Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hamfest time!

Today was the annual Sussex County Amateur Radio Club's (SCARC) Hamfest. I usually don't get to make this one; as it usually occurs while we're on vacation in Lake George. This year, it fell on the Sunday after we got back; so I was able to make it.

The SCARC Hamfest is one of the best hamfests left in New Jersey. Where the others continue to get smaller (with the exception of the Raritan Valley Radio Club - which seems to be growing), SCARC is holding its own. The hamfest is held in the Sussex County Fairgrounds and there is an 'indoor section" with vendors and an outdoor "tailgating section".

I'm happy to say that both selling sections were well attended; and the hamfest in general was well attended with plenty of buyers. The tailgaters actually were asking reasonable prices; as far as I was able to ascertain from stuff that I was familiar with. Take straight keys, for example. While there were no "steals", there were no really bad rip-offs, either. About 20 bucks would buy you a decent specimen, which is probably a bit less than you would pay on eBay these days.

I didn't have any major purchases in mind, I just went to browse and meet up with old friends. I came away with a bag of PL-259 connectors (12 for $10), a 100 foot spool of antenna rope, a pair of angled cutters for $3 and a neat CERT placard for $2 that I can put in my windshield when I'm on duty for the town.

Speaking of town, I picked up a capacitor made by Cornell-Dublier which was based in South Plainfield for years. In essence, I was able to bring the capacitor "home". The factory site is an EPA Superfund site and all the buildings were just knocked over and ground has been paved over. In a few months they are going to rip up the paving and start to remove the PCB tainted soil.

Back to discussing my purchases .... I also picked up an MFJ crystal controlled QRP 40 Meter transmitter along with a crystal and a home brewed straight key for $10. And lastly, I picked up a neat project box for $5 - which would be the perfect size for a small homebrew 40 Meter receiver to accompany the MFJ transmitter.

I was tempted to pick up some ARRL antenna and QRP books; but then I realized that a majority of the articles were reprints from QST that I could get online whenever I want.

I did hook up with a few friends from the now defunct Piscataway club and I hooked up with Joe WA2QHA, who had won one of the door prizes. Joe lived across the street from me when I used to live in East Brunswick back in my single days. We would often blow each other out of the water with our HF operations; and we would both bother a mutual neighbor who complained that we were BOTH ruining his TV picture. It was good to run into Joe again, who told me he was running mostly QRP these days. I guess our old cranky neighbor is still cranky!

Then, as a extra special treat, I got to have an eyeball QSO with Don W2JEK. Don is a fellow NAQCC member and we've QSOed with each other many times in various QRP sprints; but as a result of our meeting, I now have a face to associate with the fist. And THAT is way cool!

It was a hot morning; but I had a lot of fun walking around. It was good to rummage through all the junk ....... er, I mean treasures, looking for useful items. My main problem is avoiding impulse buying; which would mean coming home with stuff that I'd end up never using. I did good today on that front.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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