Friday kicks off the flea market and vendors inside Hara Arena. The less than stellar weather from the past few says was gone and it was mostly sunny and going to be in the 70′s all day. I got to arena around 8:30 and was in awe of what I saw and not really sure of how to describe it. The entire outside of the arena in the parking lot is vendor after vendor sending everything, though mostly ham related items. I don’t know the total number of vendors in the flea market, but it’s probably thousands. I hooked up with Rob, KC2RDW, a long time hamvention attendee, and we walked the aisles for a bit. We ran into some folks Rob knew from previous trips to Dayton and we ran into local members of our club.
I had won a free hamvention t-shirt as a giveway for the hamvention facebook page, so I got a call I could go over and pick up the shirt from their booth. We walked around a bit more and found one of the sellers with radio dust covers and I picked up one for the TS-2000. I decided to head into the arena where the commercial vendors are. I probably saw 1/3 of the outdoor flea market vendors before I went into the arena. Inside the arena were recognizable names like MFJ, HRO, DX Engineering, Kenwood, etc. I walked through and checked out all the vendors on the main arena floor before heading off to one of the adjacent areas. There are multiple large sections similar to most any trade show, but the sheer volume of ham related vendors was amazing. To give an idea of the size, I spent the entire time from say 10:30-4:30 inside without browsing the flea market.
Some of the vendors are smaller “mom and pop” types and others are large commercial companies. There are vendors selling parts, organizations of all types from QRP to CW to regional clubs, large manufacturers like Elekraft, Flex Radio, Yaesu, etc. The ARRL has a huge area with products, DXCC checking, kit building, etc. It goes on and on in a series of large rooms you walk through with hundreds of vendors.
During the day I ran into ZS2DL, Donovan, who was picking up some equipment I had to deliver to ZS2EZ. I was also spotted by K8SM, Scott, who I spoke with on the phone a couple of times assisting him with getting N1MM and MMTTY working on his home setup. There were a lot of ops from outside the US. Germany, Japan, Qatar, RSGB and others had areas set up and I snapped some pics I’ll upload after I get back. I also was checking out some radio direction finding equipment and it turns out the fellow giving me the demo lives in the town next to me.
Something I found very interesting when walking around the ARRL booth was they just released a product where their TravelPlus repeater data is able to be downloaded onto a Garmin GPS. As you are driving around, you can go to a screen and see all repeaters for that area or repeaters for a specific band. I’m going to bring my GPS in tomorrow and have the new product installed on my Garmin.
I also hooked up with W2CYK, Bob, and his son W2EEO. Bob is the creator of Rfinder, an Android application that contains worldwide repeater data. It uses the GPS in your Android smartphone to determine your current location and download repeater information to your phone. I had spoken with Bob a few times since I downloaded his app from the Android Market. He’s done a great job enhancing the program and providing a way for users to submit info on repeaters to help maintain the data. Check out the app in the market – it’s a solid product!
Doug Wheelock, the astronaut that I made my ISS contact with, was at the ARRL and AmSat booths today. There was a long line so I didn’t wait, but I did snap some pics I’ll post after I get home. Maybe I can get on line tomorrow to shake his hand.
I was checking out the hex beams as a few club members have them and really like the performance they receive. I was also checking out a new dual band Diamond Antenna for the car. We’ll see what Sunday brings.