Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year

I made a tough choice a few weeks ago.

Since last year, I’ve been planning to attend the 2022 Hamvention and the Four Days In May (FDIM) evenings.

Hamvention weekend is one of the big highlights of my year and–until the pandemic–I hadn’t missed a single on in more than a decade.

I was really looking forward to this year if for no other reason than to connect with friends I only see at Hamvention.

My buddy Eric (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC), and sometimes our good friend Mike (K8RAT) attend Hamvention together. We split accommodation, car pool, and fit in park activations before, during, and after. We also fit in an annual pilgrimage to the USAF museum. It’s incredibly fun.

As fun as Hamvention is–which is insanely fun–I realized that it was going to be a pricey 3-4 night excursion when I already have some pretty epic, much-anticipated travels planned this summer with my family.

Since I had literally no items on my Hamvention shopping list (Eric didn’t either) and since I wanted to funnel all of my travel monies into the amazingness that awaits us this summer, I had a hard time justifying the costs of the trip.

So I reached out to Eric who, turns out, was feeling much the same way.

We hatched an alternate plan that ended up winning us over.

Our Plan B

We realized that 1.) we still wanted to get together over Hamvention weekend, 2.) we wanted to play a LOT of radio, and 3.) both of us wanted to do it all on a shoestring budget. Eric’s son, Miles was on board too and is going to take a couple vacation days from the Air National Guard.

Truth is, this year, what we were really looking forward to on the Hamvention trip were the park activations and camaraderie. So much so that we only planned to actually attend Hamvention one of the three days and spend the rest of the time hitting area parks and playing radio.

A RATpedition instead!

Eric, Mike, Miles, and I are members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team (SEORATs). When we organize field events, we call them RATpeditions.

We hatched an idea for a RATpedition in West Virginia which is roughly half way between our QTHs in Ohio and North Carolina.

We’re still sorting out the details, but we plan to make it a three night trip (Thursday through Saturday nights) and potentially camp the whole time; possibly all in primitive dispersed camping sites.

We hope to fit in both park and summit activations. We should be on the air quite a bit.

Instead of hitting every possible site we can each day, we’re going to go for quality over quantity and be less rushed about the whole thing.

I’m really looking forward to checking out all of the cool sites!

I’ll plan to rotate out various radios and antennas during this trip; that always adds to the fun especially when I’m not space-constrained like I will be during my summer travels! (More on that in a future post.)

We could use your help…

Eric will post our firmed-up schedule on his QRZ.com page.

My guess is that we won’t have internet access at most of our activation sites, so we’ll be relying very heavily on the Reverse Beacon Network for spots:

If everything is working as it should, the RBN functionality on the POTA and SOTA pages should spot us automagically, but it does not work 100% of the time.

We typically rely on the king RAT, Mike (K8RAT), to watch our backs, but he’s a busy guy, so any extra spotting help (if you’re not having a blast at Hamvention) would be much appreciated!

Due to the lack of coverage to self-spot, I’m not sure how much SSB I’ll be doing; when I can, I will though.

I will have my Garmin In-Reach device so can hypothetically text out spotting frequencies and site designators.

I’ll miss Hamvention though…

Even though we’ve sorted out what should be a fun Plan B, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll certainly miss Hamvention this year. It’s always so much fun seeing friends, checking out new products, and hanging with fellow QRPers at Four Days In May.

Are you planning to attend Hamvention? If so, any goals while you’re there? What’s on your shipping list? Please comment! I’ll have to live vicariously through you.

And Hamvention 2023? I’ll definitely be there!

16 thoughts on “Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year”

  1. As a relatively new ham that’s never attended Hamvention I’ve had my wheels turning over the last month or so about going to Hamvention which is one state over. I’ve been considering buying a new radio which will be much more expensive than my current IC-7300. I see Hamvention easily as a being $600 long weekend if you’re not staying in a fleabag motor lodge. If someone told me that I could have $600 off of a new radio or goto Hamvention and pay $600 on top of the new radio I think the clear choice is to take the discount.

    I fully understand the experience that I will miss by not going to Hamvention. I enjoy the interaction with other hams and seeing new equipment which I think there will be very little of this year due to the component shortage. I’m counting on next year being my first year as a leave my shiny new radio behind for a weekend of fellowship with my ham friends and family.

    1. Hamvention is an amazing experience and one you should definitely plan to do. If you’re looking to upgrade your rig, it’s (of course) cheaper to do this from home and online unless someone happens to sell their used one in the flea market.

      Hamvention is truly energizing and costs money, but is worth it. But if money is tight and a new radio is on the horizon? I’d probably skip it as well.

  2. Thomas, you will miss out on the 70th anniversary of the hamfest.

    We stay at a $70 motel thats clean and ham friendly split 2 ways

    We will eat dollar store ramen noodles and protein bars washed down with tap water so we can buy some #26 silky wire and more crimp on connectors

    I am drinking instant coffee so no Starbux pumpkin latte means I can buy insulators and anderson poles and the crimper

    I hope your trip is with an EV because I sold my Icom 703 and Ft-818 to pay for gas which is crazy

    73s john ve3ips

    I am really going for the community and companionship and a chance as a Canadian to visit Target and Trader Joe’s

    1. Trust me: this wasn’t an easy decision. Our accommodation, like yours, is very reasonable and split three ways. We also eat on the cheap–save one or two good meals (the Carillon is worth the splurge)–!

      You’ll be happy to know that the money I’m not spending in Ohio will be spent in Canada this summer, though! 🙂 I think you’ll feel the extra injection of Witherpoon bux there! Ha ha!


      1. 10-4 Thomas

        Hey its all about the journey and camaraderie with friends

        Save up its like $6 cad a gallon for regular and 2.50 a liter for Diesel

        Ukraine is selling gas at $1 usd a liter. Go figure

        Road Trips are best doing QRP from rest stops

      2. I got to make some serious plans to get to Hamvention & Hamcation soon! Thomas you are welcome to send a text or mail for a spot anytime. I’ll also keep a eye out for you on RBN to make sure you get spotted. I’ll set a HamAlert and hopefully it will let me know if I happen to be away from the computer. Enjoy Plan B and hopefully I can get in the logs. 73 W4JL Dave

  3. Good morning,

    Well sure it would be fun to go there, and to be able to see it in person, all those radios and accessories, we can only see in magazines, for years, but, thanks to the technologies we can look at it on line now , via the few stores in the US, You tube Video, and, not to forget, into QRPer.com with excellent products review, tricks and technics.

    It has always been very pricey to make this trip due to money exchange rate, years after years.
    The last time we’ve been to a real flea market, goes back in 1976 & 1977 in Rochester N.Y

    In Canada, we only have small flea market 3 or 4 times a year in Quebec Province, 1 or 2 in the (4) Maritimes Provinces .
    And few others in other provinces.

    So, believe it or not, we have only one store in Canada, Ontario, it is Radio World, and it is only 800 KM (500 Mi). Hi!
    from my QTH.

    Quebec Province, no Radio Store!!! Radio parts ? good luck ,
    Many years ago we had a few, stores, but for some reasons it is all closed.
    Talking about POTA/SOTA , I’m studying the document very well done dated april 3, 2022. How to use the reverse beacon for automatic sota/pota spotting .

    Also, now warm weather is here, we wil try to find the cool spots, for accessibilities, parking, etc.
    The best for accessibility are generally the parks, but for SOTA it is another story,

    Sota here in Quebec Province, currently has 13 Regions and 1616 qualifying summits. The most popular are in the southern
    and southeastern region of Montreal, for access/parking, etc.
    In the mean time, we will see what we can find .

    Have a nice summer all, see you on the bands, mostly CW.

    73 Mike VE2TH

    1. Mike

      I did the treck to Rochester at the same time as you and enjoyed buying LED clock kits, Hamtronics 2m xmitter and my Icom IC-215.

      $279 USD I think it was and was a 5% down payment on a house but hey I needed a radio since I lived at home

      Hobby isnt over and now I am busy with POTA
      John VE3IPS

  4. Thomas, I am not going. I had all intention to go, at least for a day or more, though we determined it was not in the budget this year, as it would cost more than we have (I spent too much already on my hobby). I thought about leaving the XYL in Toledo with grandkids and head down with the TMARC bus, things got in the way. I haven’t been to Dayton for the fun since a couple of decades or more ago. Back then I went every year.

    It is in my plans for next year!!!
    I am hoping to get to Gatlinburg TN at the end of September, first week of October, for a special occasion so need to save for that trip, and hopefully activate the Smokey’s while there.

    Fr Richard

  5. Thomas et. al.,. You guys are making me feel guilty — I only live about 25 minutes from Hamvention’s location and go home each night! Apart from connectors, cable, and other odds and ends, I’ll be looking at Begalli’s Traveller CW key for my portable ops. I love his Magnetic Classic for my base station.

    Thomas, consider the Canaan Valley in WV… It has a number of great POTA opportunities and then scenery is fantastic.

    Here’s wishing everyone a great ham weekend.

    73,. Nat N4EL

    1. I have the Adventure with the KX2-specific mount. More of a “nice to have” as opposed to “need to have” but especially for an extended outing or Field Day/contest setting a quality key makes a difference.

        1. Good keys, good wine, what more do we need.
          Begali, Barolo, and Bioenno – now it’s a proper field activation.

  6. I’m very lucky to live 10 miles from the fairgrounds. I can take the bus down for 75 cents each way!
    I decided to forgo the FDIM seminars though. The idea of sitting shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other people for up to 8 hours didn’t sound like a good idea!
    I’m not planning any major purchases though. I have too many radios not being used now.

  7. As long as you’re having fun all is not lost and I look forward to the trip report on qrper.com!

    All the news from Dayton will seep out via twitter for those of us too far to get there.

    USAF museum is on my list of places to go too.

  8. Thomas,

    You have had fun in the past with Hamventions and you know how enjoyable they can be. But you are in a different era of your ham radio hobby and will have so much fun with the new plans and in the process will make friends with new contacts as you play radio at parks in new places. It’s the fun of doing something in radio, but doing it differently.

    I am suffering from acute Hamvention deficiency so will attend FDIM and the Dayton Hamvention along with three friends from my radio club.

    We will both have fun and maybe for a short while be able to forget how difficult the world situation is for many folks. Then after it is over get back to making the world we experience daily a little better for someone else.

    Bless you my radio friend. Your blog and videos are inspiring to me and my fellow radio hams. Thank you so much.

    Dave K8WPE since 1960

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