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KE9V Smoke Curls – Nails Dayton 2013 on the Head 20 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Make sure to check ouy fellow writer Jueff KE9V’s Dayton 2013 Recap at:

http://ke9v.net/blog/2013/05/dayton-in-the-rearview-mirror/

I have additional comments which are embargoed until after this evening’s W9DK Mancorad Radio Club presentation on Dayton 2013.

Jeff KE9V paints a very accurate background to my summary.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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1. k9zw - 4 - June - 2013

As Jeff KE9V has let the world know he is ending his blog, the post (written by Jeff KE9V) text is:

Dayton in the Rearview Mirror

19 May 2013

Bottom Line: Dayton 2013 was lackluster. The crowd was slightly smaller than last year and the weather wasn’t much of an issue. Judging by the hardware shown, amplifiers and SDR were the HOT trends. The most interesting new item shown was the CrankIR portable antenna.

——————————————————————————–

Hamvention® 2013 is in the books.

The weather was a bit damp, though we avoided any torrential downpours and all-in-all, the weather outside was tolerable. Inside the buildings was stifling and humid and required frequent trips outside to cool down. There seemed to be no ventilation in action anywhere inside.

I only attended on Friday and Saturday this year and arrived before the doors opened on both days.

I’m going to go out on a short limb here and say that the DARA folks will eventually announce the 2013 attendance to be higher than it actually was. My own impression was that attendance was down at least ten-percent, maybe fifteen, from last year.

I have no formal experience estimating crowd sizes, but when you can walk the main arena floor unimpeded at noon on Saturday, you probably don’t have to be an expert to form an opinion on attendance.

The biggest news out of Dayton this year was that there was nothing new under the sun.

Kenwood had nothing new and exciting to show. They were the talk of the show last year when they debuted the fake TS-990S under glass. This year they had the real deal in all its glory — powered-up and working and nobody gave it much notice.

Yaesu had nothing new and exciting to show. And once again, no hats to give out. The loneliest ham in the universe might well be the guy who carried away one of their new digital handhelds, the FT-1DR. When asked about it the booth rep said the new handheld was not compatible with any existing standard and there are no repeaters available for it. None. So who can you talk to with this new handheld? Another user with the same handheld — within a mile or two of you. Crickets, crickets, crickets.

ICOM was showing the IC-7100. But it’s still not yet available for purchase and like naked pictures of Paris Hilton, everyone has seen enough of it. They claim it should be on the market next month, MSRP $1799. Other than that, you could have seen everything they had in the booth in any single episode of Last Man Standing.

TenTec introduced the Rebel, a low-powered, open hardware transceiver whose details were as confusing as the message that T-T is sending by bringing it to market. We may have reached a point where if you brand something as “QRP” and “Open Source” you sell a thousand of them before anyone knows what they even bought. I was more impressed with their new auto-tuner (Model 278-100W), something that has been sorely missing from their product line.

It’s not possible to provide a laundry list of everything seen or noticed missing from the big show so what follows are the things that caught my attention and seemed worth a mention.
■The CrankIR portable vertical antenna was very cool. I probably don’t need one but while standing in front of it for the third time during the show one of the operators heading to Wake Island later this year told me they are taking two of them along with them for that operation. Not surprised. Excellent.
■The place was loaded with amplifiers — more than I’ve ever seen in a single show. HF amps from solid state and 500W to full legal limit offerings. I saw a dozen different amps for HF and then saw three different manufacturers showing amps for UHF, VHF, and 6M. And I’m talking big iron here. 1KW on 50Mhz, 144Mhz, 440Mhz — and up.
■You couldn’t spit without hitting a booth manned by somebody that no one has ever heard of, promoting their new SDR offerings. This technology has reached the point of true democratization. Anyone can jump into the business of providing amateur radio transceivers and accessories crafted from low-cost hardware. I see this as good news and a positive sign that the future of amateur radio won’t be dictated by BIG companies. How we will separate the wheat from the chaff from hundreds of micro-offerings is going to be a challenge. Anyone already working on that?
■D-STAR was everywhere at the show. From the main floor to vendors and ICOM along with informational events and forums. ICOM says there are now 27,000 D-STAR users with over 1,000 repeaters — and they’re dropping the price on those repeaters. Yet for all the frenetic energy expended and lack of any significant competition, it still just feels like a questionable niche to me.

The ARRL once again had the big booth with a lot of buzz and activity yet was nearly unchanged from last year.

AMSAT seemed to be taking up a little more room than usual. They announced a tentative launch date for their Fox project but of course, it’s far in the future with plenty of opportunity for delay and cancellation. AMSAT’s promises are a lot like those of religion. Something is coming. Someday. Nobody knows when and we’ve been waiting a long time for it. But soon. Oh, and we need more money while we wait…

Here’s something that might be a developing trend. The fawning crowds of fanboys were absent from the region around Bob Heil’s personal space. Bob was still getting plenty of attention mind you, but it was easy enough to walk right up and say ‘hello’ to him this year, something that was nearly impossible last year due to the crowd. Could the HamNation magic be starting to fade?

Outside, the flea market appeared almost exactly the way it looked to me in 1977. Lots of old junk, some of it with the power to cause me to stop and gaze respectfully upon it for a moment, while most of the rest desperately needs to be hauled to the dump.

The 21st century value of the flea market is not really for the buyers — it’s more for the comfort of the faux sellers.

Apparently, the deal is to pay for a flea market spot that provides you a nice place to park your vehicle/camper/motorhome and that way you can carry in your own food and drink. If you do happen to have something for sale, you put up a sign explaining what you have and how you can be reached and then you go about enjoying the show. Someday, we will all get a flea market spot and mess this game up!

As always, the real value of attending a major ham radio convention is the people, not necessarily what you can see or purchase. In this regard, it just doesn’t get any better than Dayton. Whether it’s traveling to the show with a group of friends, bumping into old acquaintances while trekking around the flea market, or introducing yourself and pressing the flesh with some notable operator from a faraway land, there’s no better experience for a true radio enthusiast than Dayton.

Having said that, I will now (finally) add my voice to the growing chorus of those who deride Hara Arena as a dump. Of course it’s been a dump for a long time yet I’ve regularly been the lone (ham radio blogger) voice supporting it. I was raised in an era when hamfests and swap sessions were conducted at the old National Guard Armory or at a run-down county fairground. A time when complaining about smelly restrooms at a hamfest would call into question your manhood.

Dilapidated and amateur radio hamfests just seem to go together. At least to me.

That’s probably why I bristle when I hear others say things, stupid things, like suggesting that the event be moved to an ultra-modern facility with valet parking, supernatural volumes of air-conditioning, roving cocktail carts, and a 150-foot Jumbotron with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck serving as keynote speakers…

But the fact is, Hara Arena should have been condemned a decade ago.

If DARA continues to hold the event there, the problem won’t be a decline in attendance. Ham’s are going to keep coming. The problem is going to be that eventually, something big and bad and awful is going to happen, and probably in a catastrophic manner. The roof will collapse or a giant HVAC unit is going to fall from the ceiling and injure — or kill someone.

This sort of liability should be motivating DARA to quickly find another facility in Dayton, announce a final show at Hara and be done with it. I don’t like to think about amateur radio without Dayton but nostalgia should have no sway when it comes to public safety.

There. I said it.

While there I posted a large cache of photos via Twitter that can be viewed here. I’ve got more photos that I’ll get online over the coming week.

I’ll probably also recall a few additional details and commentary omitted from this long treatise. Stay tuned.


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