W1WRA'S Floobydust

NearFest Wrapup


This weekend was Near-Fest weekend in New Hampshire. The event happens every spring and fall. It’s a great hamfest that runs Friday-Saturady. It is held at the Deerfield Fairgrounds and allows for overnight camping. I have not done the overnight in a while. This year I was there from about 9-5 on Friday.

I was able to visit the M17 Project folks early on in the fest. It’s always nice to see KC1AWV, N2XDD, N1IIM, and others from M17 at the various New England hamfests. Steve and Ed recently did a talk for our club talking about M17 and it was great. We have a video here.

While making the rounds of the flea market I found a guy selling a box of various electronic parts for “$3 for the box” of goodies. After quickly skimming the box I figured what the heck. The ham mentioned “I’ll throw in all this other stuff (more parts etc) for $10. I did not look closely at things but figured there is probably a treasure in there. I made the deal and grabbed my box of goodies. We’ll get back to this box later.

Making some further rounds I grabbed some very heavy-duty copper braids and bus bar to revisit grounding in the shack at some point (I have a major reorg in that department coming soon). I found some nicely priced RF terminators from Bird and Andrews, and stocked up on some banana plug adapters, cables, adapters, etc for the workbench area.

I bumped into KC1QDK and his wife Kim there. Kim had a nice table set up with things that would interest XYLs and kids. I purchased a sweet handmade candle for my YL there. Also, Tim made his first official CW contact there. I think he ended up getting a few in the logs for the day. Way to go Tim!

I was bumping into a bunch of hams I know. One person I chatted with for a while was AF1T. If you are in the northeast part of the country and/or look at VHF contest scores I’m sure you may recognize Dale’s call. We started talking about high the higher bands. I used to do VHF+ contesting back 20ish years ago. I would mostly rove and would be active on 6m/2m/1.25m/70cm/23cm. I have never really operated above 1.2 GHz in the ham bands. I do not have the house on the hill with a larger tower situation so any operations would be portable/rove. I picked Dale’s brain for a while and then had microwaves on my mind.

Walking around I noticed someone had a 2.3 GHz ham band amp for sale. While he did not have any transverters for sale we stopped and talked VHF+. This ham was W1FKF. We chatted about the NEWS (New England Weak Signal group) as well as other things. It really got me thinking more about exploring the higher bands.

Then, it happened. I came across K1OR’s table. Sitting there was a Down East Microwave 5.7 GHz transverter. It is a Low Power version and puts out 10mW so I will need to track down an amp. He also had a 5.7 GHz dish. This would give me a good head start to be able to get on the band. After making a bundle deal I made the purchase. He wrote down some notes for me on amps and other things. He also found a 5.7 GHz circulator that he threw into the deal. He and a table next to him grabbed my email and both will check to see if they have an amp around for the band. Maybe completing the station will be easier than I thought. We shall see.

Oh, the box. Remember that thing mentioned early on in the post (thanks for continuing to read). When I got home I was going through my $10 box of parts. Voltage regulators, interesting diodes, and other things that may be handy for future projects. Then, I found the baggie that made this purchase sweet. Now, recall this is the first thing I bought at the hamfest, not knowing I would become a potential microwave operator later in the day. The baggie had 2 small PCBs, some small parts, and 2 folded-up pieces of paper. Both read Down East Microwave Universal Wide Band Amplifier (one specifically listed for 2-6 GHz operation). Wow! What are the chances of that! While each board uses 1 amplifier component, I have a baggie of 6 (room for error). Perhaps the 5.7 GHz thing was meant to be after all.

Still need to gather things to complete that station, but perhaps that will be a future blog post.

Can’t wait for the fall Near-Fest.