Hamcation Recap

Hamcation is a great hamfest. It’s huge, spread out, and located in the one place where the weather is actually amazing – Orlando. It’s sunny, 75 degrees, and I’m pretty sure I’m sunburnt. I forgot that this kind of weather exists.

With rewards points, I was able to attend Hamcation basically free, and got to bring a student from the Missouri S&T Amateur Radio Club too. Aaron, AA0RN, is a W0EEE officer. He likes contesting and working with hospital radio organizations in Kansas City, MO (like KCHEART), and this was his first time to a big hamfest. I hope the trip is inspiring him to do great things with W0EEE – which they already are with their mega-successful  technician license class. It’s so popular that it’s putting stress on the local VE’s – a good thing!

I went to Hamcation because of one forum on Collegiate Amateur Radio. I went so the rest of you all could see it in my livestream. I got so much more out of it than I was expecting.

One of those moments was meeting The Backyard Scientist. He is a YouTube sensation with almost 2.5 MILLION subscribers.  He does stuff on YouTube that’s every kid’s dream – melting, shooting, blowing up, and slicing through stuff in slow motion.

The Backyard Scientist at Hamcation. what. KD8YVJ is just as flabbergasted.
Here’s my recap:

Youth Forum

Hamvention must be an ideal Hamfest for young people since Disney world is basically just nextdoor. Carole Perry WB2MGP had a number of young people present a dry-run of their talks, so they can refine their presentations before the big show in Dayton (now Xenia). I periscoped and tweeted a few presentations – check out periscope.tv/n0ssc for those.

I was excited to finally meet the Lee family in person – see hamradio.world for the awesomeness the Lee’s bring to this hobby.

College Forum

This was the best forum ever. College ham radio is making a huge movement with the advent of low-cost SDR making ham radio more interesting to computer science and engineering majors, and not just electrical engineers.

The college forum was livestreamed successfully, but the quality suffered due to slow wifi. It’s available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t_TO5vU-Ws, and soon Tony KD8RTT will have a high-quality version on his channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/12milluz

Ham radio in College is about to get a whole bunch more fun. Photo credit: ARRL
One of the biggest take-aways of the meeting was the amount of ARRL support. They brought mugs, banners, and at least 10 boxes of ARRL Handbooks to give away. Plus, the ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher NY2RF and Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen NQ1R, made a point to attend the entirety of the forum. It’s really cool to see the huge support from the League. It was also great to get the one-on-one time with Tom, as well as our post-forum social.

Collegiate Ham Radio Social at the K4UCF Hamshack
There will be an article in QST soon.

About 1,000,000 RVs

What makes Dayton Hamvention great is it’s 3 acres of flea market. What makes Orlando Hamcation great is literally hundreds of RVs that take up all the fairground space. I’ve never seen so many…it’s totally bonkers.

Drama, lol.

I’m constantly reminded that ham radio still has it’s fair share of drama. In this case, it was the Florida Repeater Council. They had a meeting during Hamcation where they decided to remove all of it’s members. That’s the account of W9CR, who is spearheading a reform campaign.

A lot of repeater coordination committees run very un-democratically and shroud things like repeater locations in secrecy (understandably to avoid situations where repeaters are granted access to a tower or building under the table, and once word gets out that a ham radio antenna is installed on some major real estate, either the building/tower owners or other agencies start to get fussy and end up kicking them off)

My advice is to take this campaign elsewhere, perhaps into spearheading  a grassroots repeater coordination paradigm. Repeater councils are not governed by the FCC, and repeaters need not be coordinated on a basis of regulation, and these committees quickly devolve into debates and drama because of differences in opinion. Instead, repeater owners should understand the RF environment and work together to avoid harmful interference, and use croudsourced repeater directories like Repeaterbook to make a record of that repeater’s existence.

I understand coordination committees came out of necessity since there was no central body to govern all the repeaters popping up in the 70s (and the subsequent interference), but in this age of technology and crowdsourcing, repeater coordination can be decentralized, and the drama left behind. That and the fact that there aren’t as many active repeaters today than in the past.

This reddit thread is following the drama. And here’s another.

No new products?

There wasn’t much of a WOW factor at this hamfest. All the standard vendors were there, but with a fraction of the gear they bring out for Hamvention. Nothing really new and/or groundbreaking. Did I miss anything?

Update: I did one forget thing: Hytera has a both at Hamcation, which is apparently a new thing! It’s a good thing that the DMR industry is giving ham radio a fair amount of attention. 


So that was tons of fun. I’m not going to Dayton this year, but I will be looking to see if I can fit others like Seapac, Pacificon and Hamcom, and Hamcon in my schedule. I love hamfests!


Youth in Ham Radio Presentation at SLSRC Winterfest


The livestream broke halfway through but I recovered the audio of the end and set it to the slide show. Enjoy!

Slides: Amateur Radio’s Next Generation by N0SSC.pdf

Audio only Enhanced Podcast version (hosted by The Phasing Line Podcast): http://phasinglinepodcast.com/phasing-line-bonus-amateur-radios-next-generation-by-n0ssc/

Continue reading “Youth in Ham Radio Presentation at SLSRC Winterfest”

hab.education: Promoting STEAM to Youth with High Altitude Ballooning

Finally, something to get my mind of this crazy election.

I met this guy at Dayton one year, and totally forgot about it.

Dustin (@BalloonEDU) is a clone of mine, or perhaps I’m a clone of his..basically our mindsets align strangely closely regarding ham radio, education, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design, math…which used to be STEM now Art/design gets a mention) promotion and high altitude ballooning. I met him at Venture Cafe in St Louis, which is a place where young professionals (aka yuppies) meet to find people to collaborate, kickstart, and invest in their ideas.

In my case, I went the first time for free beer. Little did I know I would find a ham.

Dustin, KE0BVB, is a leader of hab.education – a volunteer-based educational program that promotes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Math) by having school kids build and launch high altitude balloons.

It was just last month when I started up my Echoloon project.

He and I met after some of my college friends started texting me.


I bolted to the car, sped my way there, and signed in, skipping the line for free beer. I got to the conference room they were in a bit late, just after his talk, meanwhile a man from Stofiel Aerospace was giving a talk on his balloon-launched orbital rocket company…that’s pretty cool! Turns out Mr. Stofiel was turning towards Dustin for his expertise on high altitude balloon tracking.

This was all too awesome. With my Echoloon idea, and my work with FaradayRF, now hab.education…this was all coming to a head.

We talked for only a few minutes and unearthed the single most detrimental issue in ham radio high altitude ballooning – fragmentation. Like I mentioned in my Echoloon post, hardware and software development in high altitude ballooning and ham radio in general is all over the place! It’s fragmented. There’s the California Near Space Project, K6RPT, there’s Bill Brown WB8ELK, there’s ARHAB, and UKHAS…and dozens more! Those are just the biggest names. They even have made their own freakin’ Balloon Open Hardware License!

They’re all over the place, and I don’t think there’s been a lot of cross-talk between them, and some are choosing to develop their trackers and payloads in closed-source secrecy, and man, that’s a bummer. We could really rule the skies and help STEAM education a lot with a standard platform specification. That’s my side-goal for Project Echoloon.

I really want to bring everyone together. I wonder if anyone’s started a High Altitude Balloon consortium or annual conference……


lol. Just missed it. 🙁

So yeah. I got so excited about this encounter that I called Neil Rapp in excitement to get it off my chest during his HamTalkLive! call-in show. I come in around 24:20. Haha.