Alternative sites for Dayton Hamvention proposed

Dayton Hamvention logo_2

Yesterday, the Dayton Daily News published an article about the problems with the aging Hara Arena, home of the Dayton Hamvention.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Fears about Hamvention leaving town because of Hara Arena’s economic struggles has local officials scrambling to propose alternative sites for the economy-boosting event.

Hamvention, the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts, injects millions of dollars into the local economy each year. It has been held at Hara Arena since 1964.

But the arena has struggled financially, and an Iowa-based consultant firm recently asked the city of Trotwood to buy the venue, which Trotwood officials declined. The venue’s owner says the arena is on better financial footing today.

A series of emails obtained by this newspaper through public records requests show that local officials fear Hamvention could pack up and move out of the region and highlight their efforts to keep the event in the Dayton region.

The Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau has worked with city of Dayton staff on a Plan B to ensure the event remains in the county if it needs to relocate, said Jacquelyn Powell, the bureau’s president and CEO.

“I want to make it clear that this isn’t the first year that we’ve looked at Plan B options,” she said. “There have been other years where we’ve had this conversation as well.”

The Hamvention board has no intentions of leaving Hara Arena, said Jim Tiderman, general chairman of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, which hosts the event.

“We do not have any plans whatsoever for relocating,” Tiderman said.

News of Hamvention’s possible relocation was mentioned in an email dated July 7 that was obtained by this newspaper through a public records request.

Continue reading at the Dayton Daily News…

As mentioned in the article, the thought of the Hamvention leaving Hara is not a new one. The Arena leaves much to be desired cosmetically and even functionally–it’s an old venue that requires a sizable investment to maintain.

The Hamvention flea market is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the event.

The Hamvention flea market is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the event.

Earlier this year, I spoke to a long-time DARA representative who assured me that the club wants to keep the Hamvention at Hara for obvious reasons. He did admit, though, that they’ve always had a “Plan B” and even “Plan C” in place, should Hara close its doors.

He mentioned that, each year, Hamvention attendees urge DARA to find a new home, but the fact is Hara is not only the largest venue around, but is the only one on one level. With an aging ham radio population, accessibility becomes a higher priority every year. Those using scooters and wheelchairs would find it frustrating to compete for elevators and lifts in multi-level venues.

As the Dayton Daily News notes, one alternative would be to have two separate locations: one for the inside exhibits and one for the flea market. Selfishly, since I host an inside exhibit table, I appreciate the fact that the flea market is within easy walking distance. It would upset me if they decided to split the venues.

The fact is, no decision has been made yet. DARA still plans to host the 2016 Hamvention at Hara Arena and has no intention of moving anytime soon. That is, as long as the owners of Hara Arena can keep it afloat.

Hamvention find: the Arvin 68R58 AM transistor radio

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1390Though I believe I spent more money at the Dayton Hamvention this year than I have in all previous years, I only purchased one radio: the Arvin 68R58 eight-transistor.

I spent a whopping $5 on the little Arvin in the Hamvention fleamarket. To be fair, the seller sold it for this modest price because he was not sure if the radio worked.  But when I unsnapped the back leather cover, peered inside, and found the works remarkably clean, I suspected it might…

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1373No original power supply was included, of course, and I was a bit concerned when I saw the somewhat out-of-character plastic battery holder. In the filtered fleamarket light, it appeared to me as if it required proprietary batteries–the holder appeared too small for C cells, and too large for AAs. There was no indication of the type of batteries it used, but since the spec read “6 volts,” I knew I could build a small AA battery holder, if need be.

So, at $5 (I bargained him down from $10, based on the doubt of operation) it was a very low risk purchase, and a potentially a fun project.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1385

Back at home, I popped open the battery holder and looked inside…And I discovered the Arvin did, indeed, take four C cells. Simple enough! After inserting fresh batteries, I turned on the radio via the tone pot, and instantly heard beautiful, rich audio.

What I thought would be a project radio ended up being fully functional, and was, moreover, in tip-top shape.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1369

So far, I’ve been very impressed with the Arvin’s AM sensitivity and audio fidelity. No doubt the generous ferrite rod antenna is doing the trick on medium wave.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1377

Last night, as I tuned through the AM broadcast band, I was able to null out unwanted stations and noise amazingly well. There is something to be said of transistor radios from this era–let’s just say, they’re classics.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1376The Arvin has a simple set of controls: tone, tuning, and volume. There are no filter selections, of course, but I can tell that it’s quite wide; perhaps 8 or 9 kHz.

ARVIN-68r58All in all, I’m very pleased with my little purchase, and the Arvin has become my new (vintage) bedside radio. Last night, I tuned in one of my favorite AM stations on 740 kHz, CFZM in Toronto, Canada.  CFZM (a.k.a. “Zoomer Radio”) is not only a benchmark, but a right of passage for any worthy AM radio in my household. The Arvin passed the Zoomer test with colors flying.

And, yes, it even soothed me to sleep.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1387

Now I only need to properly clean and restore the Arvin’s leather chassis and perhaps build a 6V-regulated linear power supply.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1378

Next time you pass by a 1960s/70s vintage transistor, grab it! I’m certainly happy I did.

Now, I think I’ll turn on the Arvin, sip some dark beans, and put up my feet in the Pawley’s Island hammock…Cheers! Summer’s on the way.

ARVIN-68r58-DSC_1381Want one of your own? A quick search reveals that the Arvin 68R58 can be found on eBay for quite reasonable prices. Click here to search eBay for an Arvin.

Photos from the 2015 Dayton Hamvention Flea Market

Weather yesterday morning at the Dayton Hamvention was quite pleasant even if a little fickle at times. I had time in the morning and an hour or so in the afternoon to browse the various treasures scattered about in the flea market section. Here are a few photos of the vintage gear I found:

IMG_20150515_155324563_HDR-001 IMG_20150515_155434678_HDR-001 IMG_20150515_155443439 IMG_20150515_155448977_HDR IMG_20150515_155454414_HDR Zenith-Transoceanics RCA RCA-Dial HRO Zenith-Transoceanic-7000 BC-348 Sky-Buddy IMG_20150515_080420028 IMG_20150515_080728372 IMG_20150515_083338068_HDR IMG_20150515_084608184_HDR IMG_20150515_084618551_HDR IMG_20150515_084624951_HDR IMG_20150515_084715842_HDR IMG_20150515_090737380 IMG_20150515_091306152 IMG_20150515_092249982_HDR IMG_20150515_092652251_HDR IMG_20150515_093056292_HDR IMG_20150515_093106560_HDR IMG_20150515_093155333_HDR IMG_20150515_093210149_HDR IMG_20150515_093216094 IMG_20150515_094335853 IMG_20150515_094524046_HDR IMG_20150515_133437879

My friend and ETOW volunteer, Christine, purchased the mint condition Zenith Transoceanic above. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better example of a vintage Transoceanic 7000 for sale. A good bit of well-deserved beginner’s luck for Christine!

If you’re also at the Dayton Hamvention, please stop by table 411 in the Ball Arena and introduce yourself!

Going to the Dayton Hamvention? Stop by our booth!

Hamvention

For the fifth year in a row at the Dayton Hamvention, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW).

I always enjoy meeting SWLing Post readers who stop by our booth to introduce themselves.

For the third year in a row, we will be at booth BA411 in the Ball Arena. Here’s a map for reference.

HumanaLight-FrontIf you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio and other technologies, check out our website and this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Note that this year we will also give away our HumanaLight kits to those who donate $20 or more to ETOW (while supplies last). 

Look forward to meeting you in Dayton!

-Thomas (K4SWL)

Dashtoons: Über cool radio art by Jeff K1NSS

Source: Dashtoons.com

Source: Dashtoons.com

Among the fascinating people I met at the Dayton Hamvention this year was Jeff Murray, K1NSS. Though Jeff and I have communicated online, our paths had not yet crossed in real life; I was very pleased to finally meet him in person.

SWLing Post readers will have seen Jeff’s name before: he’s a talented graphic artist (and ham, obviously) whose work focuses on the radio community and culture.

You may recall that Jeff created the art for the the Shortwaveology website, not to mention the cool retro graphic you’ll find on the Shortwave Shindig tee.

Jeff also creates custom QSL cards, comic books, clip art, and promotional material for companies like Alpha Amplifiers…all of it inspired.

s38-flatIf Jeff designed a spaceship based on the aesthetics of the Hallicrafters S-38, it would not surprise me in the least.

Do yourself a favor and check out Jeff’s website at Dashtoon.com. It is chock-full of radio wackiness and whimsy. You can lose yourself there and thoroughly enjoy the scenery.

Jeff Murray (K1NSS) on right, and me (K4SWL) on left among the Dayton Hamvention tail-gaters.

Jeff Murray (K1NSS), left, and me (K4SWL), right among the Dayton Hamvention tailgaters.

Tallying up Dayton Hamvention purchases

It have a hard time passing up old military gear, like this Signal Corps BC-221-AL signal generator.

I’m a sucker for old military gear, like this Signal Corps BC-221-AL signal generator. (Click to enlarge)

This year, at the Dayton Hamvention, I spent more money than I ever have.  Though the Hamvention is a showcase of innovations and flea market treasures, I typically walk away with a few connectors, cables, or maybe some handy accessories; I rarely spend more than $100, though I budget much more.

But this year was an exception. I walked away with a few bigger-ticket items I found irresistible.  Buyer’s remorse? Nope.

SWLing Post reader, Mike, asked what I purchased, so instead of sending him an email with the tally, I thought I’d post my finds here.

Hallicrafters SX-24

Hamvention-1

Hamvention-01

I already have an SX-24, but this one is cosmetically superb for its age. The seller told me that she “lights up” but has no audio; it was an estate sale item.  I assume that it has a bad capacitor or two (or more). No doubt, it can be fixed and will fill my radio room with warm audio in due time. At least, that’s the theory!

I purchased this Hallicrafters SX-24 for $60.00

Signal Corps BC-221-AL Signal Generator

Hamvention-08Hamvention-06Hamvention-07Hamvention-03Hamvention-04

This is a working BC-221-AL signal generator that will more than pay for itself each time I align my BC-348-Q (or any of my boat anchors, for that matter). It, too, was in excellent shape and I couldn’t pass it up at $30.00 (great price as the seller was ready to part with it on the final day of the Hamvention). I love the fact that its reference book and log, with schematic, are fully in tact. Bonus: it has that great vintage military electronics smell.

Surmen DC Digital Voltmeter

Voltage Meter

I picked up this simple in-line volt meter at Universal Radio for $20.

The photo above is enlarged: the actual unit is very small (2.75 x 1.5 x 1 inches). Since my whole DC system is based on Anderson Powerpole connectors, this simple meter will help keep tabs on voltage. I think Universal sold out of these at the Hamvention, but since they build them in house, you can order online.

Side KX panels and cover

Hamvention-10Hamvention-11Hamvention-12I like traveling with my Elecraft KX3, but I worry about the faceplate being damaged in transit. In the past, I’ve used dense foam to protect the front of the radio, but it’s an imperfect solution.

This year, Gems Products was selling their Side KX panels at Elecraft‘s booth in the North Hall. The Side KX handles protrude a good 1/8″ beyond the height of the KX3’s knobs, thus protecting the rig even if turned upside down. I also purchased the clear Lexan cover which fits perfectly on the radio. Now when I travel, I can throw the KX3 in my backpack and not worry about the face being damaged.

At a Hamvention discounted price of $60 with tax, it was no minor purchase, but the investment to protect a $1,200 portable radio was well worth it. I must say, the fit is excellent and installation took perhaps 5 minutes.

Sony TFM-1600W portable radio

Hamvention-02

This Sony was a late Saturday flea market purchase. The vendor–who attends annually and is well known for his gorgeous display of antique tube radios–had this solid-state Sony sitting at the back corner of the booth. It quickly attracted my attention and that of my buddy (and radio enabler) Mike (K8RAT).

Originally priced at $65.00, the vendor was kind enough to let me talk him down (“beg” is more like it, right Mike?) to the $40.00 cash I had left in my pocket.

Once we got it back to our lodging we confirmed what we had suspected: this Sony has incredible audio fidelity and great sensitivity.  No big surprise here: in the 1970’s, Sony was a brand well-known for superb audio fidelity.

This Sony will need a little work–the pots and band switch need a thorough cleaning. Also, the tuning needle somehow came dis-lodged from the fly-wheel mechanism. All of these things can be fixed, though, and I’ll have a superb receiver that should last a few more decades. For a radio built in Japan in 1971, I’m very happy with its condition.

Palstar SP30B Speaker

PalstarSP30B

I’m a sucker for hand-crafted gear. While perusing the flea market, I looked for an affordable vintage speaker for my BC-348-Q, but I couldn’t find one. Inside, however, I spotted this beautiful speaker at Palstar’s booth in the East Hall. I’ve owned a Palstar R30C shortwave receiver before and know how much they care about audio fidelity and overall quality. The SP30B was originally designed for the R30 series receiver.

The wood speaker cabinet on the SP30B is built by a wood worker exclusively for Palstar; the finish is amazing.

The SP30B retails for $99.95 at Palstar.com. I was able to snag this one for only $75 as it was a display and Palstar’s last one with cherry finish.

Miscellaneous items

I purchased a few additional accessories and supplies:

  • Icom ID-51a BP-272Li extra capacity battery from Batteries America: $52.00
  • 75 feet of coaxial cable: $70
  • 8 blemished PowerFilm solar plates: $5

There may have been more items, but I’m calling this a total Hamvention expenditure of $412. 

Did you attend the Dayton Hamvention?  How much damage did it do to your wallet?

Dennis shares some photos from the 2013 Hamvention

haraDennis Walter, from the German radio manufacturer Bonito, just sent some photos he took at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention. Photos feature Bonito’s booth in Hara Arena, inside exhibits and the outdoor flea market area.

Click here to look through his album.