This past weekend I visited the Huntsville Hamfest and had a wonderful time, not the least that I picked up all sorts of weird and wonderful things to play with.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my chum, Rick Curl, asking if I was planning on going to the Huntsville Hamfest. In case you are unfamiliar with this term, a Hamfest is a convention of amateur radio enthusiasts. It often involves a combination of a tradeshow, a flea market, and a variety of activities of interest to amateur radio operators, a.k.a. "hams."
I responded that I hadn’t planned on it for a number of reasons, the main one being that I didn’t even know that there was a hamfest planned. Of course, there was also the fact that I don’t have a great deal of interest in amateur radio. Rick replied that the Huntsville Hamfest was a lot of fun and that it involved a lot of general electronics "stuff" in addition to the radio side of things.
Based on what Rick told me, I decided to go down, and I'm so glad I did because I had a blast. I got there early and was one of the first in (I don't like to miss anything). The picture below was taken just a few minutes after the show opened -- at that time there were really long lines of people still queuing up outside waiting to buy tickets:
About 30 minutes after the above picture was taken, the show was absolutely jam-packed. As Rick had promised, although many booths were focused on radios, there was much more on offer. One vendor, for example, focused on vacuum tubes. As you can see in the photograph below, this guy's table was laden with boxes of old tubes:
Now, one of my ongoing hobby projects is to build a "Man vs. Woman Display-O-Meter" (don’t ask). As part of this, I've been slowly accumulating old analog meters. I've picked up a couple from eBay, and a few from my local electronics recycling facility, but generally speaking they are horrendously expensive and few and far between. So you can only imagine the squeal of delight that ensued when my gaze fell upon the scene shown below:
Can you see the sign saying "All Meters $2.00 each"? Suffice it to say that my heart was pounding and I could hear a ringing sound in my ears. It was around this time that I began to curse myself for not bringing a backpack. I quickly purchased a substantial number of these little scamps, which are now sitting proudly on the bookshelves in my office.
The bottom line is that you couldn’t hope to meet a nicer (or stranger) bunch of people. Also, you get to root around through mountains of modern and antique electronic parts and products. What more could one ask from a Saturday morning? I've already marked my calendar for the 2014 Huntsville Hamfest, and I'll be keeping my ears open for any similar events occurring in my area.
How about you: Have you ever attended one of these happenings in your own locale? Are there any shows like this that you would recommend? If so, please share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of us.