SKYWARN Recognition Day 2015 is TONIGHT!!!

Just a quick reminder that tonight after about 9PM, I should be at the National Weather Service participating in SKYWARN Recognition Day.

It’s an annual event where the local NWS bureaus have ham stations set up to make contacts on HF, VHF, UHF, repeaters, APRS, you-name-it.

This year, I’m taking my DMR radio to work up a few digital contacts if possible. I got permission from the folks at Vol-Net to use their system, so hopefully we’ll be able to make it work.

I’ll attempt to tweet out my frequency as I go along (@k4hsm). Sometimes I’ll be scanning around, other times I may call CQ on a dead frequency. I typically get on repeaters more than HF, but that changes based on band conditions.

So do be looking for me tonight. SKYWARN Recognition Day goes for 24 hours from 7PM-7PM ET (0000-2400Z) so if I’m not around, be listening for WX4MRX all day, because someone should be there!


Heathkit coming back to their grassroots

Any ham radio operator who’s been active for more than a few years is familiar with the Heathkit radios. Kits built from the ground up to teach and to guide a ham radio enthusiast about how something works. Heathkit hasn’t been doing much kit building in the last generation or so, but that looks like it’s about to change…

The following email was sent out to subscribers from Heathkit’s President:

Dear Heathkit Insider,

“What I really hope Heathkit will produce,” a Silicon Valley colleague recently told me, “is a new radio kit with a beautiful finish, maybe in rosewood.” Something great to enjoy building and learn from, and also visually stunning, so he could put it in his living room and keep it forever.

Today, my friend gets his wish.

Exciting news. More on that in a moment.

It’s been a while since we wrote to our Heath Insiders. We promised not to clutter your email inbox until we had something to say. Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve quietly been doing at Heathkit during the past year: We assembled a terrific team of very talented, hard-working, inventive people. We acquired another company and merged its management, products, assets, and operations gracefully into Heath Company. We ensured we own every last bit of Heathkit intellectual property, to bring you all the manuals, books, vintage designs, and classic logos you love, unencumbered and in perpetuity. We built a company division and acquired a line of vintage add-on designs to sustain the vintage products so important to many Insiders. We developed and integrated our eBay site, so you can buy or bid on auctioned items. We authored and published a helpful Android software app on Heathkit’s GooglePlay site, with more apps to come.

That’s a lot, but there’s more. We’ve designed and developed a wide range of entirely new kit products. We authored the manuals for these kits, complete with the beautiful line art you rely on, preserving and respecting our iconic historic Heathkit style. We developed many new inventions and filed patents on them. We relocated Heathkit, and set up a factory, and a warehouse, and offices, in Santa Cruz, California, near Silicon Valley. We built the back office infrastructure, vendor and supply chain relationships, systems, procedures, operations methods, and well-thought-out corporate structure that a manufacturing company needs to support its customers, to allow us to scale instantly the day we resume major kit sales. All this effort enables us to introduce a fleet of new kits and helps ensure Heathkit can grow, prosper, and continue to bring you great new products for a very long time.

As you can see, we’ve been busy. It takes a lot to bring Heathkit back into the kit business. And we’ve done it.

We’ll have many product announcements coming, but today I want to tell you about our flagship kit.

It’s a simple kit—by intent. We feel an enormous responsibility to respect and maintain the incredible legacy of Heathkit. To us this means, bringing you kits you can build yourself, using our historic renowned Heathkit you-can-do-it “We won’t let you fail”™ approach, yielding working useful appliances so beautiful you’ll be proud to display and use them daily. It also means creating an educational experience that teaches you how they work, and how you can modify or repair what you own.

Further, we feel a very strong commitment to making this experience available to everyone, f rom 8 to 88 years old. That’s an especially high hurdle. And we’ve done it. The result is the Explorer Jr.™ It’s a simple, beautiful professional-looking little radio. It’s a historic design, made new. It comes in several different colors. You build it yourself. Take it anywhere. When you build it and as use it, you’ll learn to fall in love with radio, for the first time—or all over again. And it’s just the first in a series.

As a Heath Insider, you are special to us. In a few days, we’ll connect to our new website where our new products are listed. But you stayed with us through this process. And we want to thank you. So we are giving you, as an Insider, personal advance notice of the new products and new website through this email, before we tell the general public. We want you to know we app reciate your enthusiasm and respect for the Heathkit name and history.

We know that as an Insider, you want to own the first major kit we’ve issued in decades. But please also think about this:

Maybe you have a child, or a granddaughter or grandson, who is ready to start their lifelong love for technology, or who will benefit from the enormous self-esteem that comes from accomplishment. They deserve an Explorer Jr too. (Remember to choose the style they’ll want most—we have six colors). And then, please think about gently helping them build it. You might remember the parent-and-child graphics on the front of so many Heathkit manuals: We can’t count the number of Insiders who fondly remember an adult helping them build their first Heathkit when they were young. What a great way to spend time with someone you care about.

We do not expect initial stock to last long, so please don’t wait to visit our site. Also, please be patient while our new major kit, and new website, go from zero to sixty in two seconds. We might have a few bumps in the road as we scale up, and we appreciate in advance your patience. We’ll work with you to get everything we can right.

We anticipate 30-day shipping time for this week’s orders, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to get all kits ordered this Fall to you in time for the holidays. You can see and order the Explorer Jr. at now. Please don’t wait to be last: We don’t want to disappoint anyone, but most of all, we don’t want to disappoint our Insiders. Think about whether there’s anyone who would love one of these kits as a holiday present. And thanks for your loyalty and patience as we brought back to you Heathkit’s incredible legacy of the world’s best kits again.

Sincerely, Andy (President) and the team at Heathkit

Possible site changes in future for Dayton Hamvention?

Over the last several years it seems that there is a news article or two about Dayton’s Hamvention moving from Hara Arena to another venue. Oftentimes trying to find an alternate venue that fits the criteria that Hara has is not so easy.

Hara Arena
Hara Arena, parking area (via Google Maps)

A couple of news articles have recently appeared that are once again stirring up the dust devil of discussion as to whether or not the Hamvention will be a Hara next year or thereafter.

The news articles created a stir online and the Hamvention Chairman responded on Facebook:

This is a press release from Jim Tiderman, General Chair.

“In light of the Cox Media (Channel 7) television interview of 10-2-2015 and the ensuing Dayton Daily News article of 10-3-2015, I, as General Chairman of the 2015 – 2016 Dayton Hamvention want to assure all interested parties that the Dayton Hamvention is fully committed to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention at Hara Arena and Exposition Center, 1001 Shiloh Springs Road, Trotwood ,Ohio on May 20, 21, 22, 2016.

All speculation and rumor towards anything else, is, just that, speculation.

We still keep an open mind to alternate plans in case they become necessary. All successful businesses need to do that, and Hamvention is no different in that respect.

We thank all for their interest in these news articles, and look forward to being your hosts once again at Hara beginning May 20, 2016.”


Jim Tiderman


General Chairman

2015 – 2016 Dayton Hamvention

I made a return to Dayton this past May and enjoyed it immensely. It looks like the place hasn’t changed much, just gotten older.

Just my opinion, of course, but you could have the Hamvention in any building, just make sure the tailgating and the parking are viable. Finding a large enough building with conference rooms and floor space for vendors is not the hard part, because the vendors and indoor dealers can make things work. But the tailgating area is where the bread and butter of the Hamvention experience is for so many. Being able to look for a cornucopia of gadgets, doo-dads, thingamajigs, doohickeys, and everything else in between is what makes it such a unique experience for so many people.

Having no insider knowledge of the Hamvention or it’s parent radio club DARA, I’m certain that since this kind of talk has cropped up before, there has always been a contingency plan in place to relocate or consider other sites to hold the Hamvention within the Dayton area.

Considering the millions of dollars the Hamvention reportedly brings in to Dayton each year, it’s kind of a mystery as to why the arena complex has not been remodeled or upgraded to continue to provide Montgomery County with guaranteed tourism money from ham operators literally the world over.

Any ideas where that money is going?