threaded ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/09/2022 
   The Si5351 has been the biggest boon to homebrewers since the invention of the NE-602, especially now that quartz crystals are essentially obsolete.   But it's redundant to run the output of the 5351 through a johnson counter to develop the quadrature signals required for QSD/QSE SDR front-ends when there are three clock outputs available and the IC allows for phase offsets. &nb...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/09/2022 
   It's pretty well accepted that the Pacemaker was not EF Johnson's finest effort.   In fact it was the first of several failed attempts by the King of the AM Transmitters to make the transition to SSB.    In the end, it was the rise of CB popularity that kept the company viable, along with its component business, while their ham business gradually faced away. &...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/03/2022 
   LTC William L. Howard amassed a collection and in fact realized his dream of creating a museum that showcased the Army's technical intelligence operations - and a lot more.  The following excerpt was written by Col. Howard and Todd KA1KAQ:William L HowardI first got interested in radio while a Cub Scout back in 1954. I built the crystal radio set and the one tube set with help from an ama...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  02/18/2022 

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