(Continued from the previous article)
The AMSAT forum was overflowing with information. At first I was hesitant to go to a three hour session. While I could sit through long lectures in high school and college, as an adult I get impatient and restless anytime I’m forced to sit for extended periods of time. But the AMSAT forum held my interest the whole time and afterwards I found my way to the AMSAT booth and became a member.
Another forum I attended was the Balloon Satellite / High Altitude Balloon (HAB) forum. Many attendees were from organizations across the country who regularly launch balloons and there were many stories and words of wisdom. I was a sponge soaking it up and came out of the session with dreams of launching a balloon.
As I mentioned in the first part of this article, I think the forums are a real gem at Dayton and well worth the admission price and travel costs. They cultivate thought and interest in amateur radio. The forums definitely recharged my amateur radio mojo.
The theme of the Dayton Hamvention this year was amateur radio operators as Makers. Makers is a modern day term for those who build or homebrew stuff. Some very visible Maker initiatives include Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, and 3D printing.
Busy Folks at a Booth Selling Arduinos and Piece Parts
The Maker theme was a good idea, well intended and timely, however the execution of the theme was lacking. There was only one stand selling Arduino items and another selling Raspberry Pis. I saw only one 3D printer on display. I think there should have been an area dedicated to Maker oriented booths, much like the audio area. A friend commented that a Maker Space would have been a good addition to the hamfest. The vendor selling Arduino items and parts has their booth swamped with people and most of them were noticeably younger folks. Overall I think there needed to be more vendors that were identifiably Maker oriented and some bridge drawn between amateur radio and Maker initiatives.
I remember in the late 80s and early 90s when some amateurs scoffed at the invasion of computers into hamfests, as some regional hamfests were combination hamfests and computerfests. Today you don’t really see this distinction and computers are just an integral part of amateur radio and hamfests. Online I’ve seen some amateurs criticizing the Maker theme at the Hamvention. I see a lot of parallels between the PC era and the Maker movement in progress right now. I think we should embrace Makers in our hamfests. We’ve already seen Arduinos and Raspberry Pis become useful tools, and 3D printers are probably close behind. We need to make a bridge between Making and amateur radio. As we’ve seen with computers and the Internet, communications takes things to new levels. Radio communications equipment and know how are a valuable asset for aspiring Makers and we can draw new people into the hobby with this.
As far as toys that I acquired, besides various piece parts and cable I bought a new Rigol 100 Mhz digital oscilloscope. At the Begali booth I fell in love with the Sculpture Mono paddle. I reached for my credit card and was informed by the salesguy that they only accept cash or checks. I was really put off by this. Later that night I ordered the paddle on the web, at a cost $45 more than the hamfest price and some unknown amount of delivery time. Luckily Begali was shipping recent paddle orders from Ohio so I didn’t wait long.
Dayton Bounty: Rigol Digital Storage Oscilloscope
The BMW of CW Keys
My New Begali Paddle
If I had to do this trip over again, I would have spent much less time in the flea market and would have attended many more forums. While the flea market was huge and had a lot of interested stuff, after awhile each stand and row began to look like the last one. Unless you’re looking for some specific rare item, walking the flea market becomes tedious. I also would have attended the DX dinner and perhaps hit some FDIM events.
Special Entrance for Golf Players
Midway through the hamfest I commented that I wouldn’t attend in 2015 and perhaps might attend again in two or three years. But towards the end and after taking the whole experience in, I decided I would make the pilgrimage again next year if possible. Once you accept Hara Arena for what it is and the oddities and annoyances of many of the attendees, it’s truly a phenomenal event for radio artisans everywhere. As one of my friends I met aptly summed it up, you have to come out, it’s the Dayton Experience!