The annual Dayton foofarall has passed, and all of the pundits have pronounced it a smashing success/total failure. Regardless of the final judgment, like most of life, we can all agree it wasn't what it used to be. Not that it ever was.
It had been quite a spell since Cousin QRM had haunted the halls of Hara. Despite rumors to the contrary, the reason had nothing to do with an event resembling a famous scene from the movie "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou" that ended with the catchphrase, "… and STAY out of the Woolsworth." Why, there haven't been Woolsworth's around since Cousin was a knock-kneed Novice learning which end of the soldering iron to hold.
Despite having depleted the rig and DXing funds visiting the Mouse House just a week earlier, Cousin QRM and Rusty Key made the trek to Dayton representing the Lost Island DX Society. Besides the dazzling array of rigs and toys displayed by the manufacturers, our primary goal was to try and blend in with the Big Gun DX and contesting crowd over at the Crown Plaza and hopefully learn some of the hallowed Secrets of The Big Guns. There were rumors that Macho Cueso might make an appearance, but alas, border security is much tighter these days.
Our pilgrimage began properly Friday morning with the flea market. Right off the bat, we ran into a tremendous deal for the budding Big Gun - a 5kW amplifier. It was a beauty of construction and reasonably priced at a little over a $1/watt. Rusty was tempted, but decided that he didn't need another driver amp for the shack, so he passed. If some contester or DX'er did not pick it up, I'm sure we'll hear it on 75m SSB one day.
At the inside exhibits, Cousin and Rusty made their way to the booths of the radio manufacturers to ogle radios they could not afford. Cousin QRM made the observation that visits to the Icom and Yaesu booths were a little like a visit to the local topless club. You can eyeball and drool over the goodies all you like, and you might even get to tweak a knob or two, but you know there's no way you can afford to take one home. Strangely enough, the cover charge to get in is about the same.
The highlight of the weekend was getting to spend time with Dash the Dog Faced Ham, or at least his human counterpart, Jeff, K1NSS. Jeff and Dash graciously allowed the LIDS to hang around their booth where he was premiering the second of Dash's books. If you missed getting yours at Dayton, you can order them online, but you won't get them signed by the author.
Cousin spent some time at the Antenna and Contesting forums. The crowd was inspired by NR5M's story of what you can accomplish on a small urban lot and with no budget. It gave us all hope. Rusty Key sat through a talk on how to become a 50 wpm cw wizard and then turned to Cousin and said, "A is dit-dah, right?"
In the evenings, the LIDS snuck over to the Contest Super Suite at the Crown Plaza and waited for someone to spot them as intruders and toss them out (see second paragraph above). But amazingly, no one spotted the Peanut Pistol s and allowed them to stay.
Saturday night the LIDS and Dash snuck into the Contest Dinner and tossed bon mots at the speakers from a far corner while chewing on Not-Quite-Ready-For-Primetime Rib. Dash seemed humored by Cousin's color commentary as they played Spot-the-Big-Gun, which was as easy as shooting monkeys in a barrel, and about as organized.
It was rumored that Rusty Key accidentally got in the line for the pileup contest at the Kansas City DX Club's suite, thinking it was the drink line. The next day, Rusty showed up with a gift certificate, claiming he won it in the pileup contest despite being a no-code Extra. The rest of the LIDS remain dubious and are still on the lookout for reports of a mugging at the Crown Plaza Saturday night. So far, there is nothing to pin on Rusty. Maybe he did get something out of that 50 wpm talk.
Returning ,inspired from the mere proximity to Big Gun greatness, the LIDS are itching for the next big contest. Even if they can't afford the latest DX Machine or a climbable tower, Dayton always serves as a salve for the soul of the DX'ers and Contesters. See you in the pileups. We'll be part of that rumble you can't quite copy.