Tag Archives: Hamfest

Radio Waves: Solar Cycle 25 Looking Up, Vintage Radio Flea Market Finds, the SBITX SDR, and More Power to Radio Caroline

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Eric McFadden, Ken Carr, Mike Terry, Pete Eaton, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Revised prediction for Solarcycle 25 (Southgate ARC)

A revised prediction from the NASA High Altitude Observatory based at the University Of Colorado.

NASA Heliophysicists have released a revised prediction for Solar Cycle 25.
The report generated by Ricky Egeland a Solar Physicist working in the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group now calls for the peak of Solar Cycle 25 to top out at a value of 195 ± 17 based upon the new scale for calculating Smoothed Sun Spot Number. For reference Solar Cycle 21 peaked at an SSN 233 (new scale) while Solarcycle 23 peaked at an SSN of 180 (new scale). If this predictions holds up Ham Radio will see Excellent Worldwide F Layer Conditions on 10 Meters for several years around Solar Max. 6 Meters conditions should be good in the Equinox Periods before and after Solar Max with consistent openings on Medium Haul Polar Routes. 6 Meter routes traversing the equator should experience consistent openings ± 9 months from Solar Max.

Ricky Egeland is a particpating member in the group headed up by Scott McIntosh and Bob Leamon that published a paper 9 months ago outlining the existance magnetic bands within the Sun that govern the Sunspot and Hale Cycles. At the time of its publishing the paper went on to predict the peak of Solar Cycle 25 could be as high Solarcycle 21. Today’s released is a revised prediction based upon data observed since the original paper was published. To be sure we are still in early days.

The Solar Rotation Cycle as marked by Sunspot Activity was established on April 19, 2021 so we are only 90 Days into actually observing Cycle 25 Activity. It is now agreed the dramactic run-up in Sunspot Activity we experienced late Last Fall while tied to Cycle 25 was an outlier. When asked directly about whether they can declare if the Terminator Event they wrote about in the Fall 2020 Paper has occurred Scott McIntosh stated “We can’t be sure just yet but we are very very close”. It also should be noted that while it has been over a year since the sun produced a Cycle 24 Region with a Sunspot worthy of a NASA Classification the Sun has been steadily producing Spotless SC 24 Active Regions the last of which formed right on the Solar Equator at N00-W54 on July 24,2021 as recorded by Jan Alvestad’s Solar Terrestial Activity Report Website. These Active Regions being part of a Solarcycle in its final stages of existence produce no spots and only last for a few hours before they dissipate away. The previous SC24 Active Region formed on June 28, 2021. Once the SC24 active regions cease forming Solar Cycle 25 will take off in earnest.

Bob Marston AA6XE

Bob Marston AA6XE email – aa6xe@arrl.net
Ricky Egeland email – egeland@ucar.edu
Scott McIntosh email – mscott@ucar.edu
Bob Leamon via Twitter – https://twitter.com/leamonrj

Flea Market Finds at the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (KE1RI)

I have an addiction to old radios, especially anything that was manufactured in the 1923-1950 period. That may seem like a long time to some folks but when you gain senior citizen status 25 years is a blink of the eye. This love of old radios is tempered by the limited display space that I have in my home. I am at the point where I am very selective when it comes to buying a new radio. Although there is always room for another ‘small’ radio I am somehow attracted to the larger models. A rough count of the full-size consoles in this house (and garage and shed) comes to about 11. Just in this room (second floor radio shack) there are 5 console radios, two of which reside in the closet. The only surprise is that my wife has not tossed the radios and me out by now.

So, it is no surprise that I enjoy attending radio flea markets. Most of the events I frequent are either in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Rhode Island has very little in the way of antique radio flea markets (although we do have a great wireless and steam museum). And you can forget about eBay. Radios on eBay usually have inflated prices and descriptions. Even if you do find something reasonable the shipping for anything bigger than an All American Five table model is very costly and hazardous (many are damaged during shipping).

This is where the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (VRCMC) comes in. This is a wonderful museum that has an enormous collection of radios and other communication-related technological wonders. They also hold regular flea markets to help raise funds needed to run the museum. During the cold months the events are inside (limited space) and during warm seasons (April, June, September) they are outside (plenty of space). This year I attended the first Spring event that was held on April 13, 2021. It was a great success! [Click here to continue reading…]

SBITX: Hackable HF SDR for the Raspberry Pi (Hackaday)

Cheap, easy to use SDR dongles are an immensely powerful tool for learning about radio technology. However, building your own SDR is not something too many hackers are confident to tackle. [Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE] hopes to change this with the sBITX, a hackable HF SDR transceiver designed around the Raspberry Pi.

[Ashhar] introduced the project in talk at the virtual “Four Days In May” annual conference of the QRP Amateur Radio Club International. Watch the full talk in the video after the break. He first goes over the available open source SDR radios, and then delves into his design decisions for the sBITX. One of the primary goals of the project was to lower the barrier of entry. To do this, he chose the Raspberry Pi as base, and wrote C code that that anyone who has done a bit of Arduino programming should be able to understand and modify. The hardware is designed to be as simple as possible. On the receive side, a simple superheterodyne architecture is used to feed a 25 kHz wide slice of RF spectrum to an audio codec, which send the digitized audio to the Raspberry Pi. The signal is then demodulated in software using FFT. For transmit, the signal is generated in software, and then upconverted to the desired RF frequency. [Ashhar] also created a GUI for the 7? Raspberry Pi screen.[]

Ofcom agrees for Radio Caroline to turn up the power (Community Radio Today)

A power increase has been agreed for Radio Caroline to extend its coverage area from Suffolk and Essex to include Kent as East Sussex.

The station is broadcasting under a community radio licence and was originally granted 1kW of power on 648 AM in 2018. The actual power increase amount has not been announced.

Ofcom says a power increase was agreed to combat man made noise and interference in the existing coverage area, and to extend coverage to adjoining areas.

While the subsequent increase in the licensed area was considered to be significant, the decision-maker deemed there to be exceptional circumstances in order to approve this request, saying the service has experienced high levels of background noise and interference, particularly in urban areas.

The licensee also serves a ‘community of interest’ as opposed to a defined geographic community meaning the service is positioned to be accessible to the community of interest in the proposed extended areas.[]

 


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Photos from the 2021 WCARS Hamfest

This past weekend (July 24, 2021), my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) and I attended the 2021 Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society (WCARS) hamfest in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Due to Covid-19 lock-downs and social distancing, this was the first hamfest we’d attended in 18 months. I think all of us were having serious hamfest withdrawal, so this regional hamfest was very well-attended. Who knows what will happen in the future with regards to Covid–numbers are climbing sharply again here in NC–so I think many of us were there enjoying everything “while the gettin’ was good.” It helped that even the indoor area is incredibly spacious and had a constant airflow.

It was so great seeing so many friends, readers, and subscribers. Thank you for stopping by our tables.

Photo Gallery

This gallery has about 117 photos. So that the images don’t all load from the SWLing Post homepage, you may need to click on the “Continue reading…” link below to expand the post and view the photo gallery.

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A photo tour of the 2019 Shelby Hamfest

My Labor Day weekend was free of travel this year, so I was able to make another pilgrimage to the Shelby (North Carolina) hamfest with my good buddy, Vlado (N3CZ).

The Shelby Hamfest–referred to, locally, as “The Grand-Daddy of them All”–has long been regarded as one of the largest outdoor hamfests in the southeast US. This is the fourth year I’ve made a concerted effort to publish a photo tour of the event.

Weather was ideal for the hamfest–clear skies, sunshine and a dry weekend. No doubt, this was one of the reasons I believe the hamfest was well attended.

Shelby Photo Gallery

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or comment on the photos:

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Photos from the 2019 Berryville Hamfest

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares this excellent photo gallery from the Berryville Hamfest. Dan notes:

You will notice one photo in particular — of a rare Skanti R-8001 and a Telfunken E1500.

The Skanti, which went for only $600, is now comfortably sitting in my radio shack!

Wow! What an impressive collection of radios at this flea market. Looks like Berryville is worth the trip for anyone with an interest in vintage radio.

Thank you so much for sharing these pics, Dan!


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Photos from the 2019 Charlotte Hamfest

This RS HF receiver was pristine. If I had the budget and the shack space, it would have gone back with me. See more photos in our gallery below.

Yesterday morning around 5:30 AM I started my nearly three hour pilgrimage to the 2019 Charlotte (North Carolina) Hamfest. The Charlotte Hamfest is one of the larger regional hamfests in the area–due to its central location, it attracts people from all of the surrounding states.

The Charlotte Hamfest typically falls on the heels of (or the same weekend as) the Winter SWL Fest in Pennsylvania so I usually don’t even put the dates in my calendar. Indeed, the last time I attended the Charlotte Hamfest was about twenty years ago! It was at a different location and, back then, was also very much a computer show. Today it’s almost purely radio.

Following Vlado to the hamfest site on a very foggy, rainy Saturday morning.

The Charlotte Hamfest is a Friday/Saturday event held at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center in Concord, NC. The center is a superb hamfest venue: it’s well lit, clean, spacious and can easily house all of the vendors indoors–a huge bonus as weather was less than desirable.

My buddy, Vlado (N3CZ) reserved two vendor tables and packed it with gear to sell–I also brought along a handful of items.

I was very impressed with the turnout–indeed, it was one of the busiest regional hamfests I’ve attended in ages. I sold a couple of items and Vlado sold a lot (he also purchased a lot, but that’s another story!).

I believe I’ll start putting the Charlotte hamfest in my calendar–even though timing isn’t always convenient for me, I think it’s well worth the trip!

Kudos to the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society for putting on such a great show!

Photos

I’ve embedded over 140 photos of the Charlotte Hamfest below–click each one to enlarge. Being a lover of vintage radios, my photos feature a lot of boat anchors. Note that when possible, I try to include the price tags for each item.

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Boat Anchors at Voice of Aladdin ARC Columbus Hamfest

A guest post by Eric McFadden, WD8RIF

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Voice of Aladdin Amateur Radio Club’s Columbus Hamfest this past weekend, on Saturday, August 4, 2018. The Columbus Hamfest is a smaller, local or regional hamfest but every year when I attend I’m pleasantly surprised by the presence of a really nice variety of fine used gear available at the event. This year was no exception.

I made snaps of some of the fine old “boat anchors” and some of the not-so-old stuff available at the hamfest. (And I must apologize for the flaring evident in some of the photos. It seems the lens in my MotoE4 smartphone is prone to flaring in direct sunlight—somehow, up this point I had not managed to discover this.)

Realistic DX-160

Realistic DX-160

Central Electronics "Multiphase Exciter Model 20-A" transmitter

Central Electronics “Multiphase Exciter Model 20-A” transmitter

Yaesu FT-101EX transceiver and accessories

Yaesu FT-101EX transceiver and accessories

Collins R-388/URR receiver

Collins R-388/URR receiver

Drake R8 receiver

Drake R8 receiver

Johnson Viking Ranger transmitter

Johnson Viking Ranger transmitter

A selection of MFJ single-band QRP (low power) CW-only transceivers and a vintage Heathkit SWR bridge

A selection of MFJ single-band QRP (low power) CW-only transceivers and a vintage Heathkit SWR bridge

At the event, I hadn’t noticed how many of the vintage receivers were made by Hallicrafters.

Hallicrafters "Sky Buddy"

Hallicrafters “Sky Buddy”

Hallicrafters HT-32A transmitter

Hallicrafters HT-32A transmitter

Hallicrafters SX-101 receiver

Hallicrafters SX-101 receiver

Hallicrafters SX-111 receiver

Hallicrafters SX-111 receiver

Hallicrafters SX-99 receiver

Hallicrafters SX-99 receiver

Heathkit DX-100 (bottom) and Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitters

Heathkit DX-100 (bottom) and Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitters

And while not a radio, this is certainly vintage and is very pretty—and it was for sale.

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

1966 Chevrolet pickup-truck (it was for sale)

 

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