Hamvention Day 2: May 20, 2017

RAC Ontario South Director, Phil McBride, VA3QR/VA3KPJ, is now at the Dayton Hamvention. You can find out more about Phil’s visit to Dayton below and via his blog and Twitter account.

Good afternoon from a very warm and muggy Xenia, Ohio. It didn’t start out that way though. It was about 15C and overcast when I fell out of the trailer at 8:50 ET this morning – quite comfortable in contrast to the heat of the day before. The crew from RAC found an alternate route into Xenia and managed to beat the traffic 🙂

Allan Boyd, VE3AJB – RAC Director for Ontario North/East, Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA, RAC President, and I happened to all be in the same place at once, and we took the opportunity to talk at length about our upcoming meeting with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation regarding our soon expiring exemption from Ontario’s Distracted Driving legislation, as well as next steps. More on this topic will be posted in either The Canadian Amateur or The RAC Report as details become available.

After that, it was all about looking for any toys I wanted to bring home. I’ve been looking for a very specific piece of equipment (Harris RF-5710a Modem), but was unable to find one – Flex 5000a they are pretty rare. I did buy a front-end RX protection circuit for my Flex-5000a, and an Array Solutions 6-Pack 2-Radio/6-Antenna switcher with controller. I’ll have to keep browsing eBay for that elusive NATO modem.

As per usual, there was some pretty oddball stuff for sale, as well as some very, VERY vintage equipment. It was fun to walk around and see everything, but due to the amount of rain they’ve gotten here over the past couple of weeks – added to by the really powerful thunderstorm that rolled through here around late morning – the infield was extremely muddy.

One of the great parts of this weekend was the reunion of most of the CY9C DXpedition crew for our presentation at the DX Forum. A few of us got together in my trailer with my laptop and WW2DX’s Internet connection and made some last-minute changes to the PowerPoint file Randy was going to use to present at 3:30 pm ET. It was a well attended forum and Randy, N0TG, Pat, N2IEN, Lee, WW2DX, Ray, W2RE and Will, AA4NC, all gave presentations on what we called the “Biggest Little DXpedition in North America”. It was well received and brought back some great memories.


I had some pretty muddy shoes when I was all done the day, but the heat came back and I’m in my shorts and flip flops again. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day. I think I’m only going to spend a couple of hours at the event tomorrow, then it’ll be time to pack up and start the long drive back home. However, from everything I’ve seen and experienced here this weekend, I think DARA can call the event a success, and I hope that this little town called Xenia remains the long-term home of Hamvention.

73, Phil McBride, VA3QR/VA3KPJ

Hamvention Day 1: May 19, 2017

Hamvention 2017 Crowd – Friday, May 19
Hamvention 2017 Crowd – Friday, May 19

My wife surprised me this past Christmas with tickets to Hamvention 2017, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was planning on going to Dayton in 2016, but circumstances made that impossible. I was very happy to be going, and not just to Hamvention, but the very first Hamvention not at the Hara Arena.

Glenn, VE3XRA (on right), talking with Pierre, VE3KTB (left) and Rich, VE3KI.

For those of you who might not know, the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) had hosted Hamvention at Hara for more than 50 years, but the facility was closed and demolished in 2016. Hamvention was its largest event, but the property owners were unable to invest the money needed to perform some very crucial maintenance on the building.

In 2016, DARA announced that Hamvention 2017 would be held at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio, southwest of Dayton. This was met with the usual, and very polar reactions from the Amateur Radio community – all easily summarized by saying some people thought that it was the end of the convention as they knew it, and some people thought it was years in the coming. Cassandra had booked us at the Dayton KOA, and we planned to take the family with the 25-foot trailer to Ohio for the Victoria Day weekend.

Fast forward to the early spring, the Fairgrounds announced that they would be allowing onsite RV/trailer camping. After looking at the map of Xenia, I wasn’t looking forward to lining up each day for parking so I jumped at the chance to stay onsite.

Cassandra took the kids to a nearby state park to spend the day on the beach and in the lake, and I took off to see what was what. As you can see from the top picture, the place was packed and busy all day – and today is only Friday. I can only expect tomorrow will be even busier.

I found the RAC booth first thing in the morning. It was originally located in Building 6, but was moved to Building 2 fairly early on in the day. Building 2 also houses the ARRL booth. RAC President Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA and his son Adam, the RAC Office Manager, were manning the booth, along with a few other members of the RAC Executive.

Handouts at the RAC table
Brochures and handouts at the RAC table.

I walked around the in-building exhibits and found it much easier to move around – there are several buildings, which gave the planners the room to leave the walkways wide. The outdoor exhibits lined the race track and also took up the entire centre of the track. There’s been a lot of rain here and the ground is saturated, but the walkways weren’t that muddy due to the very thick grass they’re growing in the middle.

It’s been great running into people I haven’t seen in a while – from the folk I went to St. Paul Island with, to local GTA hams who live not far from me.

As I sit here, drinking a beer and writing to my readers, I can’t wait for tomorrow at Hamvention 2017.

73, Phil McBride, VA3QR/VA3KPJ