Flea market season
Yesterday was opening day at the Stormville Airport flea market, which is about an hour and a half north of New York City. This to me indicates the start of this year’s flea market season. What’s available at a non-hamfest flea market? Well, my radio interests extend beyond Amateur Radio, so I always manage to find something interesting. I have a small collection of antique transistor radios, and always look for new, and interesting samples. I picked up a pristine Bulova MW/SW portable last year, which reminded me of a set I had as a kid. It has been re-capped, and is playing rather nicely. Some purchases I’ll admit end up on eBay eventually, after a good evaluation and cleaning. The Bulova is a keeper though.
So, is there anything of interest to a Ham at these events? For sure! A smartphone with good internet service is a HUGE help at flea markets. Quick lookups can tell you a lot about a prospective purchase. Yesterday I saw a few items, including some test equipment, an SWR meter, and 3 boxes filled with commercial radios and accessories. Watch the boxes under the edges of the tables for things like comercial radios, especially later this year when businesses and municipalities start dumping equipment that isn’t narrow-band compliant. The box I found had 450 mhz (not convertible to 440 according to some quick research on the iPhone) and 800 Mhz equipment, but a nice collection of Yaesu and Icom chargers, and some remote speakers. There was also a Motorola power supply for a mobile, a bunch of batteries, and a bag of about 30 HT antennas. After talking to the proprietor the price dropped to $100 for all three boxes of equipment. Reality struck though, and I passed on the lot, since I’m still sorting through the last pile of commercial radios I picked up.
As far as the Motorolas go, Watch for the VHF and UHF Jedi series radios. Many of the Jedis can be reprogrammed for amateur use. Ask around, and I’m sure someone you know through your club, or casual ham contacts knows how to program these. It requires the correct cable (eBay) and the Motorola MTSX software. Some of my fellow LIMARC members can attest to my fondness for the Motorola Jedi Series radios, which when successfully reprogrammed make a very nice 2 meter or 440 HT for event use, even if they are a bit heavy. The batteries will last through a whole event, and then some, and the durability is legendary. The common models to watch for are: HT1000, MT2000, MTS2000, MTX2000, JT1000, and MTX9000. The JT model is a great find, since it is actually field programmable. The 9000, is an inexpensive way to get on the 900 Mhz band. If you grab one that cannot be reprogrammed for Amateur radio use, don’t fret! Since most of the Jedis can be programmed to operate narrow band, they can be re-sold for commercial use, and usually at a nice profit. More info can be found over at Radio Reference.
One booth had a nice pile of antique headphones. I picked out a pair of Little Tattlers in fairly nice condition for $5. These will be used for a crystal radio project for now after getting cleaned up. There were 2 fairly clean Hallicrafters receivers, both S-120s though, which don’t impress me enough to consider.
We headed home with the Little Tattlers, a very interesting old espresso pot, and a bag of wasabi peas. Nice weather, good company, and an enjoyable hunt for interesting garb. A successful morning.
Another plus for hams is that the FCC is mandating that public safety upgrade their old radio gear that isn’t narrowband compatible by January 1, 2013.
Here is a list of Motorola radios that ARE NOT narrowband compatible:
Portables: CP100, GP300, GP350, HT50, HT600, HT90, MT1000, P100, P110, P200, P50, P50+, SP50, Saber
Mobiles: GM300, M100, M120, M206, M214, M216, Maratrac, Maxtrac, Mostar, SM120, SM50, Spectra Conventional
Bases & Repeaters: Flexar, Micor, Mocom 70, Motrac, MSF 5000
While many are quite old, the Saber radios were VERY expensive radios in their time. The build quality is second to none. The GP300 and GP350 were workhorses of public safety and virtually indestructible. There is some good life left in many of these radios.