Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ham Expo?
Ham Expo is billed as the friendliest ham radio swap fest in Texas. It is a one-day event held on a Saturday in both the Spring and Fall. It is an indoor event that offers commercial and non-commercial vendors the opportunity to sell new and used ham radio equipment from both tables and vehicles.
How many people attend Ham Expo every year?
While we do not have an official count, we estimate between 1000 and 1500 people attend every year.
What is early set up?
Early set up is where vendors arrive and set up their tables or vehicle spaces on Friday. Since Friday is intended for set up we ask that only vendors be in the building.
Why only vendors on Friday?
Courtesy. The commercial vendors may need hours for set up. It is easier for them if they are not interrupted.
What kinds of things can I sell?
We prefer items related to amateur radio but we do not prohibit items geared toward the XYL.
What about selling guns and ammo?
No. Ham Expo is not licensed or insured for these types of items.
What about selling guns and ammo outside?
Ham Expo has been told that the seller must be licensed to sell these items.
What items are not allowed inside the building?
The Bell County Expo Center policy is NO smoking, NO alcohol, NO firearms and ONLY service animals.
Can I bring my pet?
As part of the contract, Ham Expo is given a copy of the rules and regulations for the facility. It states that only Service animals are permitted. If you bring your pet into the building and the Expo Center receives a complaint, you may be asked to leave the building. Ham Expo would not issue a refund.
What kind of security is at Ham Expo?
Paid security is in the building when it is locked for the night. Ham Expo workers and the vendors themselves make up most of the security while the building is open. Some TARC members are members of the Bell County Posse. When possible they ask other Posse members to volunteer as security. Law enforcement and active military in uniform receive free admission to Ham Expo.
Are Ham Expo workers paid?
No. All workers are strictly volunteers. TARC does provide a breakfast on the Saturday following a show for Ham Expo workers as a way of saying thanks.
Why does a raffle ticket now come with admission?
This change was made for two reasons. The first was to make the admission process quicker and easier. By combining the $3 admission ticket with a raffle ticket and charging $5 combined it made making change much easier. Second it presented a more stable amount to cover the cost of the three main prizes. Admission show to show does not vary as much as the raffle ticket sales did when it was separate.
Can I buy additional raffle tickets?
Yes. $2 each.
Can Ham Expo volunteer workers purchase raffle tickets?
Yes. Ham Expo has never prohibited workers from purchasing raffle tickets.
Do I have to be present to win?
Not for the three main prizes. Smaller vendor donated door prizes are drawn throughout the morning, which does require being present. Ticket holders have 15 minutes to claim these prizes before they are redrawn.
NOTE: If you win one of the smaller vendor donated prizes your raffle ticket is returned to the raffle barrel for the main drawings.
What do I put on my raffle ticket?
Name, call sign and phone number. We must be able to contact you for the main prizes since you do not need to present.
What time are the main prizes drawn?
12 noon or shortly thereafter.
Does Ham Expo offer VE testing?
Yes. A group of VE’s hold testing starting at 9:30 A.M. Location is the special events room, which is upstairs near the dome.
Are there any other activities such as seminars or speakers?
No.
Why not?
There are limited small rooms available at the Bell County Expo Center for these types of activities. The complex was designed and planned around large group events.
What are some of the commercial vendors that are at Ham Expo?
Houston Amateur Radio, WB0W, Tower Electronics, Sign Man, Flex Radio and others.
How can I advertise my location?
Signs, banners, flyers, table cloths, etc. Be sure not to cause damage to tables or walls when hanging or attaching these items.
What about using lights and sound?
Due to building acoustics and input from attendees Ham Expo does not allow amplified sound devices such as bullhorns or PA systems. Likewise other noisemakers like bells, horns, gongs, etc are not allowed. Strobe lights could potentially lead to seizures and are discouraged.
Conducting door prize drawings, paging attendees and announcing lost and found items require being able to hear the PA system used by Ham Expo.
Can I bring my RV or Travel Trailer?
Yes. But understand that Bell County Expo Center does not have any hookups at this time. There is a KOA near the Expo Center should you need hookups. Please park to the right of the Exposition Building close to Loop 121.
Is the Exposition Building ADA compliant?
The building does meet ADA requirements for the designed use of the building. Ham Expo lies somewhat outside the designed use therefore two port a potties (one being handicap) are located outside in front of the entrance.
When does the building open Saturday morning?
Vendors are allowed to enter beginning at 5:30 AM. This allows them to make last minute preparations prior to the start of the event.
Public enters at 7:00 AM.
What should I do as a vendor?
Come prepared. That includes bringing tarps, sheets, blankets, etc to cover your items when you leave the building.
There are a few locations where if you need power you will need to run an extension cord. It might be wise to bring one and perhaps some duct tape to secure it to the floor.
There should be plenty of chairs available. Tables are another matter. Ham Expo is probably the largest user of tables for any event at the Expo Center. If you purchase a vehicle space there are usually a few additional tables to rent but they go quickly. If you can bring your own, do so.
What about chairs for registered vendors?
Chairs are available on a first-come first-serve basis. You are free to bring your own but there are no guarantees for chairs.
Should I pre-register?
YES. Ham Expo has grown in popularity and there are no guarantees that there will be any tables or spaces available if you just show up.
What are the requirements of pre-registration and early set up?
As originally designed pre-registration meant you intended to arrive on Friday and set up early.
Due to the success of Ham Expo this has had to be altered. Please do your best to arrive on Friday. You are allowed to enter as late as 9:00 PM. But you will likely have to finish setting up on Saturday morning.
If you cannot arrive until Saturday morning you must show up NO LATER than 6:30 AM. This is so we can get your vehicle either parked in your space or unloaded and back outside before the public enters at 7:00 AM.
If you show up later than 6:30 AM. you will have to carry your items to your spot.
How do I get my vehicle in and out of the building?
Come to the front tables and ask for assistance. Ham Expo workers must help you when entering or leaving the building. It is also a good idea to have your lights on, including hazard lamps. Drive slowly, watching for hazards and follow the instructions of the spotters helping you.
When can vendors leave on Saturday?
The first and foremost duty is to the safety of everyone walking inside during Ham Expo. If you find that you must leave before the grand prizes are announced, (the crowd thins after this point) you have to come to the front tables and request assistance from Ham Expo workers to spot for you and direct you and your vehicle in and/or out of the building. If it is determined that it is not possible to get you out when you like you may have to wait until it is safer.
Is there an ATM?
There is an ATM located on site. There is one located next to the concession booth and one located in the entrance to the Dome.
Are there refreshments?
There is a concession booth inside the building that is in operation for Saturday.
When is Set Up on Friday?
Commercial vendors are allowed to set up beginning at Noon.
Non Commercial vendor set up begins at 2:00 PM.
Ham Expo needs time to number tables, check table layout, hang banners and signs, mark spaces, etc. Please do not ask to come in prior to the listed times.
What is a commercial vendor?
A person whose primary source of income is the selling of merchandise (usually new) and has a tax ID number and business name.
What is a non-commercial vendor?
Everyone else.
What is going on in the parking lot?
Some people choose to sell outside. But due to not being able to announce door prizes outside, Ham Expo treats outside vendors as a separate event and not officially part of Ham Expo.
Can I sell outside?
Yes. A $5 donation is requested from each outside vendor that is selling. We ask that outside sellers leave the half of the parking lot closest to the building available for parking by those attending Ham Expo.
Can I have my vehicle in my space?
Yes on two conditions. If you want your vehicle in your space Saturday morning it needs to be left there Friday night. You must also follow the Bell County Fire Marshall regulations pertaining to vehicles inside the building. See Ham Expo registration for a listing of these regulations.
How big are the tables?
30 inches by 8 feet.
How big are the vehicle spaces?
Approximately 10 feet by 15 feet.
Can I get more than one vehicle space?
Yes. In the Special Needs section of the online registration please indicate whether you want the spaces side by side or pull through (as in leaving a vehicle and trailer hitched together.
What if my vehicle is too big for a space?
Tape measures are your friend. Hitch that trailer up and measure instead of guessing. Pickups are getting huge. If you have a quad cab, crew cab, long bed, etc try to let us know.
You may not be able to put a table in front of your lowered tailgate if it intrudes too much into the walking aisle. Bottlenecks only prevent people from circulating; they don’t get you more sales.
The length of your truck may require you being located on the right most aisle which is wider due to table layout.
Can I change what I want when I show up? Table or space, how many?
Possibly. The earlier you show up on Friday the greater the chance that you can be accommodated.
Can I be located next to a friend?
Both parties need to indicate in the Special Needs area of the online registration that they need to be located next to each other.
Be sure to use the first and last name of both parties as used on the registration.
Or have only one-person register and buy both spaces. Then when each of you shows up you can be shown the location.
Can I get a certain location in the building?
The policy is to locate first based on longevity, taking into account where vendors were located the past two events, as well as the number of tables or spaces wanted.
We have to do some juggling when vendors change the number of tables or spaces from previous shows. Logically the largest vendors have to be placed first working down to individual tables or spaces.
We also consider any special needs such as health related requests, etc.
NOTE: An increase in the number of extra long pickups may force changes on vendors that traditionally had their vehicle space on the right most aisle.
As Ham Expo grows what can I do to help?
Conservation of space.
Take time to examine how you layout your items and how many tables and vehicle spaces you use.
While it may be nice to have your stuff on the floor in one vehicle space while your vehicle sits idle in another consider leaving your vehicle outside. That frees up a space and allows an additional vendor to join in the experience of Ham Expo. Just pull in to load up after it is over.
If you and your buddy only have a few items each on your tables why not share a table? It also keeps an eye on your stuff while you look around and you can do the same for your buddy.
Other questions?
Use the email contact link on the TARC.org webpage.