Saturday, February 12, 2011

Orlando Hamcation 2011

Flex 1500 on a BIG display

Hit the hamfest today. Got a bit of a late start which was my intention. The early hours on Saturday are always hectic and I wanted leisure today. I live out in the sticks on the east coast Florida about a mile inland from the ocean and about ten miles north of the Kennedy space center. Orlando is about 30 miles to the west. The hamfest is at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, which is a BIG complex. The hamfest occupies 3 large buildings and a couple smaller buildings one of which is used for forums. There is an outside flee market that goes on for miles and plenty of parking for campers out in the flee area. Orlando is the biggest hamfest I have been to next to Dayton. Everybody comes, all the major distributors and tons of minor distributors and parts and junk dealers from all over the east coast descend on the hamcation every year. Orlando is a great destination and part of the reason I chose to live where I live is because of the airport. You can get here from anywhere, AND that means you can get to anywhere from here. I've gotten cranky enough about travel in my old age, and the demise of our air transpation system, that if you can't fly direct I pretty much don't go. My point is if you ever decide to try a hamfest out of your local area, first there is Dayton but next there is Orlando.

I took a few shots of some of the vendors and some of their wares to share. There are enough vendors to fill ten blog posts so I will share a few. I did make it to Tony N3ZN's booth and I did pick up a new paddle:

Tony and I collaborated on the very first version of this paddle a few years ago. It was called the SL1 and I have serial number 1. This was the original design:

The paddle is smooth as silk but it was built on a smaller lighter base and I always wanted something heftier. Tony originally thought I was a bit daft at wanting a single lever paddle built like this, but the customer is always right so he built it for me anyway. Little did he know I was about to hook him. He now uses the single lever of our design as his own choice in paddles, and it has caught on to be a big seller for him. All I know is the speed demons I know all use single lever paddles. Iambics are too prone to mistakes and unnatural at QRQ. I know I am a happy owner. I was going to get the bronze version but wound up with the brass version because he was having a hamfest special on the price and I could take it home with me. Color me ecstatic and Serial Number one is going in the box as a collectors' item

Here is a shot of several of Tony's paddles on the table:

And a picture of the maestro himself:

He and his wife are good people.

I saw Scott W4PA and his new venture

He had about 100 lbs of chromium out on his table.:

I knew Scott from his days at Ten Tec.

I stopped by the Alpha booth and was treated to tables full of horsepower and a light show:

And the guts of their 6M amp. Moon bounce anyone?

I took a couple shots of the competition's displays at the hamfest

W4MPE calls these a "TANK RADIO"

K3 and it's dinky little panadapter

Here is the K3 it's dinky little panadapter and it's dinky little amplifier. It puts out 500W availability around April

This one puts out 600W and will completely band follow any Flex radio and is available today

And this one puts out 1300-1500 W and will completely band follow any Flex radio (this is the amp I just used to work TJ9PF on 80M, while writing this blog entry)

I stopped by and said HI to my friend Rich W2VU editor of CQ

I look forward every year to seeing him at the fest

I finally made it over to the Flex booth They have a pretty massive display, one of the larger displays at the show. Who might I meet?

Greg W5GJ He is standing next to the F3000 display! Nothing dinky about this sucker! It was good to see Greg and the boys and get filled in on the travails for the year.

Here is a pile of bricks:

Steve from down east microwave stopped by the booth and said almost all of the users of his transverters are using Flex 1500's as IF strips. At the show these were flying off the shelf.

Here is a cool shot of the F3K with the Oscope running Note the CW waveform

Greg is smart and he knows how to sell radios

The booth was busy so I wasn't able to get a shot of the Flex 5000 side of the booth. The boys had 3 of these monitors scattered across the tables, one for each radio. The monitors are quite a show stopper. I like to hang around the booth and talk to other hams. Since I have considerable experience with diversity people with questions about how that works often get shuttled to me, and its a great joy just to fellowship with brother hams. I don't have anything to do with the sales, so I don't have a dog in the hunt. It's just good fun.

Overall I talked to the vendors and the good news is ham radio is starting to revive from the recession. Orders are coming in, not flowing in but good and steady. From what the guys say the show was busier this year than last, so all of that bodes well.

I didn't hit the flee market this year, I guess I'm just getting old and when you've seen one TS 830 in a dingy pile of CB microphones, you've seen them all. I need to be throwing stuff out not buying new.

Hamfests make you hungry, and while there are the requisite number of greasy spoon vans on site, all with very good hamfest fair, I chose to wait for lunch. On my way out of town I stopped by my favorite hot dog stand:

If you ever wondered where Heaven is, here is the place. This place serves the best damn Chicago Dog south of Chicago!! Pure bliss. If you come to Orlando and stop by the AES store, Heaven is about a mile or two east of AES on Colonial Avenue.

It was a good day. If you get the chance Orlando Hamcation is a good one. If your just here by chance stop by the AES store and then get ya a dog!!