Living in Arizona, it is questionable why I have never been to Quartzfest before. This is a week-long Ham Radio event held in January of every year. It takes place in the 14-day free camping BLM area south of Quartzite, Arizona.
There are generally around 1000 hams that show up for this event, taking advantage of the low cost camping and abundant sunshine. There are various radio-related presentations each day, and a nightly camp fire to gather and swap stories at.
This year, Tara & I got the opportunity to experience it for the first time. We traveled with some good friends of ours (Craig NV1O and his wife, Karen, Dave KB7KY and Sandy N7QZB) to the hamfest on Thursday, January 24th. Sharing Craig & Karen’s RV was a little cozy, but not uncomfortable.
Craig brought an old Icom HF rig, with his Kenwood Automatic antenna tuner and a Windom Off Center Fed antenna. We made some HF contacts on voice, PSK and JT-8. We figured out how to configure my iPad to work as a VNC viewer for his Raspberry PI, which had the WSJT and other digital software installed on it.
We also explored the camping area, which had about 1000 hams attending this year. Most were in RVs, and the variety of antennas was interesting.
We met some more of Craig’s ham radio friends, and went into town to walk through some of the RVs for sale at the RV show.
On Saturday, we walked the swapfest, where I found a great bargain on the “dream rig” of my teenage years – the Heathkit SB-104, with matching speaker/power supply and microphone. $100 bought it all, and the owner said it had all the parts. I know they can be a challenge to get/keep working well, but I couldn’t resist. More on this in a later post…
After the hamfest, we packed up and went into town for lunch. Then we visited the local historic site called “Hi Jolly” That is an interesting story about the man that brought camels to the Arizona desert for service of the US cavalry.
Finally, we headed home, ready to rest up.