Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts on Dayton Hamvention 2015

This post is well overdue!  I made it to and from Dayton Hamvention in one piece.  Almost 20 walking miles and $625 bucks later, I'm back in St. Louie!

Here are my thoughts on the weekend.

Thursday I left work around 2pm and made the drive across 2 states along highway 70 stopping only a few times for a quick bite to eat and gas.  I didn't see many antennas or licenses plates with call signs or combo of both, but did make some QSO's on the way on 146.520.  I threw out my call sign a half dozen times along the way only to have a few people come back to me.  Most were very distant and had a hard time keeping a conversation going, but I did have a few that were strong signal for a good while.


I got up early and headed over to the parking lot where the bus would take me to the event.  The first thing I noticed was, this event is not in the best part of town.  I stopped in for a soda at a gas station right beside the parking lot and you had wait outside and tell the attendant what you wanted from the grocery side of the station.  Kinda shady!

Pulling up to the arena, I noticed how bad of shape the parking lot was in.  It just wasn't the road in, but the whole flea market area.  Some of those motorized scooters had a hard time with the large chunks of concrete laying all over the place.

I arrived around 8am and headed inside to get my lanyard and ticket laminated for 3 bucks.  This went to the local boy scout troop, then it was a quick run around the flea market to see if anything looked worth the purchase.  Nope!  Lots of stuff....but nothing that peaked my interested.

9am hit and it was time to head inside.  Since this was my first Dayton, I really didn't know where to start, so I picked a hall and started roaming.  My first stop was the main arena and my first booth was the Buddiepole booth.  I said hello to Steve (WG0AT) and thanked him for all his SOTA videos, as I was a big fan.

I wanted to hit some forums throughout the day, but found that finding the different forum rooms was a pain.  I also got turned around many times during the day thinking I was in one hall, only to find out I was not in that hall.  The organizers really need to do a better job at signage in the halls.

The forums I attended were OK, nothing really was amazing, but I did learn some new stuff.  I ended up hitting every hall on Friday just to look around to make a list of everything I wanted to spend more time at on Sat.


I spent more time in the flea market, making sure I saw everything.  I saw an old high school teacher of mine who now owns a communications company in the town I grew up in.  He's an old ham and maintains the local repeater in town.

As I hit all the big companys booths, there was a distinct difference in the attitude and feeling between all of them.

Elecraft - lots of activity.  Their reps got an "B+" for reaching out to me in the booth, asking me if I had any questions and giving me some paper work

Kenwood - very little activity.  Their reps get an "F".  I looked at some of their radios, but the floor reps looked like they didn't care, didn't want to be there and just stood there talking to one another.  I asked a question about a VHF radio and got a one word answer.

Icom - lots of activity.  Their reps get a "B-".  As I walked through looking at radios, 1 rep asked me if I had any questions, but their reps were busy with other people too, as there were lots of people looking at radios.  Amateur Logic was filming an episode in their booth which got some attention Sat afternoon.  I felt their booth was probably the best, a little crowded, but a good mix of reps to people.

Yaesu - average activity.  Their reps get a "C".  I walked through their booth, nobody asked me if I had any questions, but their people were too busy handing out shirts and hats to give any help.

I did see some "celebrities" as I shook Gordo West's hand, talked to Bob Heil for a while, said hello to Valerie from Ham Nation and thanked Gary Pearce of Ham Radio Now for his videos.  In the booths I met George and Nick from the Fo Time podcast and saw Jeremy from Fo Time walking around too.  It's always neat to see people you see on a weekly basis or listen too on podcast to thank them for their work and entertainment.

After walking around for 8+ hours, I made a final sweep around the area and called it quits for the day.

I didn't go back on Sunday, as I wanted to get back on the road home.

Here is what I purchased during the weekend.

Kenwood TM-D710GA 2m/70cm radio (I always wanted to do APRS)
Anderson power poles and extra crimp-ons
Kenwood male and female connectors
Cup holder mount for my TM-D710 (which I didn't need)
Misc different connectors

So the question to ask is would I go back.  Yes.  Maybe not next year, but I think every couple years is a good mix.  I feel that if you went every year it would be the same items, same booths, same people year after year.  Taking a year off would help make it "fun" again and interesting.