The traffic issues that plagued the first morning of the 2017 Hamvention were nowhere to be seen on Saturday morning, as attendees reported an easy ride to the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center for the second day of Hamvention.
The ARRL EXPO booth was busy as soon as the show opened at 9 AM, with convention-goers streaming in from the overcast, cool outdoors to peruse the various offerings.
Heavy rain started at around 11:15, accompanied by thunder and lightning. By this time the forums were well underway, and the exhibits were packed. Heavy rain lasted for about 20 minutes and then let up, leaving Hamvention attendees with a cool, overcast afternoon. The fact that there was no traffic on the way in in the morning was no indication of how busy the show was that day!
Visitors to the ARRL Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative (CARI) booth had two chances to win free ARRL gear: either fill out an entry form for one of the thrice-daily prize drawings, or find all the items and information on the list of Hamvention scavenger hunt items compiled by the booth’s coordinators.
CARI also ran a forum on Saturday afternoon that engendered a lively dialogue among the attendees about matters specific to college Amateur Radio clubs. “We had a lot of material,” said moderator Andy Milluzzi, KK4LWR. “We could have gone on for 2 hours.”
The HamSCI (Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation) forum, moderated by Ward Silver, N0AX, was well attended. Presenters Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF; Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA; Phil Erickson W1PJE; Magda Moses, KM4EGE, and Bill Liles, NQ6Z, discussed topics ranging from propagation to the upcoming total solar eclipse in August. “There is science in this,” Phil Ericson told the crowd. “You are all capable of doing this.”
Carole Perry’s, WB2MGP, Youth Forum, ran for the entire morning, drawing a large crowd to hear from some of ham radio’s best young minds, including Lucas Schroeder, W6LDS; Carissa Ferguson, KJ4EZA; Dakota Krzysik, KE8CVK; Grace Lea, KM4TXT; Jerome Dinakar, KE0BBQ; Evan Markowitz, KD2IZW; Ruth Willet, KM4LAO; Chris Brault, KD8YVJ, and Dhruv Rebba, KC9ZJX.
The ARRL Member Forum drew over 100 attendees. The moderator, ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, introduced ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, who encouraged attendees to “pick up a brick” and build something — mentor a young person, become a VE, contribute to Amateur Radio in a meaningful way. Williams then introduced ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, the keynote speaker, who offered members more information about the revamping of ARRL’s Official Observer program. “We seized on this opportunity that [FCC Special Counsel] Laura Smith gave us,” Roderick said, referring to the closing of several FCC field offices. “We will be retraining OOs. Instead of focusing on individual offenses by hams, we will focus on patterns of offenses, things that happen routinely. Once we observe and establish a pattern of offenses, then the FCC may become involved.”
Roderick also talked about the possibility of changes being made to entry-level licensing, saying that a new or revised entry-level license would not be “dumbed down,” rather it would be redirected toward privileges that the “new generation” of hams actually want.
Roderick elaborated on the subject of bringing younger people into Amateur Radio, challenging forum attendees to approach potential new hams with activities and information that they will find interesting.
Roderick then introduced ARRL International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, who discussed preparations for WRC-19. Bellows introduced ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, who provided a general update on the Amateur Radio Parity Act, HR 555, saying the legislation is “still alive” in Congress.
The afternoon brought the ARRL Public Service Communications Panel Discussion. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, moderated a panel that included Ross Merlin, WA2WDT, Department of Homeland Security SHAred RESources (SHARES); Rob Macedo, KD1CY, VOIP WX Net and VOIP Hurricane Net; David Stapchuk, US Air Force MARS; Paul English, WD8DBY, US Army MARS; Bill Feist, WB8BZH, SATERN.
As was the case on Friday, the exhibit halls seemed to empty out by mid-afternoon, with a great deal of activity remaining, but not at the level of the morning crowds. Onward to Sunday! – Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY, QST Managing Editor