Radio Rallies and Hamfests

Continuing the discussion from Source of Parts:

Good point! We seem to call them Radio Rallies in the UK (here’s a list) - myself, @Revaldinho and @hoglet went to two this year. It seems the pickings are more slim as the years go by, but I got a book or two and we got a couple of nice small cubic Philips CRT monitors between us. And I got a mystery 6502 rackmount thing(*). And @hoglet no doubt got a good haul of bargains, because he generally does! In past years we’ve got a power supply, an oscilloscope or two, a logic analyser (if I’m not wrong), a multimeter, a bunch of 3" floppies (for Amstrad), various components and supplies (some desoldering braid for example) and various books and manuals.

Some photos:

(*) Turns out to be a Utah Scientific audiovisual broadcast control panel, CSP-40/4.


I bought my first IBM XT clone at a hamfest. Bought it to run a BBS. Circa 1985. I had been running it under CP/M for a few years prior to that.

Here in the US, AV gear is at hamfests by the truckload – both pre-digital equipment that is now thoroughly obsolete for commercial purposes, and early digital equipment that for whatever reason has not kept up. I don’t know what most of it is, so I just walk on by, but I’m sure there are gems.

Where hamfests really shine is test equipment. It’s hard to justify buying old test equipment in a lot of ways when the new low end equipment has gotten so affordable, but for those of us on this forum, justifying buying old stuff is probably not a problem. :wink:

I did find a complete 286 motherboard with RAM in a “free” box at a hamfest this past January. Other than that, most of the computer stuff I see falls into the bathtub somewhere between “useful” and “interesting”. A couple of years ago at Dayton Hamvention there was a NeXT station and a Lisa, although they were too pricey for my blood. Many years ago I bought quite a collection of Sun workstations at a hamfest for just a few dollars, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen such treasures.


I’ve only been to a few hamfests in the last few years, so I don’t know what’s common to see now. But in the past I’ve found quite a few treasures.
I have an Amiga 2000 I got for a song, a VIC-1541 disk drive, a Radio Shack Color Computer, an Apple 2e, and I found a Jen You Wine ™ IBM XT in the trash at the end of the day. Total investment in all those I believe was less than $50 US. I also got an ADM-3A terminal and a Televideo TS-803. Plus various things like connectors, components, card cages, and equipment racks. I’ve seen, and not bought, stuff like EPROM programmers, ICEs for old processors, even old development systems like INTEL INTELLECs.

The Dayton Hamvention that elb mentioned is the “Big Daddy” of all hamfests. I’ve never been, which is probably good. It’s HUGE!

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Ahh yes, I forgot, I have a Televideo 910 that’s a hamfest find, as well. And I passed up a Wang of some kind (I’ve been kicking myself ever since) about two years ago, because it was in mediocre to poor shape and too expensive. I didn’t even make an offer!