Dayton 2013 – Recap

Following on the sage comments of Jeff KE9V Dayton 2013 was a mixed experience.  Here are some of the things I noticed:

The Day of the SDR – everyone was showing SDR radios, many of them technically faux-SDRs with very limited control by the software.  Pulling a intermediate RF product off a tap for other processing isn’t SDR folks.  Flash Upgradable bandplan data isn’t SDR either.  Having the control and audio handled by a vendor configured I/O package isn’t SDR as well.

The Meek Shall Inherit – QRP Fantasy – the other overused term was QRP.  Even saw marketing slogans misusing QRP like “Our 100w amps will add some fire to your QRP experience” or something like that…  100w isn’t QRP, nor is 20-30w… but is is a Marketing Buzz Word and sells gear.

Log Periodics are back – with much more mention in forums/banquets and new products showing up.  Some providers are working on wide band Log Periodics designed to pair with the latest radio gear.

Long live the King – dinosaurs in a modern age – there were plenty of vendors showing very long in the tooth arguably obsolete technology hoping their well established good brand name would carry them another year.  I mean who buys station accessories anymore that lack USB or Ethernet connectivity? Expensive rotor controllers with DB-9 serial connection to allow some command line access is stuff that should have been out in the flea market, not on the show floor.

Big Vendors who didn’t show – where was AES?  Where was the owner of MFJ?  Someone said that Ham Radio Station was AWOL too?  I know I wanted to look at a specific headset and was told by the vendors that were there “to look on our website, we have it there” – what crap!!  If I had wanted to browse their website I didn’t need to come to Dayton.  Something fundemental is happening here.

End of an Era – But who are the old timers giving way to? – in an Internet World many of the well known in our hobby are Internet Personalities – and some don’t carry as well in person as they do on the world wide web.  Just like the famous “Peggy” mystery support person in the TV ads, the public really doesn’t have a connection with these web personalities.  Few of the elder icons in our industry seem to be interested in groom heir apparent team members to eventually take over as they age, retire and leave us.  Who will run Gordon West’s enterprise when he retires?  Does the ham public know that person?  Ditto for Bob Heil’s audio world, or any one of our valued icons.

Hello Zigbee, Raspberry-Pi, Arduino, and Beaglebone – the embedded processor and PC on a board seemed to be everywhere.  Lots of devices were available that you programed, plug in and run one of these project boards as the “brains” of the final system.  Even radios were using the Arduino-compatible as their marketing “buzz.”

Marketing becoming a Vaporware Game – Who shows a new transceiver so far from production that the sales guy is waiving his hand saying “eventually the RF deck will go here?” … There were many mock-ups making second or third year appearances with no real products ready.  Even many of the “hot” buzz catching products were mockups “available soon.”

Some class acts – be certain in the midst wading through the unwashed masses there are some class acts.  Several were from overseas and really had their presentation & act together. Some standouts in my eyes were in Audio Alley (W2IHY, Heil), Hilberling, the FlexRadio Systems hands-on demos, Array Solutions on-going mini-forum demonstrations) – there were quite a few more.

Composting or Recycling? – the improbability of the Flea Market – if you haven’t found the Thingerwang XT-1000/J14 Mod 7 you’ve been searching the flea market for since 1967 will you ever find it?  Who cares if you do?  And why are you living in the past?

It Stinks, it’s dirty, it’s unsafe, and that is the upside of the Hara – there is not enough parking and it’s past its prime – Dayton is not a place you’d be proud to show your XYL.  There is NO security and the carnage if even a drill were attempted to evacuate the building would likely be large.  The place just makes me feel dirty and at risk.

Feast or Famine – events were either standing room only (the most popular forums needed twice the seating) or other opportunities were ghost towns ( did any guest operators make contacts at the Special Events Station?  Heck they didn’t even have a chair for a guest to operate from)

Paint Drying vs Rapture – always an interesting observation that stuff that is painful to me is held in nostalgic regard by the next ham.  Once does need to remember one size doesn’t fit all.

Fake Grandiose – right down to “Imported Beer” claims for beer from New England at the Hara Pub!  Or how about the dirty linens on the banquet table Dayton not-so-Grand, or the flea-btten Ramada telling banquet attendees “we’re short of forks” and “our computer system is down today, so we can’t check you out”, or don’t you just love the ubiquitous  car-eating potholes?

What trips my Dayton Trigger?


I do get a chance to meet with and eyeball QSO (face time) with some really great folk.  First I get to spend time with my traveling partner George W9EVT, which is always a privilege.  Next I get to meet with my cousins, who have made Dayton one of our annual gatherings.  Then I get to spend time with a lot of great hams – many who I not only have a great time with on the interpersonal side, but who are kind enough to share their experiences and mentor.

Like all experiences YMMV as I react in my own way to the limitations and features of the event.



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4 thoughts on “Dayton 2013 – Recap

  1. […] out the posts by Jeff KE9V and Steve K9ZW about their impressions of […]

  2. Mike WA4WNK says:

    I think the most anticipated product, from my POV, was the new CrankIR from SteppIR, but I can wait for actual product reports to find out if it’s something I want to purchase for use.

    At it’s most basic, what’s the thrill with Dayton anyway? The venue is quite frankly, shitty, and Dayton is well….Dayton. Would anyone visit the place if not for the hamvention? Forgive me, but my idea of a great time is not paying extra $$ to fly into a third-tier airport/city, stay at a hotel that’s not up to par with even my most basic expectations, fight for parking space and drive down narrow roads only to arrive at the equivalent of Kandahar. I’ve been to Kandahar and I would rather be there than Dayton!

    It’s time for the mythos surrounding Dayton to be shattered. There are far better places to hold a hamvention and I’m wondering if a better model aren’t the regional gathering already in place. As a local to the Orlando area I’m partial to Hamcation, but I’ve flown to California/Visalia and other venues with my wife, who wouldn’t set foot in Dayton if I gave her a day pass to Tiffany’s. Sure, I like meeting old friends and making new acquaintances, but in the age of the internet, Twitter, Skype, and FaceTime is it really necessary to hold Dayton out as the amateur radio equivalent to a Muslim’s trip to Mecca?

    Tell me that the younger generation, my sons for example, ages 9 and 12, would want to go to Dayton. I’ve asked them, they don’t! We spend a lot of time in this hobby talking about the “next generation” of hams but you hardly see a single photo from Dayton, or in the cover or pages of a normative publication that features someone under the age of 60. This is outreach? Maybe we should do more than simply pay lip service to the next generation, or the future of the hamvention may just include a trip to the Smithsonian.

  3. Dennis KB9OFM says:

    wa4wnk hit it on the head.

    I have been to Hara 2 times long ago.
    It is a dump.
    I would never take my family there.
    It should have been taken down 30 years ago.
    I will never go back there.
    There are venders that do not want to go there anymore.
    Past time for change.
    Get with the times.

    73-de kb9ofm-dennis

  4. va3paw says:

    It was my first time attending Hamvention in Dayton. It was fun, I really enjoyed being there. Two days were not enough to see everything. I also enjoyed spending Sunday at the US National Airforce Museum located 10 minutes away from Dayton. The Arts Museum was also a great place to enjoy for an hour or two. Downtown area has some fairly priced decent restaurants. I agree Dayton has seen better times but I believe this is applicable to most of the US towns these days. Personally, I will probably come again next year. Next year, will add VOA Museum and presidential hangar to my list.

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