Dayton 2008!

Well, I got back from three days at the Dayton Hamvention last night, and as usual, it was a real blast.

As I did two years ago, I started this year’s event with QRP-Amateur Radio Club International‘s Four Days in May seminars. This series of seminars lasts from 8:30 until about 4:00 pm and are just chock full of information and inspiration.

This year, the three presentations that really inspired me included:

  • “Life is Too Short for QR” by George Dobbs, G3RJV,
  • “QRP Contesting” by Ward Silver, N0AX, and
  • “Phasing Techniques in the Digital Age” by Phil Harman, VK6APH.

As you might expect, Rev. Dobbs’ talk was more inspirational than informational (please forgive the made-up word there). The thesis was that ham radio is a hobby, and we should indulge in it as such. That being the case, QRP is the perfect pursuit for those of us who treat it as a pastime.

It wasn’t all philosophy, though. Intertwined with the inspiration, George managed to sneak in a bunch of radio theory and simple circuits.

Just Do It
I do a bit of contesting—even a QRP contest now and then—so much of the material in Ward Silver’s talk was not news to me, but even so, it was both inspirational and informational. While he mostly exhorted the boys to just get out there and do it, he also included some pearls of wisdom.

One of the things he said that got me thinking was his explanation of how to use the two VFOs in your radio (assuming you’re using a radio with two VFOs) to maximize your “search and pounce” efforts. Basically, the technique goes something like this:

  1. Find a station calling CQ.
  2. Program your B VFO with that frequency.
  3. Find another station calling CQ.
  4. Switch back and forth between them until one of them answers your call.

This is a simple technique that ought to increase your score in the next big contest.

Phasing Techniques
Put this presentation squarely in the informational category. Phil explained phasing techniques and how software-defined radios use them so simply that even I understand it now.

Also, chalk this up as inspirational, though. While discussing the talk the next day with one of my colleagues who has been entranced by the SoftRock, we started considering how we might build some hardware of our own up and playing with it. We even went out an bought some cheap mixers from the Mini-Circuits booth to play around with.

Well, there’s just a quick take on my first eight hours in Dayton this year. More to come on the rest of the experience.

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