Another year, another Dayton in the history books. This was my third Hamvention trek, but this year was a bit different for me as I attended with my girlfriend. She somehow coaxed me into it, despite my concerns she would be bored out of her mind. However, we both had a great time.
I didn’t take as many pictures this year. At times I felt I could have recycled photos from the last two years and no one would notice. But there were some new sights to see….
Yaesu was handing out truckloads of free “Yaesu 60th Anniversary” hats and other logo-adorned swag as usual. I was tempted to alter a hat to say “Yaesu FT-817 60th Anniversary” as the long-in-the-tooth rig continues to be offered with no modern update in sight. Ride that pony, Yaesu. As Jeff KE9V reported, no, the FT-891 is not an 817 replacement. It’s not an FT-897 replacement, either, so don’t ask. The FT-817 continues to be the Keith Richards of amateur radio rigs.
Required Equipment in Hara Arena Bathrooms
The Kenwood booth actually had visitors in contrast with last year when there were more tumbleweeds than attendees. Their newly announced super duper digital VHF/UHF rig undoubtedly attracted inquiries, though shame on their product line management people for not having it ready to sell at Dayton. In Kenwood’s defense, Yaesu’s new FT-891 wasn’t available for purchase, either.
When All Else Fails, Make a Daiquiri
The crazy rig-selling train known as Elecraft continues barreling down the track. As everyone is undoubtedly well aware now, they released the KX2 at the Hamvention. No, this isn’t an X-rated version of the K2, or two K1s merged together, it’s a smaller KX3 without 6 meters or 2 meter add-on capability. This rig could have been a Yaesu FT-817 killer if it had VHF and UHF capability and reasonable pricing. 2 meter capability especially would have made sense to include considering this rig has the size and essentially the form factor of an HT. No doubt Elecraft will sell a ton of these rigs, but then again if they released a new version of the K1 packaged in a 55 gallon drum, they would sell them by the dump truck load.
I question how much longer Elecraft can keep up this sales momentum which I often feel is fueled by unreasonable customer loyalty. (Full disclosure: I own three Elecraft rigs.) Last year’s big announcement was the K3S, an improved K3, which teed off new K3 owners. This year’s release was a repackaged KX3. Elecraft seems to be innovating less and recycling products more.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
I’m pleased to report there was a robot competition area and a local Makerspace representative booth. It’s good to see more Maker-oriented vendors and displays, which is really going to be the key to growing amateur radio after our older amateurs go silent key in the next decade. Hamvention folks, please, keep increasing this type of content.
Mendelson’s Flea Market Tent Family Planning Center
The flea market appeared to be the same size, with many long standing attendees selling the same junk, I mean, classic wares. I think there were less amplifiers for sale this year. That’s just a gut feeling, but I seem to recall many more amps last year. The same goes for rigs.
No Hamvention report would be complete without mentioning the condition of Hara Arena. Yes, good old Hara Arena. This is the final year for Hara. Seriously. I’m going on record and predicting it now. Really. This is it. Seriously. Last year’s announced multi-million dollar renovation plan fell through. I can’t imagine the facility can continue operating in its ever-worsening condition as it’s become a human safety nightmare that would cause any sane insurance company underwriter to run away screaming like their hair was on fire. Expect something to happen prior to the next Hamvention, either the occupancy permit being revoked, or the building turning into a pile a rubble on its own or by wrecking ball. Last year. Trust me. That being said, I left late afternoon Saturday sadly waving bye to Hara Arena thinking this may be the last year, like I was losing a dying friend. But the Hamvention is not Hara Arena, and Hara is not the Hamvention.