Posted by: GW7AAV | June 6, 2009

Friedrichshafen 2009

International Exhibition for Radio Amateurs with HAMtronic – Electronics, Internet, Computer
June 26 – 28, 2009 Friedrichshafen, Germany

Even for anyone that has been living under a rock as regard the world of amateur radio will tell you the amateur radio rally scene has all but died in the UK. There are as always a number of factors that has led to its demise. As far as I can see it all started with the rise of home computing. Rallies when I was first licensed were acres and acres of real radios, bright shiny boxes, old dusty ex PMR and military sets waiting to be converted and great piles of bits suitable for conversions and home construction. Shortly afterwards the odd green-screened Tandy TRS-80 appeared and voices disappeared from the airwaves to be replaced by that infernal noise that they called packet radio. I too was drawn in and computers started to take over our lives. More and more computer gear started to appear at rallies and less and less radio gear with that came the backlash. “It’s all computers! I’m not coming back next year.” was heard at every rally we visited, an opinion that echoed around every repeater up and down the country before and for weeks after every rally. Numbers started to fall and as numbers fell the smaller traders dropped by the wayside until only two or three big boys such as Walters and Stanton and Martin Lynch were left. Venue costs skyrocketed as visitors fell and then the Internet boon meant anyone could buy or sell radio gear without travelling across half the country to do it, it was another nail in the coffin.

Fortunately there are still a few rallies hanging on by the skin of their teeth in the UK and I think I detect a returning to ‘real radio’ of those once lost to the glowing eye, probably because PCs are so much integrated as part of our everyday lives they have lost there draw. Then there is Ham Radio in Friedrichshafen, which is like every rally we ever had in the UK in one place at once. Fired by the fact that flights to Friedrichshafen are available for silly prices (£10 Ryan Air) it has become the number one destination in the rally calendar for many British radio hams.

I haven’t been yet and I will not be there this year, but it is something I intend visit sooner rather than later. Everyone makes at least one pilgrimage in his or her life, I have made a few, as a motorcyclist I visited the Isle of Man TT races every year for a while and as a golfer I played the Old Course at St. Andrews, as a radio ham I need to make the pilgrimage to Friedrichshafen, the biggest amateur radio event outside the US. How about you?

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