First Trip to Hamvention

June 01, 2024

I've held an amateur radio license since 2012, but this year marked the first time making the trip up to Dayton, Ohio for Hamvention. Hamvention is the largest ham radio convention in the US. Overall it was a fun experience connecting with people that I've interacted with online for years and years. It was great to meet-up face-to-face.

While there's plenty of fancy new gear to pine over in the exhibition buildings and lots of old gear to root through in the flea market, the people are really what makes the trip worth while. For this trip I challenged myself to conduct a handful of audio interviews for one of the ham radio news websites I run. Getting to connect with people behind some of the largest (AMSAT) and technical (M17) entities in the hobby was fun.

I wish I had experienced Hamvention in the old days at Hara Arena even though everyone I brought it up to said I wasn't missing much, especially in the later years. Still, it would have been fun to experience Hara both in its heyday and toward the end.

I had a chance to participate in a small Mastodon meet-up. Since ditching Twitter in 2022, Mastodon has been my social media home base. There's a really good group of hams that make up that community.

The homogenous nature of the ham community does worry me and it was on full display in Xenia. The US is becoming more and more diverse, but we're not seeing that in the ham radio community. Convention attendee numbers are up, while license numbers are down. What does the community look like both in numbers and diversity once the current generation moves on?

Regardless, I'm anxious to see what next year brings. Is it worth driving up to Dayton year after year? I would say yes! Though I think one day is plenty for me. Half way through day two and my battery was more than depleted. Beyond Hamvention I'll continue to do my part through the newsletter and news site to promote the up and coming technology, communities, and future stars of the hobby. I can't wait to see what's next.

Huge thanks to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association for their encouragement to attend as well as their invitation to the Hamvention Awards Banquet. It was great to meet some of the outstanding people helping to move the hobby forward.