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GEMOTO  participants  visit  Dayton  HamVention  2006

By Rick Zach, K1RJZ

2006 represented my first visit to Dayton in 18 years.  Some things have changed and others have not but for all practical purposes, my Hamvention reorientation was that of a newbie.   I would visit Dayton again in a heartbeat but I do feel obligated to mention a few gotchas.

Logistics:  Hotels
Perhaps by luck, a number of us stayed in the town of Huber Heights and we would repeat that choice in future years.  Huber Heights is only a few miles north of the Dayton Hamvention but more importantly, the restaurants are not overcrowded and many economical hotels are available. 

One word of caution:  If you are a non-smoker, avoid the Super-8 Hotel in Huber Heights!  I asked for a non-smoking room but the room and furniture were saturated with the stench of old smoke.  Turning on the air conditioner only spewed a different odor now enhanced by smoked dust.  The white smoke detector in the ceiling was stained with an amber discoloration.  I asked for another  room but was told that what I had was all that was available and that the smokers were, in fact, on the far side of the hallway.   I always kept the window open but it only helped a little.  Other participants stayed at the nearby Huber Heights Days Inn and were quite happy with their accommodations.  If you avoid the Super-8 Hotel in Huber Heights on your next trip to the Hamvention, I will consider my time spent writing this narration as a humanitarian effort!


The Waffle House chain is on our "approved"  list.
This location was many miles away from the Hara Arena
but they were quite aware of the event.  
Good food, good service.

Not only were gas prices a surprise,
a medium hot fudge sundae at the Dairy Queen was only $2.09.



Logistics:  Parking

The Hamvention has grown so large that the organizers provide no on-site parking for ordinary participants.  Zero.  If you are a flea market vendor, inside exhibitor, volunteer or have special ADA needs, you can be accommodated with on-site parking.  According to the printed brochure that you receive once inside, you can park for free at the Salem Mall and then take a for-fee shuttle bus.  Unfortunately, the printed brochure does not tell you where the Salem Mall is located.  The web site might have helped but I was too far into the parking process for the web to be of any use.  For $8.00 many ordinary participants park in a huge field across the street from the HARA Arena but it seems that the organizers (DARA) and the lot operators do not communicate.  When you take the long walk to enter the HARA area's only entrance by foot, absolutely no signs provide you with the most basic orientation such as where to purchase tickets and where to enter the buildings!  To be sure, I checked by looking back on my last departure and there was no orientation signage!  Many golf carts can be seen scampering about but one would assume that this service is for VIP's or attendees with special ADA needs.  I walked into the first door I could find but was told to walk to the main entrance which was on the far, far side of the grounds. I now walked past the area where my car was parked but I was now on the other side of two fences that straddled the same road.

I later found out that the golf cart service was available to all incoming participants but that was never communicated by fixed signs or welcome hosts.  Ironic for a communications-oriented group!  This may be an indication that due to the age and heritage of this magnificent event, DARA may just expect that these issues are common knowledge and they may be common knowledge for most longtime participants.  But for a newbie or returnee after an 18 year hiatus, the first impressions could use some work.


The HARA Arena is aging and needs attention.  The ceiling tiles in the smaller rooms are yellowing and the place could use a good freshening up. That being said, IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER!

Hams come from all over the world to take part in the HamVention experience.  They would still come if the event was a just a large campfire and a flea market with 2000 participants!

Overall experience:
Now that we've dealt with the gotchas, the overall HamVention experience was excellent!  It is unbelievable that a bunch of volunteers can run such a phenomenally successful and complex event.  DARA wisely chose to have the outside food concessions be operated by local non-profit organizations.  As opposed to the zombie stare found at most airport food concessions, the people who staffed the food areas were excited to be there and were quite friendly.  I have no idea how many vendors exhibited in the flea market area but it was easily several hundred (later update: 2300 spaces, only a few unsold).  Contrary to some well known laws of physics and earth science, this HamVention was rain-free!

The 2006 ARRL Expo was also on-site.  My only regret was that I was so enthralled with the flea market and exhibitor booths that I was not able to dedicate enough time to the ARRL activities.  That was my fault, not DARA's.   Too much to see, too much to do.

One of the best improvements
since my last visit 18 years ago !

Nowhere on the planet could one find such a depth and breadth of ham radio exhibitors and flea market vendors... and shall we say "eclectic" participants.  Only weeks earlier one could notice a person at the NAB Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas dressed-up in a pin-striped suit signing multi-million dollar purchase orders.  Three weeks later the same engineering executive can be seen dressed up in sneakers, dusty jeans and a baseball cap with his call sign on the front.  But now he spends his time haggling over the price of a well-used microphone found in the bottom of a cardboard box! 

Many, but not all attendees seem to be employed in some sort of technology field.  At the extreme, some attendees might be members of the Ted Kazinski Amateur Radio Club.  Others in our group  noticed what may be an increase of husband and wife ham attendees and many of the couples seem to be retired folks.  In the parking lot, we noticed far more vehicles with huge HF antennas.  This might be more of a mid-west trend (no parking garages) or perhaps the Hamvention attracts the hard-core ham and having a huge vehicular antenna is not such a big deal.

Hams tend to be a pretty trustworthy bunch.  On Friday I did misplace a bag with a precious Kenwood purchase.  On Saturday morning, the bag was ready to pick up at lost and found.  It was returned by a ham who was a Professor/PhD from the University of Miami.  Now if I can find his misplaced business card !


The characters in our group...


Bottom row L to R
Ron Hahn, EI2JP, Ireland (software designer, Irish Health Services)
Roger Coulson, WA1NVC (Engineer, spook satellite communications stuff.... real hush, hush... we can't tell you)
Dale MacKay, W1DHM (TV Engineer and Firefighter/EMT/Chief Engineer,  Sandwich, NH Fire Dept)

Top Row L to R
Rick Zach, K1RJZ  (TV station chief engineer and this writer)
John Suker, W1TX (Semi-retired owner, Central Vermont Paging Co.)
Paul Alberghini, W1IMD  (RF engineer and tower site manager)

Not pictured above:

Will Bartlett, N1PXA (Communications technician on government... [shhh...we can't tell you] )
Mike Keller, W1BNC  (TV Engineering Executive)
Kurt Jackson, W1OBQ  (Experienced RF guru and fearless tower climber)



                These pictures to tell the rest of the story...



W1BNC bought one!











Motorola Labs truck bottom (L) and top (R)





Yup, works just fine... $200.


GE Deltas and RANGRs
were plentiful on all bands !


Even Delta parts by the bin (below)







Cisco is the Collins of IT gear...
found in just another pile.


Factory rep for TX/RX
six-meter duplexers






Repeaters anyone?


A DEAFENING gas turbine engine
as used in helicopters.  Works too!
As demonstrated with pictures, 
he used it to snow-melt his driveway.
$800 firm.



All kinds of equipment.

All kinds of people.









He was happy because his wife will be happy.
He sold the Model-15 Teletype machine. 


 They undoubtedly love their husbands !

 By Rick Zach, K1RJZ


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