Dayton Hamvention 2016

arena_300This year’s Dayton Hamvention® is in the books, and it was a great time. Lots of equipment to see and many people to meet and talk with. The event is so big that it’s difficult to take in everything, even in three days, and adding Thursday’s activities stretches it out even more.

I attended another excellent presentation of Contest University on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza. CTU is headed up by Tim Duffy, K3LR, one of the most accomplished and knowledgable hams in the hobby, and staffed by hams prominent in contest operating and technical fields, including Ward N0AX, Frank W3LPL, Doug K1DG, Joel W5ZN and Kirk K4RO. The great thing about CTU is that while it’s aimed at contesters, every ham can benefit from the information shared by the panel of experts assembled. The commitment to our hobby and our personal betterment as amateurs is impressive, as nearly three hundred hams from around the world were enrolled in this year’s Dayton event. I attended presentations on small-station layouts, log analysis for score improvement, RF connector best practices, and antennas for 80 and 160 meters. There were great Q&A forums and general sessions on ethics and fair play in contesting and on the ways contesting contributes to our great hobby. The new CEO of the ARRL, Tom NY2RF, stopped in and addressed us during lunch. It’s great to rub elbows with those we only know as a callsign and an exchange, and it’s a great inspiration for all of us to do better on the air. Thanks again Tim and your staff and professors for a great day.

Comet CAA500C
Comet CAA500

Another highlight for me was the Contest Dinner on Saturday evening, also at the Crowne Plaza. The event sold out with 500 in attendance and I got to meet and talk with many interesting hams with great stories to tell. John, K1AR, was the master of ceremonies, and John, W2GD, was the speaker. Two new members were inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame: Tod, K0TO, founding editor of National Contest Journal, and Rich, KL7RA (SK), who was always there in Zone 1 or with the coveted KL7 mult for those of us in the lower 48. I even won a door prize – a new Comet CAA-500 Mark II antenna analyzer.

In between was the actual Hamvention at Hara Arena. Despite promises of upgraded and improved facilities coming soon, nothing had changed with the building and grounds that I could see. Some highlights:

  • I purchased a couple antennas and some small parts, and I’m sure I’ll write about them as I put them together and get on the air with them.
  • ARRL Expo was fully staffed with Headquarters people and a well-stocked merchandise area had books, t-shirts, operating aids and other items. I picked up the ARRL RFI Handbook with my $5 discount from Contest University.
  • At ARRL Expo, I met up with Jim K5ND, Nathaniel W2NSF and Don W3LNE at the Scouting booth. Jim is president and Don vice-president of the K2BSA Amateur Radio Association, the official Boy Scouts station and club. Nathaniel is an Eagle Scout and a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, and is an outstanding ambassador for youth involvement in amateur radio. It’s no accident that we see Scouting as one of our strongest avenues into the hobby.
  • DX Engineering had its exhibit in the main arena as usual. They’re a major sponsor of Hamvention as well as Contest University and their staff are experts in the mechanics of antennas and related matters. They offered free shipping on anything purchased at the show, and gave a $20 discount coupon to all CTU attendees, which I made good use of.
  • Yaesu celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and hams were lining up for the special commemorative hat at their booth, as well as a look at the FT7300 and FT7850 HF rigs.
  • MCM Electronics, which is based in the Dayton area, has a large booth and they were moving a great number of Raspberry PI 3s. I didn’t buy anything this year but frequently buy online and phone order from them both at home and work, so it was nice to put a face to the voices I often speak with.
  • The forums are informative and interesting. If you’re a contester, into EmComm, antennas or digital modes, or work on older equipment, there’s always something to learn. I sat in on a couple, including one on the secrets of the best operators (bottom line: be a contester!) as well as old Kenwoods.

Time to get working on those antennas and put the other purchases to use, and start making plans for next year’s event.