Hamvention 2017

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Who is going? 

Attending Thursday Banquet?

Attending Saturday Banquet?

What are your hoping to see FRS introduce?

----

For my part I've George W9EVT (he has a Flex-6300 and a Maestro in his mega-shack) riding shotgun and with our wives will be at both Banquets.  I'm looking forward to seeing the PowerGenius XL in the flesh, and hope to see a new version of SmartSDR.

I'll hedge my prediction on SmartSDR with the possibility of seeing another Public Beta or if the WAN ready version 2.0 is not ready, then perhaps a significant version 1.x upgrade.

Wondering if the SO2R/SOxR box we've seen as a prototype will return?

As much of FRS hardware has had a deposit taking process, wouldn't be surprised to see some new offering shown as a prototype that will have us all scrambling to get the lowest order number possible.  As for what, that would be pure speculation from where I am, so I'll just wait and see.

Hope to see a lot of you there!

73

Steve K9ZW

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Posted 2 years ago

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I am going. I'll be only at the Thursday event. The Saturday event I am not going to, because I am going to Contest dinner. 

PGXL and 2.0 were at Visalia so they'll be at Dayton. Not sure what else. 

Ria
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WW4LL

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I've got two tables at the Saturday night Contest Dinner and have 3 seats available if anyone is looking for tickets.

I'll be at the Thurs night FRS Dinner.

73'....Fred, WW4LL
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I'll be at the FRC table. Be sure to say hello. 
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Tim Ellam

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I will be at the Saturday night banquet. I will be at the IARU booth in the ARRL Expo during the hamvention. Drop by to say hello.

Tim VE6SH
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Lawrence Kellar KB5ZZB

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If 2.0 was at Visalia could release be imminent?
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@KB5ZZB - Only FRS can say for sure when. 

I think we certainly can expect to minimally see some of SmartSDR v2.0 like shown at Visalia.

If I were a betting man, I'm with you, but again it is up to FRS and they are not saying.

73

Steve K9ZW

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I can't speculate on when it would be released, but based on the fact that they showed a working demo, I'd say it's pretty far along. 
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k0eoo

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There'll be three of us driving from MN starting Thursday morning.  Wanted to attend the Thursday dinner but don't think we'll get there in time so we're signed up for the Saturday event.  Hope to shake hands with many of you....
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Ernest - W4EG

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I have friends  in Ohio and would love to attend Hamvention this year; for the first time. However, I have a larger convention closer  that i will rather attend.
The sad part of attending ham events, is seeing the attendee or photographs of the conventions.
Check this website and see the photos from Visalia's attendants: and you'll properly agree to my  conclusion.
"Bob, N6TV, has shared his album of pictures from the 2017 International DX Convention in Visalia, California." 
After seeing the large number of photographs that N6TV posted. It is rather sad to see the number of radio amateur that are passed their prime (including me) and the number of younger hams are but a few!
No wonder, that the number of manufacturers of amateur radio equipment is dwindling to a point that is not profitable to stay in business.
In another word; when you start knocking or complaining about a company or  the others: You may be cutting your future manufacturer of ham radio gear.
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Rory - N6OIL

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Yeah that was the first thing I noticed too, I'm 54 and I think I would be a youngster in that crowd. I wasn't able make Visalia this year I was pretty bummed out.  
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Roy Laufer

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Gee...

You guyz just noticed this <grin>?

A guy recently wrote in CQ Magazine that it seemed like the average age of a CW operator was...

Dead.

I understand the public relations articles regarding fetus' in utero passing their Tech licenses and the next wunderkindt teenage ham, but what this hobby REALLY needs are a bunch of people already ensconced in their family/professional lives in their 30's and 40's and still active in this hobby!

Historically teen hams often wander off the hobby after College in pursuit of their family and professional goals, occasionally rejoining us when they are empty nesters, divorced or nearing retirement.

That's all well and good, but by the time these few teenage hams go elsewhere and finally return some greedy b*#$@d in Washington, DC will have sold our almost unused RF spectrum to some future technology with a few billion of dollars sitting in that corporation's back room (do you think that Washington would turn down an offer from Apple for our spectrum for all the money Apple has in liquid accounts, so that our representative's contributors don't have to concern themselves with petty nuisances like taxes).

I don't see an easy solution.

I try my part to build the hobby base - I work at local VE Sessions, I write intro articles for the curious and try to make myself available for anyone with any interest (sometimes this is just a college kid doing a report on whether hams are like Internet people and troll or cosplay).

I think it's great finding kids interested in the hobby, but someone has to seriously think about getting 30-40 year olds interested or the only people that will be left will be first responder wannabe's with uniforms made of nothing but absurd pseudo-professional patches.

But then, that's just my two cents worth.

And now for something completely different...

I'm looking forward to some very exciting announcements at Xenia!

73,
Roy AC2GS
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Roy Laufer

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I suggest a small experiment:

Randomly show a ham pictures of people milling around during an average ham convention and milling around the San Diego ComicCon, and see how many shots of whiskey that the ham would need to imbibe before he could no longer tell which crowd was which.

I think that I would need at least 2/3 of a bottle before I was cognitively impaired enough.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Point on needing to encourage younger folk into the hobby is wise talk.

Hard to say if the show photos show anything new, as often it is either those in the trade side and those retired or with enough leisure time to get away that make shows.

An additional factor is trends into how people attend shows vs doing web searches or even "virtual (vicarious) attendance." 

Our hobby is NOT the only place you will see this, as many trade associations are seeing a difference in the likelihood of physically attending events in the various demographics.

Speaking of attendance, are all you making it to Xenia?

73

Steve K9ZW

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Michael Aust

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Each Year I find our Amateur Radio Club and others are finding it harder to find CW operators to operate for Field Day, just an observation, they must be dying off due to age !
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Michael Coslo

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Men tend not to get involved in Hobbies now until their children are off to college. I got my first license in 1999, when I was 45, and the son was within a couple years of graduating. That is not untypical. 

We're lucky, we have a couple hotshot mid 40's CW operators for Field Day. Interestingly, one is single, and one married, but no children. 

As for children, sad to say, most males today don't really want to be around kids. 
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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That's a fairly young bunch compared to our local DX club.  There are a few local hams that are getting bunches of new younger hams licensed,(several hundred in the past couple of years) but they're mostly techs and at that stage are more interested in cheap HTs and VHF/UHF mobile rigs than in DX. Some of them are preppers, interested in EMCOMs, and some just see ham radio as akin to CB for local use.   I wouldn't expect a DX convention to attract many from the younger age bracket.  It takes time in the hobby, and the ability to devote serious funds, to get to really bitten by the DX bug.  My concern is that most of these new Techs will get bored and drop out before they upgrade to higher class licenses and develop real interest in HF.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Wayne Green (W2NSD - editor of 73 Magazine and many others in the 60's - 90's) posted decades ago that one of the reasons most Amateur Radio Clubs are so devoid of activity and young people is that so many ham club meetings are so BORING!  

The typical ham club spends the first hour debating what color the guest name tags should be, what courtesy tones to program into the repeater, whether to go to I-HOP or Waffle House for the meeting after, how much money is in the raffle fund, and whether to have 2 or 3 radios at the next field day.  Then they may take a measly 5-15 minutes at the end for some type of program, when everyone is already tired and wants to go home.

Wayne's suggestion was that the club first spend the majority of each month's club meeting (45-60 minutes) on have an exciting program detailing one of many cutting edge facets of the hobby -- new modes, new operating opportunities, DXing, Repeater Linking, Digital Modes, How to build stuff like antennas, receivers, accessories, RDF, etc.  Then have and  executive committee that makes the major plans and decisions that brings the plans to the membership for ratification.  

The problem is that many local hams are control freaks and feel the need to have input on even the smallest details of every decision.  This wastes valuable club time, and runs off newcomers and potential hams who came because someone told them that ham radio was a fun and exciting hobby.  What they find instead is a bunch of old farts who can't agree on whether to have fried chicken or bologna at the next field day picnic.

Young people want to go where the action is.  They DON'T get excited about listening to an hour of mundane committee business masquerading as ham radio.

If we want young people to be excited about our hobby, we need to be exciting ourselves.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Wayne was a true visionary. I enjoyed every single 73! I read. It was the first ham mag I had ever read, and it helped draw me in. 

What he described is essentially why I stopped going to my club's meetings. When I do go, I drop off and pick up my bureau bags and that's about it. There is endless back and forth by a few members who have to put in so much of their 2c that many times the discussion exceeds the national debt.  

I prefer networking with hams on social media, and also doing stuff with hams in person. Even in YLRL I've taken on the personal mission of getting YLs involved in "exciting" aspects of ham radio such as radiosport and making/homebrew rather than just nets and rag chew. My door is always open for people to ask for help and advice and I try to write for the newsletter often. There are YL youth who like things like making satellite contacts, special events, contests, DX and homebrew. My daughters and my son are often working on software and hardware projects with me and they ask about things too. I let them type and explain stuff and ask questions. I even have them help me solder stuff. That's what you gotta do. 
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Our club has adopted the strong board of directors concept. The nitty gritty of running the club goes to the BoD, and in general, there are time limits to discussions even there. Club meetings are the minimum legal requirements of meetings, then moving on to the meeting presentation. We have one Emcomm meeting a year, one Olde timer's meeting, a Spring banquet, Summer Picnic and Christmas party, and lot's of new technology presentation. 

Biggest issue with the new folks is keeping them away from a few of the "Toxic folks" until they get addicted to Ham radio.

I've been to a few of the meetings of clubs that Ken has described. Horror shows, and they will soon cease to exist, with the remnants wondering why "Ham Radio is Dying". Only for them it is dying. 
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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My contest club (FRC) is like that. We discuss general ideas on the mailing list (what hams call "the reflector") and the BOD then would distill it and any changes to the C&BL goes to member vote, electronically. Other stuff like ordering mugs or sponsoring plaques gets decided by the committee and then just done. 

We even had N4HY come and do the whole Flex presentation for us. 
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Michael Coslo

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Are you participating in the PAQSO Party this year? FRC is the bonus station(s). Apparently I made the announcement here first. 8^)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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That station would have to be in Pennsylvania. I am in NNJ, but about 20 miles from PA. I guess I'll be participating in the PAQP but as an out of state station. 

Ria
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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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There was a working version of 2.0 at Visalia?  How come we haven't had any threads about what it looks like and what folks' impressions were?
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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I'd guess mostly respect for FRS and that what was shown was a lash-up based on the present GUI.

FRS has shown things at different shows to get show participants' feedback.

Personally I make a point to ask the FRS team if something I see/learn is common knowledge or if it should be embargoed until an actual FRS announcement is made.

I do the same for others showing or speaking of product in advance of launch.

Professionally I just returned from a session in Rome which included discussions that are voluntarily embargoed.  Nothing unusual.

Of course for the most bleeding edge sometimes an NDA is appropriate.

Are you going to be at Xenia?

73

Steve K9ZW


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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@ Rick   - NDA  - I was at Visalia

BTW... I thought you were dumping your Flex Radios so why do you care about V2.0?

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Rick Hadley - W0FG

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Good Lord, no! You've got me mixed up with someone else. Read my last post regarding the great service I had recently. I'd never part with my 6500!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I don't believe there is an embargo in things that are publicly displayed. Alpha stuff, there is a signed NDA. Publicly displayed so far was the demo at Visalia. Basically they showed the sign in screen and a working demo. 
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Michael Coslo

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Not going. I've gone for years, but am choosing to spend my amateur vacation money in a different way. That's a couple thou a year at least.  I think that Hamvention is moving in a new direction, and I wish them the best of luck.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Not Going......

Been going most years since 1961 to the Hara Pigsty just to view the next rendition of the Sewage Volcano.

But the Move to XENIA Cow Sheds was highly disappointing when clearly they had better options.  Speaking to vendors, there is about 1/2 the inside exhibit space compared to the pigsty.  So many of the vendors will be outside in tents.

Compared to other Hamventions I usually go to every year like Visalia, Friedrichshafen and Tokyo which are in real professional class Convention Centers I am not real excited about Cow Sheds in the middle of the rust belt. 

Frankly the sooner Dayton dies a natural death and is replaced by a more modern and inviting venue the better

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Rory - N6OIL

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Maybe Vegas, yes? 2 hour drive for me!
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Mike W9OJ

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I wasn't going to go.

I just changed my mind.
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Michael Coslo

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Why? - You're teasing us.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Clearly Mike was swayed by my thoughtful praise of the Cow Sheds.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Honestly those who think "Dayton" is about hamvention are missing the point. The actual hamfest is boring. The flea market has tons of overpriced junk and when you buy from vendors you pay ohio sales tax and you have to figure out how to get it back home. No thanks.

Instead I enjoy the after hours activities - contest dinner, the suites, and now the flex dinner. Plenty of good company and adult beverages meaning you talk stuff you don't hear on the radio (unless it's 75m late at night). We had a great time all around.

I still go to the actual hamfest for part of the day but in all honesty I haven't even bought a ticket yet, and I'm debating going hanging out at the hamfest for one day then going to the after hours events which is the real attraction for me.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I agree with you about the Flea Market being full of overpriced garbage -- in fact I regularly toss out much better stuff in the land fill. I also agree that except for a few innovative products being introduced the hamfest is mostly a waste of time. The forums are targeted for the most part to the lowest common denominator compared to high quality talks at Visalia or Freidrichshafen or Tokyo. So mostly a waste of time.

I do like the social aspects of putting names to faces over the years and meeting friends from around the world. But I get that and especially DX friends better at Visalia, Freidrichshafen and Tokyo.
'
The problem I have with Dayton is Dayton. The place has degenerated over the years into a Third World country without the charm or the weather or the third world. The final straw for me is their choice of a Countyfair cowshed over a professional quality convention center. That's kind of small minded thinking the turned Dayton into a Third World country.
'
'Frankly the sooner Dayton dies, The better. Maybe then the mantle will be picked up by a more forward thinking operation.
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I do agree about Ohio. However next year I am going to Orlando since the kids can go to Disney with grandma. Visalia, probably not. I have a general problem with going to that state.
(Edited)
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Bill W2PKY

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Orlando is a nice mini-Dayton. One day is plenty to explore most things of interest. Perhaps you can talk FRS into an evening event there once again.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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It is ONLY because Hamvention left the Hara that I am returning this year. While a county fairgrounds is not my personal druthers, these sorts of Farm Expo grounds can work. Hamcation in Orlando is pretty much a similar sort of thing.

I try to catch the Orlando Hamcation when it fits with work travel.

From my corner of Wisconsin getting to Visalia is a chore and pricey. There too is a personal avoidance of "hive politics" locations to deal with.

---

Attending our area DX club meeting I too suddenly find myself the second youngest of the 25 folk attending. Sounds like 80% are retired, and 40% of the working are actually past retirement age.

Maybe the club should add an AED to its equipment?

----

Reading between the lines Hamvention 2017 sounds likely to have several neat Flex things happening.

See you all there,

73

Steve
K9ZW
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I personally recommend Freidrichshafen as perhaps the best overall show. Beautiful charming city on Lake Constance. Great beer gardens. Modern conventions center. Makers Fair. Young people. High quality technical talks. - many in English. Free wines and spirits from most national ham societies except ARRL. Attendance approaching Dayton numbers

Seems that at least a dozen Dayton Hamvention Organizers get an all expense paid trip to Freidrichshafen ever year. . Too bad Hamvention organizers don't use that money to improve rhe Hamvention

Tokyo is also very good and most new Japanese radios debut there. But Tokyo weather in August is not fun
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Michael Coslo

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Hara, for all of it's decrepitude, had some semblance of a convention. Sure, the bathroom floors were wet with Gawd knows what, and smelled, sure the place hadn't been renovated since forever. But it was a piece of Ham radio tradition and history.  The handwriting was on the wall though. The 2011 turdfest was when I new Hara was on it's last gasp.

So when HARA folded, there were two directions to go. I thought sure that they might use the convention facilities in Dayton, or possibly Cincinnati. I looked into both of those areas, and heard that Dayton CoC had made overtures. 

But they decided to go the farm building/flea market  route. I've been to hamfests/flea markets in farm buildings, and by and large they are not doing very well. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Having spent many hours in the beer gardens at Freidrichshafen imbibing with the Dayton organizers while they were enjoying their all expense paid junkets to Europe, one could reasonably conclude that the decision was made by "Follow the Money."

The Dayton Convention Center was more expensive than the Cowsheds so the money to fund junkets would have been less. Hence the decision to choose cowsheds.

But heck, real life experience makes me cynical.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I will be attending this year to see for they do with their first effort in the new venue.

I have been going fairly regularly for the past 30 years or so.  
Progressive changes in my age, finances, interests, and health have caused a steady evolution of my "Hamvention habits."

When I was younger and MUCH poorer, I loved to spend time walking through the entire outdoor flea market, working on my farmer-tan and trying to find some used equipment/accessory bargain that wasn't already snatched in the "pre-flea market" wanderings of vendors on Thursday evening.  Lodging was primarily camping in my van at the Dayton Tall Timbers KOA, before they started price gouging and requiring 4 night minimums, etc.  (My spouse used to go with me, and enjoyed attending many of the "alternate activities" they held at the local school buildings.  Anyone remember those?)   

As I grew older I spent more time wandering the main floors and commercial exhibits, looking for a good deal on my ONE major purchase of the year.  (usually under $500, which may by my whole radio budget for the year.)  So home came a new HT or Mobile rig.  My best deal, about 12 years ago, was a brand new IC-706MK2G (with a mail-in certificate for a remote kit) for $699 when the Dollar-to-Yen rate was extremely favorable.  The next year it was back up to almost $950.

As I continued to age, and already had about all the junk I needed, I began spending more time in a few of the better forums - Contesting, Antennas, Dxing, Packet Radio, AMSAT, QRP and Home Construction, SDR, etc.  And spent MUCH less time wandering the flea markets and vendors.  Physical & health limitations also helped dictate this trend. Ebay, Amazon, and other online retailers have now become my main parts and equipment suppliers.

I never had the budget or time for the various Hamvention dinners, but often would drop in on some hospitality gatherings of QRP clubs, etc.

Lately, since I have gotten into SDR and the Flex Community and Alpha Testing team, and have been able to do more DXing and Contesting, I have begun to make more radio friendships with people with like minds and interests.  These guide my time at the Hamvention.  The Flex Banquet and gatherings have become my main motivator for attending the Hamvention.

Dayton is still close enough to drive 4-4 1/2 hours.  Last year I spent more money on motel bills and food than I spent on any equipment purchases.  But the opportunity to spend time with friends, and make some new ones, and the new information gathered by a few special presentations, FRS among them, made the trip worthwhile.

If I had to make airline and hotel reservations every year to attend a hamfest, I would't be able to afford it every year.

Freidrichshafen sounds very appealing, but is way out of my budget and vacation time.  Visalia sounds very interesting and may be a possibility some day.  Orlando might be combined with a family vacation some day, but we probably get to Disney about every eight or ten years.

So for now, as long as the major players still introduce their new stuff there, and I can stand the venue, (can a cow shed or a tent be any worse than Hara Arena?) Hamvention will still be my usual "ham radio mini-vacation."    

But, I plan to retire in 5-8 years.  Who knows what the future holds?

Ken - NM9P

BTW - I will be there Thursday for the Flex Gathering/Banquet and will take in a few forums on Friday and on Saturday Morning.  But I need to leave Saturday early afternoon to get back for Sunday.
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Gary Wise

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Will be my first trip to Dayton ever! Looking forward to it, even if it is in Xenia.

Will be at the Thursday dinner. Looking forward to meeting the experts!

Would hope for a Version 2 Release.

73,

Gary W4EEY
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Mike - W8MM

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I'll be attending the Thursday night bash.  It's only a 50 minute drive from my home in Cincinnati and I get to sleep in my own bed every night!

Originally I wasn't going to be able to attend except for Saturday mid-day, but my wife's other commitments changed and I have Thursday night back in my schedule.  Already told ARRL I wouldn't be to their donor banquet and my old Drake 6 meter contest crew is a conflict for Saturday. 

So, Thursday it is!
(Edited)
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wb7ond

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Looking forward to meeting some of the folks in this community.  Wife and I will attend Thurs Flex banquet and on Saturday it's the QRP banquet...   I believe that Dayton is as great a time as you make it, I've been going since 1989 and have not had a bad time yet, I've learned new technology at Dayton and brought some back to my work place.  For example, a few years ago we updated our aging communications with WAVE (tm) technology, that allowed us to use, at the time, the new ROI technology in our tactical networks. It was demonstrated by a Motorola contractor/vendor at Dayton with adhoc Cisco routers he demo'd, after IRLP was less than enthusiastic.  We have since vastly improved on it for the warfighter..

Dick
wb7ond
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John - AF3K

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I'm going. Looking forward to seeing / meeting you all at the Flex dinner on Thurs,...Extra fun if there are some new product announcements (v2.0?) from Flex!!
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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>"I still go to the actual hamfest for part of the day but in all honesty I haven't even bought a ticket yet, and I'm debating going hanging out at the hamfest for one day then going to the after hours events which is the real attraction for me."

Same feeling here.  I always fly into Cincinnati/Covington then spend Friday in Dayton and maybe a couple hours in the AM on Saturday.  The remaining time is spent in Cincinnati, one of my favorite U.S. cities.  If it wasn't for my stay in Cincy, I would not attend Dayton.

I was hoping the venue would have changed to Cincy, but the organizers had their reasons.  Howard made a good point about the agricultural fair setting. It will be interesting to see how many folks from DX countries attend in the coming years if the venue in Xenia remains the same.

Next year, Visalia then I'll try Freidrichshafen.

Paul, W9AC
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Michael Coslo

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Cincinnati does indeed have the resources to put on a very good convention.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I'm going to ham com this year. Maybe hamtronic next year where they will have wrtc as well.
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John - AF3K

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My reason for going to a national/international hamfest is learning about the state of the art in amateur radio.

I like hearing presentations and insights from experts, Q&A sessions, and meeting the names behind the logos and the articles.  Visiting association, special interest and vendor booths is interesting as an activity between sessions - I always have a shopping list for new gear, but I'm not spending time and money for travel to save 10 cents on a connector. I especially enjoy seeing innovative new products.

Having a show organizer with a venue supporting the above, in a travel time friendly location with great restaurants, sightseeing and weather gets my vote.  

I'm going to Dayton again this year, but the move to Xenia makes its seem it is more focused on the cheap-o flea market aspect than the stuff that interests me.

John AF3K
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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 ..."I'm not spending time and money for travel to save 10 cents on a connector...."  LOL

 I agree, John.  Hamfests, like Club meetings, need to focus upon building relationships/networking between hams, and promoting the advancement of the "state of the art" and the cutting edge of the hobby....not promoting the trading of largely useless junk that can be found on ebay.

However....I have gotten many a useful idea by browsing through the vendors and "junque" (high class junk) sellers booths.  My father taught me -- "if you can't figure out a solution to a project...go walk through the garage, (which never had a car in it, but was filled with parts, junk, and old hardware) and see what items speak to you."
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John - AF3K

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Ken - Hope to see you at the Flex banquet on Thurs!
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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What's the best way to arrive in Freidrichshafen?  Looks to me like an initial connection into Paris, then to Zurich?  Munich is a bit far although I would like to tour Bavaria by rail on the way to Freidrichshafen.

Paul, W9AC
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I 'm usually in Provence in June so I just hop a Train from Avignon.

But Zurich or Frankfurt or Munich are,all quick train rides

This year is in July so hotels may be hard to find at this late date. Suggest u try the Swiss side of Lake Constance and take the ferry every day.

Next year it looks like early June
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Do you have problems with American credit cards buying rail tickets? I have one card that is supposedly PIN capable (I verified using cardpeek) but I haven't had the chance to test it. I did have a UNFCU visa card that I took out when I worked at the UN but I've been meaning to cancel it.
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Tim Ellam

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My Canadian cards (credit and debit) work fine in DL/HB.


Tim VE6SH

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Ria - MasterCard/VISA will usually work okay IF you have called them ahead to let them know of your travels.  American Express appreciates a travel notice call, but doesn't seem to require it.

ATM Cards that use a PIN usually work, but again your bank may require overseas use be activated.  Again a simple call before you go.

It is miserable to deal with calling them to sort it out from overseas if I forget. 

I've had no real problem with "swipey" cards rather than the Chip & Pin.

If you are a regular repeat traveler your cards may be set to be used overseas all the time.  Depends on the provider & bank.

For what it is worth, it makes life easier if you call in domestic travel if you anticipate any large buys, or if any one a number of reasons you might look like you are charging in several places at once (sets off the card company's anti-fraud system).

---

Cellphones - you can buy a SIM if your phone can handle it (you then get a local number from where the SIM is issued) or put an international plan on your phone if it is travel-ready.  I do the later and even though it is more pricey it retains my regular USA cell number.  Data is another thing, and the plans I have been offered to use my USA cell for data suck.  So I tend to go WiFi only unless I get a deal.

Again regular travelers use the features enough to make offerings I avoid as too expensive worthwhile spends for them. 

I also keep another iPhone with a "3" SIM in it, that is a "pay as you go" European phone. 

For whatever reason one or the other of my USA Cell and EU Cell seem to not work in some of the off the beaten path places. 

---

Banking in the EU

Most of the banks won't do banking for a USA based person due to our extra-territorial rules.  Basically our government made it uneconomic to deal with small USA accounts because the cost of compliance and the draconian penalties if they make the slightest mistake. 

If you do open up EU accounts to work around the limitations, please absolutely remember to declare them on the special annual reporting and on your annual tax forms.  If you go enough it is nice to be able to "bank like a local" and have a local currency ATM card.  But not nice enough to get in trouble forgetting to report an account with 20 Euros of interest on a 1700 Euro travel fund.

---

Medical Insurance

Some places in the EU have become less traveler friendly and some have taken a "patch & return home" stance towards injured/ill travelers.  Unless you have special circumstances trip medical insurance is annoying but not that big a deal. 

If you travel enough there are programs for this that have excellent reputations.

---

Backup Documents

I carry an encrypted thumbs drive with ONLY full set of our travel documents, as well have a set in our document vault at work that can be accessed in an emergency.

One thing we did while our kids were young is to do some special documents - medical powers of attorney that gave someone else the capability to help the kids if we couldn't (whether the kids were with us or stayed back at home).  We also did notarized letters of spousal consent to travel with the kids if the other spouse wasn't there.  That comes out of a horribly miserable experience where my XYL and youngest traveled onwards to visit elderlies and Immigration Canada were having a bad day accusing me of kidnapping my own kids (on the homeward travel through Toronto - who kidnaps kids to "run home" with them??  But then again I have had more misadventure with the Canadians in Toronto than everywhere else combined).

---

Domestic Travel

Going to the Dayton Hamvention it may be worthwhile to let your credit card company know if you thinking you might buy a few big ticket items. 

73

Steve K9ZW 


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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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The biggest PIA is gas stations. Most require chipped +PIN cards and won't take cash or USA CC. Can get pretty crazy late at nite running out of gas and no stations taking ur cards. I really wish USA banks used chip + PIN CC.

important. Make sure your USA credit card does not charge an extra 3or 4% Foreign Transaction Fee. There are lots of USA Cc that do not charge such fees.

DATA. I use MIFI boxes with local SIMS. My usa number. Stays with the device but data is so much less expensive. USA Roaming Data plans cost 20x more than local SIMS. SIMS are available everywhere. In virtually every country I have visited one could easily and quickly buy a local SIM for under $10 including more data than you get from AT&T for $200.

Totally agree with Steve. Do not keep foreign accounts. The IRS reporting rules are outrageous now and can be very expensive for both you and the bank if you forget to report even $1 The workaround is to set up a local EU corporation twith EU officers that banks in the EU. But the EU banks still do not like doing business if there are too many Americans with signing authority.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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I have had Prepaid Travel Cards recommended to me.  These are products originally designed for economies and cultures that consider interest usury but can levy fees.

I think MasterCard, VISA and EuroCard (plus others) have them available.

I didn't mention them as I haven't personal experience with them (yet).  Have you tried them Howard?

As for fees, there seem to be less and less opportunities for no-fee currency conversions, but on the plus side the transfer rates of exchange seem to be better than what one would get handling cash, so I guess it all works out.

---

A quick reminder about fees/rates and one more cellphone tip.

Don't get so worried about minimal fees/best rates that you cost yourself lost time or inconvenience.  I have seen otherwise sane people spend a couple hours and drive places to save UKP 10 of fees.  The savings were offset by the fuel & parking, not to mention the value of one's time.  I've seen folk refuse to answer their cellphones but rush to a post office to call back based on the caller ID, again losing much time and really achieving no savings. 

Likewise I have seen folk who dropped many thousands to be on a cruise refuse to buy minutes for internet or use the cell-at-sea services, and then squander their on-shore time doing the post office phone and internet Wi-Fi café thing.  Doesn't seem to make much sense to save $40 and lose half your shore time, does it?

On the cell phone tip - consider only answering your cellphone if the contact is in your phone or if it clears a whitelist process if your phone offers it.  Nothing more frustrating to have one of those robo-dialer spam calls trigger a daily fee or cost you some minutes. 

Another quick tip - if you are NOT very handy with doing time zone conversions, leave your cell phone on your home time zone so you know what time it is where you are calling to back home.  Depending on what scheduling software you use your Exchange/Outlook or iCal/Calendar might work better this way (I know mine goes nuts if I let it follow the local time zone, as in some countries it can't figure the time out and then new appointments become pot luck random times when it finally does sync.

Also making your system work less hard saves battery.  I find overseas my iPhone 6 Plus either eats power rapidly or hardly uses and power.  Weird.  The iPhone 5 I use as a Euro-phone eats power here stateside, but lasts for days in the EU. 

73

Steve K9ZW

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Steve

Yes I have used the prepaid cards in countries that believe that CC interest is usury.  The issue is that you cannot use them to rent cards or guarantee hotel rooms as they are limited to the cash on the cards.  Also very hard to add money when you are travelling.

Never carry Traveler Checks... Someday I will tell you a story about how only I survived because I did not have them and all the others did...

I now carry a number of different zero Foreign Transaction Fee Cards as not having those 3-4% charges easily pay for the cost of the card and then some. PayPal used to be a great way to do zero cost exchanges but they got wiser and now add 3.5% to their rate.   USA Banks have the WORST exchange rates - never buy or sell foreign currency in the USA... I usually just hit an ATM at the airport when I land and get cash there  about 5% less expensive than buying currency in the USA

Great tips on block spam calls on your phone...

The MIFI boxes act as a local WIFI Hotspot so the phone batteries last forever.

I have a bag of SIMS with the most common countries I travel to so it is very easy to pop one into my MIFI when I land and have data.  I rarely make phone calls over the cell services.  BUT when I do I use Skype or FaceTime over data lines rather than paying AT&T $2 per minute for a call...

Since about 1965 I have always worn two watches.. one for home time and one for local...much easier access and less confusion than a two zone watch especially when trying to figure out if is morning of night

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Canadian cards will work fine. Canada has chip and PIN. Canada's situation is not like the USA. The USA is the only country in the world where our banks steadfastly refuse to implement chip and PIN and instead choose chip and signature.

I'm not talking about the travel notification.  That's different.

This is about US cards having chip and PIN capability. As Howard found out, some places like gas stations, some train stations, tool booths and parking garages need a card with offline PIN capability. Most USA cards have chip and signature only. Some have online PIN and a few (very few) are chip and PIN.  Two of my cards are and you can verify if your card has chip and PIN using CardPeek:
https://www.spotterswiki.com/emv/cardpeek.html

Card reader:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017SSO7GE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

There's also a handy Wiki in case you're curious about your card or if you're shopping for a new one:
https://www.spotterswiki.com/emv/

What I was wondering was how frequently you truly need offline PIN capability. Howard seems to confirm gas stations do need it. I think some train stations and toll booths do too. Also it seems like mostly Europe has this offline PIN requirement. I haven't encountered it in Asia, South America or the Caribbean. 

Ria
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Your two watch idea is similar to my wearing a watch when traveling, and often do not when not traveling.  It is tiresome to keep taking it off when visiting clients in the biohazard programs or smashing/scratching them in other plants.  So I don't always even wear one here. 

Overseas or even traveling in other time zones here I  set my wristwatch to local and leave my cell phone & other electronics on home time zone.  Seems to work for me even in odd time zones like Newfoundland with its -2.5 hours from GMT.

---

Nomography in traveling

I am a huge fan of Nomographic techniques  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomogram) and while I don't need them myself (I like the head math of doing conversions and relative values mentally) I do prepare them for family. 

Basically a quick conversion chart for units they might need to convert and for currency conversions.  I do bracketing for currencies that move a lot plotting a couple exchange rates side by side.

Think of these as if a Slide Rule was set up to the conversion and you snapped a picture which you then shoved into your pocket to consult when needed.

Struggling with L/100Km vs MPG (remember to use standard or imperial gallons as appropriate), no problem with a cheat-chart nomogram. 

Want to know how much UKP 50 is in US Dollars depending on rates and fees - do one that has 1.25:1, 1.3:1 and 1.35:1 ratios side by side, and pick the most close.

I did these before I really knew what they were called to deal with really odd units (was specifying/buying leather soles in "Irons" which is an old measure that is approximately 1/48 of an inch or 0.53mm per Iron!) 

A few years back I took a bunch of folk on a aviation themed tour in England and did a chart for them, including how many beers things were worth (it was that sort of group!).

---

A small stash of US $20 and few US $100 (and similar in local currency) tucked away can be a life saver when traveling.  As Howard mentions Traveler Checks are mostly useful in places where you most like wouldn't need them, and trouble in places where you do need their value.  It is when the only place that will sell you the tire you need takes only cash that you realize the value of a small stash of bills.

There are a lot of places where the pickpockets are amazingly adept.  An Obermeister in the Hessen Landespolizi showed me some neat tricks to make it both safer and more fun in crowds that pickpockets work.  I didn't have the stomach for boot smashing their fingers when he'd catch another one, but also I didn't want to get crossways locally where he had enough power to be close to immune.  The passive methods do work a trick though.

---

Sometime I can tell you how a small stash of bills backfired on me during a border security inspection.  Or what not to do if you find yourself in a different country than you were supposed to be in.  Or the downside of using a small local license plated outfit compared to a recognized outfit when the Policia are looking for fugatives. 

It is all an adventure.

73

Steve K9ZW


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Tim Ellam

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Ria, I did not know that about US cards. Yes, nearly all here are Chip and PIN and "tap" for both credit and debit is the norm in Canada and most of EU.

Tim VE6SH

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Steve, the closest I have come to the nomograph you discussed was making a quick spreadsheet to calculate both litrs to gallons and US dollars to Canadian dollars on a three week vacation trip to Banff and Jasper National Parks. . I got very tired trying to convert two different units at the same time. My quick spreadsheet helped me to get a general idea of how much filling up my RV was actually costing. Of course it did nothing to help me pay for it!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I do "tap" on my Apple watch, using Apple Pay. Two watches aren't necessary for me either. It adjusts to the local timezone once you land and your phone gets GPS signal and I keep "home" time and UTC as complications on the display. I had Amex blue with tap and Chase Blink but they took away the feature. Oh well. 

I have a SIM case with several SIMs that I keep in my purse but I have free roaming in Mexico and Canada (Verizon).  In a pinch $10 per day gets me access to my data plan. 

Currency exchange varies by location. Generally credit cards will give you the best rate. The cards that I use are no FTF now, and surprisingly Discover has wide acceptance outside of the USA.

ATMs may give you a good cash rate but you are often charged surcharges, for example in Buenos Aires they charge $96.50 to access foreign cash. Luckily I brought USD which I was able to exchange at the cuevas for the blue rate, which is still slightly better than the bank rate. In Seoul the airport currency exchange rate was about the same as the ATM but the ATM charged 33000 Won. I think I may have been reimbursed those fees by USAA but I'm not 100% sure. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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That $10 a day AT&T Roaming plan gets really expensive if, like me, you are away for several months.. hence the case full of SIMS...

Multiple Watches..

Old Habit ... In the olden days before cars had A/C and you were working in a 3rd world country...you drove with your windows open.. if you came to a stop, someone would take a knife and cut your watch off your wrist... If you wore it on the other wrist, then you would get stabbed in the arm and you would reflexively reach over to the knife and they would cut your watch off... So the solution was 2 watches.. one to steal and one to tell time.  

BTW.. I now wear two Suunto dive computer watches so I have a backup when diving.. ( a lesson leaned in Phuket when my primary dive computer watch failed and I was flying to dive in Bali the next day) 2 Watches gets a lot of questions but very practical.

Apple Pay works OK in the USA.. not so much in the EU yet... But the EU uses TAP much more than the USA

Generally the USA is way behind the rest of the world in complex infrastructure....

Why?  Because the USA does things FIRST .. the rest of the world gets the second generation stuff but since the USA has such huge capital investments in the first generation it takes a long time to upgrade.. Albeit the Chip+ Signature Card is not particularly theft proof and yet another poor decision by ultraconservative USA Banks.

The way to avoid Foreign ATM Fees is to have the ATM card linked to an account with sufficient balances that they refund the fees... Lots of USA banks offer that perk.

Most USA Banks have a foreign Correspondent Bank.. e.g. Bank of America is correspondent with Banque Paribas in France.. so there are no fees when using the correspondent bank ATM and the exchange rate is pretty close to market - usually 50 basis points.

I agree credit cards give the best rates as long as they do not charge Foreign Transaction Fees..

I will look into getting a USA Chip+PIN CC

NOMOGRAH... Mine were replaced by SIRI on my iPhone.. I just ask it to convert L/100KM to MPG.

Exchange Rates.. I used XE on my iPhone...No thinking involved.

Albeit the Euro is so close to the dollar ($110) that I consider it 1:1 now

VAT  - Most of the world has an insidious Hidden tax in the 20% range called VAT-- It's how they pay for FREE Healthcare for everyone..

VAT is refundable to foreign travelers... if you spend at least €175.01 at a single vendor in a single day you can get the VAT back at the airport when you leave the EU.

So if you are going to Friedrichshafen to pick up a Power Genius or a 2K-FA you can get real savings when you take it home.   I do not recall ever being on a trip where my XYL did NOT get huge VAT Refunds for all the shoes she collected.-- the real point being that with the VAT refunds big ticket purchases after conversion to $ can be less expensive than the USA... Definitely shoes and cosmetics.or so my XYL tells me.

Avoid purchasing anything in the UK... they seem to price everything in pounds = dollars so everything is at least 50% more expensive even with the VAT refunds.


BTW...this thread started out as Hamvention and has turned into a travel tips


(Edited)
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Tim Ellam

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Zurich and train from flughafen to Romanshorn and ferry across the lake to FHN.

Tim VE6SH
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Mike - W8MM

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Where/what is a nice, convenient hotel.   More stars is better ;~}
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Its pretty late to find something close

I have stayed at several 3/4 star hotels in Friedrichshafen... hard to find 4 stars or better but I suspect the better ones may be sold out by now.

German 3 star hotels are smallish rooms by US Standards but usually include superb breakfasts

Suggest you start with the tourist bureau

http://ibe.incomingsoft.de/publicsoft/ibe.jsp?manref=FRIEDHFN&profile=FNS&type=uk_s&deta... 


http://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/ham-en/travel-accommodation/accommodation.php


Alternatively stay across Lake Constance in Switzerland.. 30 minute by Ferry

Or try www.Hotels.com

The trains are very convenient so you don't necessarily need to stay in Town as there is a FREE Shuttle bus from the railway station to the Convention Center which is located out by the Airport.

The town itself is rather pretty with lots of bars and action on the seafront.

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Tim Ellam

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The See Hotel is the DARC HQ.
Tim VE6SH
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Tim Ellam

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As Howard says the "action" in the evenings is either in campground by the Messa or along the waterfront in F'hafen. There is a very good shuttle from the square in front of the train station (and See Hotel) to and from the Messa.

Tim VE6SH

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@ Friedrichshafen folks - might be worth reposting the information you have put together to a dedicated "Friedrichshafen Hamfest" thread, as it is pretty well buried here.  I think the "festival grounds" is "Messe" (mess-ah) BTW.

Once a searchable thread is started I have some questions to ask.

73

Steve K9ZW

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Tim Ellam

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Steve. Good point! Yes, Messe is the Exhibition Halls.


Tim VE6SH

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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USA PIN Enabled ATM cards work ok

USA Chipped cards. No PIN work randomly at best.

I no longer am able to get EU credit Cards because EU banks refuse to take accounts from USA Passport holders due to draconian IRS reporting rules.

However. You can always use www.raileurope.com, pay with USD CC and get electronic tickets
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mikeatthebeach .

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Well, with Visalia, Dayton and Friedrichshafen, decided to
save the money and not go, enough money saved for a Power Genius Amp !!
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Smart man! I am not spending much though, using miles to fly and splitting hotel costs with a friend. :)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Without any discussion or insider's knowledge, I have since the Flex-6000 was announced made predictions, often a couple weeks before Dayton.

Here is my 2017 guesses:

https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/hamvention-2017-flexradio-systems-smartsdr-product-launches-pr...

If you want to skim over my original predictions from 2012 this link is really the easiest:

https://k9zw.wordpress.com/?s=Dreaming+What+Might+Be

73

Steve K9ZW


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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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RE: Your comment on new antenna releases:

I saw an ad from Hy-Gain about their new "Band Optimized LP Array".
It is a 116 pound monster!  It is 13 elements on a 30 ft boom and basically has 3-element log cells for each of the WARC bands 20-6 and boasts 3-element monoband performance on each of the bands.  Looks awesome.  But so is the price tag!  $2999!  

That is three times as much as my Tennadyne T-11, which is 11 elements on a 24 foot boom and 68 pounds.  The gain and F/B are better.  But $2000 better?

Ken - NM9P
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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That is inexpensive when compared to the price of a SteppIR

Yes - a 30' boom has a bigger gain than a 24' boom

Plus materials cost for larger things with larger stresses do not rise linearly

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Word from DARA is advance ticket sales have outstripped past years' sales and they anticipate a record turnout.

From the http://www.hamvention.org webpage are links to Inside and Outside vendor lists, and forums.  Steve N5AC is doing the SDR forum.

73

Steve K9ZW

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I bought my tix. $22 worth. K2EZ and I will be there.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Forgot to mention that our group is staying at the Hilton Garden.

Doing both the Contest/DX Focused FlexRadio System Banquet Thursday and also the General/New Product Demo FlexRadio System Banquet on Saturday. 

You will find us at the Collins Collectors Association Banquet Friday night.

Again here is a link to my predictions for FRS related introductions for Hamvention 2017:  Hamvention 2017 – FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Product Launches – Predictions! - https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/hamvention-2017-flexradio-systems-smartsdr-product-launches-pr...

What are yours?

73

Steve K9ZW

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Steve Gw0gei

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Interesting predictions Steve

I hope to see a major ssdr release this week which brings features like squelch on ssb, improvements to noise reduction, performance improvements resulting from the second round Sherwood tests, and some increased integration for my 4o3a 2x8 antenna genius switch within ssdr. I can happily wait for 2.0 if we get a major 1.9.x release.

On the hardware side the recent discounts on 6000 radios has made me think that perhaps a new 6900 will be announced - I have sat on my hands just in case this happens rather than order a 6700 to replace my 6300 for so2r contesting. In my ideal world a 6900 would have some more flexible features for vhf split tx and rx into different single band antenna systems, with audio mixing within ssdr rather than having to use external relays and splitters. Alternatively I would like to see the launch of the planned so2r add on box for the 6300 for so2r, although I have concluded some time ago that a 6700 or 6900 with dual or triple scu is probably required for what I want to do on lf hf and vhf contesting.

Looking forward to hearing news this week and hoping for some nice new features to try out in the next few days.

73

Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Steve GW0GEI

Adding more SCUs does seem to have some advantages as software capabilities mature. 

Another way to do it would be to have a Master/Slave/(more Slaves) capability to team-up several radios.  The "Master" could even be virtualized in software.

Next week should be exciting!

73

Steve K9ZW

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Steven G1XOW

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Hey Steve, I'm with you, but sorting the NB, and the inability of the WNBs ability to deal with strong local sigs is a must have for me....as well as programmable RX passband filter buttons and a proper S-meter.

A nice to have would be digital/numeric readout of all sliders. Why...when you slide AGC or PWR etc. up and down via an API (CMD Micro for example) there is no indication of what value you get to, just a blob moving.
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Pre Distortion, Squelch, GUI Improvements, true Diversity and the use of Diversity for Noise Reduction. Can't wait for such announcements.