Sunday, May 18, 2014

Back from Dayton 2014

I have just returned from Dayton and realized I spent under 200 dollars and that was mostly on food, transportation and yes, a few adult cold beverages.

In short, I had a blast!!!!!

I was picked up at the airport by a friend from work, Mark, WA6MVT, and he was kind enough to give me a ride to my hotel even though it was in the opposite direction he needed to be. We had a good dinner and I decide to check out the FDIM activities. This is about the time I realized I arrived a day late for the first day of FDIM. No matter, I checked out the vendors and got to chat with Steve, wG0AT, Guy, N7UN, Martha W0ERI, Gary, WoMNA, Michael, KI8R and TJ, W0EA. After the vendor night Guy, TJ and myself decided to have a few drinks and close the hotel bar. Those that know me will also know that I am very much a non-drinker so two beers had me rather drunk but the company was fantastic. Hanging out with TJ and Guy was one of the high points of this trip!

The next day was the exciting day, my first day at the Dayton Hamfest. We waited for the bus, and waited and waited and waited some more. Finally the bus showed up and off we went. I had some great conversations on the bus with whomever I was sitting next to. I met some great hams and throughly enjoyed talking with them.

Going through the doors to the Hara Arena for the first time was a bit over whelming and way too crowded, so much so that after an hour I had enough and took up a seat behind the very busy Buddipole Booth. I could not see the people in the booth but saw how deep the line was to talk with the crew and purchase their products. It was good to see as I am a big fan and user of a modified Buddistick Vertical for close in work when I have no room on a summit.

I really did not think I would make it all day or until the first bus back to the hotel at 1530 but I pressed on after a break and a snack. I had no idea how big it was until I got the nerve to venture out and about. I did not have a map so I was relying on landmarks and did pretty well. By the end of the first day I could get to where I was going and knew where the booths were that I wanted to visit again.

The second day I ran into Guy again and also Larry, W6UB, who has chased me and Lynn on many summits. Another high point for my first Dayton trip.

Did I buy anything??? Yes and no. My main purchase was to be a new paddle for the shack and maybe one for portable use. I had my eye on one and was disappointed when I saw it. Fortunately right around the corner was Tom from N3ZN keys and I was hooked. Of course Tom did not have the paddle I wanted in stock but I got to play with the demo and several others which led me to desire at least two of his paddles. I sent him an email upon my return and I am waiting for an email back to complete the order. I will review the paddles on my blog when they arrive.

The next purchase was a Trail Friendly EF from PAR LNR Precision. Actually I spent a lot of time at this booth. I also saw the FX-4 in person for the first time and was impressed. After talking to Larry I am sure that Lynn will like this radio. There is one in her future and I look forward to trying it on CW.

The next item was a power supply from Gamma Research which I just order after seeing it in action at FDIM club night. I will also review it when it arrives. Thanks to Mark, NK8Q for turning me onto this.

By far the most interesting booth was not really ham radio related. It was the Radixon display. They build signals analysis software and hardware. In fact this was my business for my over two decades in uniform, only we did not have any equipment this advanced. I talked to these guys for about 45 minutes and while I think they were just humoring me by pretending to be interested in an Old Mans war stories on various SIGINT platforms, never the less it was fun to talk to people that understood signals analysis, at least the external parameters. What fun!!!!!

My friend Mark talked me into going to see Gordo talk about what it takes to be a Ham Instructor and I did not have much interest at first but Gordo put on a great show taking complex theories and finding fun ways to demonstrate them. He is very much a showman and enthusiastic instructor. Yes, their was some pickle burning as well.

Sorry, no pictures this time. I think the next time I will take Lynn but am seriously thinking about Ozarkcon next year instead.

I will have a lot to blog about once some of the products start arriving. Plus I have a friends MTR V2 to build and plan to document that as best I can.

A special thanks to Nick, WA5BDU, for chatting with me on the bus and at the airport early in the AM while waiting for our flights.

I am glad I got to see what Dayton was about at least once but the highlife for me was the people I talked to. Even though you will not see a more concentrated collection of geeks and nerds outside of the halls of NSA, it was really the kindred spirit and being able to talk to like minded individuals that made it special for me.



  1. Frank,

    Nice write-up and it makes me want to get back to Dayton. I went several years in a row in the 90's but haven't been back. It is truly a ham radio saturation experience. You make me want to go back. I also picked up one those power supplies, pretty cool.

    Mike AD5A

    1. Thanks Mike, it was a lot of fun and it was good to meet some other SOTA people. Truly like minded individuals.