The ARRL National Convention kicked off this morning with over 1,000 hams gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. There, they attended one of four simultaneous practice tracks taking place in the morning and afternoon, cut in half by the midday convention lunch.
The four training tracks were Contest University, Emergency Communications Academy, Hands-On Handbook and Technology Academy. At the University of the Contest, which was led by Course Designers Tim Duffy, K3LR, and Teri Grizer, K8MNJ, along with ARRL Staff Liaison Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, participants gathered tips and knowledge on how to improve and optimize their competition techniques and skills, not just for fun and points, but as rehearsal for emergency communications when the assistance of amateur radio operators is absolutely necessary.
There was a packed house at the Emergency Communications Academy, which covered current protocols, techniques and responsibilities of volunteer radio amateurs serving partner public safety entities. Thanks for this workshop to Track Leader Rick Palm, K1CE; Senior Instructor Gordon Gibby, KX4Z; ARRL Liaison Officer Mike Walters, W8ZY, and a panel of nationally recognized experts and trainers.
The practice Manual Track presented attendees with a variety of presentations on amateur radio operational practices, such as dealing with radio interference, writing ham-related programming code, remote operation, and more. Trackmaster was Josh Nass, KI6NAZ, familiar to many radio amateurs as the creator of the popular Ham Radio Crash Course YouTube channel and 2020 ARRL Bill Leonard Award winner, and ARRL staff liaison was Steve Goodgame, K5ATA.
The Technology Academy was led by Kristen McIntyre, K6WX, ARRL Director, Pacific Division, with ARRL Staff Liaison Ed Hare, W1RFI. The track took participants through topics such as RF exposure compliance, SWR and digital communications.
The luncheon keynote speaker was ARRL CEO David Minster, NA2AA, who addressed the passion for amateur radio and encouraged everyone to go “radioactive”.