HAM and Amateur Radio

Dayton Hamvention 2017: New Tech, New Location, and Old Friends

The location change had to be on the minds of most Dayton Hamvention goers this year. When you were in a location as long as Hamvention was, a location change is big for everyone. I am happy to say that the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, the group responsible for the show, was successful beyond any imagination.

Amateur Radio Operators: Dayton Hamvention 2017 Preview

Not quite as exciting as an Apple or Google Keynote, the Dayton Hamvention is this week, and I’ll be making the trek to the show this year in its first new location since I started attending, the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio. Hamvention is like CES, but for Amateur Radio operators like myself, and it’s a lot of fun.

Dayton Hamvention 2015: Still the Greatest Spectacle of Ham Radio

Since I have fully recovered from the past Dayton Hamvention, I thought I would share some of my thoughts of the event.  Now you may be unfamiliar with Hamvention so let’s just say it is the biggest Ham Radio event not just here in the US, but in the world. That’s what it means to me and many other hams.

Software Defined Radios Are the Future

Software defined radios are radios that are defined, primarily, with software. What does this mean? That means instead of needing a circuit to do the job, a portion of what the radio normally would do has been replaced by software. Want a different mode or even a frequency? Update the software. This has forever changed how radios are built.

Last Man Standing’s Tim Allen Earn’s His Ham Radio License

I love the show Last Man Standing. One reason why I love it is Tim Allen’s character, Mike Baxter, is also depicted as being an Ham Radio operator like me. Well, last week at the Hollywood Hamnado special event sponsored in part by the show, it was announced that Tim has truly earned his license and is now KK6OTD.

A Conversation with Adam Curry thanks to Amateur Radio

One of the things I always say about Ham Radio is that you never know who might have their license; there are even famous people who do.  An example of this comes in a short conversation I had via Amateur Radio with former MTV VJ and one of the hosts of the No Agenda Podcast, Adam Curry, call sign KF5SLN.

Icom ID-51A D-star Radio Review

It’s been a while since I entered the D-star world of amateur radio with the ID-31A. Unfortunately, it gave up the ghost — mostly because it took several baths in iced tea. So what was its replacement? The Icom ID-51A D-Star, which is in every respect one of the best and most advanced handheld radios I’ve ever owned.

What is the Oldest Piece of Tech That You Still Use?

You’d think we’d use nothing old with the pace that new technology moves, which got me thinking: What is the oldest piece of tech that you regularly use? Mine is my Azden PCS-6000 2m mobile amateur radio, which I use at home; it was released in 1989. There’s no reason to replace as it still works well! How about you?  

Amateur Radio Goals for 2014

It’s important to have goals.  The new year is an excellent time for new goals, and I thought I would share them here on Gear Diary, as they are oriented around emergency preparedness as well as new radio gear. This year I am planning 2 radio purchases with the second helping me to better serve the community.

My Workspace: 50 Year Old Desk Mixes Modern and Old School Tech

One of my favorite set of posts on Lifehacker is the “Featured Workspace” posts.  Your workspace is important.  It’s where things get done. Each and every workspace is different because we are all different. My workspace utilizes a 50 year-old desk and a mix of tech from old to new. Read on for more on how I have set this up. The desk is one I picked up many years ago on Freecycle.  Freecycle is a Yahoo group in our area that people list stuff for free.  This desk’s previous home was a local church here in the Columbus area,…

The Ham Radio ARRL Repeater Directory for Android Review

A while back I reviewed an app for finding Amateur Radio repeaters called Repeater Book.  In that review, I fondly remembered leafing through the Repeater Book that the American Radio Relay League (or ARRL) printed for years upon years.  I have not bought one of those in some time, and I think the ARRL noticed that a lot of other hams haven’t either. At Dayton, the ARRL showed a new product that doesn’t replace the Repeater Book of old, but rather takes it and puts in on your phone in a similar way to the Repeater Book app I previously…

Dayton Hamvention 2013 – The Hams Were There

One experience I have yet to share about ham radio is the experience of the Ham Fest.  A Ham Fest is not where you go and eat ham with your fellow radio operators.  It is a conference where you can go to learn about the rigs, get training, and buy things!  Think CES combined with a state fair, and you’d have it half-right.  There is no better hamfest out there, in my opinion than the one, the only, the Dayton Hamvention. A Little History The Hamvention came to being in 1952, when the Dayton Amateur Radio Association in Dayton, Ohio…

Baofeng UV-5RA Review: Can a $50 Ham Radio Be Any Good?

I hope you have been enjoying my series on Amateur Radio.  It’s been one of my favorite hobbies for about 20 years now, and I love sharing my knowledge with our readers. Today I am bringing you another radio review, only the second one ever for Gear Diary. Just like when I reviewed the Icom ID-31A last year, this Baofeng UV-5RA review is coming from real-life experience with the radio.

The Origin of the Term ‘Ham Radio’

I hope you have been enjoying my posts on Amateur Radio.  Other than mobile tech and the typical tech stuff I am into, it is one of my most favorite things to do in the evening.  Nothing beats chatting with a group of fellow hams about amateur radio itself, the tech behind it, or other things that are related. As you may have noticed, I use the terms amateur radio and ham radio pretty interchangeably.  They are indeed one and the same; there’s no difference.  However, one might wonder how the term ham radio come about?  Well, according to the ARRL, the…

RepeaterBook for Android App Review

Way back when I was first licensed in 1993 to use a HAM Radio, the first thing I wanted to do was to get on the 2m band and hop on a local repeater.  How did I find them back then?  Well I went to the local radio store and bought the latest edition of the ARRL Repeater Book.  In fact, the ARRL still publishes this book, and it’s only $10.95.  Once I got the book, I had to dig through it to find my county and city; then I had to plug in all the repeaters into my radio….

Ham Radio to be Featured in Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing on ABC

I’ve watched Last Man Standing all season this year and am really enjoying the series in its second year.  One of the reasons I was attracted to it was that the character Tim Allen plays, Mike Baxter, is an Amateur Radio Operator.  He has been given the tongue in cheek call sign KA0XTT.  The “XTT” stands for Ex Tim Taylor.  Icom America has provided radios for his shack at his workplace, a fictional store called Outdoor Man which is styled very much like outdoor stores like Cabela’s.   So far, the radios have only been props at Outdoor Man but that is about to change.  In…

Quirky Ham Radio Gadgets from Yesteryear: The Wouff Hong and the Rettysnitch

Well, the Wouff-Hong is not so much a gadget, but it has been a part of Ham Radio lore since 1930’s.  What is a Wouff Hong?  According to 1930 edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook: The Wouff-Hong is amateur radio’s most sacred symbol and stands for the enforcement of law and order in amateur operation. The story goes that T.O.M. ( The Old Man) wrote stories in the American Radio Relay League’s magazine, QST,  titled Rotten Radio.  It excoriated bad operating practices using caustic humor and satire.  It was in one of these stories that the Wouff-Hong was born.  It wasn’t…

My Bag: Ham Radio Edition

Hurricane Sandy, the derecho and the upcoming winter season has had me thinking about what I carry on a daily basis. It also prompted me to consider what I might add to it to be better prepared.  In HAM lingo, we refer to this as our GO bag– the bag that serves in an emergency preparedness capacity. Here’s a look at my Go bag. The Bag Itself My bag is a Swiss Gear Cobalt laptop bag. In fact, this is the same one I use as my daily driver laptop bag; it is available from Amazon for around $60 bucks. I…

Last Man Standing: Mainstream TV and Radio Connected for Special Event Today

I hope you are enjoying my continuing series of posts on Amateur Radio.  Occasionally, we get to have fun and come close to touching those who we watch on TV.  Well, not exactly but today there was a special event that almost never happens. What on earth am I talking about?  Well, today there was a very special Amateur Radio event.  From 9am to 1pm Pacific Daylight Time there was a special event station operating under the call sign K6H from the set of Last Man Standing, and I was able to work this station via D-star on their backup reflector 30C….

Icom ID-31A D-star Radio Review

I hope you have been enjoying my series on Ham Radio and its various aspects; today’s post is the first review of a ham radio on Gear Diary!  Specifically, I will be reviewing the Icom ID-31A, which is the most advanced handheld radio I have yet owned and the most advanced currently available. What this won’t be is a review heavy on technical testing with scopes and measurements across the board;  I just don’t have the lab that the ARRL has, and I can’t do the kind of testing of radios that they do.  What it will be is an everyday ham radio enthusiast thoughts…