Saturday, February 21, 2009

Orlando HamFest (HamCation) 2009

Had an awesome time at the Orlando Hamfest this year! Dan Scott (KF4MND) and I drove down together. We met at the Cracker Barrel Friday morning for some grub at about 0700. Several other local HAMs met there as well. Once we had stuffed ourselves we proceeded to transfer all of Dan's gear over to my truck. Dan brought his "go kit" which includes a laptop running Echolink. After a few electrical issues which we creatively overcame (we were both trained by the military afterall) we had the rolling Echolink node up and running. We were transmitting on the radio side on 146.520 and had the Echolink node connected to the Internet via data link on Dan's cell phone. We were able to establish a link to the newly operational Savannah Echolink node W4SGA-R which is hosted at the QTH of Jerry, W4SGA. This node runs to the CARS W4LHS repeater on the RF side. We were able to communicate with other operators on the 146.700 repeater as we traveled down I-95 on our way to Orlando. We also took the opportunity to connect to the Brunswick repeater Echolink node as we passed through.

We arrived at the Hamfest around 1500 or so and kept the node up and running in the truck as we went into the Hamfest area. We both carried handhelds and talked back to the "go kit" in the truck on 147.555 which in turn allowed us to talk to the guys back in Savannah on the 146.700. It was awesome being able to tell the guys about the things we were seeing and doing throughout the day. We were also talking with some of the other guys at the Hamfest on thier "Bubba Net" on 446.625.

Well we stayed till after 1700 or so and headed to the hotel. Got checked in and grabbed some dinner at the local Japanese Steak House right there at the hotel. After getting settled in and checking in with our respective XYLs, we called it a night. Woke up at about 0700 on Saturday morning. This is "sleeping in" for Dan. Remember, he is active duty Army! Gorged ourselved at the breakfast buffet then headed back over to the Hamfest for more fun and to lighten our wallets a bit! Did the same drill with the Echolink Node and had a blast walking around in a Ham Operators paradise. We ran into Andy and Beth Ann, Steve and Sue, Lester, Bob, Bill, Ryan and his family and others. Dan picked up an Arrow antenna for working satellites, an audio mixer, and some accesories for his IC-91AD. I purchased several connectors, patch cables, a G5RV and some feedline, an MFJ Wattmeter, some RF Antenna switches, a scanner antenna for the mobile, an old D-104 microphone, and a Yaesu VX-2R which will be my son Jackson's radio when he get's his license in March. Wow, what a blast! After a great day that seemed to fly by, we hooked up with Bill, Bob, and Bob's friend Jeff from Ohio out in the camping area. They set up a portable QRP rig with a BuddiPole antenna and worked some 20 meters right out in the field. Awesome stuff. After that, Dan and I hit the road and headed back to Savannah. Stopped in Daytona and gassed up and grabbed some chow. Talked to the 146.700 in Savannah via the rolling Echolink node on the way back. We pulled back into the Cracker Barrel around 2200 and tranfered everything back to Dan's truck and parted ways. What a great opportunity it was to exercise the Savannah Echolink node from out of town. I had a great time playing radio with Dan and am looking forward to next year!

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