Last weekend a busy one for KB6NU

KB6NU teaching the Jan. 14, 2012 One-Day Tech Class

Me making a point (apparently about SWR) at Saturday's One-Day Tech Class

Last weekend was pretty busy for me, ham radio-wise. It started bright and early Saturday morning with the latest One-Day Tech Class. There were twelve students in the class, and all twelve passed!

This class was a bit odd in that most of them signed up during the week before the class. So few had signed up by Saturday, January 7th, that I was even thinking that I might cancel the class.

On Sunday, January 8, I sent out a reminder to my mailing list, and after that, the class quickly filled up. Many of them were engineering students from the University of Michigan, who are part of a project that sends up weather balloons. They use amateur radio to track the balloons and to find the payloads once they’ve returned to Earth.

Hamfest not so festive
Sunday morning, I was up even earlier to attend the Hazel Park ARC¬†hamfest. Since I was selling some junk, errrrr good stuff, I wanted to get there by 8 am. So, I was up and out of the house by 6:45 am. I needn’t have rushed, though.

Attendance was way down, and while I did sell a little over $100 worth of books and other stuff, I was hoping that I’d sell more. In particular, I thought I’d sell a few of my new “Hams Obey Ohm’s Law” stickers. I didn’t sell a single one, however. One friend of mine offered to purchase one, but I just gave him one.

I think clubs have to think twice about when they schedule these things. Holding them so early on Sunday mornings almost guarantee that only the old farts will show up for these things. And the old farts are a dwindling audience.

No propagation, no glory
Sunday night, I tried to participate in the monthly Run for the Bacon (RTFB). This low-pressure QRP contest, run by the Flying Pigs is usually a fun event. Sunday night, however, the band had gone way long by 9 pm EST, when the contest started. I managed one contact with a station in Idaho, but no one else could hear me.

To be honest, I don’t really know how much power I was running. Instead of hooking up the KX-1, I just cranked down the power on the IC-746PRO until the power out meter was showing just a single bar. I really gotta get that wattmeter kit finished.


  1. Even before I left Michigan in 1984 for Florida I started to give up on those Sunday morning swap and shops. Too many guys selling over priced junk, and too many non-ham booths set-up selling everything from kids toys to garden hoses. That isn’t worth the drive. Even in Florida I dont visit many Sunday morning swaps. Oh well thats what you get when you been a ham since 1970.

    • Something really needs to be done to “geek up” these swaps. I’m not exactly sure what, but we have a couple of “hacker” groups here in Ann Arbor, and one of them has even expressed an interest in having me do a one-day Tech class so that they can get ham licenses. Maybe they will have some suggestions.

  2. Probably won’t get any of the old farts to change the starting/ending times of any of the hamfests. Seems the tradition of “early/early” is too steeped. It is in stark contrast to the computer shows that usually don’t get cranked up until 10 or 11 am, and go until about 4 pm. When they were popular, I used to be able to go to a hamfest in the morning, and to a computer show in the afternoon. Seems the computer shows are all but gone these days, replaced by non-upgradeable laptops, and mail order.

    Come to think of it, mail order has replaced a lot of the local/regional vendors that used to be the staple of the local hamfests. It seems that the presence of at least one or two significant vendors makes a big difference in the size of the rest of the show. I was specifically looking for DebCo to show at Hazel Park. They carry a lot of electronic parts, as well as really nice RF crimp connectors, along with professional crimp tools and dies, and an assortment of ready-made RF jumper cables, all professionally made.

    I prefer to buy stuff like that at the hamfests, not only to support vendors that show, but it gives me an excuse to go someplace on a weekend, and maybe meet and talk with some friends. The Chelsea Swap has been a favorite of mine for some time, mainly because I can sit and talk with old local acquaintances. Guess I’m an old fart, now. Been licensed for 41 years, so I guess it’s time I own up to it.

  3. Larry Koziel K8MU says:

    Despite your impression that attendance at the Hazel Park Hamfest was “way down,” our attendance was 781, an increase of 167 over last year.

    I’m a little curious about your comment about scheduling. You seem to imply that we (and others) could see a younger crowd of attendees simply by holding the hamfest either on a day other than Sunday or at a later time of the day. Could you explain your rationale?

    I’d also like to see these events “geek up.” Keep us posted on any suggestions you turn up.

  4. Dan KB6NU says:

    Larry, I wasn’t able to attend the hamfest last year, so I wasn’t able to compare from year-to-year. It just seemed down to me from years past. I probably shouldn’t have used the term “way down.” Sorry.

    I think that I am implying that you will see a different crowd if you hold the hamfest at a different time of day. How many younger people do you know that get up so early on a Sunday morning? And what about people that go to church? I know church attendance is down, but lots of people still do go to church. I’m just throwing out ideas here. I don’t know that any of them would improve attendance.

    Another guy suggested that several clubs combine their hamfests and make one bigger event. The Livonia ARC is holding one next month. Why not combine those two and have one bigger, longer event?

  5. And the students finally have their callsigns:

    • Jan Tripp, KD8ROM
    • Frank Ward,KD8ROQ
    • Johannes Strom, KD8ROL
    • Jhanani Selvakumar, KD8ROO
    • Dave Pawlowski. KD8ROP
    • Aravind Subramony, KD8ROI
    • Duncan Miller, KD8ROK
    • Erik Fischer, KD8ROR
    • Matthew Muller, KD8ROH
    • Harvey Elliott, KD8ROJ
    • Schuyler Cohen, KD8RON
    • John DeLeo, KF7TOG

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