[amsat-bb] Yuma Hamfest (19-20 February 2016) - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Wed Feb 24 21:17:11 UTC 2016


Last weekend's Yuma Hamfest in southwestern Arizona was a fun event to be a
part of. For the 8th straight year, AMSAT had a booth at the hamfest. This
year, as in 2012 previously, the Yuma Hamfest also served as the ARRL
Southwestern Division Convention. This brought more people out to Yuma,
along with the great weather and the lower fuel prices in most of the
southwestern USA outside of California certainly didn't hurt.

The hamfest ran across two days - Friday (19 February) afternoon, and all
day Saturday (20 February). The hamfest site, the Yuma County Fairgrounds,
turns into a mix of hamfest, convention, and campground. Campers are able
to park on the fairgrounds for the weekend, meaning there's no travel from
camp site to hamfest. For the others attending the hamfest, there are many
motels and hotels around Yuma, or other campgrounds in the area - plus the
desert, a favorite of many spending the winter in this area. The
fairgrounds sits across the street from Yuma International Airport and
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. With the military air operations, it was
like having a small air show alongside the hamfest with the different types
of military aircraft in the sky.

AMSAT had its booth in a section with other groups like ARRL and the Civil
Air Patrol. Lots of traffic went past the booth over the two days. I set up
tablets running videos showing demonstrations of working satellites,
tracking software (SatPC32), and SDR (HDSDR, connected to either an SDRplay
receiver or a HackRF Blue software-defined transceiver). Demonstrations
were done outside the hall, near a parking lot, on 3 different satellites
(AO-85, FO-29, SO-50) using different radio configurations:

AO-85- TX: IC-2730A, RX: SDRplay with HDSDR on 8-inch Windows 10 tablet
FO-29- TX/RX: FT-817ND (half-duplex)
SO-50- TX/RX: TH-D72A (also half-duplex)

All of my radio configurations used an Elk Antennas handheld 2m/70cm log
periodic. For the AO-85 configuration, the antenna was connected through an
MFJ diplexer to serve both the IC-2730A and SDRplay.

With the hamfest starting at midday (1900 UTC) Friday, and AO-85's pass
times not lining up better with the hamfest, Saturday morning was the only
chance I had for an AO-85 demonstration during the hamfest. For the other
two satellites, I was on at least once a day on each satellite. One of the
FO-29 passes on Saturday afternoon was recorded on video, and has since
been uploaded to YouTube:


Other pictures were posted on my @WD9EWK Twitter feed over the weekend. If
you don't have a Twitter account, you can follow this link and scroll back
to see other photos I posted from the hamfest:


Outside of the hamfest on Friday and Sunday mornings, I worked AO-85 from
the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park, northwest of the hamfest
near the Colorado River. All of these locations were in the rarely-heard
grid DM22. For all of the AO-85 passes I worked at those two locations, I
captured and uploaded telemetry to AMSAT.

With AO-85 being in orbit for a few months now, and more satellites coming
during 2016, it makes it easier to talk about this part of ham radio at an
event like the Yuma Hamfest. Instead of "it's coming", I can say "we have
one Fox-1 satellite in orbit now, and more on the way". Add in the other
projects AMSAT is working on currently, and this is a much better situation
compared to a few years ago. A good thing. :-)

Thanks to Roger Hunt K7MEX and the Yuma Amateur Radio Hamfest Organization
(a not-for-profit corporation whose only purpose is this hamfest!) for
allowing AMSAT to be a part of the event. Thanks also to all the stations
who called WD9EWK during the demonstrations. Some of them took a little
bit of time to describe their location, and even their station setup -
things that help the crowds understand how far we can communicate through
the satellites, and what others use for their stations.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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