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Dayton Hamvention 2015: Great Weekend, Friendly Crowd


Another Dayton Hamvention® is in the log, and the sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) already has begun counting down to the 2016 event (May 20-22, 2016). While Hamvention traditionally provides an ideal occasion for Amateur Radio manufacturers to introduce their latest offerings, new gear was in somewhat shorter-than-usual supply at the 2015 event. On the other hand, this may have shifted attention toward Hamvention’s other activities, such as the always-popular forums and, of course, the flea market. There were scattered showers on all 3 days.

“Great weekend!” was how ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, summed things up. He described visitors as “friendly” and said there was a lot of anticipation for the geosynchronous satellite package that AMSAT plans to put into orbit in 2017.

ARRL Publications Manager and QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, described Hamvention’s opening day as “extremely crowded for a Friday.” Traffic at ARRL EXPO was brisk, and the ARRL Lab’s spectral purity testing table saw “steady traffic with long lines at times,” he added. NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke, KE5AIT, a special Hamvention guest, stopped by to tour ARRL EXPO and to chat with ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and visitors.

To celebrate 100 years of QST, ARRL introduced a commemorative edition of the first QST — the December 1915 issue. The reprint was free for those joining, renewing, or extending their ARRL membership at Hamvention. ARRL Life Members could obtain a free copy. Those unable to attend Hamvention may obtain copies directly from ARRL for $9.95 each.

On Saturday afternoon Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) President Don Dubon, N6JRL, presented two $10,000 checks to President Craigie. One was a gift to support the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. DARA has sponsored past Teachers Institute sessions in Dayton, and a class will be held there this summer as well, July 13-16. The second check was a donation to the ARRL Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Something to look forward to in 2016: Hara Arena posted artist’s depictions of renovations to the Hara complex that are expected to be completed by next year’s show.

What’s New?

New products touted at the 2015 Hamvention included the K3S transceiver from Elecraft — an upgrade of its very popular K3. Expected to ship by mid-June, the K3S is the “second-generation, software defined superhet transceiver,” the manufacturer said on its website. “We’ve upgraded nearly every subsystem, improving performance and adding many new features,” Elecraft said.

New features include a quieter synthesizer, “unequaled” strong-signal performance, and “exceptional” transmitter purity. There’s also a second preamp, a new LCD bezel, and a “soft-touch VFO A knob with improved grip.”

FlexRadio debuted the Maestro control console for its FLEX-6000 series of transceivers. Expected to become available later this year, the Maestro is “an intuitive, plug-and-play control console” that lets the user operate any FLEX-6000 transceiver without a PC. FlexRadio said the unit combines a high-definition 8-inch touch display and is “ergonomically designed.”

European manufacturer Elad introduced at Hamvention its SDR FDM-DUO transceiver, which has been available since 2014. The manufacturer said on its website that the FDM-DUO can be operated in a traditional manner or via a PC. Its direct-conversion receiver covers 10 kHz to 54 MHz. The transmitter runs about 5-8 W.

Other new products at Dayton this year included several accessories for Elecraft radios from QRP Works; the Rowetel SM1000 digital voice unit, and the MFJ-226 graphical antenna analyzer and compact MFJ-939I 200 W autotuner from MFJ.

Forum News

On Saturday, Carole Perry, WB2MGP, moderated the Youth Forum, which featured presentations from eight talented young radio amateurs, each of whom — along with eight additional young hams selected during a prize drawing — enjoyed an ARRL-hosted luncheon with Astronaut Mike Fincke. “These 16 young hams are already contributing to the second century of our Amateur Radio Service!” said ARRL Education Services Manager Debra Johnson, K1DMJ.

 Galen Wilson, KF5BET, whose daughters Abbi, KF5BEW, and Kendra, KF5FYS, were among the forum presenters, expressed appreciation to Perry and to the League “for the awesome support given to the forum, the presenters, and the youth.” Wilson said his family “was overwhelmed with the magnitude of support” the youngsters received during their first Hamvention. “This was truly an experience of a lifetime for my girls,” he added.

At its forum, AMSAT announced that the launch of its Fox-1 CubeSat has been delayed until late September. AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, also said that AMSAT’s planned geosynchronous satellite package would offer uplinks on 5 GHz and downlinks on 10 GHz.

Buxton explained that the geosynchronous footprint will not be absolutely fixed; some variation may require some up/down movement of the user's dish at certain times. Even in the worst case, he told the AMSAT Forum, a user with a fixed antenna would still be able to enjoy several hours of access each day. The transponder for the new satellite will be software defined and capable of supporting many different modes, including analog SSB. The satellite’s potential footprint could extend over the US from the Mid-Pacific to Africa.

AMSAT has accepted the opportunity to be a “hosted payload” on a spacecraft that Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of California is under contract to design, launch, and operate for the US government.

At the Saturday ARRL Member Forum moderated by ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, President Craigie discussed “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 — H.R. 1301 — and encouraged members to recruit supporters among their congressional representatives. ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, also met with visitors to ARRL EXPO to discuss the legislation.

ARRL Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX, talked about ARRL and Amateur Radio’s interests at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), which he will attend in November. High on the list was the possibility of a contiguous 5 MHz secondary allocation somewhere within the range 5250 kHz through 5450 kHz. He also discussed the issue of vehicular radars in the 76-81 GHz range, the topic of a current FCC proceeding.

Sumner shared news of recent FCC progress toward domestic implementation of the new Amateur Radio MF and LF allocations at 135.7-137.8 kHz and 472-479 kHz and upgrading of the amateur allocation at 1900-2000 kHz from secondary to primary. ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, gave a rousing presentation encouraging ARRL membership renewal. He also spoke of the need to revitalize clubs.


Named as Hamvention Amateur of the Year was top-tier contester Tim Duffy, K3LR, who is also ARRL Western Pennsylvania Section Manager. Hamvention’s Special Achievement Award went to Tom Medlin, W5KUB, and the Technical Excellence Award to the Rev George Dobbs, G3RJV. The Orlando Amateur Radio Club (OARC) was Club of the Year.

ARRL has posted an album of Dayton Hamvention 2015 photos on its Facebook page.




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