What can I say? It was pretty awesome.
We left town around 0600 Thursday morning. Meeting up with the two other vehicles in our party along Highway 70. Stopping at the usual McDonald’s in Troy, IL. The same one we hit when heading up to Peoria Superfest in September.
After a brief gullet load, onward to Dayton we trudged. Heading straight for Hara to check out our three Flea Market spots. The same spots that have been with the group for many many years.
Upon arrival, the weather was usually nice for what I’ve heard of Dayton in previous years. Blue skies, sunny, warm, comfortable. As we were starting our first rounds of the market prior to Friday’s opening, we witnessed a nice kite show. Well, more like a tent flying in the window tangled in som
e lines above the flea market. After laughing about this and witnessing folks with FCC licenses working with what appeared to be live wires running between Hara and the Flea Market shack, all was good an untangled.
Coming back Saturday morning, we noticed
a very large quantity of zip ties now bundling the lines together. Someone forgot to dress them properly though. Zip tie tails are now perched on top of the lines. All puns aside, this would never “fly” where I work.
As we were walking the few outdoor vendors that were in various stages of setting up, out of the blue we here a familiar voice. It wa
s Gordon! Shaking hands and saying hello to everyone. Not in his familiar tuxedo and horn. There, in all the casualness of an ordinary ham roaming the market for the next good find.
We called it a good day around 5pm and left for Miamisburg to check into the hotel. After getting settled there, it was o
ff to dinner.
Then up and early Friday morning to begin the frenzy. I bee-lined for the Elecraft booth. Having already known of rumors of the KX2 being announces a couple days prior to Dayton, I never expected it to be as busy as it was 15min after the show opened. The line for purchases was already 20 deep. Fellow hams were scavenging up the KX2s like no other new release I’ve seen. It was crazy!
After talking with Lisa at Elecraft, she kindly offered to set aside the KX3 and PX3 I was after and to come back later to pick them up after the mad rush died down. I came back about 90 min later to find the line had indeed calmed down. And I walked away with the last KX3 and PX3 kits they brought.
It was now off to check out the rest of the show. My god, this arena has seen better days. It almost speaks to you the years of hams coming through here. The faint smell of Ben-Gay to loosen the joints of those years gone by that hustled there way around for the best deals possible. Tiles coming up off the floor, water stained ceiling tiles, insulation falling down, old carpet from years gone by.
I often wondered how this hallowed ground was still even habitable. And after many hams told me that most people never make it inside to the vendor spots, I now know why. It wasn’t that there w
asn’t enough interesting displays. It simply didn’t feel safe to them. It was a warning.
Brushing off the dilapidated surroundings as nothing more than the equivalent of the old ham gear that was for sale in the outdoor market, we kept going. Checking in with our friends in the ARRL booths. Stopping by to say “Hello from the Cliff Cave VE team” to Maria. Janelle and I met her during the convention in Connecticut two years prior.
During our first run around inside, we also stopped by the AMSAT display. I was able to lay may hands on a duplicate of the packet radio/APRS equipment that is onboard the ISS. The very same equipment that the car has talked to driving down the road and exchanging location data with the ISS. Very cool!
Also at the AMSAT booth was the engineering model of Fox. Excellent piece of engineering right there.
As the hectic of the day wore down, it was back to the hotel to drop the haul off, unwind a bit, and figure out dinner. Phew…the first day of Dayton is in the books.
Saturday offered us clouds, rain, damp, and the usual “Dayton Weather” that we had come to expect. All of us not feeling very motivated to setup our flea market spots without hope of the weather breaking, we decided to camp out under the lowered tent from the night before. Taking refuge here until the doors once again opened at 0900. Seeking shelter from the cold wind and dampness of the outside, we once again roamed the rooms of Hara until the weather lifted a little.
Around lunch time we made our way back outside to fire up burgers for lunch. After lunch, Janelle and I made our way into the forums. HF Portable Antennas and one with the FCC. Forgetting that most forums are nothing more than organized product commercials, we did walk away from the HF one with reassurance that what I have I home-brewed for backpacking/camping antennas is right on the mark.
The last forum ended around 1630 and we made out way back outside to check on the other guys and start to work our way back to the car. We then headed towards West Chester to meet up with an old classmate of mine who I haven’t seen in 27 years and also visit the Voice of America Museum.
After an amazing dinner with friends, it was onto the VOA.
The VOA Museum is worthy of its own post. More on the museum with pics coming soon…