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Thousands of Hams Get “Internationally Connected” in Dayton


When Hara Arena -- home of the Dayton Hamvention® for the past 48 years -- opened its doors at 9 AM on Friday, May, 18, thousands of hams swarmed in, eager to see the latest and greatest that Amateur Radio has to offer. And they weren’t disappointed! With the introduction of three new transceivers this year, as well as hundreds of vendors -- both new ones and old friends within the giant Hara complex -- there was a definite buzz in the air, especially within the ARRL EXPO.

ARRL EXPO -- located in the Ballarena Hall of the large Hara Arena -- included more than 20 exhibits staffed by ARRL program representatives. Among the new booths for 2012 was an exhibit introducing the new digital edition of QST, ARRL’s membership journal. “We’ll have laptops, tablets and iPads on hand at the booth so you can explore the online edition of QST,” explained ARRL Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. “All ARRL members will have access to this exciting new member benefit beginning in late May.”

Television producer John Amodeo, NN6JA, was a special guest at the ARRL EXPO and Hamvention. Amodeo is best-known among the Amateur Radio community for his current ABC television production, Last Man Standing, starring comedian Tim Allen as main character Mike Baxter. Allen’s character was introduced as ham radio operator KA0XTT during episodes that aired in January. Amodeo has used Facebook and other social media outlets to give the Amateur Radio community an insider’s look at the planning of the show. His Saturday morning presentation -- Ham Radio in Hollywood -- offered convention goers some personal perspective about the media’s portrayal of Amateur Radio.

DIY Activities

The popular kit building booth returned for a fourth consecutive year to the ARRL EXPO. Led by ARRL Laboratory Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, ARRL Laboratory Engineer Mike Gruber, W1MG, and dedicated volunteers, the enhanced kit building area offered hams -- and non-hams -- the opportunity to learn how to solder, use hand tools, follow instructions and take home a finished piece of equipment!

This year, kit builders could choose one of four kits for sale. Back by popular demand, the ARRL is brought back three kits that have been offered in the past: the 24 hour digital clock kit, the Morse code practice oscillator and key kit, and the Ten-Tec model 1054 four band shortwave regen receiver kit. A new kit -- the SC!-6 Sound Card Interface kit, made by Unified Microsystems -- was new this year at Dayton.

Also new to ARRL EXPO in 2012 was the DIY Stage. Visitors to ARRL EXPO watched how “makers” and “hackers” are using Amateur Radio in “Do It Yourself” projects on the DIY Stage, learning from hams who are doing-it-themselves. Today’s Amateur Radio innovators demonstrated a variety of creative projects and cool technology on the stage, located in the center of ARRL EXPO. Topics included setup and configuration of a router for HSMM-MESH, launching Amateur Radio balloons into space, wireless antennas and designing a software-defined transceiver.

On-the-Air Programs

Visitors to the ARRL EXPO saw a lot of activities relating to DX, including DXCC card checking and a chance to drop off QSL cards for the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau, as well as representatives from the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) and IARU Member-Societies.

The Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC), the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), the Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) and the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) were on hand within the ARRL EXPO. “The theme of the 2012 Hamvention is Internationally Connected,” Inderbitzen explained. “What better way to get connected than meeting with fellow radio amateurs from around the world?” In addition, representatives from the International Amateur Radio Union -- including IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, IARU President Emeritus Larry Price, W4RA, IARU Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR, and IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD -- were on hand in the ARRL EXPO area to greet visitors.

JARL staff member Masa Ebisawa, JA1DM, will also be checking applications for JARL awards, including the AJD, WAJA, JCC, ADXA, ADXA-Half and Fuji awards, as well as the IARU’s Worked All Continent (WAC) and 5-Band WAC awards. Amateurs who qualified for these JARL and IARU awards were issued their certificates right on the spot. JARL will also be accepting applications for the IARU Region 3 Operating Award. JARL will forward these applications to the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART), which administers the award.

ARRL staff and DXCC volunteer card checkers once again offered full DXCC card checking -- including deleted countries and cards for 160 meters -- and award application processing this year at the ARRL EXPO. They also checked applications and QSLs for the Worked All States (WAS) and the VHF/UHF Century Club (VUCC) awards. ARRL members also dropped off their QSL cards to be sent through the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau.

What’s New for 2012?

One of the many reasons amateurs come to Dayton Hamvention each May is to look over the new gear announced by many manufacturers. The number of vendors at Hara Arena can be mind boggling, especially on your first trip. The big news is always the new full size HF transceivers and this year we have three to discuss. In addition to these transceivers, there were many low power radios, VHF/UHF units, antennas and accessories of all sorts -- all in addition to what must be the world’s largest radio flea market.

FlexRadio introduced a new software defined radio architecture platform designed around networking for both internal and remote operation. The new SmartSDR architecture deployed with the SDR-6000 series of hardware modules allows multiple transceivers or receivers to be controlled centrally. The first units to be deployed will be the Flex-6500 transceiver, a single port input unit supporting up to four virtual receivers and a 100 W, 160-6 meter transmitter, the Flex-6700 transceiver, a dual RF port input unit supporting up to eight virtual receivers and a 100 W transmitter and the Flex-6700 receiver, similar to the receiver side of the 6700 transceiver covering 0.3 to 77 and 135 to 165 MHz. In addition to the 100 W output on 160-6 meters, the Flex 6700 provides 0 dBm exciter output across its entire range, including 600 and 2 meters.

The receivers promise a new level of dynamic range with a 45 dBm third order intercept and 110 dB third order dynamic range.

Each system can include one or more of the above signal capture units with each virtual receiver able to be used for audio output, digital data output or a visual spectrum display of up to 384 kHz. Internal 1 GB Ethernet interface ports provide for seamless remote control via local connection of via the Internet.

Kenwood introduced their new HF transceiver, the TS-990. This top of the line, full size, HF and 6 meter transceiver follows on the heels of their successful TS-590, but is at a different level with a 200 W transmitter, dual watch receiver, a built in spectrum scope, switching power supply and antenna tuner.

Yaesu also unveiled a new HF and 6 meter transceiver at Dayton. The FTDX-3000 brings together a single high performance, down converting receiver based on that of the top ranked FTDX-5000 including a built-in spectrum scope, all at a competitive mid-range price. A listening watch on the transmit frequency is said to be provided during split frequency operation. An additional feature is that three antenna ports are provided, including one that can be assigned to a receive-only antenna, a feature sought by low band DX operators.

“There’s always something for everyone at Hamvention and ARRL EXPO,” Inderbitzen said. “Young hams, and all young people attending Hamvention, had a blast within the ARRL Youth Lounge. Organizers planned loads of fun activities, including scavenger and fox hunts, games, crafts and other ways to experience ham radio. The Youth Lounge was also the place to meet and connect with other young hams.” Other youth-oriented and education exhibits -- including a scouting booth organized by active Boy Scouts and scout leaders, as well as an exhibit featuring kits, projects and displays for the ARRL Education and Technology Program -- also featured ways for young people to get involved with Amateur Radio.

Watch for more information on the 2012 Dayton Hamvention in the print and digital editions of the July 2012 issue of QST. Be sure to check out the ARRL Facebook page for lots of photos, too!



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