What an exciting turnout it was @ the Belton Hamfest this go around! Must’ve been the weather! There must’ve been twice the amount of people as there was at the last one earlier this Spring! I attempted to sell some things at the tailgate sale for a couple hours but had no takers :(. So, I packed my stuff away, and decided to head out to see what I could find…
I must say I’m proud of myself for not spending a fortune this time around, lol. You really should set a budget for yourself before going to one of these, else, you’ll regret it, lol! The coolest thing I must’ve saw, was a young lad who had just passed his Technician & General license, his Dad was buying him a brand new setup from MTC Radio, an iCom 7300, power supply , antenna, and everything you need to get started! What a cool Dad! Put a huge smile on my face…
I started searching for a dummy load, I should’ve bought one a long time ago, they’re cheap enough. So the best price I could find on a MFJ-260C was for $35 cash from Houston Amateur Radio Supply. Yes, if you pay in cash, most vendors will give you a small discount! It seemed as if some vendors were including taxes in their prices, and some weren’t, not sure what was up with that. Hoping this unit is decent, it has mixed reviews over on eHam, one user saying he was even able to make a contact on his dummy load several states away! That’s not a dummy load… It should dissipate as heat, & not radiate your signal. Maybe the “C” version is an improved version? Who knows, maybe i’ll build one of my own one day!
My idea behind the dummy load was so that I could use it for testing purposes. I also looked for a watt meter, knowing I couldn’t afford a Bird, I looked at the Daiwa & MFJ models, but they wanted nearly $150 for a simple Watt meter. I’ve learned not to rely on my power meter on the rig as it doesn’t tell you the final power out, maybe at the next hamfest i’ll find a decent used one!
Now that I have a dummy load, I could finally use it to test/tweak all the different microphones that I’ve been experimenting with:
I guess you could say I’m a bit of an audio snob, you’ll see arguments all over the web on which microphone is the best, which one sounds the best, etc, etc. Don’t be fooled by marketing gimmicks, I was surprised to find out that I get the best audio reports from the CM500’s. Sometimes the cheapest mic can end up sounding the best. The only mic that I will NEVER use again with my rig is the stock hand mic. There is something definitely up with that thing, makes all kinds of crazy noises when you push the PTT button that get sent out with your signal… no bueno. More on mic testing a bit later!
I also found a 6′ soldered RG213u jumper (eliminated a Daiwa Coax switch & two 3′ pieces of RG213U) & a 5′ piece of tinned copper grounding braid that I’ve been wanting for the shack. I wanted to toy around with grounding stuff a bit more! So all in all, $65 spent, and a great day spent in Belton w/ friends.
Yesterday I was able to make my first contact on 12m with XE2YWB using JT65 & my off center fed dipole. 10 & 12m were all open pretty late in the day! Contact was made around 6pm, maybe it was grey line prop? Nevertheless, I made 2 other JT65 contacts on 12m before it quickly faded away! I was worried that with the decline of the solar cycle it would be harder for me to make contacts on these bands, but apparently there are still openings, they are just fewer and farther in between, and probably don’t last as long. I also received a pretty cool QSL card from the coveted W9IMS station in the mail this week. I made a SSB contact with them during race week!