Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dayton Hamvention 2008--Another one come and gone

I honestly thought that this would be the year… the year that record high gas prices noticeably lowered the attendance at the annual Dayton Hamvention. Sure, there are enough hard-core people who would never miss it. I am one of them. I went there all the way from Texas. I got the plane tickets, the hotel rooms, the rental car, etc. In fact, I would only consider canceling my trip if, perhaps, my wife was pregnant and dilated at least 3 cm. Which is probably why I remain celebate during July and August, so that nothing can keep me from going to the Mecca of ham radio in May.

I am a hard-core Dayton freak. And there are many others. But were there enough?

During the Sunday prize draw (yes, I am hard-core enough to sit in the Hara basketball arena through the 2 hours of ticket draws on Sunday) the emcee announced that the 2008 advanced ticket sales were actually up from 2007! And, to my eye anyway, there may have been a few less attendees, or maybe some didn't stay the whole 3 days, but attendance was still strong!

To be fair, there were lots of empty spots in the outdoor flea market. I am assuming that many people who brought the same junk - -er, junque -- to (try to) sell year after year finally decided not to rent the U-haul and waste the gas to bring it this year. But there was still enough junque to look at, pick up, and occasionally offer a dollar for. Some of the inside spots were empty too -- the Suspender Man didn't arrive to his reserved spot this year (my friend Bill from the Prosoft booth next to his told me that he had had a heart attack shortly before leaving Texas for the Hamvention. Suspender Man, you are in my prayers). The T-shirt lady was also not there this year due to what was only described as a family emergency. Oh, and one of the guys selling the junk tools with the badly translated Japanese-to-English packaging was noticeably absent as well. And the cord-reel guy who sold the extension cord reels that looked like giant yellow donuts (some called them ass-pads for hemhorroid sufferers) was not there. It was too bad -- those cord reels are about the best extension cord storage devices that money can buy. I'm serious, and I think that to myself every time I have to use my electric weed-whacker out in the yard.

But the standards were there. Bob Heil and his tremendous audio equipment. The Anderson Powerpole guy. My friends at Prosoft and Link-Comm (who unveiled one hell of a repeater controller this year!). Yeasu (announcing the soon-to-come VX-8 (awaiting FCC approval) with Bluetooth and APRS), Kenwood (showing the new TM-D710) and Icom (sadly, without the Icom Girls (booth-babes) handing out free hats, or the devastatingly cute Icom Robot Girls). The US Tower babes were still sticking their flashing stickers on our shirts (they must buy tens of thousands of those stickers). Russ from Batteries America, as always, was there, with about the best selection of ham radio batteries around. And Rick the Signman from Baton Rouge was engraving tons of lamacoid callsign badges. The Wireman selling coax and ladder-line by the foot. Tower Electronics ("The Ham's Dime Store") was there, as was Mendelson's selling their surplus under the big tent. Peet Bro's Weather Stations. Doug Hall Electronics. The ultra-cute Laura was at the Ham Station booth (without her ultra-cute sister). (I made sure to tell Laura that I thought she was cuter than her sister. Laura says that she won't be at HamCom in Texas (in June) but her sister will. And I will then tell her sister that she is cuter than Laura.) And, of course, Gordon "Gordo" West WB6NOA was there. It wouldn't be a Hamvention without him.

Ahh, all was right with the world. I was among friends.

I was most impressed with the ARRL Expo that Katie Breen, W1KRB managed for the League. In the 18 years since I was first licensed, the ARRL has gone from (what looked to a 14 year old like) a relatively faceless organization that published QST to an organization that truly exists to represent its members. I am truly impressed with how far they have come. I am budgeting to purchase a lifetime membership for me and my wife when my dues come due in January.

I got to see some of my old ham radio buddies too. It was great to hang out with the guys from the Grand Rapids ARA, and I met some hams from my neck of the woods in Texas that I never met before.

Dayton 2009 is May 15-17. Make your plans now, hotel rooms start booking up about 9 months prior. If you haven't been, next year will be a perfect first time for you.

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