It was that time again over the weekend: Antennas, radio equipment, brand-new transmitter and receiver systems, and a varied accompanying program on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects attracted 11,100 visitors to the fairgrounds in Friedrichshafen. Radio fans from 59 countries came together to celebrate their annual international reunion and to use the Ham Radio as a platform for sharing ideas. “The Ham Radio lived up to its reputation as Europe’s largest amateur radio exhibition. In cooperation with the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC) as the perfect partner for the event, we showed that amateur radio plays an important role in society. This year’s slogan ‘We’re all about STEM!’ was brought to full fruition, with many activities focusing on work with young people, something that really brought in the crowds,” say Messe Friedrichshafen Managing Director Klaus Wellmann and Project Manager Petra Rathgeber, who were delighted with the success of the event. A total of 392 participants, including 149 commercial exhibitors and international associations as well as 243 flea market exhibitors, represented the great diversity of the radio world.
You could sense STEM fever in all three halls, Foyer West, and Open-Air Area West. Science was everywhere you looked, from lectures on the basics of computer science and radio technology to the launch of the stratospheric balloon and teacher training. On Friday, some 140 teachers had the chance to acquire the latest knowledge for engaging in practical, hands-on instruction in schools. Another highlight of the exhibition was the experimental balloon launch on Saturday morning. Hundreds of people interested in radio gathered at Open-Air Area West to eagerly await the ascent of the specially designed flying object, which began with a countdown. They then traced its journey in real-time by following along with the transmission in Foyer West.
Visitors could also check out other radio experiments at the German Amateur Radio Club’s newly designed booth. Children and young people were able to tinker about and make things there under guidance, as well as test their knowledge at the Ham Rally. The return of the technical scavenger hunt featured 25 stations. The young amateur radio fans were able to try their hand at Morse code, assemble technical kits, pass the QSL card quiz, and reach out to astronauts on the International Space Station. Christian Entsfellner, Chairman of the German Amateur Radio Club, was also quite pleased with the success of the Ham Radio: “We are really happy with the way this year’s exhibition went. We especially liked the international flair of the event and the great atmosphere over the last three days. We were also able to perfectly stage the slogan “We’re all about STEM!” with our new booth concept, individual knowledge focal points, and innovation stands. With all of this, we demonstrated that we are very much in sync with the spirit of the times. The importance of amateur radio for society was also illustrated by the signing of the new Amateur Radio Ordinance by Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport Dr. Volker Wissing just in time for the Ham Radio. We are very excited that there will be a new entry-level class in the future, and that remote operation will be simplified.” For the coming year, the German Amateur Radio Club plans to further promote youth work as well as training and continuing education.
The long-time radio amateurs also experienced a unique radio adventure. In addition to do-it-yourself antenna building, numerous workshops, expedition presentations, and the treasures to be found at the flea market, there were new products and many different exhibitors to discover in Zeppelin Cat Hall A1. Compared to last year, 15 percent more commercial exhibitors and international associations (previous year: 129) participated in Ham Radio 2023.
In the discussions, many exhibitors had very positive things to say about how this year’s exhibition went. Michael Bürck, Sales Communication at JVC Kenwood Deutschland GmbH, provided the following summary: “We are very satisfied with the exhibition and had many good conversations. We rolled out our new THD75 E handheld radio this year, and the response to the product was very good. Here at the booth, we met visitors who were both international and very savvy. The Ham Radio is one of the three big trade shows for us, so it’s absolutely vital for us to take the opportunity to present ourselves and speak with the public at this venue.” Thorsten Chmielus, Chief Executive Officer of Aaronia AG, was also very satisfied with the exhibition: “Our first Ham Radio participation went really well for us, especially the presentation of our SDR product and our sales activities. We were literally overrun with visitors. The decision to present at the Ham Radio turned out to be extremely worthwhile for us, and we will be coming back every year in the future.” Bonito owner Dennis Walter also expressed great anticipation for Ham Radio 2024. “We were thrilled with Ham Radio 2023. It had a good atmosphere that was both positive and relaxing. The visitors took such an interest in our products that we had sold out of some of them already on Friday. Our new concept with the workshops also worked out perfectly. All of them were fully booked. We’re already looking forward to next year’s exhibition.”
It wasn’t just the exhibiting companies but also the international associations who were pleased with the Ham Radio as a meeting place for amateur radio. “For the Ham Radio, our focus is on speaking with a lot of members, retaining them, and attracting new members. All the work we do here is to be understood under the heading of ‘fostering international understanding,’ which is what the Ham Radio is all about. Visitors from all five continents are here, making it an international event of the highest order. Contacting people by radio and Skype is always possible, and that was also the case during the coronavirus pandemic, but there really is no substitute for chatting live and in person!” says Prof. Dr. Achim Rogmann, Chairman of the association EUDXF.
The next Ham Radio will be held again in Friedrichshafen, Germany, from Friday, June 28, to Sunday, June 30, 2024.