Calling all hams!

Calling all hams!

Dayton Hamvention 2014

Leo DeLuca

Photo: DZ Kits owner Brian Wood, W0DZ, discusses new technology at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention

Dayton Hamvention celebrates its 63rd anniversary at Hara Arena on May 16-18. The long-running amateur (ham) radio convention got its start in the Gem City back in 1952; it has since become the largest in the world.

While much of ham radio revolves around recreation, the pastime can also be a serious endeavor. According to Dayton Hamvention Media Chair and Spokesperson Henry Ruminski, “‘Hams,’ the name for participants operating ham radios, are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and participate in a variety of radio activities. While much of it may be for personal enjoyment, such as talking to someone in a distant country or to another ham traveling through the area, it also has a serious side. It is called the ‘Amateur Radio Service’ because hams provide important emergency communications when other systems fail or are loaded during a crisis. When all else fails, amateur radio can get the message through.”

In fact, ham radio has come to the rescue during many of our nation’s gravest emergencies.

“When cell phone systems crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, hams stepped in to provide communication,” Ruminski said. “They also provided vital life-and-death capabilities until systems could be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Wilma destroyed other communications. To prepare for real emergencies, many hams provide communication to a variety of public service activities such as races, walks, parades – any event where trained communicators are needed to ensure vital information is passed quickly and efficiently.

“However, most of the time the 700,000+ amateur radio operators in the United States are just enjoying their pastime, transmitting voice, data and pictures through the air without depending on commercial systems,” Ruminski added.

The Dayton Hamvention is the prominent avenue by which hams can enjoy their pastime. I had the chance to conduct a more extensive interview with Henry Ruminski in anticipation of the event.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Where did the ARRL start? 

Hiram Percy Maxim and Clarence Tuska founded the American Radio Relay League on the east coast in 1914. Today it is headquartered in Newington, Conn. – Henry Ruminski

How long has the Dayton Hamvention been the world’s largest amateur radio gathering?

Hamvention may have been the largest amateur radio gathering from the beginning. It definitely has been the largest for the last 40 years or so. – HR

Are any of Hamvention’s founders or first attendees still involved?  

I do not believe any of the original founders are still around, but Ron Moorefield, W8ILC, who is on this year’s committee, has attended every one and has been actively involved for many years. – HR

How can people get involved in ham radio in the Dayton area outside of Hamvention? 

One way to get involved is to talk to a ham; most are very willing to help. The area amateur radio organizations also sponsor classes throughout the year. The Dayton Amateur Radio Association, the sponsor of Hamvention, holds classes at its clubhouse on Bellefontaine Road in Huber Heights. The Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service also coordinates class twice a year at several locations. Others clubs either help with these classes or sponsor their own. – HR

One hundred years after its birth on May 18, 1914, ARRL members continue to advance the art and science of radio. How is it being advanced? 

The ARRL actively promotes ham radio by providing instructional materials and teacher workshops, in addition to a wide range of books and publications for the person wanting to become a ham, but also as a means for experienced hams to share their knowledge. The organization is also active in lobbying representatives on all levels of government to preserve the interests of hams. – HR

Who came up with this year’s theme?

This year’s theme, Makers: The Future of Ham Radio, was chosen by Hamvention General Chairman Charles Kaiser (KD8JZR) to reflect what some call a “maker renaissance” – the desire to create new from the old, learn new skills and techniques and solve problems.

This year, Hamvention has incorporated more activities for the young. There is a youth forum in which all the presenters are between ages nine and 16. There will be a youth information table where young people can talk to their peers about ham radio and technology. – HR

The 63rd annual Dayton Hamvention will take place Friday, May 16 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 17 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 18 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hara Arena, 1001 Shiloh Springs Rd. For more information, please visit hamvention.org.

Reach DCP freelance writer Leo DeLuca at LeoDeLuca@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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