How much more relevant could a first post to this blog be than to talk about Dayton 2008. For those that don't know, the Dayton Hamvention is the worlds largest convention for Amateur Radio Operators and Radio Communications enthusiasts. Each year, I've always "wanted" to attend, but never had the time or patience to sit down and plan a trip. Well, this year was different as I had some time, enough frequent flier miles, and patience to make the trip. At the last second, I decided to make plans to attend.
I arrived on Thursday into Dayton at around Noon, and promptly drove out to Columbus to visit Universal Radio's facility in Reynoldsburg OH. Since I was 12 years old, I used to gawk at their catalog and dream about owning a room full of HF radio equipment - so it was only natural for me to head out there and check out their showroom. Later that evening, I had dinner with Rich Barnett, President of ScannerMaster.com who RadioReference has a well established relationship with, and Gommert Buysen, the author of the popular Butel line of scanner programming software. After a fantastic steak, a Martini, and two bottles of wine, it was time us hit the sack and rest for the next day festivities.
I arrived at about 9:00 AM at the Hara arena and was struck by two things - the sheer amount of people that were participating, and how much of a dump the Hara arena is. It was evident that this event was easily 10 times larger than I had anticipated, and the Hara arena probably bulges at the seams when no one is there, so the place looked like it could come down in a cloud of dust at any minute. I immediately bought a ticket and decided to peruse the outdoor flea market first so I could keep and eye on the building's structural integrity before entering. I didn't buy anything, but it was fun seeing all equipment for sale.
At the flea market, I was shocked at how many people were selling stuff, and how much junk was out in the lot. After two long grueling hours I headed in-doors to the ScannerMaster booth to spend some time there to meet some of our regular members and administrators. I wasn't disappointed. Almost immediately we were non-stop bombarded with RadioReference subscribers and admins. Since I have never had the opportunity to meet any of the subscribers (and our admins) - it was a refreshing and very rewarding experience. Mark Meece, Tom Swisher, Chris Dees, Mike O, and numerous others all spent some time at the booth. I also got to speak with many folks that had never heard of RadioReference.com, and those who were purchasing a scanner for the first time. Cool!
After working the booth for a few hours, I headed out to see everything indoors. My first stop was by the GRE booth, where I met the legendary Don Starr of Win96/Win500 Software fame. Don had to be the best dressed buy at Dayton, and was demoing his fantastic software suite for the GRE Scanners. I've spent a lot of time working with Don online, so this was a special treat. Next, I went and twiddled the knobs on an Icom R-9500, saw the line-up at the AOR booth (the new SR-2000A is really cool), and stopped by the RF Space booth to review their SDR (Software Defined Radio) line-up.
All in All, Saturday was the same as Friday, with lots of shaking hands, fighting crowds, and looking at radios. I stopped by the Batlabs table to meet Alex, PJ, and the other Motorola equipment crew. In the end, I dropped some cash for an RF Space SDR-14 panoramic receiver and prepared for my Saturday afternoon flight home.
In summary, the show was far more than I expected, and I most definitely plan on attending next year!