DAYTON – May 19-22

The Oakville crew is getting ready to head down to the Dayton Hamvention. If you’ve never been to Dayton, you have no idea what you’re missing. Aside from four days of bad food :), there are acres of fleamarket bargains, four or five buildings full of retailers selling the latest gizmos, plus the forums.

But that’s not all. On the Thursday there’s the day-long Contest University. At $85 it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in learning how to be a contester. If you’re 25 or younger, there may still be some scholarships available which means the organizers will wave the registration fee.

The “professors” of CTU are the best of the best contesters. What they don’t know, isn’t worth knowing!

I’ve been to Contest U three or four times and I’ve learned something new every year. Tim K3LR has narrated an introduction to all things contesting that are taking place at Dayton. Here’s link from the Potomac Valley Radio Club.

If you got to CTU you won’t want to miss Rob Sherwood’s presentation on receiver performance. Sherwood’s findings are always controversial and upsetting for some guys who have bought really expensive rigs only to find it beaten out in performance by my $600 FlexRadio 1500. Rumour says there will be a live online webinar of Sherwood’s presentation which I hope gets archived for broadcast later.

Also on Thursday, the QRP world comes together for their event called Four Days In May. I’m attending the day-long workshops held at a nearby hotel. This will be my second time at FDIM and I’m looking forward to it. QRP guys have to do more with less and that means workshops on antennas, propagation and operating skills are likely on the agenda.

Then of course there’s the outdoor vendor area which has got to be several acres in size. It can take four or five hours to walk it properly.

And as for what’s on the list? Well the Ten-Tec R4020 is a contender after my experiences with the 5-watt Flex 1500. This five-watt rig runs on 40 and 20 meters and at $250 is a bargain. I’ve heard it on the air via You Tube and it’s impressive. Probably going to buy a PAR Electronics HF End-Fedz EF-10-20-40 for easy installation when operating portable.

I rearranged the antenna system to make room for a possible Carolina Windom 80. The off-center feed Windom may give me better 80 meter performance. There’s not much I can do better on 160 than run my sloper but my 80-meter signal could be better with a better antenna. Right now I’m running an Alpha-Delta shortened 80/40 dipole and it works great but requires too much tuning on 80 meters during a contest to be really useful.

The rearrangement of antennas meant I ended up with a long coaxial run of LMR-400 from the switch box located on the tower in the backyard to half way up the front yard. Now my front yard happens to be lined on the west side by tall pine trees.

An S-9 31-foot vertical (which is just a fibreglass pole with a wire inside) mounted over a bunch of underground radials would give me a dedicated 40-meter antenna in the front yard.

Sure I could do the exact same thing by suspending a 31-foot wire off a tree branch but this is so much more elegant 🙂 And at $99 it’s relatively cheap.

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About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

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