I wrote a few weeks ago about ham radio flea markets. Over a week ago I attended the Ham Radio show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. This is the biggest ham radio show in Europe and has the usual big-convention mix of commercial exhibitors, national society exhibits, conference-style forums, and... a flea market.
The commercial vendors are not unlike those at the Dayton Hamvention, which is the biggest ham radio gathering in the US. The usual suspects are there, including Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu. And the newcomers like FlexRadio. But there are also a lot of European-based manufacturers, producing power amplifiers, antennas, and various accessories -- many of which never travel to Dayton to show and sell their products.
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A Russian GU81 power tube at the Ham Radio show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, June 2013.
(Source: Doug Grant)
The exhibit area is terrific: clean, air-conditioned, high ceilings, lots of natural light. If you have been to the Dayton Hamvention, the Friedrichshafen exhibit area is at least 40dB better. An area is set aside for the national societies and clubs to show their projects, recruit members, and show off their country's latest accomplishments. Very few booths are similar at Dayton (ARRL, RSGB, and Qatar ARS this year if my memory serves), but a couple dozen at Friedrichshafen.
The conference-style forums cover all the usual subjects, including technical topics, operating, travel, antennas, and more. The forum rooms are very professional, and again the contrast with the makeshift facilities in Dayton is dramatic.
The flea market is indoors, in two high-ceilinged halls, with tables laid out in precise rows. Stuff for sale looked mostly like what you might see at Dayton, with a few exceptions. Lots of parts (although I did not manage to find the power resistors I need to fix my amplifier); a fair amount of test equipment; with R&S stuff alongside the usual HP and Tektronix boxes, cables, connectors, and so forth. But you can find a lot of Russian surplus gear that we never ever see in the US, including radios and high-power transmitter parts -- tubes, high-voltage/high-current RF capacitors, and relays. If I were interested in building a new HF or VHF kilowatt amplifier, all the parts were there, with a much wider selection than I've ever seen at Dayton.
I'd encourage any ham to figure out a reason to be in Germany at the end of June some year and squeeze in a trip to Friedrichshafen. It's worth a visit.