Today was devoted to the Dayton Hamvention which, as the name suggests, is a ham radio “event” that takes place in Dayton, Ohio. I suppose it could be a gathering of Honey Baked Ham franchisees in some other state, or a convention of people who like to show off, but it’s just dozens of speakers, hundreds of vendors, thousands of flea market sellers, and ~20,000 attendees gathered to buy, sell, learn about, and talk about all things amateur radio. It is quite an event and it always rains. This year was no exception.
The Dayton Hamvention is the largest single annual gathering of ham radio operators in the world, and is probably also the largest gathering of ham radio related vendors. Organized by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), the Hamvention currently takes place on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the third weekend in May each year and 2015 was the 60th time the event has been held. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) shows up in force and the biggest manufacturers in the industry—Kenwood, Icom, and Yaesu—have extensive booths in the vendor area, along with many other manufacturers, distributors, and specialty product vendors.
Dayton’s Hara Arena is ~227 miles from our house, close enough that we can drive down and back the same day, but it makes for a long day. We left at 5:35 AM and stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and bagels before getting on the Interstate 96 headed east. A few miles later we headed south on US-23 which took us into Ohio and onto I-475. We joined up with I-75 south of Toledo, Ohio and stayed on that until we exited in Dayton to head west to the Hamvention venue. With a bathroom break about half way down we arrived at the arena around 9:15 AM. There is no general admission parking at the Hara Arena complex but we were able to park at an automotive dealership across the street and over to the left for $10. (The dealership directly across the street was charging $40/day to park. Unfortunately some people were actually willing to pay that much.)
The flea market opened at 8 AM and the indoor vendor area opened at 9 AM. Hams who are looking for bargains in used parts and equipment are always in line when the gates open at 8 AM on the first day. Although many hams are involved with designing and building new equipment, and/or repairing and restoring vintage radios, we are not. We had only been to the Hamvention once before and our interest today was to reacquaint ourselves with the inside vendors. It cost us $25 each for the privilege.
We knew that a dozen of our fellow SLAARC members were here at the event but we only ran into one of them (Bill / W8NN). We walked past every vendor booth at least once and paid return visits to several. We did not have a shopping list and ultimately did not buy anything except lunch. As we were getting ready to leave a thunderstorm opened up and it rained very hard for a while so we lingered and revisited a couple more vendors until it quit and then headed for our car.
We pulled out around 3 PM and headed for home, reversing the route we took to get to the Hamvention. We stopped for gas and each got something to drink. I was tired and sleepy from having had too many carbohydrates for lunch so we switched drivers. We stopped at a rest area somewhere on I-75 in Ohio for a bathroom break but I’m not sure where it was as I was dozing until just before we pulled in. We got home about 6:45PM. The event ended at 6 PM today and we expected to be home closer to 10 PM, so getting home sooner was nice.
The cats were glad to see us; at least they both wanted our attention. Linda cut up some fresh strawberries and pineapple and heated up some canned soup which made for a light, easy dinner. We relaxed for a while but Linda decided she was too tired to watch an episode of Sherlock and headed off to bed.
I checked out the website of one of the vendors that interested me. KF7P (KF7P.com) builds custom cable entry boxes with copper ground planes and lightning arresters. I have been looking for something like that to get transmission lines into our basement ham shack while protecting all of the equipment connected to them. I will give him a chance to get back to Utah and then give him a call and order one. The box is going to mount on the east side of the house near the northeast corner. It will have at least one 3” PVC pipe coming out the back and running through the wall into the basement. Since I do not know what our long term needs are, and I do not want to have to redo this later, I will have him build something that is larger than we will probably ever need. That will be cheaper and easier in the end than having to redo something later.