This past Sunday morning, bright and early, I made my way out to my second Chicagoland hamfest, the Six Meter Club of Chicago‘s annual hamfest in Wheaton, IL. It was quite different in feel and size to the De Kalb Hamfest I attended a couple months ago – not better or worse necessarily, but definitely different.
Where the De Kalb hamfest was spread out over several long winding paths and four or five buildings, all of the tailgaters in Wheaton were compacted in one central parking lot, which was already filled and thrumming when I arrived at 8:02. With the thermometer and humidity spiking by 9am, it was nothing like the foggy March morning of the last Hamfest.
In terms of sellers, I would say the Wheaton hamfest had perhaps a third as many actual vendors (including The RF Adapter Guy and all his wears and a few others) but three times as many tailgaters. Many tube radios to be found in the parking lot, same a last time, and maybe five or six folks with a healthy collection of CB gear and some antique television sets.
I picked up a few little things early in the day – some more trimmer capacitors, a couple used hand mics and panel-mount connectors for the same, but nothing was really catching my eye. There were more parts-dealers at Wheaton then out in De Kalb, but no one really had anything special that caught my eye. I did find a couple twins to the air-variable capacitor that I picked up, with and without casings, but no split-stator types, which is what I’m hunting for now. Not many enclosures or antenna parts either.
Just as I was ready to pack in for the day, a gentleman announced that the Antique Radio Club of Illinois auction was about to start. This proved to be the most bountiful part of my morning, and had a fascinating structure. Lots of equipment, lots of it Boat Anchors, was laid out in rows along the side of the main exhibition building. After allowing a few minutes for folks to wander through and poke at things, we began the action proper, which they called “bidders’ choice.” Basically, if you wanted to bid on something, you held it up for the gentleman in charge to see, and he’d throw out a starting bid, say $5. Anyone else who wanted that item could volunteer a higher bid, much like a regular auction, but there wasn’t much bidding happening. No item went above $20. It was during this period that I snagged an antenna analyzer on the cheap (see below)
Then, once there were no items left that anyone wanted to bid on, the gentleman in charge announced, “Everything left is $5. Grab what you want, and get your $5 to Rudy.” Rudy did well for himself at this point, and maybe half of the items vanished. Once the dust had settled, the gentleman in change once again proclaimed, “Alright, now everything left is a dollar!” Well, for just a dollar…. and once that was concluded, anything left on the ground was set loose for free! All in all, I snagged an MFJ-207, a big analog multimeter, an antique transistor radio, and a hustler resonator for under $20. Not too shabby! I must remember to stick around for Auctions in the future.
After that, a quick trip to Fry’s and Menards capped my morning, and I was home by 2pm. Another great, friendly, fruitful hamfest.
So, here’s the final haul:
- An MFJ 207 Antenna Analyzer. The big score of the day! I’d be eyeing an identical unit in the parking lot marked at $70, but to score this one, working, for $15 at the auction really made my day. All it needed was a new battery.
- A Micronta Analog Multimeter. With settings for AC and DC voltage and current measurement, as well as resistance, it’s a neat unit with a six-inch analog meter movement. It’s in pretty good shape, but I’m sure it’ll need new batteries.
- An Arvin 9562 Transistor Radio: Apparently made in the late 50’s, it’s got an attractive wood case and a big ole internal six inch speaker. I was planning on gutting it and using the case, but it turns out the thing actually works – it turned on while I was carrying it in from the car and scared the bejeazus out of me.
- A Hustler 40m Resonator: I took a flyer on this, since it was free. It’s designed to go on a mobile vehicle mast and turn it into a 40m antenna that’s only 6′ long. We’ll see what it gets gutted and turned into.
- Two hand-mics, both with 5-pin connectors
- Two 5-Pin Panel Mount Connectors to go with the above microphones
- Two baggies of Trimmer Caps of a couple different sets of values.
- A Pack of Binding Posts, probably will end up used as grounding logs
- A Small Metal Box – can never have two many enclosures!
- A two-pack of NTE110 germanium diodes (from Fry’s electronics, on my way back home).
Another swell time hanging out with hams. And with ARRL Field Day coming up this weekend, I’m sure I’ll have more ham stories to tell. In the two days I’ve had it, I’ve already put the antenna analyzer to good use out by the lake, but that’s a story for another post.
See you at the Fest!