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What is a Hamfest or Ham convention?

A Hamfest or Ham convention is a gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts, often organized by local amateur radio clubs or regional/national organizations. These events serve as a platform for amateur radio operators, also known as “hams,” to meet, exchange ideas, learn about new technologies and advancements in the hobby, buy and sell equipment, and participate in various educational and social activities.

Some common features and activities at Hamfests and Ham conventions include:

  • Vendor exhibits: Manufacturers, retailers, and individual sellers display and sell a wide range of amateur radio equipment, accessories, and related items. This can include new and used radios, antennas, power supplies, test equipment, and various electronic components.
  • Flea market or swap meet: Hamfests often have a flea market or swap meet area where attendees can buy, sell, or trade used equipment and components. This is an excellent opportunity for amateur radio operators to find good deals on used gear, locate hard-to-find items, or sell surplus equipment.
  • Educational presentations and workshops: Hamfests often feature presentations, workshops, and seminars on various amateur radio topics, such as operating techniques, equipment setup and maintenance, digital modes, emergency communication, and antenna design. These sessions provide an opportunity for attendees to learn new skills, gain knowledge, and interact with experts in the field.
  • Licensing exams: Many Hamfests offer amateur radio license examination sessions, allowing attendees to take the necessary tests to obtain or upgrade their amateur radio licenses.
  • Social activities: Hamfests provide a chance for amateur radio operators to meet and socialize with fellow hams, share experiences, and make new friends. Some events may also include dinners, banquets, or other social gatherings.
  • Special event stations and contests: Hamfests may feature special event stations, where attendees can operate radios and make contacts with other stations to commemorate the event. Some events also organize contests or competitions related to various aspects of amateur radio operation.
  • Awards and recognition: Ham conventions may recognize the achievements of amateur radio operators, such as long-distance communication accomplishments, public service efforts, or contributions to the advancement of the hobby.

Hamfests and Ham conventions are held throughout the year and vary in size and scope, from small local gatherings to large national and international events. These events provide a valuable opportunity for amateur radio operators to learn, socialize, and stay connected with the broader amateur radio community.

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