Most makers probably already know of Diana Eng. She was one of the contestants, the so-called “fashion nerd, on the second season of Project Runway. She’s also been a guest blogger on CRAFT and is the author of the new book Fashion Geek: Clothes Accessories Tech. And Diana Eng is no poser nerd. To prove it, she’s here to talk about… ham radio? That’s right, Diana is a licensed ham! She loves the hobby and is excited about introducing a new generation of amateurs to it. She’ll be contributing some posts here about ham, like this convention report, and doing some radio projects. We’re thrilled to have her. Welcome, Diana! – Gareth Branwyn
This weekend was Hamvention in Dayton, OH, the largest Ham gathering of the year, drawing 20,000 attendees from around the world. Hamvention is filled with vendors, exhibitors, forums, a flea market, and amateur radio operators, ready to make an eyeball QSO (face-to-face contact) with fellow operators they’ve contacted with CW (morse code), RTTY/PSK 31 (data packets), and phone (voice).
Inside the Hara Arena there were five arenas of exhibitors. Major radio vendors Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood showcased their equipment. Alongside were exhibitors showing kits for receivers, transceivers, amplifiers, GPS tracking, tuners, etc.. Hendricks had some really great QRP kits (low power, 5W or less for CW and 10W or less phone). There was custom-made equipment such as keyers for morse code, microphones, antennas, battery packs, and solar panels. EZ Hang created custom sling-shot, fishing reel devices to shoot wire antennas up in trees. Buddipole was a favorite for portable antennas that can be assembled on the go during DXpeditions.
The outdoor flea market had tons of vintage ham radios, various electronics, knick-knacks, and parts. One gentleman was selling Enigma cipher machines that were used to encrypt and decrypt messages during WWII. Winford was there with a nice collection of breadboard adapters and breakout boards. There were some great old Heathkit radios that would be fun to refurbish
I enjoyed seeing how everyone operates and checking out the ham fashion especially from the HF Pack group. Most attendees had handheld radios that operate VHF to contact convention ham friends like on walkie-talkies. A lot of hams had portable stations that they wore in backpacks which can be used to make contact all over the world. Some hams brought along their bicycle mobile stations. One guy, WG0AT, is a portable operator who hikes and hams, carrying his gear on goats. At the AMSAT forum Richard Garriott (Lord British) spoke about operating ham radio from aboard the International Space Station. The evenings were social hour; ham clubs hosted hospitality suites in many of the different hotels and I picked up a bottle of Bavarian Ham Spirit from the Bavarian Contest Club (BCC). And, of course, there were many cars outfitted with antennas, and one car outfitted with many antennas.