International DX Convention 2011

I went to the International DX Convention in Visalia, California again this year. It was fun as always. There were interesting speakers in the DX forum. I renewed some friendships with people and talked some business with others. I needed more QSL cards so I talked to Lee Barrett K7NM who’s company, had done my original card. He gave me a great idea for a new card which I will have him do. Lee also designed the C-Match system I use in my 20 meter phased verticals.

Its nice to go around to all of the manufactures exhibits and learn about new stuff or ask questions about old stuff you already have. I was looking for a new pair of headphones, ones made specifically for communications. I had been looking at the Heil Sound models but wasn’t sure they were exactly what I wanted. Then I stumbled upon the RadioSport booth and talked to Dave from Arlan Communications. He spent a lot of time telling me about their headphones and then told me I could try them out at the Flex Radio booth. That was a great suggestion as I was also interested in learning more about the Flex. I have seen the demos many times and I have two friends, one with a Flex 3000 and the other with the Flex 5000A. They keep telling me how good they are but I haven’t had a chance to go try one of theirs out. I do like to twiddle knobs and push buttons so I am not sure I just want to replace my FT-2000 with a SDR yet. Also, I am a programmer and after as many years as I have been doing that there are times I just want to be away from the computer.

Anyway, at the Flex booth they were showing off their new QRP rig, the Flex 1500. There was a slight discount for the show and free shipping so for just over $600 I figured it was a relatively inexpensive way to try the SDR route. I hope to upgrade my radio in the next couple of years so I have been looking at both the Yaesu FT-5000 and the Flex 5000. This will give me a chance to try out the SDR for awhile and see if I like the way it operates.

Then I went to look at the Flex 5000 and listen to the RadioSport headset. They happened to be listening to two stations on different frequencies. They had them fed for different volumes in each ear and you could easily copy both stations. After that I listed around to some weaker signals and CW. The RadioSport headset worked great. It really cut down on some of the higher frequency noise components and the signals really stood out. I was convinced to buy the headset and went back to give Dave my money.

I also had a good conversation with Bob Schmieder KK6EK. He put together the K7C dxpedition a few years ago. He also wrote the DXA software that allowed near real time lookups of QSO’s from the K7C operators. We talked about a few ideas for enhancing DXA for others to use.

Now that I have been home a few days I am just waiting for my Flex 1500 to arrive. Should be here anytime. I have also had time to use the RadioSport headphones more and they really work well. Its easier to pick signals out of the noise and they do a real good job of blocking outside noises. Rather expensive but very well built and when you consider how long a rugged set of headphones will last it doesn’t seem like so much. These are good looking, well performing headsets that are rugged enough to bang around for Field Day or whatever else you may want to do.

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