Thinking of attending Hamvention this year? Jay, WB8TKL gives us some good ideas for getting ready. Reprinted with permission.

Someone told me that Hamvention was like Mecca and you MUST go at least once in your lifetime. I got mixed up and thought they said that you can only MISS Hamvention ONCE in your lifetime 🙂 I’ve been to all of them since 1977 and have a few tips on how you can make the most out of attending Hamvention.

  • WALK! Weeks in advance you should get out and walk a mile or two or three every day to beef yourself up for all the walking you’ll be doing. Get used to being on your feet for several hours.
  • Over the weeks leading up to Hamvention, break larger bills into $10, $5, and $1 dollar bills. Don’t make the sellers burn through all their small bills.
  • Make a wish list. List the items you need for ongoing projects, and any future projects you hope to do over the next year.
    • Write down the specifications/details of any products you want.
    • Make an estimate of how many you’ll need and how much they’ll cost. Don’t forget to include spares!
  •  Stock up on supplies. I used to hit Mendelson’s first thing Friday morning, with my folding hand cart. I’d purchase 40 or 50 POUNDS of hardware of all sizes ($1.25 per pound). Then haul that heavy load
    back to my car well before I’d burn out walking all of Hamvention. This assured a life-long supply of hardware in my workshop. Did the same with rolls of resistors and capacitors, and filled my parts bin drawers back home.
  • Write down the phone numbers, flea market space numbers, motel name and room numbers, of any friends you hope to hook up with.
  • Put together a list of eateries near your motel that you’d like to try. Include their reservation phone number and address. Maybe make a plan for which place to eat on which night, and share that with your friends and buddies you would like to spend more time with.
  • Make a list of any evening events or dinners you’d like to attend.
  • Make a list of seminars you plan to attend. Note the day, time, and room number. This will help to keep you on schedule and not miss an important seminar you wanted to see.
  • Carry a “goodie bag” to collect all your small items and even some big ones. Picture one of those heavy cloth bags newspaper boys used to use on their routes. Sometimes I even carry smaller bags inside my Goodie Bag, just in case!
  • Carry a DMM and a multitool. Sometimes making a resistance check or popping the cover off a case, will confirm if that “deal” is a good one, or a boat anchor.
  • Be prepared for intense sunshine, rain, and even sleet! Carry a hat and a plastic rain poncho. If you don’t use the poncho to cover yourself from rain, you may be glad you have it to cover that $1000 radio you just bought.
  • Keep track of your purchases. Log every purchase on a small pad or on your wish list. Hamvention is long and tiring and your memory will evade you when trying to figure out where that last $300 went that you can’t account for.
  • Don’t keep all your cash in one pocket or wallet. Place your money in multiple pockets just in case you drop or misplace it!!! Use money clips if you have them. I account for all my cash-on-hand each day before I start out, and reconcile my funds back at the motel in the evening.

By having a plan and a shopping list you are likely to have a much better experience at Hamvention 🙂

—Jay, WB8TKL