Tag Archives: hamvention

Hara Area damaged by tornado

Note that Hara Arena is the former home of the Dayton Hamvention. Lots of memories in that old building!

(Source: WHIO via Eric McFadden)

[…]Hara Arena suffered extensive damage when tornadoes and severe storms moved through Monday night.

Drone footage shows the roof and side of the structure blown off in several places.

Click here to view drone footage of the damage to Hara Arena.

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Taking the new Mission RGO One transceiver to the field!

SWLing Post readers might recall that last year at the 2018 Hamvention, I met with radio engineer, Boris Sapundzhiev (LZ2JR), who was debuting the prototype of his 50 watt transceiver kit: the Mission RGO One (click here to read that post).

Since last year, I’ve been in touch with Boris, and we arranged to meet again at the 2019 Hamvention so I could take a closer look at the RGO One, especially since he has started shipping the first limited production run.

The RGO One delivers everything Boris promised last year and Boris is on schedule, having finished all of the hardware design and having implemented frequent firmware updates to add functionality.

Excellent first impressions

I’ll be honest: I think the RGO One was one of the most exciting little radios to come out of Hamvention this year. Why?

First of all, in contrast to some radios I’ve tested and evaluated over the past two years, I can tell immediately that the Mission RGO One was developed by an active ham radio operator and DXer.

Here are some of the RGO One features and highlights as taken from the preliminary product manual (PDF):

    • QRP/QRO output 5 – 50W [can actually be lowered to 0 watts out in 1 watt increments]
    • All mode shortwave operation – coverage of all HAM HF bands (160m/60m optional)
    • High dynamic range receiver design including high IP3 monolithic linear amplifiers in the front end and diode ring RX mixer or H-mode first mixer (option).
    • Low phase noise first LO – SI570 XO/VCXO chip.
    • Full/semi (delay) QSK on CW; PTT/VOX operation on SSB. Strict RX/TX sequencing scheme. No click sounds at all!
    • Down conversion superhet topology with popular 9MHz IF
    • Custom made crystal filters for SSB and CW and variable crystal 4 pole filter – Johnson type 200…2000Hz
    • Fast acting AGC (fast and slow) with 134kHz dedicated IF
    • Compact and lightweight body [only 5 lbs!]
    • Custom made multicolor backlit FSTN LCD
    • Custom molded front panel with ergonomic controls.
    • Silent operation with no clicking relays inside – solid state GaAs PHEMT SPDT switches on RX (BPF and TX to RX switching) and ultrafast rectifying diodes (LPF)
    • Modular construction – Main board serves as a “chassis” also fits all the external connectors, daughter boards, inter-connections and acts as a cable harness.
    • Optional modules – Noise Blanker (NB), Audio Filter (AF), ATU, XVRTER, PC control via CAT protocol; USB UART – FTDI chipset
    • Double CPU circuitry control for front panel and main board – both field programmable via USB interface.
    • Memory morse code keyer (Curtis A, CMOS B); 4 Memory locations 128 bytes each

What really sets the Mission RGO apart from its competitors is the fact that it’s compact, lightweight (only 5 lbs!), and has a power output of up to 50 watts. Most other rigs in this class have a maximum output of 10 to 15 watts and require an external amplifier for anything higher.

The RGO One should also play for a long time on battery power as the receive current drain is a modest 0.65A with receiver preamp on.

The RGO is also designed to encourage a comfortable operating position. The bail lifts the front of the radio so that the faceplate and backlit screen are easily viewed at any angle.

The keypad is intuitive and–hold your applause!–all of the important functions are within one button or knob press!

The front panel design is simple and clean. There are no embedded menus to navigate to change filter width, power level, RF gain, keyer speed, mic gain, pre amp, or audio monitor level. Knob spacing is excellent and I believe I would even be able to operate the RGO while wearing gloves.

Even split-operation is designed so that, with one button press, you can easily monitor a pile-up and position your transmit frequency where the DX station last worked a station. (This is similar to the Icom XFC button). The user-interface is intuitive; it’s obvious to me that Boris built this radio around working DX at home and in the field.

Speaking of the field…

Parks On The Air (POTA) with the Mission RGO One

At my request, Boris has kindly loaned me one of the first production run units to test and review over the next few months. I intend to evaluate this radio at home, in the field, and (especially) on Field Day. By July, I should have a very good idea of how well this Bulgaria-born transceiver performs under demanding radio conditions!

I had planned to begin my RGO One evaluation after returning home from Hamvention, but I couldn’t resist taking it to the field, even though the propagation forecast was dismal.

The first leg of my journey home from Hamvention took me to Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, so I scheduled a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation of Delaware State Park, K-1946.

Delaware State Park (POTA K-1946) in Delaware, Ohio.

My buddy Miles (KD8KNC) and I met our mutual friend Mike (K8RAT) at the park entrance and quickly found a great site with tall trees, a little shade, and a large picnic table.

We set up the RGO One and, for comparison, my Elecraft KX2 for the POTA activation.

I won’t lie: band conditions were horrible. Propagation was incredibly weak, QRN was high, and QSB was deep. Yuck!

Still, this activation gave me a chance to test the RGO One in proper field conditions.

I was limited to SSB since the only CW key I had with me, the paddle specifically designed to attach to the front panel of the Elecraft KX2, wouldn’t work with the RGO One. In addition, I was limited to 25 watts output because the antenna I deployed, the LnR Precision EFT Trail-Friendly end-fed antenna, can only handle power up to 25 watts.

Although I had never operated the radio before, I was able to sort out most of its functions and features quickly.

The receiver audio was excellent and the noise floor seemed quite low to my ears. The internal speaker does a fine job producing audio levels that are more than ample for a field setting.  Still, I prefer operating with a set of earphones in the field–especially important on days like this when propagation equates to a lot of weak signals.

Although I failed to make a total of ten contacts to claim a proper POTA activation, I was pleased with offering up K-1946 to seven lucky POTA hunters/chasers. I simply didn’t have enough time available to work three stations more at such a slow QSO rate.

Of course, my signal reports were averaging “5 by 5” and were never more than “5 by 7” regardless of which rig–the RGO One or the KX2–I was using. The reports on the RGO One transmit audio reports were great.

Stay tuned!

I will publish my first review of the Mission RGO One in The Spectrum Monitor Magazine, most likely in August or September.  In the meantime, I will post updates here as I put the RGO One through its paces. I’m especially excited about using it during Field Day with my buddy Vlado (N3CZ) to see how it holds up in such an RF-dense environment.

And now that the POTA bug has bitten me?  Expect to catch me on the air with the RGO One over the next few weeks!

If you’re interested in following the Mission RGO One, bookmark the tag: RGO ONE.


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2019 Hamvention photos: Inside Exhibits

The amazing Pietro Begali (I2RTF), winner of the 2019 Hamvention Technical Achievement Award.

The 2019 Hamvention seemed to attract a very large crowd this year so I’m eager to see what the actual numbers are when they’re published. The weather was nearly perfect.

From speaking with inside exhibitors, it sounds like sales were quite good this year, some told me it was a record event.

On Saturday I took time away from my booth–thanks to my volunteers–to visit the inside exhibit tables. Most of the following photos were taken in the main Hamvention metal buildings. Somehow, omitted many photos from the tent area where our table was located.

Note that the following photos are in no particular order. (Click here to view photos of the 2019 Hamvention Flea Market.)

2019 Hamvention Inside Exhibitor Photos

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


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2019 Hamvention photos: Friday Flea Market

This morning, we’re about to head out to the Greene County Fairgrounds for the final day of the 2019 Hamvention. The past two days have been amazing and, as always, it’s been a pleasure to meet so many SWLing Post readers and contributors–thank you for stopping by!

Below, I’ve posted photos I took at the Hamvention Flea Market Friday morning. Note that most of these photos were taken prior to the flea market opening. Once again, I was most impressed with the number of vintage radios on display. Although it had rained early in the morning, it completely subsided by 7:00 AM so the grounds were in great shape by the 9:00 AM opening time.

2019 Hamvention Flea Market Photos

Click on the thumbnail images below to expand each photo. I’ve tried to include price tags when available. I plan to post inside exhibit photos tomorrow.


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First Look: Elecraft K4 photos and preliminary information

The new Elecraft K4

Today, prior to the open of the 2019 Hamvention, I had an opportunity to hang with the folks at Elecraft and grab some photos of their newest transceiver: the Elecraft K4 direct-sampling SDR (click here to read the announcement).

Elecraft has now published a K4 product page on their website with information about pre-orderswith information about pre-orders. In short, the base model—which includes two full receivers—starts at $3999 US.

Wayne Burdick told me that they expect to start shipping the K4 by the end of 2019.

I snapped a number of photos of the two engineering prototypes of the K4 this morning in Building 1 at the 2019 Hamvention.

Elecraft K4 Photos

Click on the images below to enlarge:

 

 

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Going to the 2019 Hamvention? Stop by booth 6510!

For the tenth year in a row, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW), at the Hamvention now in Xenia, Ohio.

You can find us at booth 6510. (Click here for a map.)

I always enjoy meeting SWLing Post readers who stop by our booth to introduce themselves!

If you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio and other technologies, check out our website.

Note that this year we will also give away our HumanaLight kits to those who donate $10 or more to ETOW (while supplies last). 

Look forward to meeting you in Xenia!

-Thomas (K4SWL)

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No new metal building for 2019 Hamvention

The white event tents that house a large number of vendors.

(Source: Southgate ARC)

CQ Magazine report there will still be tents for some commercial exhibitors at next year’s Dayton Hamvention.

In one of their first acts as leaders of the 2019 Hamvention, General Chairman Jack Gerbs, WB8SCT, and Assistant General Chairman Rick Allnutt, WS8G, announced on August 5th that they had been unable so far “to reach an agreement on a long-term contract (with Greene County officials) where both the Fairgrounds and Hamvention would feel comfortable erecting a new building.”

The announcement was made “in the spirit of being transparent,” they said. Gerbs and Allnut stressed that the overall relationship between the Dayton Amateur Radio Association and Greene County remains excellent and the Hamvention will continue to be held at the fairgrounds in Xenia. They cited improvements made for the 2018 show and promised more for 2019. However, a new commercial exhibits building will not be among them.

The 2019 Dayton Hamvention is scheduled for May 17-19.

CQ Magazine
http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/

I’ll admit: this is disappointing news. I’ve had a table in the tents the past two years at Hamvention. The first year (2017), the tents were pretty dismal–lighting was almost nonexistent and there was serious water intrusion.

This year, DARA obtained much better tents and did a proper job securing the walls and avoiding the drainage areas. Still, water intrusion was an issue. If it rained (and it did) the floors (i.e. asphalt) got wet. Vendors had to keep their inventory off of the floor at all times, else it would get soaked. Since so many products are stored in cardboard boxes, are electronic, and not waterproof, this was a serious issue. I spoke to one of the larger tent vendors who was really upset about the water intrusion and lack of security and vowed not to return unless they could get a proper indoor space.

To please outdoor tent vendors, I believe DARA ought to give discounted pricing for those spaces, increase security, and at least provide crates or pallets to help vendors keep their inventory from contacting the ground and getting soaked.

Click here to read our review of the 2017 Hamvention–the first at the Greene County Fairgrounds.

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