Even though I’ve been a ham almost 33 years, I had never been to the Dayton Hamvention. Here are some random thoughts on Dayton 2004:
Wet, tired, and happy, we all pose for a group picture before our return from Dayton.
Hey! Where’s Larry Reese?
- The bus trip was a lot of fun even though leaving at 4:30 am is VERY early. My thanks to Sam KC8QCZ, Mark W8FSA, and Dik KC8UXT who did most of the work.
- The continental breakfast was a big hit and a great idea.
- I was very disappointed in the flea market. Of course, a lot of that had to do with the weather. There was a steady rain that lasted until nearly 4:00 pm. As a result, many of the vendors didn’t set up, and some of those that did kept their stuff covered under plastic and were thus not selling.
- Even so, some good buys were to be had. One company was selling 44-in. fiberglass mast sections for $3. I bought ten of them, plus to guy rings for $40, total.
- I also found a battery pack and desk charger for my ancient Icom IC-2AT for $10. Of course, the batteries in the pack need replacing, but I’ve located an insert for $26. So, I’ll finally have a second battery pack for the 2AT.
- I was hoping to buy a bug or perhaps another set of paddles, but I could find only one vendor who had any selection, and all they had were high-priced antiques and low-priced junk. Vibroplex was exhibiting, but they weren’t offering any show discounts, so I wasn’t really motivated to buy anything from them. Guess I’ll have to scout EBay and see what I can find. On the bus on the way home, I did speak with a guy who said he’d loan me his bug as he hadn’t used it for many years. I think I’ll take him up on that offer just to see how I like using it before I spend any money.
- At our meeting Wednesday, Dave WB4SBE told us about a vendor who sold Icom refurbs out of a trailer in the flea market. Unfortunately, it looks as though that vendor has either decided not to do Dayton anymore or didn’t set up because of the weather. Several ARROW members were looking for the guy, but none of us found him.
- After reading all the criticism of Dayton 2003 on eHam, I was expecting very long lines at the concessions and absolutely filthy restrooms. Fortunately, neither was the case. That may be because attendance was down, but it was nice nonetheless.
- Even though the flea market was kind of disappointing, the vendor exhibits were not. I wish I’d had more time to take in all the vendor exhibits. For example, it would have been cool to spend a little more time twiddling the knobs on the new Icom rig. I basically just plowed through the inside halls without spending much time at any one booth. From that point of view, I didn’t get as much out of the Hamvention as I would have liked.
- That being the case, I’m seriously considering going down for the entire weekend next year.
- I spent an hour working the Fists booth. That was fun–I got to meet a few guys face-to-face that I’d worked on the air as well as support the use of CW.
- One guy I met at the booth was W0UFO. He told me about his scheme to gather up all the hams with the suffix UFO and have a “Searching for UFOs” contest. How’s that for a great idea?
- After getting the booth set up, I wandered around with Zoltan, who is currently not licensed. We had some an interesting discussion about ham radio in general and how one finds one niche in ham radio. He said he had been waffling about jumping into it because he wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do. I advised him to buy some used equipment and just jump right in and get his feet wet. I mean how else are you going to figure out what you like to do if you don’t do it?
- That must have struck a chord as late in the day I found a guy selling an Icom IC735. He’d listed it at $350, but about 2:30, marked it down to $300. I told Zoltan he could probably offer the guy $250 and he’d take it, but he didn’t seem like he wanted to bargain that hard. To get the cash, he went to the ATM machine, but the ATM machine would only give him $280. So, he offered the guy $280 and is now the proud owner of an Icom IC-735.
- Overall, it was great fun, and I want to thank Sam, Mark, and Dik again for doing a great job.
Here are some comments from other ARROW members:
Jeff W8SGZ: Overall impression can be summed up in three words: wet, wetter, wettest. Second impression is that about a third of the booths had little if anything to do with ham radio.
This was my first time. I may be enticed to go again in four or five years, but I don’t see what there is to get excited about. At least the bathrooms were a lot cleaner than the discussions on e-ham said they’d be.
Mark W8FSA: The first impressions from the non-member riders was how great the accommodations were during the ride down and back. All of the first time attendees said they would not hesitate to do it again next year. There were 45 riders going down–two of them were walk-ons. The interesting event before the return trip home was one of the walk-ons did not show up for departure. He was never located. A great mystery to be resolved.
The weather could be simply described as “horrible”. There was a persistent light shower all day and it severely impacted the flea market.
I personally made the “great leap” into the purchase of a new Yaesu FT-857D with two factory installed SSB and CW filters. It will be shipped to me this week.
Ralph KB8ZOY: Weather could have been worse. Drizzled all day until 2:30, sometimes came down pretty heavy. There were rivers going through some spaces in the back of the flea market.
Flea market stalls were perhaps half what they have been, and then a third or more of those who were there had their merchandise all covered up. This was disappointing.
Inside exhibits were crowded, but you could generally move around slowly during the worst of the rain. This means, attendance was way down. On the other hand, access to vendors was much better than normal. I had some very informative one-on-one’s with IRLP, West Mountain Radio, Yaesu, W5YI, W4RT, Davis Instruments, and
others. Hobby Antenna (Barry Hobby WA9KKN & Tim Hobby N7KY) had some very intetesting small-space HF antenna prototypes in the flea market.
I finally met Des Preston KB8UYJ. Have been talking to him on the ARROW for years. Didn’t find out he was on the bus until they called roll to go home. Listened to him chat about his adventures living in Latin America while we were waiting to leave.
Here are a couple more pictures:
On the bus on the way home.
Clay, W8JNZ, and Dik, KC8UXT, discuss a purchase on the arena’s main floor.