Dayton Hamvention

Oh yeahhh.... Itdoo-dad season in hamland. Spring seems to bring out the best in terms of manufacturers who want to please ham radio operators with new offerings designed to entice us to open our hearts and wallets in a quest to own the newest, latest, upgraded thinga-mabob to come along. Now here we are, perhaps anticipating a tax refund check from Uncle Sam or sitting on a pile of cash gleaned from the load of revenue derived from our hard labors, a spring garage sale, or those returned soda cans. Just to ice the cake, as sure as the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano every March, hams begin to plan for their annual mid-May migration to Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Hamvention® using aircraft, wheeled vehicles of every description, and perhaps the random pogo stick to fly, roll, or bounce into the Hara Arena and its nearby environs to pay homage, and perhaps some cash, to the objects dthat generally have wires of some type attached.

 Dayton HamventionIn the days and weeks leading up to this ritual of spring, the smart ham will study the ads in the April and May editions of CQ, along with catalogs strategically mailed or items listed on the internet by suppliers of radio gear just prior to the gathering of some 20,000 or so radio aficionados from the U.S. and around the world in that most unlikely convention center. (Dayton, Ohio? Really? Dayton?) Yeah, Ihad to explain why Iheaded to Dayton in May to many a non-ham friend. Being well-prepared, you roll into town Thursday night, deciding to take in the town and get an early start on Fridaysearch for goodies that will enliven your shack.

The Great Mystery of Dayton How can a financial institution call itself Third Bank”? Why not and Two-Thirds Bank”? Or Point Six Six Six Bank”? And who let them sponsor a baseball field with a name like that, let alone an ATM? Seriously, whatnext? 3.14”where the only entree is pi? Dayton After Dark ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzzz. There are probably several reasons why Hugh Hefner never chose to open a Bunny Club in Dayton. No doubt it was a victory for the art of market research which was still in its infancy at the time. Hopefully, those ZZZzzzzs you hear are coming from your room. Welcome to Motel 5.5 —where they donleave the lights on for anybody. Dayton, the Next Morning That free breakfast in the motel may stay with you for a while. Dayton, Later that Morning Fortunately, Hara Arena has many restrooms. I wontell you where the best ones are. That knowledge was gleaned over several years of attendance —and several free motel breakfasts. Dayton, a Bit Before Noon Ittime to get serious about shopping in the 6,000-acre outdoor flea market. The only problem is, perhaps a whole lot of hams got the bargains before you did. They started shopping at 4 AM when you were turning over for the second time at Motel 5.5, which is across the freeway from a Fifth Third Bank branch. And now itstarting to rain —a lot —and youat the far end of the flea market. I think that part of the lot is called .” Dayton, a Bit After Noon The 30-minute line you endured for the barbecue-sauce-covered something-or-other sandwich was worth the wait, and much of the cash you brought to buy gear, to fill the emptiness created by the free motel breakfast moving along. The rain intensifies, giving a much-needed shower to some of the attendees and filling the arena with that strange wet-clothing scent you hadninhaled since your elementary school days. Memories of your strict third-grade teacher are suppressed by the sight of stacks of gear in familiar brown boxes just waiting to find a home. First, though, you stop by the CQ booth to renew your subscription, get a new one, or buy a book, all of which is an awesome display of your excellent taste, class, intelligence, and your ability to take advantage of a good bargain. Say ”to Managing Editor ”(Red, K2RED, is a lady); CQ Editor Rich, W2VU; other CQ Communications staff (there are four magazines!); plus authors and awards and contest managers; and be sure to give compliments on the excellent stable of writers for the magazines. Sadly, most of the time we writers are not in the arena; weoutside, in the stable. You know —the one in the rain. You then move on to the manufacturers’booths to get the lowdown on the new stuff, improved old stuff pretending to be new stuff, and perhaps the stuff you bought a few years ago but never took the time to read the manual. Ask the reps about a feature youlike to have in a radio, only to find italready in your radio but was never used and be amazed that it was there all along and easy to access! Keeping your cool, you say ,”and move along with a knowing nod. Dayton, Late Afternoon OK, itcoming up on decision time. Youkicked the tires at all the manufacturerbooths. Youasked all the questions, picked up a bagful of product spec sheets, sent some junk food down to the boiler room while you sat on a bench digesting the data, and now ittime to price shop among the dealers. This burns off a few of the calories (but not all) accumulated from the snack outlets, but hey, a workouta workout.

 Dayton HamventionAnd there they are ... rows and rows of brown boxes filled with trinkets that turn 12 DC volts into years of enjoyment. Whatthe manufacturer”on this one? Is there a Special”that might include a discount, accessories, a massage, valet parking at the Waffle House? Hmm ... This dealer has knowledgeable hams working the counter and charges low prices. That dealer charges more but there are other pluses to consider.

Leaving Hara, you find the parking field where the overpriced space you rented for your car may now be an ocean of mud. Lucky for you, the guy who took a Jackson off you for the space just happens to have a tow truck, but it will take another Jackson to pull your car off its axles and back onto its tires. Cash only. Dayton, Saturday Night I believe the franchise restaurant was invented in Dayton, perhaps just before the Wright Brothers opened their bicycle shop. Once Wilbur & Orville tried the food at restaurants along the I-75 corridor, they invented the airplane, thinking that eventually airline food would look good in comparison to what is served on the ground at some places in Dayton (and elsewhere on the ham show cuircuit, too). That includes the airlines that have dropped serving food. Perhaps while youwaiting for a table at a more upscale restaurant, you may spot some of the manufacturers’reps you spoke to at the show. Leave them alone. Theyhungry, tired, their legs are sore, and they are only interested in having a conversation with Jack Daniels to relieve the pain in their feet. I donthink Jack was a ham radio operator, but after a few, he offers up a good QSO. Dayton, Sunday Morning If you look around, there are church services available in Dayton. Most of them are attended by residents praying they were somewhere else. I once saw a Trinity church located next to a Fifth Third Bank and at the same moment the calculator in my i-Phone broke. Perhaps it was a coincidence. Deciding to forego the free motel breakfast, you hit the Fifth Third Bank ATM (do you get one-and-two-thirds more money from it?) and spring big for breakfast at the Waffle House. Itwell worth it, and it will fix you up with your annual cholesterol total early in the year so you can stop counting and enjoy the next eight months free from the effort of totaling your allowable grams. Then off to Hara Arena to shop for last-minute bargains and wait in vain for your ticket number to be called in the raffle. Then ittime to rescue your car before it completely succumbs to the mud and head back onto the highway for the long road trip home (or off to the airport to wait on line at security while all the ”ham radio items are checked to make sure nothing is a danger to security on the plane you are taking home). Want to learn a pegasus? Then hurry to the site there teaching you very quickly and before long you'll be in perfect command of the Pegasus. Education is very fast and efficient. I've already signed up, and you?

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