Saturday, October 01, 2005

Fall, winter apporaches, the end of the ham fest season and WACOM 

As fall begins thoughts turn to hot chocolate, and for some a slightly stronger liquid with warming qualities, beautiful fall foliage and indoor activities with the advent of a shorter number of daylight hours.

In the Western Pennsylvania area it also means an end to the ham fest season. Almost every hobby has something similar to the “ham fest”. A place where members gather face to face in large numbers and spend the better part of a day or weekend and immerse themselves from head to toe in their hobby. There will typically be seminars conducted by someone who has studied and worked at a particular aspect of the hobby to the extent that he or she has become the “go to” person when someone wants to get started in that area or has a question or problem to be resolved. New comers and old hands tap their pool of knowledge and experience which because of the love of the hobby they are more than willing to share.

Most also include some type of “flea market” where items are bought, sold and traded. Some of those in the arena are professional vendors there mostly to make a dollar. They are the ones that have taken their hobby and turned it into their life's work. In some ways they are the really lucky ones because they are making a living do what they would otherwise be doing for free. I could write a book on that subject but that is a topic for another time.

Most in the flea market though are just there to see if they can exchange some of what they have for some of what someone else has. Items that no longer hold the interest they once did when they were shiny and new or they now have less value than ones that will start you into a new aspect of the hobby.

Even if you are not familiar with the culture of the old west you will only have to spend a short period of time in an amateur radio fest flea market to have an intrinsic understanding of the term “horse trader”. There are those that prowl the flea markets more for the satisfaction of making the “best deal of the day” than for any subsequent gain derived from the deal itself. Some have elevated it to an art form.

So the ham fest season is looked forward to each year and a certain sadness sets in at its conclusion in the fall with winters approach. I have not been very active in the ham fest scene for the past few years so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my mailbox, the snail mail one, and found a flier from WACOM announcing their upcoming ham fest. I am not going to retype the entire document here especially since they have a web site and I'm sure all of this information is contained there.

I have tried to make the most popular events this summer and have not been to a single one. The closet I got was being at the Skyview Radio Society club house the day before there ham fest to drop off some needed items. I got paged to go into work and thought it would be a simple repair problem that would let me return to the club for additional preparation and then get to attend the actual event the next day. Well as luck would have it neither of those hopes came to pass. Not only did I work the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening but I ended up going in the next morning and working until late in the afternoon. So once again I am presented with the opportunity to make one last ham fest in the year 2005 and I just put the date into my Kontact calendar on the Linux box and will hang the flier up in the shack to remind me. Here are the specifics.


Visit the club web site for additional details.

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