Anyone that has been involved with amateur radio for any period of time has most likely heard tales of the Dayton Hamvention. If you have never been, it is an event unlike anything you can imagine. Rows and rows of tables in the outdoor area where you can find most anything you desire related to this wonderful hobby. Inside is crammed full of vendors with all the latest gear. Going to Dayton is something every ham should do at least once in their ham radio experience. Dayton also has extra-curricular activities such as Contest University, banquets for DX’ers, DStar, AMSAT, Contesting and on. But, what if you cannot get to Dayton? What if cramming yourself along with 25,000 others into the inside buildings to hide from the frequent Spring rains in Dayton is not your cup of tea? Whatever the reason you cannot get to Dayton, that does not mean you cannot experience some part of it.
Through the wonders of technology, there are several ways to experience Dayton from afar. While it is certainly NOT the same as being there, you can experience some of the wonder that is the Dayton Hamvention from the comforts of your own home. Read on to see how to see some of these online opportunities.
First up is Contest University. Contest University brings together some of the World’s best contesters to conduct training for everyone interested in radiosport. Thanks to Icom, you can watch most of Contest University online. Click here for a full schedule of events starting Thursday at 8:00 AM. You can use the same link for the DStar events on Friday.
As far as the actual hamfest itself, you can watch live streaming of the hamfest via W5KUB.COM. Tom W5KUB has been streaming the hamfest live for several years. He has a table inside the commercial area and does interviews and walk-a-rounds to allow folks watching at home to get a feel for the happenings in Dayton. A nice benefit is the chat room where folks can share the experience with others and win nice door prizes all donated by vendors. There is absolutely no charge for this service but you are certainly encouraged to make a donation (especially if you win a prize). You can find all the information about the live streaming event at w5kub.com.
There you have it. While it is not the same as being there, you can still experience some of what the Dayton Hamvention has to offer from the comforts of your own home.
On Saturday, February 25, several members of SPARC made the trip to Sarasota for the 3rd annual WCF section TECHCON. This is a free technical conference put on by the WCF ARRL section technical staff. The location changes to various places around the section to allow the most section members to attend.
This year, there were two conference tracks. One focused on more introductory topics such as station design, antenna building, APRS and programable microcontrollers such as the PICAXE and the Arduino. Another track discussed more technical topics including the Amateur Radio Emergency Digital Network (AREDN) and HamWAN—both which allow creating high-speed data networks similar to WiFi but over greater distances and utilizing amateur radio frequencies (HamWAN was presented by SPARC member Bryan Fields W9CR.
Tom NY4I and Charlie W4OQM – Photo by Ed NZ1Q
One of the benefits of these meetings besides the technical content is the chance to discuss the technical aspects with other hams. During breaks, it is common to hear hams discussing how they are applying the things learned in unique ways that you would not learn just reading the material from a magazine article in QST. For example, the two networking topics might seem competitive but during the Q&A sessions, we discussed how to couple the mesh capabilities of AREDN for emergency data networks wth the long distance networking backbone capabilities of HamWAN can complement each other to serve the widest area.
If you missed it, make plans to attend next year’s TECHCON (around the same time in February tentatively planned for somewhere in Polk county.
The trip over to the big Hamfest in Orlando was easy and the weather was great. I chatted with Ed NZ1Q, Bob N2ESP and Bob KC4SXO mobile to mobile on the way. I think we all got there just before the gates opened. All the usual factory vendors were there and you could see all the new stuff. It was a little odd not to see AES there but HRO and the other main radio suppliers were there. HRO had Gordon West signing autographs and promoting educational supplies.
Moving outside to the tailgate area was nice with the great weather and it covered a huge area. The middle building had more venders in it and the drum where you dropped your ticket stub with hopes of winning the prize. I’m sure they will be calling me Monday. There was a nice display of old telegraph keys and telegraph station set up like what might be in the old train depots. I took some pictures and sent them to my friend Frank K7GSE in Seattle. He is a key fanatic with a great collection of keys.
We met for the annual photo (above) of the SPARC group in the food court area and after that we pretty much broke up to head our different ways. It was a great Hamfest and hope to see you next year. If you missed it put it down for next year.
It was a crisp morning, but it was a welcome respite from a summer in Florida that decided to overstay its welcome. Start time was 8:00 AM but as usual, that means folks were lines up at 6:30 to get the best spots. The SPARCFest at Freedom Lake Park in Pinellas Park is in its 3rd year now. This is an extension of the hamfest the club used to do at Lake Maggiore in St. Petersburg. The SPARCFest had the usual assortment of people selling treasures from their attic to yours. VE Testing was there as well as the now famous “SPARC Dogs” on the grill. As it was a cold morning, the club sold all its coffee so clearly the club treasurer has an “in with the weather”.
Attached you will find some pictures taken by various folks. If you missed it, we hope you will plan now to attend next year. It’s generally the first or second weekend in November (more to come on an exact date for next year).
Kyle N4NSS selling his stuff
Bob, N2ESP tending the cash drawer at the refreshments stand
Tom NY4I turning a hamburger not pressing on it, honest.
A view of the VE Exam seating
Bob, KC4SXO with the SPARCFest Talk-In
Waiting for the rain that NEVER happened
Ron KP2N selling some of his “stuff.”
A view of the park
Hams having fun…
More park shots
Hams in action…
Ron KP2N on the other side of the table
l-to-r: An unknown Gator fan, Clayton KJ4RUS, Bob N2ESP, Johnnie, W4TSP, Ed NZ1Q