Eastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, will hold another presentation addressing the new FCC RF exposure rules on May 4 at 7:30 PM using the ARRL GoToWebinar platform.
His April 27 talk was a hugely successful–a maximum number of 100 connections for the call was reached just as the discussion started. The GoToWebinar has a much higher limit and should accommodate all who are interested. ARRL Laboratory Manger Ed Hare, W1RFI, will serve as Technical Moderator on the call.
It is with deep sadness and regret that I report the passing of Steve Finberg, W1GSL, of Cambridge Massachusetts, the founder and Benevolent Dictator of the “Swapfest, the Flea at M.I.T.” who became a Silent Key on Friday, April 23rd 2021 just before 7:00 PM.
Steve started the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology electronics flea market in 1985 and ran it up continuously until October 2019. That was 35 years, 8 shows a year, always the third Sunday of the month, April through October. I don’t recall it ever being canceled. An outstanding accomplishment! “The Flea” produced many amazing treasures over the years, things you would find nowhere else. You never know what you will find at “M.I.T.”, an event that was highly popular with amateur radio operators and electronics enthusiasts in the Northeast. “Chip” Cohen, W1YW, inventor of the fractal antenna said that he bought all the test equipment and parts he needed at the M.I.T. Swapfest to invent his revolutionary antennas when he was first starting out.
Steve was a long-time analog electronics engineer at Charles Stark “Doc” Draper’s lab at MIT and the holder of several patents. He was still working at Draper Labs at the time of his passing. Steve was an intensely private man and not much is known about his life outside of his work at Draper and M.I.T. I know he would probably not approve of all this attention but the fact that he was so high profile and popular at most amateur radio hamfests and flea markets in the eastern United States makes it necessary.
In addition to his work with The Swapfest, he also compiled and produced the bi-weekly New England Flea Market list for over 30 years. He was a very familiar figure in his signature red sports shirt and straw cowboy hat at hamfests anf flea markets for many years all over the east coast and as far south as Orlando FL distributing his famous list along with the Flea at M.I.T. promotional flyers.
Steve was a personal friend for many years and was a knowledgeable source of information on New England hamfests and electronic flea markets. His deep wisdom, advice and wise counsel were invaluable to me when we started the New England Amateur Radio Festival, aka NEAR-Fest at Deerfield NH, in 2007.
In 2009, Steve was awarded the NEAR-Fest Lifetime Pass Award for his contribution to the advancement of the hobby in New England.
Unfortunately, there were no M.I.T. flea markets in 2020 and it doesn’t seem there will be very many or possibky none this year as well. However, the radio clubs at M.I.T. and Harvard University, (the MIT Radio Society, the MIT UHF Repeater Association, the MIT Electronics Research Society and the Harvard Wireless Club) beneficiaries of the “Flea” since the beginning will be resuming the event as soon as conditions allow it. First one is tentatively scheduled for August 15th 2021. The Web site is
Hampden County Radio Association president Larry Krainson, W1AST, is coordinating an effort to organize an amateur radio booth at “The Big E” in West Springfield, Massachusetts for 2022. The exhibition runs for 17 days from September 17 through October 3, 2022.
According to Wikipedia, “The Big E,” formally known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as ‘New England’s Great State fair.’ It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation.”
W1AST says the 2016 event had 1.4 million visitors, and over 1.6 million visitors in 2019. “If just one-tenth of one percent of attendees sign up for ham classes, that would be 1,600 names to distribute to all New England clubs. We would all benefit and grow ham radio.”
There hasn’t been a ham radio exhibit/booth at The Big E in over ten years.
Larry envisions a ham radio booth that would demonstrate the many aspects of ham radio, as well as an avenue for people to sign up for information and courses in their local area.
Some of his ideas include:
an EMCOMM display
DMR and/or other digital mobile mode demo
Digital HF modes on a big screen
A special event station (W1E or N1E or similar) with unique QSL cards
SSB, CW and digital modes
Demonstrate portable stations for field operation (i.e., Parks On The Air, Summits On The Air)
Highlight youth in ham radio
W1AST says he’d like to see clubs from different states staff the booth during “State” days and theme days.
“If there is enough interest, we have lots of time to plan.”
Such an undertaking can succeed only if there is a sufficient number of volunteers and radio clubs who agree to participate in the event. A special Groups.io mailing list group has been established to promote exchange of dialogue and ideas for the event. To join, send an email to ProjectBigEemail@example.com.
Amateur Radio is a valuable resource that deserves to be promoted to the public in a variety of ways. The ARRL has established a public information and relations wing of the field organization to help the general public discover the value of amateur radio overall.
The Public Information Coordinator is the section’s expert on public information and public relations matters. They build and maintain a positive public image for Amateur Radio within the section, and are responsible for organizing, training, guiding and coordinating the activities of the Public Information Officers.
At present, the Western Massachusetts ARRL is looking for a Public Information Coordinator to lead up these efforts throughout the section. If you are an ARRL member within the section interested in this appointment, please contact the Section Manager.
On Saturday, May 12, from 1-3 PM, members of two local amateur radio clubs will be at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on 65 James Street to talk about their experiences with ham radio, and give a hands-on demonstration of what ham radio operators do.
The event is meant to perk the interest of kids in the middle school to college age range, although anyone of any age is welcome to come and enjoy the event.
Several members of the Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association and the Worcester County Radio Club (including KC1SDL, W1TAB, WW2JS, W3SJP and others) will be working the event, describing what ham radio is and what you can do with it once you have your license. A partial amateur radio station will be set up at Annie’s Book Stop and attendees will be able to get on the air.
More on this event is posted on the event’s Facebook page. Feel free to drop by during the event and say hello!