Ham conferences are good for learning more about the craft of radio, seeing what new products vendors have to offer, seeing how hams organize to support their hobby and in giving an assessment of the overall state of the hobby.

I’ve attended ham cons in Southern California before, but this was my first time attending Pacificon, Pacificon represents the ARRL Pacific Division. It is held annually. Principally there are several days of seminars with other activities interspersed.  I focused on the seminars. Friday was a day long series of session on antenna theory and practice, ranging from an overview of Maxwell’s equations to outfitting an antenna on a kayak.  Generally very good.

Saturday seminars I attended included a POTA/SOTA introduction,  description of the SOTAMaT self spotting platform, a discussion on incident response go-kits, and finally a fascinating presentation on the German Enigma crypto  machine and how it was deciphered in WWII.

Saturday was the NorCal SOTA lunch.  It was not advertised through SoCal mainling list.  I had to ask about it at the SOTA booth near the vendor area. They said it was announced on the NorCal SOTA mailing list. I made a note to get on NorCal list.  Saw a couple of SoCal callsigns I recognized – Claiborne N1CLC and Ron K6CPR.

There was a vendor area with many vendors and some ham organizations.  Yaesu and Icom but no Kenwood.  The only antenna vendor was Comet – I was hoping someone would have a 1.2 GHz beam to take home.  HRO had a large booth selling a variety of equipment and accessories.   I bought an Extra Class study book.

Boy Scouts had a very visible presence – likely working on a merit badge and hopefully getting licensed.  Also of note was a hands-on kit construction area where you could get advice on building ham projects.  I’ve participated in these at hacker cons (like Layer One) and think this could be a good bridge to the hacker/maker community.

It was obvious that the average age of the attendees was well post-retirement.  This does not bode well for the hobby.