KK9JEF/AE – Sterling IL Hamfest

Yesterday, I went out to the Sterling IL Hamfest. It was quite a hike from my QTH in Chicago, but it turned out to be totally worth it: I finally upgraded to an Extra class license!

I’ve been casually studying for the Element 4 exam (extra class) for be past few months, with an eye toward upgrading at some point. But what really pushed me into action this weekend was a single Croatian station working the ARRL DX SSB contest, down in the part of 20m that I, as a general, wasn’t allowed to transmit on. He was at least 10-over-S9, just begging to be worked, but I couldn’t… so, a few more practice tests and a two hour drive later first thing Sunday morning, I had the Element 4 exam in hand. An hour after that, I had my Extra.

There were a few more finds at the fest – the club table had a big ole junk in of parts. Mostly miscellaneous circuit breakers and switches, but way down at he bottom were seven or eight multi-turn pots for $0.75 each. What a steal! I bought as many as I could pull out of the bin. I also pulled a few NP0 caps an a bag of 12V DPDT relays.

What a rush of a day it was. Looking forward to excercising my new frequency privileges this week.

Hear you on the air, wherever in the band you are!


KitsAndParts Bits And Bobs

In the interest of continuing my transmitter explorations, I put together a small order from KitsAndParts.com which arrived yesterday. Here’s the spoils:


  • Twenty-five BS170 FETs – A basic fast-switching FET in a TO-92 package, some of these will be going straight into my Si5351-driven transmitter.
  • Twenty-five T37-6 Toroids – For constructing low-pass filters. The -6 material is rated for higher frequencies (roughly speaking) than its -2 cousin, and will be useful for exploring 20m and 15m.
  • Twenty-five T50-2 Toroids – For filters on the lower bands, and other basic transformers.
  • Five IRF510 MOSFETs – Rated at 10 Watts, I’m keeping these aside with an eye toward higher power in the future.
  • 5 MVAM109 Varactor Diodes – For constructing later VFOs or tuned circuits, these ‘voltage-controlled capacitors’ vary in capacitance from about 500pF with 1V of reverse bias down to 50pF at 9V.
  • Five BNC Jacks, Chassis Mount with Nut & Solder Tab – I found the nice panel-mount BNC jacks from my local Fry’s electronics to be so useful in putting together my Virgin Receiver that I ordered another pack of five, for when the time comes to assemble another radio.

This is the second time I’ve ordered from KitsAndParts, which is run by W8DIZ out of Florida (the first was a SWR Bridge Kit). Both times, my order arrived in a little under a week. I’ll definitely be ordering from them again!