Atlanticon QRP Forums
Recaps & Photos ... 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Atlanticon Proceedings (CDs and printed booklets) are still available ... see ordering details here
What Was The Atlanticon QRP Forum?
"Atlanticon" was a weekend of QRP fun, presentations and social gathering hosted by the NJQRP Club and sponsored by the AmQRP Club each spring for nine consecutive years from 1999 through 2007. QRPers from all over the US (and internationally) would show up for this annual event held in Baltimore, Maryland at the end of March during the weekend of the popular Greater Baltimore Computerfest and Hamboree. The hotel was very close to the state fairgrounds in Timonium and special rates were established for QRPers planning to attend.
Why Are There No More Atlanticons?
1) Dwindling attendance
Attendance has been declining in recent years, and last year was a record low of 85 people. Take out the spouses coming along for the fun, the club officers who organize the whole thing, and the speakers whose travel was subsidized for attending, and that leaves about 68 guys. Going back in previous years we've had 92, 116, 145, 175, 193, 171, 130, and 65 for our first year of 1999. It seems the interest, popularity and spark has dwindling here on the east coast.
2) Dwindling enthusiasm
There has been very little lead-in or follow-up enthusiasm for the event in recent years. Despite the normal hype cycle we all follow in advertising/promoting our QRP events around the country, there is diminishing excitement for Atlanticon demonstrated on the lists, in email dialog and at other related events throughout the year.
3) The "Atlanticon Kit" model no longer works
Increasingly, we are seeing people sign up to attend the event in order to get in advance only to get the "free kit" that had become our trademark, around which we had built the annual event theme and Saturday evening festivities. Many of us recall the incredible excitement and participation during one year's event that featured PSK31 Beacons warbling throughout the hotel that evening, or the Badgers clipped to our shirts beeping out special messages in Morse codes that people were able to solve. However now in recent years, only a small handful of attendees even bothered building their kits in advance, while we see unbuilt Atlanticon Kits being auctioned off on the lists and eBay. Clearly this approach has lost its appeal.
Perhaps skipping a year will make the heart grow fonder. Other QRP weekends seem to be doing well, which is wonderful and we try to attend and help out in as many of those as possible. But when even a majority of the local hams from the home-and-surrounding QRP clubs don't make the effort to attend Atlanticon, even for the day, this is telling us something.
We haven't given up on QRP forums here, by any stretch. Those of you who know us realize that we have been, and continue to be "in this for the long haul" and we're already working on some different angles for spinning up local interest again. When we look at the three main interests that people have on the popular reflectors - operating, homebrewing, and collecting unbuilt kits - there are some interesting opportunities for us to focus on.
Then when you throw in some ancillary dimensions of the hobby like new technologies, new modes, new public service opportunities, and youngsters joining the ham ranks, we can step out of the boxes we've built ourselves into over the years are really create some nation-wide enthusiasm. THIS is what we are looking at doing, and this is what we think will help out our hobby in years to come.
So if you are lamenting the demise of Atlanticon, please make the effort instead to attend one of the other QRP weekends held throughout the country ... and help us construct a newer, fresher, more exciting and enticing east coast venue downstream.
73, George N2APB
Last Modified: February 23, 2010