Tom Perera - W1TP

The Dayton Hamfest is the largest hamfest in the world. It is always exciting and has gradually evolved into not only a wonderful and productive place to hunt for keys, but also a social gathering place for key collectors. The following is a report of my experiences during the 2009 season.

When I arrived at the hamfest on Thursday, setup day, the usual rainstorm was in progress.

During the morning the weather cleared and I set up my three tents, signs and tables with hundreds of telegrapgh keys and Enigma machines.

Other people were also setting up their equipment and we were all treated to the sight of this ham assembling the huge beam antenna that hung over the hamfest.

Neil Kaltman began putting out some of his telegraph keys and he was immediately surrounded by interested hams and collectors.

Matt Kurzdorfer, KB2LDZ, showed off his lovely weight-driven register and some of his antique radios.

This is a closer view of Matt's weight-driven register.

This lovely old Phelps spring-driven register was also being offered for sale by one collector.

This early land-line key was sold by one collector. Notice the unusual shorting lever design.

This World War II Japanese key was in nearly original condition.

This "73" Pocket Bug was seen to have a double base giving it extra weight and stability.

I found one of these tiny aluminum German bugs many years ago and this one showed up at the 2009 Dayton hamfest. It is the only other example of this key that I have ever seen.

Probably the best buy I know about was a lovely early Bunnell Gold Bug with the articulated paddle that sold for only $300.

The most important bug at the hamfest was this Starkins Equable electic motor driven bug. One very happy collector went home with it.

Richard Meiss, WB9LPU came over to my tables to show off his latest miniature springless bug. I had his roto-bug and his fully-automatic bug on my tables for people to try out.

During the rain storms that appeared intermittently, I had a chance to go inside the arena and take this picture of the main exhibition hall with its many antenna and equipment vendors.

All through the hamfest people had been talking about the wonderful BEGALI keys inside the arena.

I went in to congratulate Pietro Begali, I2RTF and someone took a picture of Pietro, his daughter Bruna, and me holding his newest bug which he calls the "Intrepid Bug".

Visit his website: to see the amazing design of this bug which has it's pendulum facing back at the operator.

Sadly, on Saturday afternoon, a mini tornado or microburst came along during a heavy rain storm and destroyed Jim Kreuzers tents and drenched his equipment.

I was congratulating myself on having weighted down all of my tent legs with 5 gallon buckets filled with water when suddenly another burst came along and lifted my entire 30 foot long tent complex into the air and dumped the mass of twisted metal 20 feet away.

Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt and no vehicles or pieces of equipment or keys were seriously damaged.

Every few years some really bad weather makes life difficult for us at the Dayton hamfest but it does not seem to keep many people from coming back year after year.

Well, that's about it for Dayton 2009. I made it back home with the remains of my pile of keys and am already looking forward to Dayton 2010 when I will be set up (with new tents) in the same spots around 2555. I can't wait to see what wonderful keys will show up next year !!

I hope to see you there... 73 Tom - W1TP