Tag Archives: hamvention

Waffle House Tee: “Proudly Serving Ham Radio Operators”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Robert Yowell, who writes:

Thomas – while I was in Dayton last month (after Hamvention), I stopped in a Waffle House and noticed all the workers were wearing the same T-Shirt which had emblazoned on the back “Proudly Serving Ham Radio Operators”!

I asked if the shirts were for sale and was told I needed to contact the regional office in Huber Heights which handles all Dayton area Waffle Houses. It turns out that for the past decade or so, every year in June the Waffle Houses in the Dayton area would have their employees wear shirts to honor Hamvention.

I was told the designs and colors are different every year, but this is what this year’s shirt looks like. They sold it to me do $18 including shipping!

Thank you, Robert. The connection between the Waffle House and Ham Radio has been a mystery to me and you’ve solved it! Each year at Hamvention, like you, I see Waffle House shirts floating around everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

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Hamvention Highlights: The Polar Explorer 500 watt transmitter

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights


The Polar Explorer

Compared to others, the Polar Explorer booth at the 2019 Hamvention was quite modest. As you can see in Polex Technology photo [at the top of this page], they only had an Elecraft KX3, a laptop, and their Polar Explorer on the table.

So what is the Polar Explorer exactly?

At first blush, the Polar Explorer looks like a 500 watt amplifier, but then you notice that it has both a microphone and key connected directly to it. The Polar Explorer also has a color backlit screen/display–and the one at the 2019 Hamention was attached to an Elecraft KX3 QRP Transceiver.

Turns out the Polar Explorer isn’t an amplifier at all–it’s an external 500 watt transmitter. As noted on the Polar Explorer website:

The Polar Explorer is a breakthrough in transmitter design which brings much higher efficiency to SSB and CW transmitters. Most ‘linear’ amplifiers run at around 55 to 60% efficiency, which means a lot of extra power supply capacity is required, along with extra cooling and dissipation capacity. By increasing efficiency, The Polar Explorer significantly reduces power supply requirements as well as cooling. From this, significant reductions in cost, size, and weight can be realized for a given power output level.

[…]The Polar Explorer interfaces to your transceiver using the CAT interface to obtain frequency and mode information. It automatically follows the transceiver as you QSY or change modes. Your transceiver never transmits; The Polar Explorer handles those functions, and includes a T/R relay to protect your transceiver.

By connecting your transceiver to the Polar Explorer, you’re essentially bypassing and delegating the transmitter portion of your transceiver to it. Your transceiver still provides the receiver section and full interface/user experience–the Polar Explorer provides the muscle.

Note that the Polar Explorer is a project in development. I know that at least initially it has been designed to interface with the Elecraft KX3, but I imagine additional compatible transceivers will be added in due time.

At the 2019 Hamvention, the company was seeking beta testers that would be willing to pay for the Polar Explorer–essentially in kit form–at cost. If all goes well, they hope to finish all beta testing by the end of the year and potentially start production in early 2020.

As for the price, I don’t think they have a firm number yet, so I would either contact them directly or watch their website for updates.

If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester or learning more about the Polar Explorer, I encourage you to check out the Polex Technologies website!


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Hamvention Highlights: The QRP Labs QSX 10 watt, general coverage, low-cost HF transceiver kit

Hans (G0UPL) of QRP Labs holding a QSX transceiver prototype at the 2019 Hamvention

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

The QRP Labs QSX Transceiver

Hans (G0UPL) of QRP Labs was, without a doubt, one of the most popular guys at the 2019 Hamvention — especially within the QRP community. In fact, at the Four Days In May (FDIM) vendors’ night his table was so busy I didn’t bother trying to force my way through the crowd to speak with him.

As luck would have it, our own table for ETOW was directly across from QRP Labs table at the the Greene County Fairgrounds so, in the end, I spent some quality time with Hans over the course of the Hamvention.

I’ll also make prediction: if the 10 band QSX transceiver delivers what it promises, it will be a serious disruptor in the ham radio transceiver world! This is a good thing. Why?

The QSX is a feature-packed, all-mode, high-performance, affordable, QRP transceiver.

The QSX will have a 24-bit Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) and a 24-bit Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). It will be a fully stand-alone unit and, since it’s an SDR and sports robust DSP, when connected to your PC, it will be recognized as a high-performance sound card. This equates to nearly native digital mode integration without the need for an external sound card interface.

The QSX Prototype Back Panel

The QSX Transceiver will be a through-hole kit with the surface-mounted components pre-installed on the circuit boards. This means the kit should be accessible to anyone with soldering skills.

Hans has even managed to include a mini spectrum display on the front backlit LCD panel.

The price? Around $150 US in total for the transceiver kit, 10 band filter module and enclosure. Unbelievable!

If Hans can pull this off — and I feel pretty confident he can — the QSX will set a new bar for QRP transceiver pricing and performance.

If you’d like more details about the QSX transceiver, check out the following resources sent to me by SWLing Post contributor, Pete Eaton:

The 10 band QSX will sport a general coverage receiver and although though the modes supported currently don’t include AM, Hans plans to add AM for at least reception purposes. This could make for a high-performance stand-alone SDR field radio for HF broadcast listening.

Of course, I also see the QSX transceiver as an accessible entry radio for new ham radio operators who are nervous about forking out $800+ for a new HF transceiver.

I will certainly grab the 10 band QSX transceiver kit when it becomes available and review it here on the SWLing Post. Stay tuned!

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights


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Mendelsons preparing to close?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who notes that George Thomas (W5JDX) visited the iconic surplus/parts store Mendelsons in Dayton, Ohio.

George spoke about his visit on HamNation and plans to air his tour and interview with the owner on a future episode. The owner did mention that they plan to close the store possibly within a year. Here’s the video clip from HamNation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

This would be a true loss for anyone in the Dayton area who enjoys building and making things. Mendelsons is so much more than a radio parts store–their selection is vast. In fact, that’s an understatement. It’s mind-boggling…gobsmacking! 

I took a few photos inside Mendelsons in 2017 when I visited the store with friends (that’s WD8RIF in many of the shots!):

As George mentioned in the video, if you haven’t visited Mendelsons before, you do so soon. And plan to be there for multiple hours–it’s quite the pilgrimage!

Click here to visit Mendelsons online.

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Hamvention Highlights: Affordable diversity reception with the SDRplay RSPduo

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

Diversity reception with the SDRplay RSPduo

Last year, during the 2018 Hamvention, SDRplay announced the RSPduo, a 14bit dual-tuner SDR. We posted a review of the RSPduo on the SWLing Post.

At the time, SDRplay mentioned that the RSPduo could eventually be used for diversity reception.

Diversity reception is the ability to combine or select two signals, from two (or more) antenna sources, that have been modulated with identical information-bearing signals, but which may vary in their fading/noise characteristics at any given instant.

In short, diversity reception gives one a powerful tool to mitigate fading and noise, and to improve a signal’s overall integrity.

Andy and Mike with SDRplay demonstrated SDRuno’s diversity reception functionality and noted that it will soon roll out as a free upgrade to SDRuno, SDRplay’s open SDR application.

I should note here that the SDRplay booth at the 2019 Hamvention was incredibly busy—no doubt, because the RSPduo must be one of the least expensive, most accessible, ways to experiment with diversity reception. Case in point: the new Elecraft K4D transceiver will support diversity reception, but the price is about $4,700 US; the RSPduo can be purchased for $280 US.

Based on the demonstration, this feature will be quite easy to use and I love how it has been implemented in the SDRuno GUI (graphical user interface).

To learn more about the RSPduo, check out SDRplay’s website or read our review. Of course, when SDRplay releases the diversity reception upgrade to SDRuno, we will make an announcement!

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

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Hamvention Highlights: The Ten-Tec Model 588+ OMNI VII+

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

The Ten-Tec OMNI VII+

The Ten-Tec OMNI VII+

The Ten-Tec booth had more activity this year than I’ve seen in many years. The company is certainly showing signs of entering proper production again and innovating.

According to the T-T representative I spoke with at Hamvention, the company’s focus is on improving/upgrading many of their legacy products like the Eagle, Argonaut, 100 Watt Amplifier,  and the OMNI VII. Iterative improvements will eventually be made to the full product line. Upgraded gear will have an added “plus” to the model name.

Ten-Tec’s featured model at Hamvention was the OMNI VII+—their flagship transceiver.

According to the Ten-Tec website, pricing starts at $2,699 US ($3,078 US configured with an internal ATU) and there are a number of units in stock, ready to ship.

The new OMNI VII+ Features (via the Ten-Tec website):

  • NEW! the 588+ has an All aluminum front face, side feet and side carry handle.
  • NEW! dedicated rear panel pan adapter output jack
  • HF 6 Transmit coverage on 6 through 160 meters, 100 watts output, even on 6. General coverage receives from 500 kHz to 30 MHz continuous plus 48 to 54 MHz. SSB, CW, AM, FM, Digital modes. Dual VFOs with SPLIT and REVERSE functions.
  • Full function Color Screen STN transmissive color LCD display with CFL backlight, 320 240 pixels.
  • Legendary QSK CW includes adjustable rise and decay times. User adjustable at the touch of a knob for hard or soft keying according to your taste. Built-in keyer can be used in Curtis A or B modes, adjustable 5 63 WPM.
  • 17 selectable transmit bandwidths from 1000 4000 Hz. DSP generated to give your SSB audio a well-rounded sound tailored to your voice characteristics. A low-frequency roll off provides further control.
  • RX EQ and TX EQ in 6 dB octave filters selectable in 1 dB steps from high pitched at minus 20 dB to essentially flat response at 0 dB to bassy at plus 20 dB.
  • DSP Noise Reduction, automatic notch, and manual notch reduces interference from undesired carriers and random noise. Manual notch range 20 4000 Hz center, 10 300 Hz width, gt 50 dB rejection.
  • Band Sweep gives you a snapshot of the entire band in seconds. Find the pileups or scout for a clear spot automatically without touching the tuning knob.
  • Broad range Auto Tuner identical tuner as used in the ORION II, matches most antennas up to 10 1 SWR HF only. 100 Tune Memories. Order your OMNI VII with or without this option.
  • Three antenna connectors Two SO 239 transceiver outputs, plus a third SO 239 connector for auxiliary receive only antenna. Antenna switching is front panel selectable.
  • Updates by Flash ROM Serial port interface for local rig control via PC and for Flash ROM updates available via the Internet. Commands are a superset of those used for the Jupiter. To obtain the very latest version of the OMNI VII, visit our firmware download the software below. Connect the radio to a serial port on your PC and you are up to date in a flash. Easy!
  • Quad band-stacking registers and 100 memories
  • Optional Model 302R remote encoder keypad works with the OMNI VII. Plug it in and control selected features sitting back in your easy chair.
  • Aluminum chassis construction and steel outer case makes the rig an easy traveler at only 5 inches H x 12 inches W x 14.75 inches D. Weighs just 14 pounds
  • 8 pin mic connector
  • 70 MHz IF up conversion
  • 455 kHz 2nd IF with Collins Mechanical filters

One of the unique features of the OMNI VII+ is that it sports Collins mechanical filters—likely the only modern transceiver that can make this claim.

I’m happy to see that Ten-Tec is innovating and manufacturing again. Certainly a highlight from the 2019 Hamvention!

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

Click here to check out the Ten-Tec website.


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Hamvention Highlights: The Palstar TR-30A EMP, an EMP-hardened HF transceiver

Each year at the Dayton Hamvention I enjoy checking out the latest radio products and services. This year (2019) I found an exceptional number of innovations and will share these in Hamvention Highlights posts. If you would like to check out 2019 Hamvention Highlights as I publish them, bookmark this tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

And now for our first highlight…

The Palstar TR-30A EMP

I’ve long been a fan of Palstar, a US company known for their fine antenna tuners and the classic R30 series HF receiver.

At the 2013 Dayton Hamvention, Palstar showcased a prototype HF transceiver called the TR-30. I posted a note about this at the time on my ham radio blog, QRPer.com. The TR-30 never seemed to make it to the market, but that’s not surprising considering the Elecraft KX3 and a number of other QRP transceivers were released the following year.

This year when I approached the Palstar booth, I found a new prototype transceiver: the Palstar TR-30A EMP.

This TR-30 iteration will, without a doubt, have a unique place in the radio market since it has been designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses (EMPs). To be clear, I know of no other transceivers on the ham radio market that are EMP hardened.

Post readers might recall a primer we published about how to protect your gear from EMP pulses (click here to read).  I believe taking some simple precautions to protect gear from natural or man-made EMPs is simply a sound practice. In fact, I keep one complete rig stored in an EMP-proof container as described in our primer.

The Palstar TR-30A EMP requires no external EMP shielding or special handling/storage. It will be natively EMP-proof, even while hooked up to an antenna and without an RF ground attached.

I spoke with Paul Hrivnak (N8PH), President and CEO of Palstar, at Hamvention and he shared a few details about the Palstar TR-30A EMP:

  • The transceiver will be general coverage and will be able to operate on all of the HF ham radio bands.
  • It will have a very simple set of functions–at this point, he doesn’t even plan to have dual VFOs.
  • The output power will be 20 watts.
  • The front panel controls will be very simple and intuitive.

The TR-30A EMP’s unique internal antenna tuner will–if I understand it correctly–be able to match pretty much any load.  It will have manual controls, but will be digitally controlled. Paul said that the ATU is being designed so that a satisfactory match can be found for any make-shift field antenna. I can’t wait to check it out for myself because I hold Palstar in high regard when it comes to antenna tuners.

Of course, from the ground up, the TR-30A EMP will be hardened against EMPs.

He hopes the Palstar TR-30A EMP will be in production by the end of 2019 and retail for $1,100 – 1,200 US.

Of course, I will post any news and updates about the Palstar TR-30A EMP here on the SWLing Post. I will also plan to review and evaluate the transceiver when it hits the market.

If you would like to follow product updates, please bookmark the tag: Palstar TR-30A EMP

If you would like to follow other Hamvention Highlights, bookmark the tag: 2019 Hamvention Highlights

Click here to check out Palstar’s website.


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Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

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