Amateur Radio Digital Communications Conference Ideas

These impressions and ideas are personal opinions, partially formed from having participated in organizing past DCCs and MHDCs.

Existing Amateur Radio Digital Communications Conferences

ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC)
Annual, 3 days, held in Fall, moves around North America
2015 tentatively to be held in September, in Chicago, IL USA
Papers are submitted prior to the conference, they're printed in a Conference Proceedings book. Paper authors are offered the first opportunity to present at the DCC (doesn't have to be verbatim recitation, or even about the same subject, as their submitted paper). Presentations are Friday and Saturday, with a half-day "deep dive" topic on Sunday. Saturday evening banquet includes an interesting speaker that is not necessarily related to Amateur Radio, or Digital Communications.

Things done right with the DCC:

  • Held at a professional conference venue, typically a conference facility within a hotel - makes for easy movement and comfort of conference attendees
  • For the last several years, Ham Radio Now video podcast has recorded the entire DCC and made each presentation (including the evening banquet speaker and the Sunday "deep dive" session, for free on Ham Radio Now and YouTube. This has been funded by crowdfunding campaigns.
  • Make available a reasonably big "show and tell" area for demonstrations
  • Sporadically, side trips are arranged for interesting local venues (DCC 2014 held in Austin, TX USA offered a visit to Flex Radio)

Issues with the DCC:

  • Given that it requires travel for most of its attendees, lack of publication of the papers / speakers until the weeks before (at best) the conference are frustrating to potential attendees.
  • Questionable value-add from "co-sponsorship" of the ARRL (seems like unnecessary overhead given that TAPR does all the work)
  • Dependence on local "co-host" unfamiliar with all the details of a DCC sometimes results in sporadic, inconsistent organization

MicroHAMS Digital Conference (MHDC)
Annual, 1 day, held in Spring, in Redmond, WA USA (to date)
2015 was held Saturday, 2015-03-21, in Redmond, WA USA
Presenters are solicited for 5-6 presentation slots.

Things done right with the MHDC:

  • Held in the Seattle, WA, USA area which has a lot of Amateur Radio Digital Communications (mostly DATA) development
  • Presentations are posted on the website prior to presentation, or shortly after

Issues with the MHDC:

  • Poor marketing / outreach; resulted in poor attendance in 2015
  • Increasingly, the presentations are "more of the same"
  • Held at Microsoft campus - external access is "locked down" (outside doors locked) with spotty assistance at the desk
  • No concerted effort for "report out" from the various Seattle-area groups making progress on Amateur Radio Digital Communications (mostly DATA) development
  • Don't encourage / solicit corporate sponsorships to reduce costs or improve conference

Ideal Digital Communications Conference

  • Held in a consistent, attractive-to-visit venue with competitive conference pricing
    • Seattle
    • Las Vegas
    • Orlando
  • Advertise / market intensively at least four months in advance
  • Advertise / market outside normal Amateur Radio "venues", such as IEEE, local universities with electrical engineering programs,
  • Focus on DATA Communications
  • De-emphasize systems that don't rely on the Internet as a "first hop" connection (such as D-Star DVAPs, etc.)
  • Projects / products based on Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black should be emphasized as being interesting ot maakers
  • Choose the topics / presenters well ahead of time so the presentations can advertised
  • Record / edit / post to YouTube, etc. like Ham Radio Now
  • Allow the use of recorded video presentations or video teleconference
  • Must have high-capacity / high speed Wi-Fi Internet Access (DCC attendees demand it / swamp a lesser connection)
  • Hybrid funding model - crowdfunding campaign and attendance fees
  • Actively solicit large and small Amateur Radio manufacturers to sponsor and attend
  • Solicit and fund (provide a stipend) student papers for presentation at DCC
    • Require a university professor to vet the submissions

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