Here is a teaser for Don K6GHA’s upcoming presentation at the November SLVARC meeting about his trip to the Friedrichshafen International Amateur Radio Exhibition in Germany. Don submitted his article to both SLVARC and SCCARC for a wider audience.  —Editor

Oktoberfest brings to mind two of my more favorite things, beer and ham (radio that is!). I consider myself fortunate this past June to attend the International Ham Convention, in Friedrichshafen Germany. This three day event is quite similar in nature to Dayton in that it has vendor areas, an educational class schedule, and a flea market. But that is where the similarities end, and the fun begins!

Neue Messe complex

Friedrichshafen is located in southwestern Germany in a wonderful little town on Lake Constance bordering Switzerland and Austria. This lakeside community of about 58,000 grows substantially each year with the International Amateur Radio festival in June. Hosted just outside the town, just beside its airport and the Zeppelin field, at the Neue Messe complex, the Ham Radio event couldn’t be located at a better facility.

large-hall-entrancePlan ahead for accommodations as hotels fill quickly each year. Also choose a way which suits you to travel to Friedrichshafen. I drove from Stuttgart enjoying the autobahn and gentle rolling hills and vineyards of southern Germany. But you can fly, ferry boat, or train into the area. Housing is at a premium, and transportation can adapt to your style by offing trains, busses, or autos.

As for the venue and event . . . Amazing! You will need good walking shoes to see it all! Take it from a first time attendee, with no guide, I had no trouble finding my way around with a little pre-planning. Dining is available in the Bier Garten in the middle of the complex.

One large hall was filled with new product vendors, regional clubs, a variety of ham and non-ham related retail equipment, and project teams (e.g. HamSat, boy scouts, builder area, etc.). Just this hall kept me busy for the first day of the event. In addition to the main hall, there were three additional halls of some of the most amazing European Ham clutter imaginable. For California locals, think of De Anza flea market three to four times over! Better yet, at the same time of the Ham Fest was a Builders Fair, the same weekend, featuring 3-D printing, Steam Punk, and robotics.Brush up on your German if you want to attend any educational presentations sessions at the convention; that is the language of choice. My German was acquired in 7th and 8th grade and my first year as a freshman in High School. All I knew (or could remember) was exhausted in the first 2 minutes of any presentation. Then the learning became a slide tour, and trying to put together information I had gathered at other similar events. Still interesting.

large-hall-insideEven though the sessions are in German all vendors and most attendees speak English. The friendly nature of this event makes you feel included and not excluded.

Seek out and don’t miss the hosted dinners at the event (e.g. Contest Dinner, Top Band Dinner, etc.). It is fun time getting to know folks at tables and sharing a meal. The ham folks are excited to have you visit and make you feel more than at home.

There is a lot to do in the city of Friedrichshafen. From garden island tours by boat, visiting the “Zeppelin Terminal” and taking a Ride (located next to the convention center), or visiting the Zeppelin Museum (downtown by the ferry terminal), you can arrive a few days early, get acclimatized, and still not be able to see all the city has to offer.

This was an event that gave me better insight into how popular “international” Ham Radio is in Europe, and the willingness of Hams all over the world to connect, share the excitement, and their experiences.

One big difference from any other Ham Convention you have ever experienced is, don’t be surprised when visiting a booth, someone hands you a beer! Simply reply “Prost, zum wohl!” (Cheers, to your health)! I can’t wait for a return visit!

For more information: (English web page)