Well, this year as many of you know I went to Visalia for the DX convention. Some things
exceeded my expectations, and some did not meet my expectations. Here is a very abbreviated
report of what it was like.
I flew in Friday morning leaving wind, cold, and sprinkles, and arrived 80 minutes later to lots of
sunshine. I have not been back to this area for quite a few decades, being a California boy and
growing up in Solvang and Hollister. A short drive and I found myself in Visalia. My motel was
okay, but the swimming pool was small, hard to swim laps in. From there it was about 5 minutes
to the convention center with no parking spaces to be found, so I ended up parking at a parking
garage. This was the only time this happened, as every other time I was able to find a parking
space near one of the entrances.
When I entered I received my packet, bought twenty raffle tickets, visited the vendors for a quick
walk through, and then to the beginning of the presentations. I learned that as a first-time
attendee there were cards I was supposed to get signed for a special drawing.
That night was the top band dinner. What a lot of fun and good food. I was seated with a very
interesting group, who provided for a fascinating dinner conversation. All of them were very
experienced, well known and seasoned convention attendees. They hailed from Texas, Arizona,
the mid-west, Florida, and seated by me a gentleman from California (who I found out was one
of the four original founders of the NCDXF). This last individual told me to come with him, and
the next thing I knew was introducing me to people as “my friend Ron” and telling them to sign
my first time cards. He was quite excited about DXing, excited I was there, and told me all about
what to expect for the rest of it. Any time after that when he saw me he had to come over and see
how things were going. The Bouvet Island presentation and video was very creative and
humorous. I wish we could show a copy of it to the club.
The next morning for the opening ceremony there were very few people there, but they straggled
in over the next hour or so. The DX forum seemed to have quite a few divergent opinions, and
some not so happy folks. Wayne did a nice job of explaining some background, and with the
panel, were able to answer many questions.
The contest forum had a different feel, seemed to have a positive consensus on things. Although
the lady from Germany talking about the WRTC had to be asked five times (that I counted) that
they needed to end. I got a chuckle or two hearing them tell her time was up, she would say
okay, I just have a couple of more items, and then proceed right on.
Most of the presentations were quite interesting. One was on what might be in the future for us.
Each sub presenter had five minutes, and we were given a wide range of ideas and
prognostications. I had heard the gentleman on Vietnam and ham radio on the weekly “QSO
today” podcast and wanted to see him in person, He did not disappoint with a great presentation.
The main banquet had some good salmon. Marti OH2BH went a little long as he described his
frustration with the process for Kosovo to become a DX entity. It was nice to see Vjollca Z61VB
and hear her tell some of her story. I had just heard her on “QSO today” that same week which
made it even more interesting.
Sunday morning, good food, enjoyed hearing about Mellish Reef, lots of prizes that I did not
win, and then off to the airport for my 6:30 pm flight. However, I got there early and they had a
flight boarding for Salt Lake City, I asked if they had a seat open, they had two, so I got one of
those, hurried on the plane, and got home at 2 pm.
Some take aways.
For me this was worth going to. In fact, my wife is probably going next year, she enjoys the
dxpedition videos we watch together, thinks it will be fun to hear them in person, possibly a tour,
salmon dinners, etc. So will be buying two tickets. But next year I am going to try to get a motel
across the street so I can just walk back and forth. They will come available in June.
I made a point most of the time to sit with people that I did not know. Some had decades of
experience, and a vast depth of knowledge. Others were leaders/officers in clubs, DXing, and
contesting both nationally and internationally. Some were just operators who enjoyed this part of
the hobby. This gave me many opportunities to learn about their clubs and how things were
working, their thoughts on DXing and contesting now and in the future, how to be successful,
and many other topics.
Everywhere that I went I invited people to come and speak at our club. A couple of them may be
in Utah later this year. I would really like to get Ned Stearns and Artie to come.
Some at the convention were excited about the future and some were negative. Those that were
negative or not having as much fun as they used to, almost all gave similar reasons. The hobby
was changing too much and they were not really keeping up with things anymore, too much
computers, too much digital, kept talking about “how it is used to be”, and how the new DXer’s
were just not like they were in the past,. Happily, I found those that were still excited, having
fun, and promoting DXing, far outnumbered those that were not. Those in this group were
having fun bringing new people in, enjoying trying to increase totals in the low bands, active in
many different projects, and in fact, this group had so many different reasons and diverse
interests and projects I cannot begin to list all of them. And again this was just my observations
from listening to many conversations around me, and meeting as many people as I could. Nothing scientific about it.
I was surprised at how few first timers there were at the convention. But then I heard constantly
how clubs were not attracting new DXer’s or contesters, were not having growth. If you have not
attended, I would encourage you consider it next year.
It was fun being with friends, meeting many new friends. I learned so much, in so many areas. I
had a lot of fun, really enjoyed myself, and came home ready to jump on the air. (So of course I
have been slammed at work since I got back, little time to operate), but fun times coming.
Everyone get out and enjoy operating in Field Day, take advantage of the many other
opportunities out there.