QRPacificon 2012

October 12, 13, & 14


Marriott Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California

First a big thanks to everyone who attended PacifiCon and the NorCal QRP activities. I hope everyone had a great time, I know I did. My wife and I made a somewhat abbreviated trip this year, flying in early Thursday morning and leaving early Monday morning. Thursday was spent catching up on sleep from the early flight and a quick meeting with the NorCal Board of Directors.

A lot of people attended the PacifiCon Antenna forums on Friday. I heard nothing but good reviews of the Antenna presentations. A number of QRPers meet in the hotel lobby after lunch for the annual self-guided tour of several local electronics stores. I wish we had some stores like those where I live. I can never remember all the things I want until I get home! Friday night we again meet in the lobby and car-pooled to St. John's Bar and Grill in Sunnyvale for the no-host QRP banquet. I think everyone agreed - St. John's is a good location for this type of dinner. (Got'a love the smell of those garlic French fries.) Friday night concluded with a "Meet and Greet" / "QRP Vendor Open House" back at the hotel.

For me Saturday morning started with a trip to the flea market by flashlight. I eyeballed a number of "fleas" but eventually left with a 1961 ARRL Handbook and a bigger "wish list".

The Saturday QRP forums started at 8:00 am with a welcome and brief introductions of the NorCal Board members. I then had the privilege of announcing the first winner of the NorCal - Jim Cates, WA6GER, Memorial Scholarship - Jonathan Mayo - AB3FX. The announcement was followed by a brief summary of NorCal activities for the last year. [More on both of these items later in this e-mail.]

The first forum presentation of the day was Field Day Antennas I've Used and Loved, Mostly - by Cam Hartford, N6GA. Cam's humorous presentation described a number of antennas used by The Zuni Loop Mountain Expeditionary Force during Field Day.

The second presentation was by Dan Butler, N7XQA - What is a Microprocessor? Dan has been with Microchip for the last 17 years, specializing in communication protocols. Dan's informative presentation covered microprocessor from A to Z.

After a break for lunch and a tour of the vendor exhibits the third forum presentation got under way at 1:00 pm. Jason Milldrum, NT7S gave his presentation on Leveraging Free and Open Source Tools in Home brewing. Hams are notoriously cheap and Jason described many FREE or nearly free tools for designing homebrew radios.

The final presentation of the day was frequent Dayton speaker and CQ columnist Joe Eisenberg, K0NEB with Kit Building 101/102. Joe's presentation covered many aspects of kit building, from parts through simple test equipment, with many other stops along the way.

After a break for supper on our own, Joe's presentation continued with the NorCal Buildathon back at the hotel. At one point Joe had 22 hams and potential hams building the QRPkits SOTA Tuner on one end of the room. At the same time several vendors and QRPers were set up with items for sale at the tables around the room. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I certainly did.

I'm looking forward to next year already. J

As promised here is more about the NorCal - Jim Cates, WA6GER, Memorial Scholarship. The Scholarship was awarded to Jonathan Mayo - AB3FX. Jonathan is an Extra Class License and a sophomore studying Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech. Jonathan sent a nice thank-you card which was read at PacifiCon. I've included the text below for anyone who was not able to attend PacifiCon:

August 15, 2012

Dear Mr. Swenson

I am writing to express my thanks for the Northern California QRP Scholarship. This year, I will be a sophomore at Virginia Tech, where I am studying Electrical Engineering. The scholarship is truly an honor for me, and I cannot express how much it helps with books and everything else. I hope this letter finds everyone in good spirits and healthy and I again send my many thanks and best wishes.

73, Jonathan Mayo AB3FX


I also presented brief summary of NorCal activities. The NorCal Board of Directors has spent a lot of time over the past couple of years refining NorCal's Mission and Purpose. The process is continuing but I would like to share part of our thoughts:

1. NorCal will continue to sponsor an annual fall QRP Conference. When possible we will hold the conference in conjunction with "PacifiCon". We hope to continue bringing in guest speakers from though-out the world to give educational presentations. We also plan to continue sponsoring a variety of other activities in conjunction with the convention.

2. NorCal will also continue to host monthly meetings for members in the Northern California area on the first Sunday of each month. The meetings will be held at varying locations in the area. (If you have any location suggestions please contact any NorCal Board Member.) Occasionally NorCal may also host additional actives in conjunction with the monthly meetings.

3. Starting in 2012 NorCal was finally able to fulfill an additional goal. NorCal funded an educational scholarship with the Foundation for Amateur Radio. (FAR Scholarships, P. O. Box 911, Columbia, MD 21044) FAR administers scholarships for post-high school study on behalf of amateur radio clubs, organizations, and private individuals who are the monetary sponsors. The Foundation administers these scholarships without cost to the applicants or sponsors. The scholarships are open to all licensed amateurs who are pursuing a full-time course of studies beyond high school and are enrolled in or have been accepted for enrollment at an accredited university, college or technical school.

The Northern California QRP Club sponsors the Jim Cates, WA6GER, Memorial Club Scholarship of $1,000. Selection criteria guidelines are: Prefer Electrical Engineering or Science major, Freshman through Junior year, Pursuing a Bachelor's Degree, and Residing in the US.

We hope to add additional scholarships to this program in the future.

4. Periodically NorCal will participate in the development and sale of new QRP kits. NorCal is looking for unique projects not currently being sold by the commercial kit vendors. We anticipate producing limited runs of the kits and selling them at reduced prices to our members and the QRP community. These kits are the sole source of NorCal funding and provide money to sponsor the QRP Convention, the Monthly Meetings, and the Scholarships. (If anyone has an idea or project fitting the above criteria, you would like to share with the QRP community, please contact any NorCal Board Member.)

I think this is enough for one e-mail. Hope you had a great time at PacifiCon and are planning on returning next year.

Darrel Swenson, K0AWB.


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