The Rupture 2011
Ethan Miller, K8GU, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Maryland, USA. Contact him at [email protected].
Thanks to some quick thinking on Sarah’s part, I was able to attend the Hamvention (Saturday only—the day that the sewer backed-up and “ruptured”…spewing nasty water down through the fleamarket) for the first time in a few years. This is a recap from my perspective.
- Attendance was down. The fleamarket was shrinking.
- There were a lot of lookers but few buyers in the fleamarket. Predict that the fleamarket will shrink further next year.
- There were still good deals to be found in the fleamarket—I picked up some LMR-600, a WA2AAU 2304-MHz amp (unmodified 1900-MHz PCS amp), a Rohn 45G rotator plate, some 20-GHz rated SMA relays, and some miscellaneous parts. And, I passed on a few good deals as well.
- I saw a lot more young people than I remember from past years. Or maybe I’m just getting older and the population of hams younger than me is growing on account of that.
- Hamabouts (and their drivers) were not so obnoxious as prior years.
- Hara Arena may be a dump (K1LT told me the story—don’t know if it’s true—that during the Rolling Stones first U.S. tour, they had been booked at Hara, but refused to play when they saw the facility); but, it’s perfect for the riff-raff who show up for the Hamvention.
- In the end, the Hamvention (like ham radio itself) is about the people you know and meet. I had fabulous eyeball QSOs with guys from almost all phases of my ham career (except the early years from 1993-2000). The VHF/UHF weak signal crowd is a pretty amazing bunch of hams. I had a great time getting to know some of them in the fleamarket.
Not surprised by your remark about the lessening size of the fleamarket. With the available, and in most cases more secure, on-line buy/sell/trade outlets the only thing a fleamarket provides is a source for low cost components for a junk box. Unless your hobby is haggling, that is.
They were great in their time, but their time is past.
I concur. More lookers than buyers. I also thought that the selection of low band gear was way down from last year. Still lots of Heathkit. Friday was a better fleamarket day than Saturday. Sunday it was a ghost town. The great rupture showed the real intelligence level of some of the folks in our hobby. Walking through this stuff is not a problem. Yeah Right!
Thanks, guys! Yes, online trading has done its part to kill fleamarkets, but they do still have their place for trading in very delicate, heavy, or inexpensive items that are not convenient or economical to ship. Honestly, most of my trading is done through my network, with delivery at hamfests or otherwise. Sorry that I missed Friday, but it was not in the cards this year and I still managed to spend all my money!
I would add that there seemed to be more inside vendors and there was a lot of very nice boatanchors inside and out. I hope this was due to the economy and not “estate sales” like I truely suspect.
I noticed the influx of younger hams. Both Stateside and (even more) DX. Thank God for that. I’m only 42 (licensed for 25) and I want to have someone to talk with (work) when I’m old enough to retire. Please encourage them even if you are annoyed by them. (Definition: Mentoring) Please.
I do also suspect that the S#!%storm on Saturday tempered sales in the Flea greatly.