The 2010 ARRL EXPO at the Dayton Hamvention®: Loving Every Minute of It!
It just wouldn’t be a “real” Hamvention if the weather didn’t cooperate, and on Friday -- the first day of the 2010 Dayton Hamvention -- the humidity was brutal. But be it too much rain, too much sun (or not enough!) or maybe even a snowstorm, thousands of radio amateurs flock to Hara Arena. But late on Friday afternoon, the sweltering atmosphere gave way to clear skies and frisky breezes, a harbinger of the rest of the weekend.
Inside Hara, aisles were packed with hams from all over the world seeking the latest in Amateur Radio technology, products, gadgets, gizmos and more. It’s said that if you can’t find it at Dayton, it just doesn’t exist. If you want the latest in top-of-the-line transceivers, there are more than a few to choose from. If you need a 45 tube for your 1920s-era TNT oscillator, take your pick from the more than 200 exhibitors and vendors – not to mention the multitudes of flea market booths -- attending Hamvention.
The largest exhibit at Dayton is the ARRL EXPO. Almost 150 ARRL staff members, officers, Board members and volunteers made their way to Dayton, bringing with them the best that Amateur Radio has to offer. With 25 exhibits and activities located in the EXPO area -- ranging from youth activities, kit building, QSL card checking and an expanded ARRL bookstore -- throngs of amateurs wound their way through to check everything out.
Making her first Hamvention as ARRL President, Kay Craigie, N3KN, greeted EXPO visitors. Many hams said they made sure to stop by and congratulate Craigie on her new office; she was elected at the 2010 ARRL Annual Meeting after Joel Harrison, W5ZN, decided not to stand for re-election after serving two terms as the top-elected League official. ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, and Chief Operating Officer Harold Kramer, WJ1B, as well as numerous ARRL Directors and Vice Directors, joined Craigie in welcoming amateurs to the ARRL exhibit.
One of the most-visited areas in the EXPO is the QSL card checking area. As doors opened at 9 AM Friday morning, a dozen ARRL card checkers were at the ready for the multitude of DXers that were sure to come. And they did not disappoint: By 9:10, more than 100 hams were in line. Some elected to wait and watch the card checkers validate each presented QSO; some decided they wanted to start exploring the exhibits and decided to drop off their cards and come back for them later in the day. By 2:30 PM on Saturday, the card checkers had checked more than 8000 QSL cards and accepted more than 100 award applications, some for DXCC and some for Worked All States.
In 2009, the ARRL offered amateurs the opportunity to drop off their outgoing QSL cards at Hamvention. These cards, destined for the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau, were hand delivered by ARRL staff to the Bureau at ARRL Headquarters. While hams who took advantage of this service still had to pay for the nominal charges associated with the Bureau, they did not have to pay the postage to send the cards to Newington. It proved such a success in 2009, the Outgoing Bureau service returned in 2010. By late Saturday, hams had dropped off more than 45 pounds -- approximately 7000 -- of QSL cards.
The ARRL Education Services area was quite popular with many hams. ARRL Education Services Manager Debra Johnson, K1DAJ, teamed up with ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, to showcase how the League provides outreach to schools through the Education and Technology grant program and the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. “It’s so exciting to see everyone come visit and see all what we can do to promote Amateur Radio to young people,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen many educators who are interested in our Teachers Institute, as well as representatives from local ham clubs who want to reach out and bring the fun of Amateur Radio to schools in their area.”
Hoards of hams clustered around the ARRL Bookstore -- sometimes five deep -- to pick up the latest in League publications. “We saw many popular titles sell out early,” said ARRL Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. “Many hams were incentivized to renew their ARRL membership for three years, as they received a free 2010 ARRL Handbook by doing so. ARRL Field Day merchandise -- shirts, mugs, hats and our new Field Day book -- have been literally flying off the shelves. In fact, quite a few people couldn’t wait to have that Field day experience, as we saw many wearing their new Field Day shirts on Saturday here at Hamvention!”
New Products Make Their Debut at Dayton
Hamvention is the time when many Amateur Radio vendors introduce new products, and 2010 is no exception. The chatter on various e-mail reflectors about anticipated rigs and peripherals spilled over into the aisles at Hara as visitors gawked and gazed as new treats were laid before their eyes. QST Technical Editor Joel Hallas, W1ZR, followed the buzz and sniffed out some new HF transceivers from FlexRadio, Kenwood and Yaesu.
FlexRadio showed off a number of new products this year. The FLEX-1500 is an all mode 5 W software defined radio (SDR) designed to provide an opportunity for amateurs to experience the capabilities of SDR at an entry level price. The FLEX-1500 uses the same PowerSDR™ software that runs its larger brethren and provides more than 80 dB of dynamic range on 160 through 6 meters. It can be used as a standalone (using a PC) low power HF transceiver, or can serve as an IF strip for V/UHF transceivers.
FlexRadio also demonstrated a new version of PowerSDR, the software that runs their SDRs. Version 2.0 is said to include a new user interface, automated wide band image rejection, enhanced noise reduction and notch filter capability, completely revamped CW timing and faster transmit-receive turnaround time, as well as other features.
FlexRadio also introduced the FLEX-VU5K, a 60 W 2 meter and 70 cm transverter module that fits into and operates with their FLEX-5000 software defined transceiver. There is also a low power version with 50 mW output, designed to drive microwave transverters.
Kenwood introduced an engineering model of their new HF and 6 meter transceiver, the TS-590. This compact transceiver features a down converting design with multiple HF roofing filters included to provide good near in dynamic range. The ’590 features 32 bit IF DSP filtering for operating selectivity and other filtering. It is expected that the ’590 will be available in the fall at a price below $2000.
Yaesu showed off their new FTdx-5000 series of HF and 6 meter transceivers. These 200 W transceivers all feature dual receivers and many features and options of the other FTdx series radios at a lower price point. The primary receiver features a 9 MHz first IF and selectable roofing filters as narrow as 300 Hz (optional in some models) that result in top notch close spaced dynamic range.
At 1 PM Sunday afternoon, the vendors and exhibitors will begin taking down their booths and boxing up their things for the trek back home. As the last ham leaves the building and the doors to Hara Arena close with another Hamvention in the books, members of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association are already thinking about 2011 -- as you should be, too. Go ahead and mark your calendars and make plans for May 20-22, 2011. Because remember: If you’re not here, you definitely won’t be able to find just what you’re looking for.
To experience what was happening day-by-day at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention, check out the "Ham Zero Dayton blog " by QST Contributing Editor H. Ward Silver, N0AX.