My Dad (aka AC8NT) and I got on the road at about 6 AM to head down to Xenia for Hamvention 2023. The last time we went was 2018. Some things happened in the intervening years that got in the way of our trips, but this year was the year that we’d make up for it.
Reviewing the program told me something that I should have already known and that is that Four Days In May (FDIM) is probably more the kind of thing that I want to see than the actual Hamvention presentations that are more focused on contesting and DX work. I’ve sort of settled into being a QRP guy for many, many reasons that are outside of the scope of an entry about Hamvention. That’s, ya know, the rest of this blog.
We looked at the vendor listing and knew that we wanted to drop by some of the booths to see some really specific stuff. There were two big things that stood out.
The first was that Kenwood did introduce the TH-D75A which is the successor to my favorite HT of all time the TH-D74A. It seems like it’s the same radio in a diffent body with USB-C. It still has all of the cool APRS features and the D-Star features and is a tri-band transceiver. I’m sure that between now and the final release we’ll get more details about the improvements and any additional features that come into play. What was important for me was that, in the event of the demise of my TH-D74, there’s a radio that I could purchase to fill the gap. I’m not a big HT guy, so I’m going to keep my TH-D74 running for as long as I can. Options are good.
The real star of the show was the QMX QRP rig put out by QRP Labs. It’s a rig in the form factor of all of the sibling rigs in the Q-X series. It has the abililty to do CW and digital modes like FT8, JS8Call, Olivia, and others. It’s almost like squeezing together a QDX and a QCX. This first version is for the low bands which isn’t fantastic for me, but I get it, and I’m hoping we see a high band version later. It’s got 40 and 20 which is great as I have a resonant antenna that will fit the bill. The QMX has the hardware for SSB and Hans Summers, the founder/owner/operator of QRP Labs, tells me that it’s just a firmware update away. Honestly? That’s super cool! I’d be able to do ARDOP and stuff with it which only makes it more attractive. So yes, Hans sold two kits right there. As soon as the manual is posted, I will start winding toroids and heating up the soldering iron. Let’s face it, it’s a rig that does two modes that interest me the most and it’s the size of a deck of cards. A pocket rig that does what I want it to do. How cool is that? The answer is: VERY COOL! I’m looking forward to getting that one into the field.
We ran into plenty of members from PCARS while we were there including Parky KB8UUZ who edits the award winning Radiogram newsletter for PCARS. He had some really awesome DX Engineering swag for us. It’s a neat little kit to make a portable dipole antenna. All you have to do is solder on a BNC connector and the wires. The rulers in the photo act as insulators. All sides of the PCBs have neat little factoids and formulae that are relevant to antenna construction. That’s going to be a fun one to put together to run with my brand new QMX, right?
As we were walking from building to building, I did get to say “I love your work!” to the QRPer himself, Thomas K4SWL. That was neat! I would have loved to have talked a bit, but he seemed to be moving with a purpose and we were on our way to the next thing as well. Maybe next time!
I never did find the Hamradio Workbench booth! We passed through the building three times and I couldn’t put my eyes on it. Maybe we were looking in the wrong place? Next time!
Some things that my dad and I did talk about while we were eating some fairgound grade lunch included how different it felt this year compared with 2018. It felt more compact. The booths didn’t sprawl like they did. And maybe it was because there weren’t any huge releases from major manufacturers (aside from Kenwood) but something was missing. It probably didn’t help that the presentations didn’t really line up with our personal interests. Maybe this was just the year that it didn’t sync up with us. And that’s fine. I still had a great day walking around and nerding out about radio with my dad. That’s an excellent Saturday if you ask me.
Oh…and we did hit Young’s Dairy for milkshakes. Why on earth you’d be in the Dayton area and NOT do that is beyond me. It’s a must.