A hobby without borders: Friedrichshafen plays host to the amateur radio world

The 47th International Amateur Radio Exhibition from June 28 to 30, 2024, offers opportunities for networking, purchasing, and discussion – Exhibition slogan: “60 years of Islands On The Air: Where technology meets adventure!” – New entry-level amateur radio license N
June 28, 2024

Friedrichshafen – For all who enjoy taking a quick trip around the world on a radio wave, Ham Radio 2024 will again be bringing together radio amateurs and technology enthusiasts from June 28 to 30. Participants will be able to exchange ideas with international radio contacts and shop for technical accessories from among 380 commercial exhibitors and flea market vendors from 32 countries. “As the largest amateur radio fair in Europe, we welcome visitors from all over the world and the region to Friedrichshafen each year. We provide a comprehensive experience for enthusiasts of this diverse hobby, with a combination of commercial exhibitors, a bustling flea market, and a top-notch supporting program in collaboration with our collaborative partner, the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC),” says Project Manager Petra Rathgeber. In keeping with this year’s trade fair theme of “60 years of Islands On The Air: Where technology meets adventure!” radio fans can look forward to events centered around the topic of “island hopping.” New features of the event include the inaugural exams for the newly launched Class N amateur radio license and the Innovation Hub of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).

At the largest trade fair in Europe for amateur radio enthusiasts, more than 380 participants, comprising 150 commercial exhibitors and 230 flea market vendors, will showcase a wide array of products and training opportunities across four halls and the Foyer West. The IARU Innovation Hub will be held in Zeppelin CAT Hall A1 for the first time, and DARC’s new AfuBarcamp promises to offer engaging professional discussions both in person and online on the Sunday of the trade fair starting at 10 am. The next generation of amateur radio fans will face challenges and receive motivation and encouragement at various stations. “Engaging with radio technology enhances comprehension of STEM subjects, while opportunities to practice foreign languages are also provided through global communication on the radio. We aim to enhance public awareness of the opportunities available to companies and professionals by extending the event to two career days and setting up our new Job Wall. We are engaging children and young people through the Ham Camp and the Ham Rally, introducing them to the technical hobby in a fun and educational way,” explains Project Manager Petra Rathgeber.

DARC and the Amateur Radio and Telecommunications in Schools Working Group (Arbeitskreis Amateurfunk und Telekommunikation in der Schule, AATiS) are also dedicated to sparking interest among young people in computer science and electronics. The teacher training courses on June 28 in Hall A2 will help educators gain insights and strategies for incorporating current topics in science and technology teaching, whether in the form of a smartphone experiment or a photonics project. The popular flea market in Halls A3 and A4 is both a treasure trove and a bargain paradise. This market offers a wide selection of historical radios, transistors, radio devices, and other technical accessories for electronics enthusiasts, makers, and radio fans.

Islands On The Air: Where technology meets adventure

Established in 1964, the global initiative known as Islands On The Air (IOTA) encourages radio communication with stations located on islands all over the world. “In the past, it was common to simply ‘collect’ countries. However, the opportunities to visit different countries are limited for amateur radio operators. As part of the IOTA program, over 1000 island groups worldwide have been identified for activation and radio communication,” explains DX Officer at DARC Enrico Stumpf-Siering, DL2VFR. Island hunters can explore a wide range of islands, from the Baltic Sea’s Usedom to remote, uninhabited islands in the world’s oceans. Such islands can be visited only at great expense due to factors such as nature conservation regulations, political restrictions, or challenging geographical conditions. “Some islands have not yet been visited and have not been activated. The program ignites a desire to travel to destinations that you would otherwise never see. This resulted in me exploring Greenland and several islands in Scandinavia,” he explains, continuing with: “Traveling to an island and spending time there is truly an adventure. On uninhabited islands, the length of your stay is determined by the amount of food and drink you bring with you. You also need to make a plan for supplying yourself with electricity.” Enrico Stumpf-Siering sums up: “From near to far, from civilization to solitude, whether solo or with a group, and whether you activate or radio the islands, participating in the IOTA program can provide the perfect amount of adventure tailored to your preferences.” In honor of its 60th anniversary, a special exhibition will be held in the Foyer West to commemorate this friendly competition among radio amateurs. At the DARC lecture program, international “island hoppers,” among others, will come together on stage to share with the audience their passion for this unique program.

New entry-level amateur radio license for the first time at Ham Radio

Increasing interest in amateur radio will be facilitated by the launch of the Class N entry-level license, as outlined in the new Amateur Radio Ordinance (AFuV), starting in June 2024. The inaugural exams based on the new catalog of questions will be held at this year’s Ham Radio event. “We have slightly reduced the technical requirements for the candidates. We wanted participants to move away from rote memorization and instead acquire knowledge that is relevant and practical. In the future, getting started in our exciting hobby should be faster and more accessible, even for those without extensive technical expertise,” reports the committee chairman for AFu exams, DK2PZ. The N license allows for radio operation on three bands with limited transmission power. “Newcomers to the hobby are thus equipped to transmit on emergency radio if necessary. Newly licensed radio amateurs have the potential to communicate with other radio amateurs around the world, provided that the radio conditions are favorable. However, we also aim to motivate them to take the next step by specializing or broadening their expertise,” emphasizes Manfred Lauterborn. The foundation for expanding into Classes E and A is laid with Class N, and the N license is already in high demand across Germany. The exam scheduled for Saturday at the Conference Center East (Rome room) during the trade fair has been fully booked with around 50 participants for several weeks now. There are still a limited number of spots available on the Friday of the trade fair. YouTuber Michael Reichardt and speaker Matthias Jung will also be signing copies of their new book on the Class N license course on Friday at 11 am in Zeppelin CAT Hall A1.

Tickets and opening hours

Ham Radio will take place from Friday, June 28, to Sunday, June 30, 2024, and will be open to the public from 9 am to 6 pm on Friday and Saturday, as well as from 9 am to 3 pm on Sunday. The day ticket is available online for 13 euros at: https://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/fuer-besucher/oeffnungszeiten-und-preise. Tickets for school classes are priced at 5 euros per person and can only be purchased at the gate on-site. Further information is available at: https://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/

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