I attended HamCom again this year. In previous years I would take Friday off and slip into the flea market and exhibits first thing in the morning. Then it would be off to other tasks for the rest of the day. Last year I attended a few of the presentations. This year I was there for all day Friday, including the DX Dinner, and almost all day on Saturday.

The best part of HamCom this year was spending time with Ray Novak, N9JA, of Icom America. He’s the visionary that signed up to sponsor the K2BSA Jamboree operation and provide loan stations for local Scout councils. You can see the write-up on the loan program here. While at HamCom I was able to take photos of the full loan station. It’s a really neat kit of gear, all packed into a Pelican case — a full HF station ready to go. Perhaps the best part of spending time with Ray was learning more about the amateur radio business and the various personalities and issues that are in play around any particular topic. I sure have things to learn.

I looked over the flea market and the exhibitors. Observed a new feature of the Elecraft P3 VGA adapter, running decoded CW text at the bottom of the monitor. Spent considerable time discussing the right Icom hand-held to purchase (ID-31A for me — simplicity of operating a very complex system was the winner for me). While I had a list of items that I wanted, I didn’t find any of them and so will wait to find them online.

I did attend a number of presentations: DXing, Introduction to Amateur Radio Satellites, Satellite Update, Software Defined Radio, D-Star Uncovered, APRS, and Installing Antennas and Towers. On the latter, every thing I read or learn about towers tells me to stay far away from them. Lots of money and lots of things that can and will go wrong with them. I like my push up masts and temporary antennas, at least for the moment. I really learned a great deal about D-Star. It sounds fantastic and since we’re putting in a D-Star repeater at the Summit in West Virginia for the Jamboree, I’d better get up to speed. I’ve also just downloaded an iPhone app for APRS. It’s interesting as well.

I also attended the first ARRL West Gulf Division Radio Scouting meeting. Frank Krizan, KR1ZAN, called the meeting. He’s pioneering a Radio Scouting structure within the division. So far every Section Manager has appointed an Assistant Section Manager for Radio Scouting. Dr. David Woolweaver, K5RAV, the division director stopped by and asked us to urge every section to host a Radio Merit Badge workshop at every convention in the division. He also thought that participation in Jamboree on the Air would be very beneficial. It was a very encouraging start to what could be a model for other ARRL divisions.

Speaking of Radio Merit Badge workshops, the Circle 10 Scout council hosted one at HamCom. Actually, they had to host two and will be hosting another one in a week or two. They had so many Scouts sign up that they had to split the class in two in order to fit them into the room! Over 300 Scouts in attendance. That is just fantastic!

All in all, a great HamCom. If you haven’t attended, I encourage you to get there next year.

What do you think?