2008 Dayton Hamvention: ARRL Hits the Ground Running
As the 2008 Dayton Hamvention® nears the half-way point in its three-day run, there are tired feet and happy faces. Like small migrating herds, groups of hams roam Hara Arena in search of the bargain, be it a new antenna, a radio or the small parts that go along with being an Amateur Radio operator. Even though rain and winds are threatening, hams have made the pilgrimage to the largest hamfest in the world.
There is more to Hamvention than just a hamfest. With the hamfest proper beginning on Friday, May 16, some activities started a few days early. On Wednesday, QRP Amateur Radio Club International's Four Days in May began in earnest. With more than 400 participants, the event is an occasion to meet many of the originators of QRP theory, products, literature, high scores and the tall tales. On Thursday, 200 students attended the second annual Contest University. This year's program built on last year's program, with a "graduate" level being offered to returning students.
ARRL EXPO -- It's All Happening at the EXPO!
When the Hara doors opened at 9 AM Thursday, the ARRL EXPO was definitely the place to be. For the second year in a row, the ARRL offered a wireless Internet Café for Hamvention attendees. For the first time, a movie room was part of the EXPO; movies are scheduled throughout each of the three days of Hamvention. Also for the first time, those who join or renew their ARRL membership at Hamvention -- or make a purchase of at least $10 -- will receive an eco-friendly shopping bag (as supplies last). "These bags are going like hotcakes!" said ARRL Membership Manager and Hamvention Coordinator Katie Breen, W1KRB.
The ARRL EXPO is in the Ballarena, its usual place at Hara Arena. "We used to be right next to Forum Room 5, but this year, the Hamvention folks moved that forum room to a different location, and we were able to take advantage of more space in our area," Breen said. "This larger space has enabled us to bring more programs to Hamvention, such as Logbook of The World, ARRL Education Services and a larger lounge for youth. The ARRL Youth Lounge is a great place for new and experienced young hams -- and kids who are interested in ham radio but are not yet licensed -- to learn more about Amateur Radio and how fun it can be."
QST Technical Editor Joel Hallas, W1ZR, has been on the prowl for new and exciting products at this year's Hamvention. In 2006, Yaesu introduced the FT-2000; in 2007, five new transceivers were introduced, including Elecraft's much-anticipated K3 transceiver. "In 2007, we had a bumper crop of five 100 W or more powerful HF transceivers to describe," Hallas said. "I knew we couldn't keep that up -- confirmed by having just one new one this year."
This year, ICOM displayed their new IC-7200 HF and 6 meter transceiver. "This transceiver is designed to be a rugged unit suitable for field operation, but is useable from home as well," Hallas remarked. "It includes the spray intrusion protection of their marine equipment around controls and between sections of the heavy outer shell. With a package about the size of their entry level IC-718, this radio adds the IF DSP processor of some of their more recent models to provide multiple selectivity and noise abatement choices."
The ARRL sponsored five forums: Public Relations, Membership, Radiosport, ARES and Technology. In the Technology Forum, ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, announced the League will be adding Technology as a "fifth pillar" to the four pillars currently embraced by the ARRL: Public Service, Advocacy, Education and Membership.
Harrison explained that "Ham radio operators, and particularly ARRL members, closely identify with current and emerging radio technology. Radio amateurs have entered a new era. More than a dozen Amateur Radio satellites are presently in orbit with more to come. Software is expanding the capabilities of their radio hardware and communication by digital voice and data is expanding rapidly among hams."
In addition to the new fifth pillar, the ARRL has launched a year-long ham radio recruitment campaign emphasizing the Amateur Radio Service as a scientific national resource. The campaign, announced in the Public Relations forum, invites newcomers to discover ham radio in the 21st Century -- where hams are using science, technology and experimentation to explore the radio spectrum. "For more than 90 years, the ARRL has been at the forefront of technology, encouraging experimentation and education through its license training resources, publications and periodicals. ARRL provides its members with top-notch technical information services, trusted product reviews and radio spectrum advocacy," Harrison said. "The ARRL Laboratory is a centerpiece of ham radio technology, contributing to radio electronics experimentation, spectrum development and advocacy, and radio frequency engineering."
In the ARES forum, ARRL Ohio Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE, presented ARES Commendation certificates to two Ohio hams: Section Emergency Coordinator Frank Piper, KI8GW, and District Seven Emergency Coordinator Steven Katz, N8WL. "Frank and Steve pretty much salvaged a crippled ARES unit," Phillips said. "About three years ago, one of the ARES units here in Ohio was pretty much falling apart. This disintegration grew so wide that these reached a couple of ham radio affiliated bulletin boards and many desks at Newington, and finally culminated in a five week flurry of e-mails and phone calls. Both Frank and Steve worked daily during this five week confrontation, dealing with many personalities and always knowing that any misstep they took could be damaging to an effective solution."
ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, applauded Piper's and Katz's efforts: "The final solution that both of these Ohio Section officials came up with will serve as a model for solving similar problems across the country and we will be stealing from the Ohio example." Phillips also added: "Many of you [here in the ARES Forum] have experienced similar problems in your Sections, but what Steve and Frank demonstrated was the patience to work through a problem while waiting for a solution that everyone eventually did accept."
See You Next Year!
The 2008 Dayton Hamvention runs through 5 PM on Sunday, May 18. The 2009 Hamvention will be May 15, 16 and 17.