My Dayton Hamvention/ARRL Expo Experience


As I wrote earlier, this year I went to the Dayton (Ohio) Hamvention and participated at the ARRL Expo by running the "QST Cover Photo" booth. It was a busy and exciting couple of days, and I even had some fun.

2005/06/01 Update: A few more photos have been added.

Setup (Thursday, May 19)

A photo of an overview of part of the ARRL Expo area after setup was complete.

Photo of the 'QST Cover Fun' booth

Zoe, Joe and I met for an early morning flight, where we ran into several other ARRL staffers. When we arrived at Hara Arena, we all got to work with booth setup--where I ran into two problems: my booth measured 10 × 16 feet, not the 8 × 20 feet I expected (I wanted to make use of the length to ensure soft light), and one of the strobe lights was busted where the light and light stand connect. Both problems were overcome easily enough and we got my booth ready pretty quickly. I met up with Lieska, who would help me do everything the next few days. This was the only time I had a little opportunity to take a few photos of the area.

Ten (or so) of us went to a place called Dominic's for dinner, where we all had huge portions of tasty Italian food.

2005/06/01 Update: Fried sent me a few of the photos he took of the QST Cover Photo booth on setup day (below).

Day One (Friday, May 20)

A photo of Lieska and I.

We all had to get to the arena before 8 am to be ready for the opening at 9:00. I think my booth had sort of a slow start--we only took 6 or 8 photos in the first hour--but as more people made their way to our end of the arena it picked up. By late morning Lieska and I needed some help to keep the line (of about 20 people) moving, and Joyce joined us for a while before lunch. By mid-afternoon, we found our groove and just the two of us were able to work quite a bit more efficiently. For the most part, we had a constant line of about 5 people.

At that point, I was able to see that we were averaging about 5 minutes per photo. That's a far cry from the "best-case scenario" of 1 minute a piece (because the macro that makes the process work takes 1 minute to run), but we knew that couldn't happen anyway. It just takes that long: until I got the customer into position and they dropped their bags and checked their hair then "proofed" the photo, nearly 4 minutes passed. When the macro finished and the print came out, we were at 5 minutes. Reasonable, though I think it could be a little faster if I reworked the process. Lieska handled all of the money, forms, and tickets.

We didn't leave the arena until about 7:00, and it was after 8 by the time we were ready to go out for dinner. All 13 of us who went thought dinner at the Blue Moon was great. I had to wipe the drool away when my rib-eye steak came out. A late night--we didn't get back to the hotel until a little after 11:30!

Day 2 (Saturday, May 21)

A photo of me with the Icom bathrobe girls.

Another early morning; Hamvention opened to the public at 9 am today. Almost immediately we had a line going, which continued non-stop right up until lunch time. On Friday and Saturday a few minutes before lunch time Lieska stopped taking customers and I finished up with who was there so we could have a break and get some food.

Everybody told us what a wonderful idea this QST Cover Photo booth was, that they hoped we would do it again, and how nice the result was. It was definitely a big hit. I didn't realize just how big, though, until I decided to go outside and walk around in the flea market area during my lunch break: every 25 feet or so I'd hear somebody yell "Dan!" I'd look around and see somebody waving and yelling "you took my photo!" or "this is awesome!" or something similar, and I'd wave back. I didn't count, but I wouldn't be surprised if I waved to 50 people!

The afternoon continued just as busily as the morning did.

I went with Mary, Debra, Maria, Kathy and Zoe for dinner at Lincoln Park Grille; we ate on the patio. It was good food, but especially good to be outside in fresh air and to have quiet conversation. The chocolate-caramel-ice cream-brownie dessert I had was really good.

The Last Day (Sunday, May 22)

Contrary to what I first thought, today was not a short day.

Hamvention was only open from 8 am to 1 pm, and our QST Cover Photo booth was going a little slow. We often didn't have a line. I was ok with that, though, as it afforded me the opportunity to use the disposable camera that Bob put in our booth. Whenever we had a free moment, I ran around to the ARRL Expo area to snap a photo of my coworkers engaged in discussion with a customer or member. I didn't have opportunity to take more than 5 photos with my camera all weekend, but I managed to find the time to completely fill two of the disposables, and finish off Maria's disposable, too.

A photo of Lieska, Zoe and I.

As Hamvention was winding down the atmosphere changed quite a bit. We all took a little time to talk and have fun (and snap a few more photos). That didn't last long, though, before we all had our booths torn down and were loading palettes to be shipped back to ARRL. Within a few hours we were done and on our way to the airport for our planes and somewhere to eat.

Which is where I ran into trouble. On Friday I had bought two PL-259 8-inch long metal bulkhead connectors for my Dad. I dropped them in my bag and forgot about them. It took a while to get through the security check line at the airport, but when we did I saw that security were staring at one of my carry-on bags. Of course, I immediately remembered the bulkhead connectors. I was asked to walk over to another security post, where they did a more thorough inspection of my bags and I was informed that I couldn't take the connectors on the plane. They recommended I take them back to where I checked my suitcase and put them in there. So I walked all the way back to there, where I was told the bag was already checked and sent to the airline, so they couldn't help. I went to the US Airways counter and asked for some help. That lady checked to see if the luggage was "in the back," but came back to tell me it was already on its way to the plane. My only option was to leave the connectors there. If I'm ever back in Dayton I can pick them up, I'm told. Yeah, I'm all over that.

I finally made it back through the security line--which was now even longer--and met up with everyone at Max and Erma's for lunch, where I found Zoe was nice enough to order me a root beer. I sat down and appetizers arrived a few minutes later. The plane ride home was uneventful, even though Zoe kept saying "it's going to hail." And Sherree took me home.

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Great job Dan! Thanks for the info.

Thanks for all your work Dan. I think I will send one of my friends in Dayton back to the airport and retrieve your Dad's connectors.

Man, I am going to sleep soooo much better tonight, knowing the bad guys won't be carrying bulkhead connectors onto airplanes.

Regards to your folks.

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