Highlights from 2024 Orlando HamCation


Warm weather greeted the crowds of radio amateurs who attended the 2024 Orlando HamCation® from February 9 – 11. The convention hosted the ARRL Florida State Convention, but drew attendees from across the country, and some from even farther, renewing HamCation’s place as the second largest US ham radio convention.

HamCation is sponsored by the Orlando Amateur Radio Club (OARC). The convention was sprawled out across the Central Florida Fairgrounds, including a huge outdoor tailgate and buildings filled with exhibitors and swap tables. The convention enjoys significant participation from amateur radio manufacturers, dealers, clubs, and organizations. In the months leading up to this year’s convention, HamCation International Relations Co-Chairs, Lidy Meijers, KJ4LMM, and Peter Meijers, AI4KM, traveled to ham radio conventions across Europe to cast a spotlight on the convention. Their work paid off, garnering an attendance of amateurs from many other countries, and even attracting other international societies to exhibit, including the Radio Society of Great Britain, and the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (Germany).  

“It was very successful and very busy,” said OARC President John Knott, N4JTK. “The vendors reported traffic at their booths was high and both the trunk fest and the flea market were busy.” Knott also said that reservations filled 200 RV spaces.  

The East-West Hall included a row of booths organized by ARRL.  

In addition to supporting renewing members and those who joined ARRL for the first time, attendees also had the opportunity to meet ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR; CEO David Minster, NA2AA, and Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB. Baker also moderated the ARRL membership forum on Saturday afternoon. Together, Baker, Roderick, and Minster covered several key areas of membership interest. Roderick, who asked attendees to consider what they’ve done for amateur radio lately urged members to find opportunities to support new licensees and strengthen radio clubs.  

Minster spoke about a new, free ARRL membership offering for students 21 and younger that will be introduced soon. He also described ways that ARRL is increasing amateur radio’s role in education through teachers, students, and schools. “ARRL knows that amateur radio is an effective tool in developing student experiences in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines,” said Minster. “Our efforts to increase our outreach in education and other areas is playing a prominent role with the development of the new ARRL strategic plan.”  

Also participating at HamCation was ARRL Education and Learning Manager Steve Goodgame, K5ATA. Goodgame presented a forum covering recent efforts and success stories to develop pathways for more teachers and students to use amateur radio in their classrooms. His wife and member-volunteer Cyndi Goodgame, K5CYN, who is also an educator, engaged dozens of young and prospective hams by collecting their experiences and interests for ARRL’s ongoing work to increase outreach to students.  

A familiar face to many was ARRL National Instructor Gordon West, WB6NOA. In January, ARRL announced that it had become Gordon West’s new publisher of his popular license preparation books. “There was a steady stream of visitors that included recent licensees and instructors who enjoyed an eyeball with Gordo,” said Goodgame. HamCation attendees were also drawn to the ARRL booths to meet West. He was introduced as ARRL National Instructor at the membership forum. On Saturday night, HamCation recognized Director Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, and his wife Anita, AB1QB, awarding them with the 2024 Gordon West Ambassador of the Year Award.

The ARRL team also included Great Lakes Division Vice Director Roy Hook, W8REH; Northern Florida Section Manager Scott Roberts, KK4ECR and Section Emergency Coordinator Arc J. Thames, W4CPD; West Central Florida Section Manager Mike Douglas, W4MDD; Collegiate Amateur Radio Program Advisor Andy Milluzzi, KK4LWR; Maxim Society Member Holly Roderick; Honorary Vice President Frank Butler, W4RH; Assistant Member Services Manager Kim McNeill, KM1IPA; Director of Marketing and Innovation Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, and many DXCC card checkers, including: N2MFT, K3GO, K4SV, AG4W, KS4WA, KX4TT, K6ND, WA6POZ, W8BLA. ARRL also recognized member-volunteers Sloan Davis, N3UPS, and Tom Gaines, KB5FHK, for their help organizing satellite operating demonstrations.  

Visit the ARRL Facebook page to see a photo album from the convention.

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