Dayton Hamvention 2014 was interesting, though less profound that past years.
First products and exhibits:
- An awful lot had nothing new to show. Nada, boring nothing that I couldn’t read about on the internet.
- Same no reason to be here applied to pricing – almost every vendor has figured out they can increase sales by offering “Dayton Hamvention Pricing” on-line. Many include free shipping and it is sometimes the case that the sales tax due is less if dropped shipped.
- Still plenty of “vaporware” with prototype products being shown year after year with no real product to sell. One questions how many years hams will show up at Dayton with cash in their pocket to buy antenna auto-tuners that never go into production (Alpha is not the only vaporware tuner, where is that long promised Kessler AT-AUTO-II updated unit? [EDIT: as Don Kessler pointed out he was showing a new remote tuner at Dayton 2014 – more on this to follow]) or amps/transceivers/antennas that are “almost there” but have no ship date?
- Dayton remains a place where the one-man-band is on equal footing with the robust corporations and mega-corps. Unfortunately many interesting product offerings are “one heart attack” away from being unsupported/out-of-business. Not a terrible thing if one is buying a couple hundred dollar unique product but a real concern if one is considering investing thousands in piece of gear that might be orphaned by the smallest of issues. Ditto on products by companies where the sole proprietor is elderly and hasn’t worked outa succession plan. If you ask there are some surprises where small firms have this wired, bit most don’t.
Let’s talk about Dayton itself:
- Less Road Construction at Dayton – sees that some of the “forever projects” have finally finished, though downtown is still a mess.
- The Hara still sucks. Same holes in the pavement, leaks in the roof, and grubby nature. Being cool this year odor was down.
- More restaurants have been built nearby, which opens up opportunities.
- Staff seemed happier. People are people, and the ones I dealt with this year were plainly nice folk.
- The affiliated hotels suck. Tales of no hot water at one hotel, heat stuck on full blast at part of ours, messed up reservations and catering (one banquet I attended the hotel staff for the second year running couldn’t manage to open up the cash bar having forgotten criticals like ice, cups, mixers…. or change..) from hell.
- The interstate getting there was hammered, under construction, overcrowded and not much fun driving.
Then may particular interests/purchases:
- AlphaSpid RAK purchased from Alpha Radios in Alberta will be replacing my Ham-IV. This looks to be the easiest high-resolution replacement. Once the unit arrives I will schedule a lower lowering to do the rotator swap. The Green Heron controller I have should work for the AlphaSpid with a few internal jumper changes inside the controller.
- Green Heron will be doing the station integration for my ArraySolutions RatPAK-N remote antenna switch. This is a left over Dayton 2013 project that I arranged to pick up a few bits for as I finish it up.
- W2IHY station selector system needs finishing off, again a Dayton 2013 purchased project I didn’t make time to complete. Got my questions answered at the W2IHY booth, so my excuses have to end…
- qslradio supplied the rig runners and power pole connectors for Rocky Ridge Farm Station.
- Spoke with Mr Hilberling, and while it would be a budget buster right now I do hope to have one of his radios with amp in the next year or so.
- Spoke with Jay at ArraySolutions and I sure am interested in the VNA gear. Maybe this winter, I will get one to learn about it.
- Spoke with several of the team at Alpha Amplifiers and they have no idea when I could buy a combination package of an Alpha-4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner and Alpha-9500 Automatic Amplifier. I decided not to buy an amplifier even with the nice show special being offered.
Banquets I attended:
- Friday Night – the Collins Collectors Association 80th Anniversary Banquet. Met some really great people but this is the one where the registration was very slow, the bar wasn’t ready nor stocked, and the presentation & drawing prizes were extremely introspective to the hardcore Collins collector. I actually cut out to take a phone call (son Tom KC9JGD relocated that day to near Rapid City SD) and decided to not return. This group faces some challenges as its membership ages which I don’t have a solution to suggest.
- Saturday Night – The Flex Radio Systems annual Dayton Hamvention Update Banquet was a pleasant contrast with quick & slick registration, dual stocked cash bars ready to serve and a lot of information about where FRS is going. Only think I think the FRS folk missed is dishing out to each dinner attendee some special swag – pens/hats/pads/pins. Fairly lame door prize drawing for a couple hats, two oversized re-discover radio button/signs, a flex control and a Flex-1500. Seemed like nine or ten items was not enough for nearly 190 attendees. Not enough to build a buzz in the crowd. Otherwise a nice banquet.
- Riding with me to Dayton were my friend George W9EVT from Washington Island and my cousin Bill KC9YBL. Made for a truck full of Extra Class Hams.
- Living in the area we met with cousin Kuby N6JSX (Dale to me) and his wife Becky N9KUV.
- We meet with more family in Ohio, Chicago and Wisconsin. Good time had by all!
Again I wonder about Hamvention 2015 – should I attend or is next year the one to try Hamcation or Hamcon instead?
It wasn’t for the ease of seeing family and the control of driving, the answer could be pretty easy to go to one of the other shows.
I’ll have to do some pondering and decide….