October is here and while we must remain alert for the threat of severe weather, temperatures are slightly more moderate at this time. For many amateur radio operators this means it is time to begin thinking about those projects that require the operator to be outside.
Antenna work can be a real chore in the hot and muggy summer, but when the temperature and humidity are lower, building or revamping the antenna system can be very enjoyable. The resultant performance gained in the radio room can mean more contacts and a huge increase in the “fun” factor surrounding amateur radio.
Another very enjoyable aspect of the hobby is the ability over the next few months to indulge in “Radio Alfresco”. A great day at the beach or a park can be a real joy for the “ham” operator using a low power radio and a “field expedient” antenna. Often the antenna can be as simple as a single wire, thrown up into a convenient tree. The radio can be powered by simple batteries. The operating position can be a picnic bench or even a well-placed lawn chair. A few hours spent hunting for that new contact while simultaneously working on your tan is about as good as it gets for the QRP operator. (QRP is ham slang for low power operations, usually less than 5 watts).
October also is the real start to hamfest season. All over Florida, local clubs and regional groups are making final plans and preparations for their local events, big and small, where vendors come together with customers to buy and sell everything from plastic wire ties to complete radios and antennas, along with everything else that the amateur radio operator needs to keep his or her station on the air.
One of the bigger hamfests will be held on the first weekend in December at the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto FL. This year, the whole hamfest will be indoors in air conditioned comfort. This has two main advantages. The vendors who used to “tailgate” in the west parking lot will be much more comfortable and the west parking lot will double the available parking for attendees.
As usual, I will be there doing several things. I will be hosting a “you build it” seminar for hams who want to get an easy start in DIY amateur radio. The project this year will probably be a very simple adaptor that will connect an inexpensive PC style headset to an amateur radio transceiver. Amateur specific headsets can be quite expensive, whereas PC headsets can be found for less than $10. The adaptor is inexpensive and the performance is more than satisfactory.
Most hamfests offer seminars or forums on various aspects of amateur radio and many even offer the opportunity to upgrade your license through a VE Test session. So come out and enjoy all the fun that amateur radio offers. No matter what your interest, there is a facet of amateur radio that you will absolutely love.
Geoff Haines, N1GY