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GEMOTO  participants  visit  Dayton  HamVention  2007

By Rick Zach, K1RJZ

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         A Dayton update for 2007

The GEMOTO Dayton Hamvention review for 2006 still pretty much holds true but there were some new observations for 2007.  In no particular order:


  • Seemed well attended at 19,318.
  • Typical weather was sunny, warm & dry.  Sunday had some drizzle.
  • Gasoline in Dayton was 12-cents per gallon more expensive than in Boston. 
  • The military restoration "Green Radio" community was well represented
  • Likewise, the boat anchor/classic gear "BA" community displayed many well-restored radios from Collins, Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, Gonset, Drake, etc.
  • Hilberling, a German manufacturer has entered the ham market with an excellent all-modes, all bands, 600W radio that is available in a multitude of front panel colors... blue, purple, grey, etc.  Price:  rumored to be $16k
  • Elecraft displayed their much awaited K3 160-6M tranceiver kit.  Small booth, big crowd.  $1750 kit  $1989 assembled.  50% down, delivery in July.
  • The UPS Store had a terrific unadvertised offer... they'll provide you with a large bin to drop-of your flea market booty throughout the day.  No day-long lugging of that AM modulation transformer. Before you leave each day, give them your credit card and your item is on it's way home.  A great value add and both parties win!  The bundled price includes their packaging and they do a good job.
  • The HARA Arena still needs a facelift... or perhaps a scrub brush and some soap.
  • The Hamvention golf carts had signs on them this year.  One driver offered to give me a lift when he saw that I was heading towards the UPS store with a heavy 110W GE tabletop base station. 
  • Bob DiMattia, K1IW asked a DARA staffer where the prize drawing bucket was located.  The reply: "It's where it always is".  It was Bob's first time to Dayton.
  • In spite of one less than ideal reply, DARA did their usual great job!

The Flea Market  (with a slant towards GEMOTO gear)

  • Some Flea market vendors were very much open for business on Thursday but the Hamvention formally opened on Friday.  One commercial gear flea market vendor said that Thursday was his best day.  He described Friday business "as expected", and he described Saturday somewhat slow.  He did not stay for Sunday.  FYI: Much of the Thursday activity is from dealers buying for resale but it seems that anyone can just show up and participate.
  • WA1NVC again set up his 900 MHz flea market repeater for the GEMOTO group. The 440 MHz Hosstraders/Nearfest simplex frequency was usually quiet.  927.5875 MHz clearly carried the day.  One reason:  Very high-quality gear... cheap!
  • There was a much better selection GEMOTO-type commercial surplus gear this year.  Many others agreed.
  • Roger Coulson, WA1VNC thinks that more and more commercial users are going narrowband or digital and are quickly dumping analog gear (that's good for hams!)
  • Motorola Spectra, MaxTrac, GTX and similar 90's era gear were very plentiful as Motorola has "MD'd" them (Manufacuter Discontinued, no factory support).  Also good for hams. $100 and under was not unusual for this very high-quality gear!
  • 1980's era GE Deltas, RANGR's and Mastr-II's seemed less prevalent this year, perhaps due to age. We did see some M/AComm Orions for sale and they did attract some attention
  • High-end, high-power Kenwood commercial gear was in demand and most of the interest was for UHF and low-band gear.  Kenwood has solidly replaced GE as the #2 commercial radio vendor.   With the exception of M/A Comm, everything else is an "also-ran" as far as prestige and peer respect even considering that most of the modern commercial gear performs almost identically.

Noteworthy flea prices actually paid: (adjacent ham freqs shown)

  • GE MASTR-II 1/4 kW repeaters VHF & UHF in 6-ft racks $250-$500
  • GE Progress Line teal metal speaker:  $1    (the start of a BA restoration project)
  • Motorola MaxTrac 29 MHz mobile 60-watts  $65  (10-meters on 29.6 FM)
  • Motorola GTX 927 MHz portable brand new  $100
  • Motorola Spectra 927 MHz mobile 12-watts $50
  • Motorola Spectra 927 MHz mobile 30-watts $80
  • Kenwood TK690 50 MHz, rear-mount 110W  $250
  • Any 800 MHz analog radio $0.00    (Nextel owns almost all the 800 commercial freqs, now digital iDEN)


Inside exhibits & conferences

One theme was undeniable... digital is here and it is for real. 

SDR  (show floor)  
Software-defined radios for HF SSB/CW were not uncommon.  The new $2400 SDR radio from FlexRadio has receiver specs that outperform even the best of the new $10,000 contest radios.  Most vendors seem to be coming out with some kind of SDR radio or VIOP remote controlled radio.

Pure Digital Modes (show floor)
Vendors like ICOM (for VHF) and AOR (for HF) have their own digital formats that are incompatible.  Both claim to be open standards.  ICOM embraced the D-Star standard that was created & published by the Japan Amateur Radio League under a government-funded project. 


D-Star is available to all other manufacturers but none of the other majors have bitten yet.  Some grass-roots organizations similar to TAPR seem to be running with it.  AOR supports another standard that is a bit more open-source. 


This is Betamax vs. VHS again.  Until one universal standard is common to all hams, we may be severely hurting ourselves... perhaps permanently.  Read on.


Digital Emergency Communications  (conference session) 
In the Post 9-11 world, all emergency responders must be fully conversent with and comply with Federal NIMS and ICS operational procedures.  This universal knowledge encompasses everyone from firefighters to hams.  Don't know what these procedures are?  You should.  More importantly, the days of hams showing up with good-will and 2-meter portables may becoming obsolete to a point.  To be sure, scheduled Marathons and remote Sled Dog races will always need 2-meter voice communications as their primary public service modes.  However, in a major disaster EOC, you will not see people writing down messages on pads of paper.  If they have power, email and text will rule.  Served agencies will not want hams to be the communications intermediary.  They want hams to be the engineers who build, support and legally control the data connectivity to the outside world by using a Ham Radio email gateway system such as WinLink.  They will expect direct user-to-user connectivity in a busy EOC, not Radiograms.  Granted, initial primitive communications may be established by voice on 75-meters or 6/2-meters, but they will soon expect their core activities to be supported on a direct user-to-user basis as if operations were normal.  In this respect, hams may be lagging.  Part of that solution is in training.  The other part is in the hands of the manufacturers and other market forces.   Hams are now in the unusual position of needing to play catch-up!



On to the fun stuff...

(L-R) Bob DiMattia K1IW, Rick Zach K1RJZ, Scott Bullock N1CX, Will Bartlett N1PXA

My good camera went MIA until Sunday.  This is the only good quality picture
 taken of some of the New England delegation meeting on Thursday night. 
The total GEMOTO group came to ten people from ME, VT, MA, NH & one from Ireland.

The remaining pictures were taken
with my cell phone with the expected quality

The "Green" contingent was out in force with their restorations.




A militarized but otherwise very standard  PC


Hall Electronics drove a large truck with many 1/4kW GE repeaters... CHEAP!


In the 2006 Dayton web site,
I called these guys "Grounds-R-Us".


In 2007, I met the Grounds-R-Us owner Stu Webb only to find out that he saw this moniker  on the 2006 web site.  In 2007, they now own www.GroundsRus.com and www.hamfestlive.com .

$3 per armful (seriously)

Perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the flea market
vendors did not stay for Sunday.

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By Rick Zach, K1RJZ



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