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Thousands attend ARRL centennial convention in Hartford

For three days in mid-July, Hartford, Conn. was ham radio Nirvana.

Well known ham radio educator Gordon West (WB6NOA) at his company's booth greeting fans.
photo by Peter Miller
Yaesu Electronics display at Hartford ARRL Centennial Convention
photo by Peter Miller

More than 4,000 ham operators from around the globe converged on the Connecticut Convention Center, celebrating the centennial anniversary of the American Radio Relay League, founded in Hartford in 1914.

Big name companies like Yaesu, Kenwood, ICOM and MFJ displayed their latest equipment, while other vendors large and small offered an array of hobby related goods and services.

Hams sporting call sign name tags met and mingled on the convention floor, and many placed their personalized acknowledgement cards (QSL cards) on a huge pin board outside the main exhibit hall.

Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator and longtime supporter of amateur radio, was the keynote speaker at the Friday night centennial banquet.

"Radio is one of the most resilient communications technologies we have,” he said.

“When the power is out and telecommunications are down, the amateur radio community can serve as a vital resource in support of emergency responders and survivors during a disaster,” he told a gathering of 800 dinner guests.

Also at the convention, Fugate and ARRL president Kay Craigie signed a memorandum of understanding, strengthening the relationship between ham radio and FEMA, in the area of disaster communications.

Fugate, who is licensed as KK4INZ, was presented with the ARRL Medal of Honor.

Meanwhile, attendees had the opportunity to attend more than 60 classroom forums and presentations.

Presenters included:

  • Riley Hollingsworth (K4ZDH), the former FCC enforcement official, who discussed the trials and tribulations of policing the ham frequencies;
  • Joe Taylor (K1JT), Nobel laureate astronomer and inventor of the digital radio format JT65, who discussed weak signal detection and new technologies;
  • Gordon West (WB6NOA), a well-known ham radio educator and author, who gave a presentation on signal characteristics of the UHF and VHF bands.